How Many Jills In a Jeep?

Publicity still from Four Jills in a Jeep with Martha Raye, Phil Silvers, Kaye Francis, Carole Landis and Mitzi Mayfair,

On March 17, 1944, 20th Century Fox released the film Four Jills in a Jeep starring Martha Raye, Kaye Francis, Carole Landis and Mitzi Mayfair as themselves in the title roles. Betty Grable, Phil Silvers, Jimmy Dorsey and Carmen Miranda also appear in the film (all but Silvers as themselves). The film is a fictionalized account of the four women’s USO tour of the UK and North Africa.

Billing themselves as the Feminine Theatrical Task Force, the women left the United States in October 1942 and spent three months doing Camp Shows in England and Northern Ireland. They then spent three weeks in North Africa, the first USO troupe to perform there.

Carole Landis serialized their adventures in the Saturday Evening Post. Studio execs thought their story would make a great film. Hollywood did what Hollywood does and softened the rough edges of their adventures. They turned what could have been an exciting adventure tale (they experienced air raids in England and were shot at in North Africa) into a sappy romance with too many song and dance numbers. The reviews were not good.

This short snorter was signed by the four actresses. The underlying note is an Algerian 20 franc note from 1941 that would have been in circulation while the performers were on tour. Although they undoubtedly signed short snorters while in North Africa, this one could not have been signed there. Carole Landis signed her married name, Carole Landis Wallace, on the note. She met her husband while the troupe was in England and married him after the tour was over.

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