Special Services (entertainment)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Special Services was the entertainment branch of the American military. The unit was created on 22 July 1940 by the War Department as part of the Army Service Forces.[1] Special Services not only used its own specially trained and talented troops but also would often engage local performers.[2] Among its activities were staging plays and stage acts, holding concerts, filming documentaries, and providing recreational opportunities for servicemen.

Special Services were one of the few U.S. Army units to be racially integrated during World War II. Special Services opened their first Recreational Officer school at Fort Meade Maryland on 1 April 1942.[3]

Within the United States Marine Corps, the Special Services Division was the forerunner of today's Special Services Branch. It was formed on 1 March 1943, to provide morale maintaining recreational and informational services to Marine Corps personnel.[4][5] As of at least 2004, the Special Services Branch was still active within the USMC.[6]


Roles within the Special Services (defined as Military Occupational Specialties) included that of Entertainment Specialist (03B), Physical Activities Specialist (03C), Crafts Specialist (03D), and Recreation Service Senior Sergeant (03Z).

Notable Special Service members[edit]

Some notable figures who served in the Special Services include actors Burt Lancaster, Mickey Rooney, and Sammy Davis, Jr.; film director Anatole Litvak, bandleader Glenn Miller, tenor Mario Lanza, folk singer Peter Seeger, and baseball slugger Hank Greenberg.

Expanded (partial) list[edit]


  1. ^ P. 415 Emerson, William K. Encyclopedia of United States Army Insignia and Uniforms 1996 University of Oklahoma Press
  2. ^ p.57 Monod, David Settling scores: German Music, Denazification, & the Americans, 1945–1953 UNC Press 2005
  3. ^ "Home" (PDF).
  4. ^ Page 82, Leatherneck - Volume 44, Issue 3
  5. ^ "Shadow box". army.togetherweserved.com. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  6. ^ "United States Marine Corps (USMC): Officer Job Descriptions MOS 9913: Special Services Officer, who 'supervises and coordinates special services activities involved with command morale, welfare, and recreation programs,' among other duties". Archived from the original on 21 September 2004. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  7. ^ Dabney Coleman at IMDb
  8. ^ McLellan, Dennis (11 May 2004). "Phil Gersh, 92; Agent With Old Hollywood Instincts, Art Patron". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  9. ^ Writer Carl Gottlieb on serving in the Army - TelevisionAcademy.com/Interviews Television Academy via YouTube. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  10. ^ Whatever Happened To Richard Kline aka Larry From ‘Three’s Company’? (2022 Update) nedhardy.com. Retrieved October 21, 2022.
  11. ^ Kovner, Guy (26 March 2013). "Robert Nichols". The Press Democrat. Archived from the original on 31 March 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  12. ^ "Seeger, Pete, Cpl". Retrieved 14 April 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Koseluk, Chris (6 October 2019). "Rip Taylor, Flamboyant Comic and Host of 'The $1.98 Beauty Show,' Dies at 88". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 16 January 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Baird, Nancy Disher. "'To Lend You My Eyes...': The World War II Letters of Special Services Officer Harry Jackson." Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 88.3 (1990): 287–317, a primary source online
  • Cooke, James J. Chewing Gum, Candy Bars, and Beer: The Army PX in World War II (2009).[ISBN missing]
  • Cooke, James J. American Girls, Beer, and Glenn Miller: GI Morale in World War II (U of Missouri Press, 2012).[ISBN missing]
  • Kane, Liam. "Paving the Way to a 'Good Understanding': Recreation and Australian-American Army Cooperation in the South West Pacific Area, 1941–1945." Australasian Journal of American Studies 37.2 (2018) pp 27–52.
  • Rorke, Margaret Ann. "Music and the wounded of World War II." Journal of Music Therapy 33.3 (1996): 189–207.