For American troops in World War II, Margie Stewart was the girl they’d left behind. For the Army, she was a wholesome pinup girl who had an important message for the boys.
Miss Stewart, the Army’s official poster girl, posed in practical clothes, in contrast to the provocative pinup photos of stars like Betty Grable (“the girl with the million-dollar legs”) or Ann Sheridan (the “Oomph Girl”) that soldiers carried to distant battlefields.
Miss Stewart hit a tender spot in homesick soldiers’ hearts. Stars and Stripes, the armed services’ newspaper, told of a pair of soldiers, one from Iowa and one from Kansas, agreeing that she had to be a farm girl — but hotly debating which of the two states she was most likely from. Even soldiers’ wives applauded Miss Stewart’s wholesome look.
Eleanor Roosevelt tried to stop the posters on the grounds that this salubrious image might turn warriors’ thoughts homeward, Miss Stewart later wrote. But soldiers were sending barrages of letters to the Army asking who the pretty girl was and asking for more pictures. So nine more posters followed the initial three. These carried letters urging servicemen to buy war bonds so they could save money to buy homes after the war.
The same images and messages on the posters were included in inserts sent to soldiers with their paychecks, accounting for many millions of reproductions…