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Command Performance - Victory Extra

August 13th, 2009

Finally this week in our look at the end of World War II, we hear a remarkable broadcast - a special episode of "Command Performance" dubbed "Victory Extra", prepared for VJ Day and broadcast August 15, 1945 on the Armed Forces Radio Network.

transcription label

Running a full 100 minutes, the show features an incredible array of actors, actresses, comedians, performers and personalities - almost anyone who was anybody showed up to celebrate the end of the War for our troops.  Below, after the jump, is a complete outline of all the program contents for the purposes of indexing and searching for the show, but, if you've never heard it, I'd recommend you just listen and be surprised at who shows up.

Of course, since AFRS programs had to be distributed on disc to stations around the world, this special broadcast had to be prepared in advance.  It would be interesting to find out how the show was put together - it sounds like it was specially created and didn't use recycled excerpts from other programs, like some other AFRS programs.  Was it done in one recording session?  What did they tell the audience?  (Or was the audience made up of the performers themselves?)

The program was transferred from an original AFRS vinyl transcription set.

Click "more" to see a complete listing of the show's performers.

An outline of the program's contents:

  • An opening prayer read by Ronald Coleman
  • "Ave Maria" performed by Rise Stevens
  • Dinah Shore singing "I'll Walk Alone"
  • Lionel Barrymore introducing Jose Iturbe
  • Bette Davis in a comedy routine with Jimmy Durante and Jose Iturbe
  • Marlene Dietrich introducing Burgess Meredith reading material by Ernie Pyle
  • Ginny Sims singing "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To"
  • Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby engaging in banter and singing a few song excerpts, then Frank sings "The House I Live In"
  • Brief remarks from Rita Hayworth, Desi Arnez, Ida Lupino, Ginger Rogers, Ruth Hussey, Clare Trevor, Don Wilson, Bill Maldin, George Montgomery, John Conte, Jinx Falkenburg, Dinah Lewis, Ronald Coleman
  • Janet Blair singing "What Is This Thing Called Love?"
  • William Powell introducing Bing Crosby singing "San Fernando Valley"
  • Harry Von Zell and Lucille Ball with "Sounds from Home" including Lucille Ball sighing
  • The King Sisters singing "Shoo Shoo Baby"
  • Cary Grant introducing Robert Montgomery reading words from FDR
  • Loretta Young reading a prayer written by a Chaplin serving in Burma
  • Lena Horne singing "The Man I Love"
  • Col Thomas H.A. Lewis expressing thanks to the performers, radio networks and stations, unions music publishers and others that make AFRS programs possible
  • GI Jill introducing Johnny Mercer singing "GI Jive"
  • Edward G. Robinson and Orson Welles reading words from various military leaders of the War
  • Lena Roman singing a song in Spanish
  • Danny Kaye performing a song about movies
  • Marilyn Maxwell singing "I Got Rhythm"
  • Herbert Marshall reading a poem by a fighter pilot
  • Carmen Miranda singing "Tico, Tico"
  • Claudette Colbert with Ed Gardner as "Archie" from "Duffy's Tavern"
  • Greer Garson introducing Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas"
  • Orson Welles reading a prayer by Yeoman 3rd Class William Welch
  • Ken Carpenter "signing off" the program "on this first day of world peace" and introducing the US national anthem

  • Patrick

    Wow, Randy, I can’t tell you how cool it is to hear this. I’m making sure Dad hears it too, since he would have been in China at the end of the War…

    Aug 13, 2009 at 7:53 pm
  • John Costa

    This is a great piece of history. Thank you.

    Aug 14, 2009 at 6:57 am
  • Susan

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



    Aug 14, 2009 at 9:24 am
  • Susan

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I just heard the show tonight when it was included on “The Big Broadcast” hosted by Ed Walker on WAMU (88.5 FM in the DC area) http://wamu.org/programs/bb/more_information.php

    I was particularly moved by Burgess Meredith reading the material by Ernie Pyle. Again, thank you. I’ll return to your site again to check out more of your posts.

    Aug 17, 2009 at 1:04 am
  • DavidinBerkeley

    Your copy appears to be longer than the one at archive.org (which is dated 450814),


    but they begin and end at the same points. Yours must have more stuff in the middle.

    Thanks for providing this great fill.

    Aug 17, 2009 at 2:08 pm
  • Dr. OTR

    100 minutes–what an odd length! Transcriptions are usually 15 minutes a side, so was this 7 sides? What was on the 8th side–nothing? Or did they perhaps manage to squeeze in 17 minutes a side and keep this down to 6 sides?

    Aug 27, 2009 at 5:24 pm
  • randsesotericotr

    Actually, they spread it out over 8 sides. When I first got the disc and didn’t know anything about the show, I thought it might be two hours long, but it clocked in at 100 minutes.

    I wonder if the 20 minutes was set aside for some kind of address by the President or something else connected with VJ Day.

    Aug 27, 2009 at 6:23 pm
  • Dr. OTR

    Or maybe they planned a 90 minute program, and due to the ad-libbing it ran over, and they just decided to keep it. I’m listening to it now, and everybody is clearly having a lot of fun (I’m at the Jimmy Durante/Bette Davis/Jose Iturbi bit), so I can see how it might have run long. And I’m sure programming schedules were thrown out the window for VJ Day, what with constant news updates and analysis and general celebration. Since it was an AFRS program, and not a network program, they probably wouldn’t have scheduled it around a Presidential address, since the program could be carried at any time of the day and a Presidential address would go out a specific time (which might be midnight in Papau New Guinea, noon in Europe). (Or at least that’s my guess.)

    Aug 27, 2009 at 10:02 pm
  • Rick Payne

    I noticed your comment questioning whether there was a studio audience present for the broadcast. I’m pleased to report that I have one of the actual admission tickets in my collection…so the answer is yes!

    Dec 25, 2009 at 11:16 pm
  • richard harrison

    I have the SandyHook CD of this broadcast. 60 min. I was not aware of the missing parts. I do a live from recordings broadcast ,Weekly, for my local npr station, 90.3 FM KEDM, MONROE, LOUISIANA. MOSTLY BIG BANDS

    For the 65th Anni. VJ-Day, I have edited my cd and will play selected tracks along with various popular songs of WWII.

    Monroe was one of the major navigation training bases during WWII.

    Aug 12, 2010 at 9:59 pm
  • Derrick

    this is amazing and thanks so much for putting it online. what strikes me is how humble they are in victory. there isnt any patriotic bombast, these arent people celebrating their victory in war so much as an end to the war. just amazing to listen to.

    Sep 13, 2012 at 11:21 am