Madera Tribune, Number 220, 19 November 1947. Untitled.——-en–20–1–txt-txIN-Friendship+Train——-1


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Drew Pearson – Hollywood Star Walk – Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times 

OTD: November 7, 1947 – November 7, 2017


70 years ago today in Hollywood, California, the Friendship Train, Drew PEARSON’ s extraordinary people-to-people humanitarian program to help rebuild Europe after WWII, began its mission to collect food for starving France and Italy all across the Golden State.

Indeed, less than a month after Drew PEARSON had shared his idea for a Friendship Train with Charles LUCKMAN, Chairman of the Citizen’s Food Committee, who enthusiatically gave him his full support… He had worked tiressly–night and day–meeting after meeting with the Association of American Railroads; the steamship lines; the leaders of labor and agricultural; the radio and the press; and last, but not least, the motion picture industry. In an unbelievable short time, Drew PEARSON not ony persuaded all involved to help publicize his Friendship Train but also to donate their time and facilities to transport the foodstuffs that would be collected.

And tonight was Drew Pearson’s night! All his work and efforts to make his Friendship Food Train a reality were rewarded with the most glamorous Star-Spangled send-off ever staged on the Pacific Electric Railway in Hollywood, California…

Led by Harry M. Warner, president of Warner Bros., National Chairman of the Friendship Train Committee, the National Association of Mayors, Eddie Cantor as master of ceremonies and Lionel Barrymore who emceed the program on coast-to-coast radio, the list of Major Movie Stars present surpassed the Oscars: Ronald Reagan, then-President of the Screen Actors Guild, anybody who was anybody in Hollywood, they were all there to entertain and be part of the festivities–John Wayne, Shirley Temple, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor, Red Skelton, Danny Thomas and many others celebrities turned out seventy years ago tonight to see the start of the Friendship Train on its transcontinental trip to New York.

Lauritz Melchoir, a famous Danish-American opera singer, opened the two-hour of send-off ceremonies by singing “The Star Spangled Banner.” A 27-car parade train featured the colorful festivities on Hollywood Bvd. and La Brea Ave. commencing at 7:30 P.M. with parade leaving La Brea Ave. at 9:00 P.M. Uncounted thousands cheered and 160 giant searchlights forming the letter “V” and illuminated buildings lit up the scene until about 11:00 P.M, said The Associated Press.

On that same day, the citizens of Seattle, Washington, who had recently learned that the Friendship Train could not, alas, get to their northern city, didn’t think twice about participating: They “simply” rushed their own contribution–Five hundred pounds of Washington wheat flour and canned salmon sent to Los Angeles by Western Air Lines, picked up and delivered to the Friendship Train by the Los Angeles Fire Department– Mike Mitchell, president of the Seattle City Council, also sent Mayor Fletcher Bowron this telegram: “Good luck on loading your Friendship Train out of Los Angeles. The citizens of Seattle hope their contribution of flour and salmon will aid you in your worthy cause.”

As Drew Pearson, on board the Friendship Train loaded with twelve carloads of vital food, chugged out of Glendale, heading north through California’s central valley–first stop Bakersfield–he must have felt some pride and joy. But never, in his wildest predictions, could he have foreseen his grassroots project was about to trigger such national reaction, a chain of generosity already affecting millions… Millions of generous Americans across the nation already taking action, eagerly collecting food and supplies, money to purchase even more foodstuffs they were about to donate… just as soon as Drew Pearson with the Friendship Train showed up at their nearest stations this month. All Aboard the Friendship Train!

Elisabeth Jenssen





© The Official French-American Project entirely conceived by Ms. Elisabeth JENSSEN to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Friendship Train and the Merci Train (2017- 2019). All rights reserved.

Chair, Elisabeth Jenssen Co-Chair, Tyler Abell

Honorary President: The Comte Gilbert de Pusy La Fayette



LIFE 24 nov. 1947. It was inevitable that sooner or later the peculiar talents of Truman’s Food Committee Chairman Charles Luckman and Hollywood would be combined to produce a new high in razzle-dazzle. It happened in the interest of a worthy cause when on Nov. 7 the Friendship Train started out from Glendale, Calif. on its cross-country trip to collect food for Europe. The results, of course, were supercolossal. While the real train was being loaded with real food on a siding, a fake train loaded with movie stars was hauled up Hollywood Boulevard through one of the most brilliant lighting effects klieged-eyed Hollywoodians have ever seen. LIFE 24 nov. 1947 164 pages ISSN 0024-3019.{4d24daa5a359aa22e51c71c531e935ff229d31c7c5eb0da4885e362fa152ead6}20News{4d24daa5a359aa22e51c71c531e935ff229d31c7c5eb0da4885e362fa152ead6}20Pictures{4d24daa5a359aa22e51c71c531e935ff229d31c7c5eb0da4885e362fa152ead6}20Friendship{4d24daa5a359aa22e51c71c531e935ff229d31c7c5eb0da4885e362fa152ead6}20Train&f=false



In her Memoir: “My Diary (Part 2)” (1948) Ten-year-old Child Actress and superstar Margaret O’Brien, a native of San Diego, Calif., whose unforgettable performance as “Tootie” in Vincente Minnelli’s “Meet Me in St. Louis” (Le Chant du Missouri 1944) had won her a Juvenile Academy Award as “Outstanding Child Actress” of 1944, speaks fondly of the Friendship Train…

November 7: Tonite we went to the Friend ship train. We went in Carmen Mirandas car and Florence Meyer from Philadelphia went with us. I never saw so many searchlights or so many people. Everybody in Los Angeles must have been there. They had a big platform in the middle of the street for the show. I saw Virginia O’Brien and Kathryn Grayson sing and Red Skelton and Danny Thomas and Eddie Cantor made jokes. Then Mr. Drew Pearson and Governor Warren made speeches and I did too. Next Irving Berlin got up and asked everybody to sing God Bless America. Then the Friendship train came tooting by and there was Van Johnson and Judy Garland and lots of other stars standing on it and waving at everybody. All the people got on the train and went for a little ride down Hollywood Blvd.- all except me. Mama said I should go home because it was after my bed time. Mama said the train is going all over the country to get cans of food for the poor little children in Europe who are hungry. And every city will add another train. I hope by the time it gets to New York it has about a thousand trains. I am tired so I will go to sleep- good nite.

My diary: With drawings by the author and a foreword by Lionel Barrymore Unknown Binding – 1948 by Margaret O’Brien (Author) J.B. Lippincott Co; [1st ed.] edition (1948)


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