Remembering â€˜Beverlyâ€™: A tribute to Jean Hay, host of â€œReveille with Beverlyâ€
World War II veterans of the American armed forces are mourning the loss of one of their greatest supporters, as Jean Hay, the host of the â€œReveille with Beverlyâ€ radio show, passed away on September 18 at the age of 87.
Jeanâ€™s was the most remarkable of lives. In 1941, at the age of 24, she had the idea of creating a radio show aimed at boosting the morale of the American soldiers who were being called to duty. Though she had no broadcasting experience, Jean pitched the concept to KEFL in Denver, who immediately put her on the air under the name â€˜Reveille with Beverly.â€™ From there it was on to Hollywood, where her show caught on so well with American GIâ€™s that it came to be heard in 54 countries, making her the first global female disc jockey.
With a friendly â€œHi fellas,â€ Jean would spin records by the popular artists of the day, including Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, and Artie Shaw. She became such an icon during the war that a feature movie was made about her, with Ann Miller in the role of â€œBeverlyâ€ and a cameo by Jean herself.
Her value to the troopsâ€™ morale could not be underestimated. â€œBeverly was one of our secret weapons,â€ said Artie Shaw. â€œOur entire military forces should have married her.â€
Jean had stayed active in recent years, and had become close friends with Iva Toguri, the woman wrongly accused of being the infamous â€œTokyo Rose,â€ who many had considered a rival of â€œBeverly.â€ She had recently appeared at the World War II Veterans Committeeâ€™s Seventh Annual Conference (pictured left) and was the recipient of the Committeeâ€™s 2003 Lillian Keil Award for Service for a Woman in World War II. Jean loved her role in helping to raise the morale of Americaâ€™s fighting men, and was always grateful for the opportunities she had. â€œFor the duration, I was the luckiest woman in the world,â€ she said last year. â€œIt was one part of my life that I just couldnâ€™t forget any detail.â€