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Guide to the Dick Jurgens / La Veda Libby collection M1987
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access to Collection
  • Publication Rights
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Scope and Contents
  • Dick Jurgens
  • La Veda Libby (later Falaschi)
  • About Soldier Shows

  • Title: Dick Jurgens / La Veda Libby collection
    Identifier/Call Number: M1987
    Contributing Institution: Dept. of Special Collections & University Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 1.5 Linear feet 2 boxes, 1 flat box
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1943-1945
    Date (inclusive): 1936-1952 (inclusive), 1943-1945 (bulk)
    Abstract: The Dick Jurgens / La Veda Libby Collection features a variety of material related to bandleader Dick Jurgens and his All-Marine Troupe that toured the Pacific towards the end of World War Two. La Veda Libby was a dancer and dance teacher who dated Jurgens during this time. Included in the collection is correspondence, photographs, newspapers (both military and civilian), radio scripts, and other ephemera.
    creator: Jurgens, Dick, 1910-1995
    creator: Libby, La Veda

    Access to Collection

    The materials are open for research use. Audio-visual materials are not available in original format, and must be reformatted to a digital use copy.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, California 94305-6064. Consent is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner, heir(s) or assigns. See: http://library.stanford.edu/spc/using-collections/permission-publish.
    Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Acquisition Information

    This collection was purchased by Stanford University, Special Collections in 2013.

    Preferred Citation

    [identification of item], Dick Jurgens / La Veda Libby Collection (M1987). Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

    Scope and Contents

    Swing bandleader Dick Jurgens rose to national popularity in the mid to late 1930s, but, as the Second World War escalated, he disbanded his orchestra in 1943 to join the Marines. Although he enlisted as a radio operator, Jurgens eventually assembled an all-soldier band and revue. In 1945, Jurgens and his All Marine Troupe began a tour of the war’s Pacific Theatre, and the "32-man band and variety show played before capacity service audiences in the Hawaiian, Marshall, Caroline, Marianas, Phillippine, Bonin, and Ryukyu island groups," according to a USMC press release.
    Jurgens had met dancer La Veda Libby, a fellow Sacramento native, while performing at the St. Francis Hotel, and they were romantically involved through his tour of the Pacific. The collection contains several letters Jurgens sent her. Other correspondence includes Jurgens writing his mother, and a good deal of military letters, telegrams and memoranda. Of the more than 300 photographs, one third depict Jurgens All Marine shows in the Pacific, while the remainder are of La Veda Libby, other dancers in Sacramento, and snapshots of her friends and family in the 1940s. There are a number of radio scripts, including a Leatherneck of the Air program with guest Tyrone Power, and a news account by NBC’s Lowell Thomas on Iwo Jima. Military historians may appreciate the number of base newspapers in the collection, and researchers in popular music history will also find much of interest.

    Dick Jurgens

    Richard Henry Jurgens (1910-1995) was born In Sacramento, California to grocer Deitrich Heinrich and his wife Clara Jurgens. The family was musically inclined, and Jurgens began taking lessons at age six. He began playing trumpet not long after. As a teenager in 1928, he formed a dance band with his brother Will. They played during the summer at Donner Lake and later at Lake Tahoe, where they performed manual labor during the day and music at night for $50.00 a month plus room and board. Jurgens was also a football player at Sacramento High and Sacramento City College, where he wrote his later theme song “Day Dreams Come True At Night.” His then girlfriend Jeanette Brown wrote the lyrics. Jurgens also attended UC Berkeley during this time.
    After several years of casual summertime gigs, the band began to appear at ritzier Sacramento hotels such as the Traveler and the Senator (where they followed Anson Weeks). In 1933, the band was recruited after a gig in Tahoe by Jimmy McCabe, manager of San Francisco’s St. Francis Hotel. They signed a 17-week contract at the St. Francis, and Eddy Howard came aboard as lead vocalist. The band was following Ted Fio Rito there and felt compelled to expand. Due to an accident in which he damaged his lip, Jurgens no longer played trumpet, but developed his role as bandleader.
    Working with the powerful booking agency MCA (Music Corporation of America), the Dick Jurgens Orchestra’s popularity grew first along the West Coast and then in Chicago at the Aragon Ballroom. The band then spent eight idyllic years engaged at the Catalina Island Casino. National attention came from regular broadcasts and from recordings made first for Decca in 1934 and then for Vocalion, Columbia and later Mercury. His biggest hit was 1942's "One Dozen Roses", with vocalist Buddy Moreno.
    In January 1943, Jurgens broke up his band and joined the Marines as a radio operator. By the following year he was a Sergeant at Camp Pendleton, stationed along with his brother. Jurgens' pet dog "Schnapps" was also enlisted as a war dog, and was killed in action in 1944, reportedly by Japanese gunfire. Jurgens eventually transferred to the entertainment branch and assembled the Dick Jurgens All Marine Show, a music and comedy revue which is recognized as one of the first and most successful non-USO "soldier shows."
    The First Overseas Entertainment Unit of the United States Marines received its orders to ship out on March 25th, 1945 and the All Marine Show, a troupe of 32 Marines with Will Jurgens as business manager and show director, began an extensive tour of the Pacific. For two years, they played 148 shows, often in outdoor theaters, with troop attendance numbering as many as 75,000. The revue performed in or near active combat zones, where USO shows rarely penetrated: Tarawa, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Saipan, Guam, and Leyte.
    The revue came with multiple segments, which could be expanded or contracted as needed. Among them were hillbilly routines by Billy Folger and Jack Looney, ventriloquist Bill Moore and Gizmo, a blackface routine by "Smokey" Greenwood and Jim Sargent, and juggler Dick Luby. According to one military newspaper, "included in the band are former members of such outstanding bands as Jimmy Joy, Charlie Agnew, Skinny Ennis, Leo Reisman, Red Norvo and Joe Saunders."
    Despite their official Marine status, the troupe performed for all branches of the military, and many hospitals. An itinerary lists performances for "Colored Marines" on Parry Island and "Colored Army" on Tinian and Saipan; one wonders if the blackened cork was left in the trunk for those shows.
    Songs mentioned in published reviews include Ravel’s Bolero, "Somebody Stole My Gal," "I’m Making Believe" (sung by Emmett Haugen), "Ac-cent-uate the Positive," "I Can’t Give You Anything But Love," "Don’t Get Around Much Anymore," "Porter’s Love Song To a Chambermaid," "One O’Clock Jump," "Sentimental Journey," and "Rum and Coca Cola." Jurgens’ most famous compositions were "Careless" (a hit for Glenn Miller), "One Dozen Roses" and "Elmer’s Tune," so it is presumed they were also played. A mimeographed music manuscript for the song "GI GI I Do" is in the collection.
    Many touring units continued to entertain troops overseas through the late 1940s (the USO sent 1200 entertainers East after the Japanese surrender), but the Jurgens troupe returned to the United States in the Fall of 1945, playing some base shows on the West Coast and touring the Midwest with a Bond Drive Campaign show known as the Fleet Marine Force Follies. They also performed for President Truman and staff at a White House Press banquet in October 1945. Soon after, most members were discharged and the unit was dissolved.
    Jurgens reorganized a band with contacts made in the service and resumed performing at the Claremont hotel in Berkeley in 1946. Jurgens also married in 1949. He led a seventeen-piece orchestra for ten years, and then sold Geiger counters and hi-fi equipment in Colorado. Jurgens continued to perform regularly until his retirement in Sacramento. He passed way in 1995.

    La Veda Libby (later Falaschi)

    Dick Jurgens met La Veda Libby (1921-2013) at the St. Francis Hotel while he was performing there, and they began dating. La Veda (sometimes spelled Laveda) was a dancer who had performed at the opening of the Bay Bridge in 1936. She was also dance instructor, and ran a school in Sacramento known as La Veda Studio of The Dance. Along with her "La Veda Girls," Libby also performed for troops in California during the war. The collection contains seven letters from Jurgens to Libby in 1945. Her marriage to football hero Nello Falaschi in 1952 was noted by Herb Caen. According to a newspaper profile, La Veda was still teaching at the age of 88, even after 3 hip replacements. She died in January 2013.

    About Soldier Shows

    There were essentially two forms of military entertainment during World War Two: the professional, Hollywood-backed United Service Organization (USO) Camp Shows, and the military’s own program, known colloquially as "soldier shows."
    The War Department created a Special Services Department as part of Army Service Forces in 1940, and three years later the U.S. Marine Corps established a Special Services Division (originally called the Morale Office). Special Services controlled libraries, athletics, and service clubs, and worked with both the USO and Red Cross. The Entertainment Branch in particular was responsible for coordinating soldier shows, USO Camp shows, the Armed Forces Motion Picture Service, and radio production.
    These shows were produced by a mix of amateurs and enlisted professionals like Jurgens. Burt Lancaster, Carl Reiner, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Clint Eastwood are other well-known Special Service solders. Some requirements for staging a production, such lighting and electrical skills, were not hard to find, but some soldiers reportedly had difficulty juggling their more "official" duties with rehearsals and other preparations.
    Needless to say, the risks encountered on the so-called "fox hole circuit" were great, and in the Pacific, humidity, disease, and general privation weren’t even the worst of them. After a severe typhoon, the Jurgens outfit was reduced to consuming emergency rations, but they were fortunate to avoid actual conflict while touring so near the front. It was the soldiers at these bases, however, who were greatest in need of some morale-lifting entertainment.
    As Jurgens wrote Libby in April 1945, "I’d give anything in the world if you could be here to see how we sleep, where we sleep, how we eat, where we play, how the kids enjoy every note, the guns, the ammunition supply, the planes we’re carrying, how the crew looks, how it feels to have nothing but water around you, how these kids operate the guns, it’s just like a city full of men living in a great big huge garage."

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Jurgens, Dick, 1910-1995
    Libby, La Veda
    Big band music
    Entertainers--United States--History--20th century.
    United States. Marine Corps--History--World War, 1939-1945.
    World War, 1939-1945
    World War, 1939-1945--War work.
    World War, 1939-1945–-Campaigns--Pacific Area.