Friday, December 23, 2011

The 1945 INFORMATION, PLEASE European Tour

(L to R) John Kiernan, Beatrice Lillie, Reginald Gardiner & Franklin P. Adams

During the summer of 1945, while Information, Please was off the air for a short hiatus, the Information, Please crew (which consisted of Fadiman, Adams, Kieran, Golenpaul and actress Beatrice Lillie) made a European tour for the program throughout all of July and early August. According to paperwork exchanged between Dan Golenpaul and Beatrice Lillie in September of 1964 (she was writing her autobiography and Golenpaul helped furnish material relating to the European tour), the itinerary included:
July 12, 1945 – Evening performance in a converted riding hall. Fourth guest was General Haislip.
July 13, 1945 – Two performances in Bahnhof (station) hall.
July 14, 1945 – Afternoon and evening performances on outdoor stage by the Neckar River.
July 15, 1945 – Performance in Gartenhalle (Hall in a Park) in Swäbisch-Gmund.
July 16, 1945 – Second performance in Swäbisch-Gmund. Forth guest was General Morris.
July 17, 1945 – Performance was on an open stage in field at Jugenheim.
July 18, 1945 – Performances from a bandstand in an area used for concerts in Spa days. Fourth guest was General Rheinhardt.
July 19, 1945 – Performance in Giessen, 20 miles away from Bad Nauheim, in a movie theater.
July 20, 1945 – Outdoor show in Marburg. Beatrice Lillie lost a fan in the after-performance crush.
July 21, 1945 – Remained in Marburg. Performance in “Tent City,” an area housing 5,000 GIs awaiting reassignment.
July 22, 1945 – Performance in basement theater at Kassel.
July 23, 1945 – Another performance at Kassel, same as above.
July 24, 1945 – Same as above.
July 25, 1945 – Traveled by air to airstrip near Nuremberg. Then by car to Bamberg. No performance.
July 26, 1945 – Afternoon performance in a riding hall. Evening performance at Bayreuth at the Festspielhaus, how being used for G.I. movie house.
July 27, 1945 – Tortuous drive to Hamelberg, for an afternoon show in an open field. Later that evening an outdoor show for the 101st Infantry Regiment.
July 28, 1945 – By air to Regensburg. No show on this date.
July 29, 1945 – Show on banks of Danube.
July 30, 1945 – Outdoor show at Weiden.
July 31, 1945 – Performed a show in cow pasture in Kelheim, where the 9th Armored Division was stationed.

Beatrice Lillie and Third Division GI Eddie Hausner.

August 1, 1945 – By car to Munich. Show at Prinzregententheater. Broadcast by AFN (Armed Forces Network).
August 2, 1945 – Locale of Tutzing evening performance where there were more Germans and GIs.
August 3, 1945 – Dan Golenpaul returned to Paris. In Augsburg, for evening show at the Ludwigsbau, a theater in a park area.
August 4, 1945 – Crew made a visit to Richard Strauss in Garmisch. Evening show in Olympic Ice Stadium.
August 5, 1945. Golenpaul returns from Paris. Dinner and a late start in Linz by way of Salzburg. Guests included Sgt. Jimmy Shelton and Captain Frank Farrell.
August 6, 1945 – Performed a show in hangar at an airport.
August 7, 1945 – Midday show in outdoor area for only a handful of GIs. The men visited Adlershorst (Eagle’s Nest) built by Hitler on top of the mountain. Built by Hitler for visitors, now used for Army brass.
August 8, 1945 – Outdoor show for a meager audience in the valley of Salzach in St. Johann. It is today that the men hear of news of Hiroshima.
August 9, 1945 – Return to Munich, await return by air to Paris. In the afternoon, rumors of Japanese surrender and end of the Pacific war. Weather is bad today.
August 10, 1945 – Another day of bad weather.
August 11, 1945 – Weather still bad, but flight comes in.
August 12, 1945 – Show at Salle Pleyel.
August 13 to 16, 1945 – At leisure in Paris. Golenpaul, Kieran, Adams leave for U.S. 

During the tour, en route to the various locations where the performances were to take place for American troops stationed in Europe, Golenpaul and his crew (which also included actor Reginald Gardiner) traveled through many acres of rubble-covered ruins, and quartered in small private houses, a castle in Ludwigsburg, and even a Park Sanitorium!

In some of the towns they toured, only buildings in town remained intact, while acres and acres of burned fields and residential houses had been blown to pieces.
Reginald Gardiner and Third Division GI Eddie Hausner

 “It’s hard to believe these gentlemen are as intelligent as they sound.”
— Clifton Fadiman

It was during this European tour in the summer of 1945 that, according to author/researcher Sally Ashley, Clifton Fadiman and John Kieran first noticed a change in Franklin P. Adams. Kieran had an eye infection and had to treat it several times each day. When Kieran asked Adams to help administer the medicine, Adams could not do so without his hands shaking violently. Late-night poker games also caused Adams to act strangely, almost as if intoxicated. The men later learned that their good friend Franklin P. Adams was afflicted with the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

The information above is an excerpt from the Information, Please book, written by Martin Grams (available at Reprinted with permission.

Clifton Fadiman (seated on right) and GI Eddie Hausner.

Personal Note:
Since the book was published in 2003, I received a large number of letters, e-mails and other forms of "fan communication" from people who enjoyed the book and wanted to share a piece of trivia that I was not aware of. Since I began appearing annually at the Cinefest Convention in Syracuse, New York, the festival promoters have made it a tradition to screen an RKO film short (one of 18) during their lineup. The most recent was one with horror icon Boris Karloff, who was asked to name the drink when the ingredients were named. When fruit juices, liqueurs and various rums were named, Karloff was the one that knew the answer: a zombie!

Among the e-mails I received was one kind soul who sent me digital scans of photographs from the 1945 European tour. These photos are reprinted with their permission.

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