Before the age of email, for most Servicemen the most important words they would hear all day would be Mail Call.
Mail Call simply could not come often enough. There could be no better medicine from the strain of being on the front lines or the boredom of long hours waiting for something to happen. The most important thing to come on-board a Navy ship when coming into port were the bags of mail, sometimes weeks old, but filled with news from loved ones back home. True, sometimes that news was a dreaded "Dear John" letter, but more often it was perfumed well-wishes from a Sweetheart, or even just "kitchen-table gossip" from Mom. Often the letter would be tucked into a uniform pocket, closest to the soldier or sailor's heart, to be read and reread when ever there was time for a break.
This was the spirit of the AFRS program Mail Call. The program was a love letter to the troops. Even though it featured many of the most popular and highest paid talent in Hollywood (all providing their services for free to AFRS), the program was not available to the folks back home.
The Armed Forces Radio Service was established in the early months of WWII. Before AFRS was officially established, Command Performance began production March 1, 1942. The Networks also provided shows for the service (with the commercials removed). AFRS produced a number of their own comedy variety programs at their Hollywood Studios, such as G.I. Journal, Jubilee, and G.I. Jive, along with Mail Call.
Lauck, Bob Wills,
Norris Goff (1943)
The guest stars include comedians Bing Crosby,Jack Benny, Tito Guizar, Harpo and Groucho Marx; starlets Dinah Shore, Tallulah Bankhead, Bette Davis, and Judy Garland; and comic duos Burns and Allen, among others.
See also the Command Performance and Request Performance.