Official US Army Poster Girl During WWII Dies at Age 92
Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a 22-year-old Wabash, Indiana woman posed for three US posters designed to boost morale amongst US soldiers. The slogan was simple:
Please get there and back. Be careful what you say or write.
Her name: Margie Stewart.
Initially, First Lady Elanor Roosevelt tried to get the posters banned, saying Stewart’s innocent look might make soldiers too homesick. But GIs begged for more and wanted to know more about the “girl next door”. Nine more posters were produced, and by the end of ’43, Stewart had become one of the most familiar girls in America. Even soldiers’ wives approve of Stewart’s efforts, made in unerotic fashion.
More than 90 million of Stewart’s posters circulated between 1943 and 1945, reportedly more than those of Betty Grable and Ann Sheridan combined.
In 1945, during a visit to London, crowds of people tried getting a peek of the poster girl, reportedly causing a major traffic jam. The Daily Telegraph had dubbed her “Uncle Sam’s Poster Girl”.
Stewart had attempted a career in acting – and did land some small parts in a few movies – but she never hit stardom in Hollywood. She went on to entertain US troops in France, England, Germany and Belgium.
In her own words, Stewart said her prodest moments were spent “visiting you GIs…”.
While overseas, Stewart met and married captain Jerry Johnson. The next day, Stars and Stripes bore the headline, “Margie How Could You?” The marriage lasted nearly 58 years, but Stewart admitted last year that the headline had haunted her, because she had “hurt so many people.” She was referring to the soldiers who’d relied on her images and words to keep them sane during trying times.
Stewart died April 16th, 2012