The Swing Shift Shuffle is a radio program of swing, big band, jazz, boogie woogie and other popular music from the 1930's and 40's that airs every Wednesday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (US Central Time) on WEVL 89.9 FM in Memphis, Tennessee, with a live webcast at In addition to the radio show, this blog is dedicated to all aspects of the Swing Era, including art, automobiles, cartoons, comics, history, movies, music, news, science, technology, and anything else that happened during that time. It also includes announcements about events in the Memphis/Mid-South area related to the Swing Era, such as classic movies, concerts, dances, lectures, etc. If you see something that fits the description, send it to me at If you would like more information about the radio show, just go to the Radio Show FAQ page.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chili Williams Camouflage Tips

One of the icons associated with the Swing Era, especially the period during World War II, was the pinup girl:  that "girl-next-door"/Hollywood starlet that served as a reminder of what the boys were fighting for; and ended up on barrack walls and airplane noses (e.g., our own B-17, Memphis Belle ).  Although there has been ample material available to post such images, I have never really focused on them because there are plenty of other sites featuring classic pinups.  I could not resist, however, this set of images from Film Noir Photos, featuring Chili Williams posing in training slides for a U.S. Army presentation on camouflage.  I was not familiar with Ms. Williams until this post, but it appears she was one of the most popular pinups of the war, becoming known as "The Polka Dot Girl" for a distinctive series of photos.  She went on to have small parts in several Hollywood films beginning in the mid-40's until retiring from show business in the 1950's.  An April 1944 article in Life magazine described Ms. Williams' contribution to the war effort as follows:
In need of a dramatic device to stimulate what they call their "visual aids" teaching methods, the Army Engineers, who are renowned for their inventiveness, enlised Chili's help. The camouflage section at Ft. Belvoir, Va had photographer Ewing Krainin make the pictures on these pages for their lantern-slide lectures on camouflage. By thus using Chili, says the Army official release, "vital principles are impressed in the minds of camouflage students in a most effective manner." Honor students are awarded copies of the photographs.

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