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VFW Magazine May 2017 : Page 31

Here’s a brief look at VFW’s famed Buddy Poppy Girls. Best known for starring next to Bing Crosby in “Sing You Sinners,” Drew rep-resented VFW in Hollywood by distrib-uting poppies to film celebrities, such as Ezra Stone and Cecil B. De Mille, on the Paramount lot in Hollywood. In 1940, she was on the silver screen in Jack Benny’s “Buck Benny Rides Again.” She attended VFW’s National Encampment (the precursor to VFW’s National Convention) in August 1940 in Los Angeles, where she was part of VFW Commander-in-Chief Otis Brown’s reviewing stand during the military parade. Ellen Drew, 1940 b. 1915 – d. 2003 “Even if I do not get the opportunity to sell as many Buddy Poppies as all the other girls who try to do their bit, I will feel that I have had something to do with the success of the 1941 sale,” Leslie said after hearing she was chosen. “I’m certainly going to sell as many poppies as I can. I’m going to get my girlfriends to help, too.” In Flanders Fields By Col. John McCrae In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved, and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch, be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields. Jane Wyman, 1942 b. 1917 – 2007 Joan Leslie, 1941 b. 1925 – d. 2015 While starring in Warner Brother’s “You’re in the Army Now,” Wyman was named “Top Sergeant” of B Battery, 3rd Coast Artillery at Fort MacArthur in Los Angeles by Capt. Alonzo Hyde. To encourage VFW Posts to distribute Poppies, autographed copies of a photo of Wyman were awarded to each Post, increasing poppy distribution by 25 per-cent over the prior year. At 16 years old, Leslie was a film star with Warner Brothers Studios, where she appeared in “High Sierra” with Humphrey Bogart and in “Sergeant York” with Gary Cooper. The National Buddy Poppy Committee reported Leslie’s excitement at being selected because she had a history with the Buddy Poppy. Growing up in Detroit, Leslie was one of the best poppy distrib-utors at her school. Irene Manning, 1943 b. 1912 – d. 2004 Best known as Fay Templeton in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” opposite James Cagney, Manning was photographed with active-duty troops for the May 1943 edition of Foreign Service (forerunner to VFW magazine). Prior to her Hollywood fame, Manning performed a USO show in England. It was there she was asked to perform with bandleader Glenn Miller shortly before his death in 1944. Alexis Smith, 1944 b. 1921 – d. 1993 Not too many years prior to her Hollywood fame, Smith distributed poppies through her high school in Los Angeles. “I never dreamed that I would have the honor of representing the thousands of girls who help sell Buddy Poppies each year,” Smith said when told she had been selected. “I am truly thrilled with the compliment.” Smith starred in “The Adventures of Mark Twain” with Humphrey Bogart and “Here Comes the Groom” with Bing Crosby, among many others. Buddy Poppy Stars by Year: 1940 Ellen Drew | 1941 Joan Leslie | 1942 Jayne Wyman | 1943 Irene Manning | 1944 Alexis Smith | 1945 Jean Sullivan | 1946 Eleanor Parker | 1947 Margaret O’Brien | 1948 Jeanne Crain | 1949 Janis Paige | 1950 Doris Day | 1951 Virginia Mayo | 1952 Ginger Crowley | 1953 Kathryn Grayson | 1954 Joan Weldon | 1955 Dorothy Malone | 1956 Lori Nelson | 1957 Natalie Wood | 1958 Venetia Stevenson | 1959 Arlene Howell | 1961 Elaine Edwards MAY 2017 • WWW.VFW.ORG • 31

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