Entertainment in the 1960s

Ann Margaret and Johnny Rivers
USO Show Chu Lai 1966.

While looking for photos (for another section) in the Internet archives, I came upon this one, which has a story attending it. First, the photo. This is a picture of Ms. Margaret singing while sitting on the stage (center). Johnny Rivers is behind her. His band is in the back somewhere.

I had duty in MAG36 (Marine Air Group 36 - Helicopters) Group S-3 (operations) and wasn't going to be able to see Ms. Margaret's performance. My friends LCPL Wolf and another LCPL left hours early so as to get a seat. They departed laughing at me because I was not going to get to see the sexy actress and singer and they were.

This was a great prize for anyone able to attend her show. But more than that in 1966 Marine Corps, Chu Lai, Vietnam, just being able to be close to the vamp was a sign of obvious sexual virility and prowess, and not being able to attend her performance denoted impotence, a mark of demasculation. My persona was in deep trouble with this luck of the work roster draw.

No matter. Getting off duty much later, I hurried over to the hill anyway where she was to sing wishing to at least hear her. I had done the same with the Bob Hope Christmas Show 1965. But there I found a tree that I climbed and from which I had viewed his show, at the time and ever since, the greatest entertainment moment on earth. But there was no tree here this time at Ms. Margaret's performance and the crowd overflowed back up over the ridge, precluding any visibility at all of the stage. Plus, MPs or SPs were guarding the perimeter stopping anyone else from trying to get in.

While standing there, a mita (mini or small) jeep pulling a trailer loaded with suitcases and things showed up. While the gestapo was looking the other way, I just raised up and fell back into the trailer. It was let in and as it passed the cops asked if I was the detail for carrying Mrs. Margaret's luggage. I nodded yes and they passed the jeep, trailer, baggage and me through the mob.

When we got to the stage, everyone else was cleared away and I was escorted with her luggage in my hands up the stairs and onto the stage , then to her small dressing room where I smiled at her and put her stuff down. She smiled at me in a very nice way. She was the first woman with round eyes I had seen since Mr. Hope's show. I returned to get more suitcases which turned out to be Mr. Rivers' and his band's instruments. 

It took about four trips. But I carried everything up and onto the stage and to their location, which was on the right side from the audience's perspective. As I crossed the middle of the platform, my friends who had left earlier and were in the audience, having been there for hours, and who were sitting about twent-five yards out started yelling at me in disbelief that I was up there on the stage. Everybody started laughing as I said something back to them. I think I told them that she had personally asked for me to carry her luggage. Everybody was holloring in the audience and it was much fun.

I then got a front row seat which was at the corner of the stage to her right where she is sitting in this photo. Then the producer and Mr. Rivers said that she and he wanted me to be the one selected for her to sing to, and then with whom she would dance. I declined as was too shy for such an honor.

There is more to this. But this should suffice to tell my story of meeting Ann Margaret and Johnny Rivers at Chu Lai in the Summer of 1966 at a time when as it was for us, the war was winding down. I left for home I think within the next two months.

Semper Fi,


Jesse "Skip" Collins (class of 1964)

 Series Contents

  1. “Part I: Women of Eden, Texas; 1838-1963-2014”
  2. “Part I: Navy Corpsmen: Tribute to a Westbury Hero”
  3. "Part II: (beginning) The Westbury Rebel's Meaning to Me," or "The First Play from Scrimmage in the Westbury vs Bellaire Fifty Year Rivalry"
  4. "Part II: (conclusion) What Happened at the End of the 1962 Westbury vs. Austin Football Game?"
  5. “Part II: Entertainment in the 1960s”
  6. "Part III: The Good Rebel in Most of Us (beginning); For What Do Good Rebels Fight and Die?"
  7. "Part III: The Good Rebel in Most of Us (continued); Competitions, Challenges, and Making Things Right"
  8. "Part III: The Good Rebel in Most of Us (conclusion); Distinguishing Good from Bad Rebels"
  9. "Part IV: Westbury Rebel Management of Really Serious Troublemakers in (and from) the Global"
  10. "Part IV: Master of the Lake; The Great Peking Duck and Yorkshire Terrier Battle; or, A Scientifically acceptable Anecdotal Example for the Study of Visceralness in Fighting"
  11. “Part V: Turn the World Right Side Up: Theory and Application for Depowering Psychopaths, BS Managers gone Berzerk (Bad Rebels), and the National to International Institutions they Manage"