Archiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2005-07 > 1122477979

From: "Peter_McCrae" <>
Subject: HAY; Jean Ruth-18/9/2004-USA
Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2005 16:26:19 +0100

Jean Ruth Hay
(Filed: 06/10/2004)
The Daily Telegraph & the

Jean Ruth Hay, who died on September 18 aged 87, hosted the radio programme
Reveille With Beverly; it was broadcast to servicemen all over the world at
5.30am, and was a welcome alternative to a brusque bugle call.

General Eisenhower was a regular listener; when the show inspired a film,
General MacArthur requested his own copy; and General Patton said of her:
"We listened to Beverly every morning. This was worth fighting for! The guys
had only a few things in common . . . the uniform, the lousy chow, and
Beverly." She later said: "My music smoothed the way, softened the fears,
and developed camaraderie among men, some of whom were listening to radio
for the very first time."

She heard recruits in Colorado complaining about their wake-up call shortly
before America joined the war. Her first thought was that Benny Goodman's
band had recorded the Bugle Call Rag, and then she wondered what other
tracks would rouse the troops. News of her show reached Los Angeles, and for
the rest of the war she broadcast big-band hits, jazz numbers and crooning
in an hour-long show that went out to 11 million listeners in 54 countries.

She insisted that the records were more important than her introductions,
saying: "I thought about how the music would sound at reveille, not about
how I sounded." But it was her warm, buoyant voice, which she conceded was
"warm and maybe semi-sexy", that endeared her to her audiences. She would
take requests, read out messages from GIs, and announce records with: "The
turntables are loaded and they're bustin' with bounce."

Fans were delighted to discover that her voice was not the only charming
thing about her. She won many accolades, including Queen of Pomona Ordnance
Base and "the girl we'd most like to be trapped in the turret of a B-17
with". Airmen would paint her on their planes' nose cones - or at least, her
face, atop the body of some other, less modest sweetheart.

Jean Ruth was born in Philadelphia on September 10 1917, and grew up in
Boulder, Colorado. She attended Boulder High School and the University of
Colorado. She was 24 when she proposed what she called a "painless reveille"
for the trainee troops stationed at Fort Logan. The first show went out on
October 20 1941, to three camps, and reached 28,000 soldiers. She played
records by Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey's band (which was then featuring
Sinatra), Harry James, Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington and the King Cole trio. A
favourite track was Doin' a War Dance Down at the Cuckoo House by Rudy
Sooter and his Californians.

In February 1942, Time magazine ran a feature on her shortly after she was
pronounced Fort Logan Basketball Queen. She dressed in a "figure-flattering
knit dress", dribbled the ball and put it through the hoop 11 times out of
12. The story brought her to the attention of the Hollywood station KNX-AM.

At the height of the war, officers would give her orders to announce songs
with mysterious titles: Torpedo Junction, for example, and I Dug a Ditch.
Only later did she learn that she was transmitting coded messages. Soon the
Armed Forces Radio Service funded recordings of the show, broadcast from
huts and vans on the front line; at the end of the war, a disc of Reveille
with Beverly was aired from Berlin.

The film based on the show launched the acting career of Ann Miller as well
as giving Frank Sinatra his first lead role. When Jean Ruth suggested him
for the part, he was earning $100 a week. An official at Columbia Pictures
asked her, "Who's Frank Sinatra?", and added: "Only top talent is performing
in your movie." But she insisted, and when he sang Night and Day at the
screen test, the producers were persuaded. After seeing his performance, one
critic wrote: "I am convinced there has been nothing like him since

She met the bandleader Freddie Slack during filming. They married in 1945
and divorced three years later. In 1952 she married an attorney, John Hay.
After the war, she remained in California, and worked for a radio station in
Santa Barbara. There, in 1949, she discovered the work of Direct Relief, a
charity founded the previous year to help feed the poor, both in America and
the rest of the world. The cause sustained the sense of purpose she had felt
during the war, and she worked for it throughout her life.

From 1953 to 1956 she hosted Beverly on 3, a television programme with music
and chat. Her guests included Gregory Peck and Ronald Reagan, and she
continued to provide a showcase for new musical talent. Later she appeared
in strings of commercials for products such as Carnation Milk, Wonder Bread
and Kraft Cheese. She was the home economist for Pillsbury until 1965, when
the company plumped for a figure with a rounder face - the Pillsbury
Doughboy. "I still get mad when I see him," she admitted.

In her last years she continued to attend high school reunions and
commemorations of the war, fulfilling the words of a reporter from Arizona
in 1944: "Ageing veterans, men and women, will carry memories of Reveille
with Beverly into the next century. It was that important."

Jean Ruth Hay is survived by her husband and three children.

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.

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