PBS Documentary

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American Musicals
Work Worldwar
“Loesser has created a song that had an American hymnlike character, rich with folk flavor.”
—David Ewen on Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

As sailors boiled from below decks of a U.S. Navy warship to fight off low flying Japanese planes, Chaplain William Maguire left his altar and ran to a gun station where one of the gunners had been killed and another wounded. In the unholy roar of that torrent of bombs, Chaplain Maguire shouted his now famous words: “I just got one of them!! Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!!” The song sold over 2 million records and 1 million copies of sheet music. The Office of War Information restricted it’s performance over the airwaves to once every four hours, lest the public tire of it. Frank in a wartime photo.

During the war, Loesser served in the Radio Productions Unit, which produced recruitment shows with popular guest stars such as Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Dinah Shore and Rosalind Russell.

In 1943 Loesser transferred to the Special Services unit in New York creating “Blueprint Specials” or pre-packaged shows for soldiers to mount and perform, including everything from songs and sketches to instructions for creating sets and costumes.

Songs of the war:

Dreamer, The
First Class Private Mary Brown
Hello Mom
I Don't Want To Walk Without You
Ice Cold Katy
One-Pip Wonder, The
Please Won't You Leave My Girl Alone
Praise the Lord and Pass The Ammunition
Road To Victory, The
Rodger Young
Sad Bombardier, The
Salute to the Army Service Forces
Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year
Thank Your Lucky Stars
WAC Hymn, The
What Do You Do in the Infantry?
When He Comes Home
Why Do They Call a Private a Private?