Thursday, May 24, 2012

To Betty Grable and Times Past

File:Betty Grable 20th Century Fox.jpg

Hi there big fella, she seems to be saying, especially to you. Back in the time of the Second World War when all of America got involved with its wars unlike today when we pay "volunteers" to do battle while most of us are unaffected by all the battles and horrors of war, the above photo was the most popular pin-up for our fighting forces. This photo is called a "pin-up" because GI Joe pinned it up in his locker or next to him in the battlefield. Back in the day those legs, some referred to them as "gams" were insured for a million dollars when a million dollars meant something. Betty Grable was one of our biggest movie stars of our time. While she reflected a sweet innocence she also reflected a sexiness that our fighting men saw and recognized. Unlike today where the models and stars have no problem with showing all or most of their assets Betty captured the hearts of the men of her generation by showing just enough. Both generations had the same underlying desire but way back when it wasn't so blatant in the showing of the body or desire.

The dichotomy of it all was the photo reflected a "gentler" time during one of the most violent and vicious times in the annals of mankind. This dichotomy, perhaps, was a portent of thing to come for Betty and the nation. When the war was over and the men returned in 1945 the scramble was on to settle into civilian life with the loved ones left behind. There was a scramble to get married, get a job and have kids. The world was hoping the violent times were behind us all but the violence was getting worse. From 1945 when the big war ended to this day violence and man's inhumanity to man just continued to get worse, while at the same time time many parts of the world became more civilized and efforts to alleviate crimes against humanity increased. The world was struck with a new disease, Aids. In the beginning the violence continued as the homophobics said those who contacted it deserved it because of their "sinful" lifestyle, yet the world's community banded together to find a cure and at least medicine to allow those who contacted it to live a longer useful life. Individually western civilization became more open about sex and the human body which led to a tearing away of the "mystery" that surrounded the desire of a man and woman. Betty Grable's photo of an innocent yet very sexy young lady was replaced by hot sexy women in string bikini's or nothing at all.

Grable herself had a life that was full of the good and bad. She became a big movie star in the 1940's and through most of the 1950's and her pin-up was voted one of 100 photos that changed the world. She married Jackie Coogan and Harry James both ended in divorce. James was the most famous Trumpeter of his time but he was a drunk, gambler and philanderer. She died in 1973, of lung cancer only 56 years old. Her life seemed to reflect the times in which she lived. She had the good and the bad. Yet she will always live on as the innocent sexy pin-up Queen. She in a way reflects the yearning we seem to have of the times gone by remembering only the seeming innocence of our youth while we forget the violence that existed then as well as now all at the same time. I guess good and evil will always live side by side but for most of us we will remember the beauty and peacefulness of the good.   

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