Back to USO Overview  USO Camp Shows List

U.S.O Camp Show # unknown

Lily Pons
Andre Kostelanetz
Frank Versacci
Theodore Paxton

Unless otherwise indicated images are from Eugene T. Wozniak collection; none of which were annotated.  We did the best we can to identify places, people and circumstances, however, if you can provide more accurate information PLEASE email us!
Click on any image to view a larger version!

From CBI Roundup, 28 Dec 1944;

Lily Pons, the petite diva, and her husband, Andre Kostalanetz, brilliant conductor and a gentleman with more than ordinary skill at getting the mostest and bestest out of a piano, have arrived in the India-Burma Theater, through the courtesy of USO Shows. They'll be with us for 60 days in the I-B Theater. For the record, and lest there be disappointments, it is not at the moment practicable for the Pons-Kostalanetz troupe to be booked into the China Theater.

It is, of course, redundant to record the fact that Mrs. Kostalanetz has been an outstanding ornament of the Metropolitan Opera Company since 1931, a matter which is easy to understand when one regards the combination of voice and person embodied in the charming lady.

Nor can one in fairness gloss over the fact that after completing a 15-week tour of North Africa, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf Command and the Italian Theater, that Miss Pons has cancelled her usual winter season at the "Met" to come to the Far East.

Kostalanetz has been playing the piano with consummate finesse since the tender age of five and at the hoary age of eight made his professional debut. Plans call for him to conduct an all-G.I. band, members of which are being recruited from various bases in the Theater, and Special Service announces that it isn't having to twist anyone's arm.

La Pons and Kostalanetz will appear at as many stations as they can reach in 60 days. They won't be able to get everywhere, but they'll make the try.

Frank Versacci, flutist, and Theodore Paxton, music composer and arranger.

From here, they will proceed to ETO.

Miss Pons is assisted from the C-47 "Skytrain" which brought her to the airfield at Yangkai, China. We have no specific identification of the men visible in the photo.

Lily poses with unidentified Maj./Lt. Col. (possibly base commander?).

Before departing the aircraft parking ramp, Miss Pons poses with unidentified officer.

Andre Kastelanetz stands on the far left while ARC ladies Phyliss Doloff and Barbara Vatter bracket Lily Pons. We have no identification for the other three men.

Lily, Andre, Phylliss and Barbara crowd into a jeep driven by the unidentified Maj./Lt. Col.

After arriving at The LAST RESORT, atop 'Red Dust Hill,' Lily Pons and Andre Kostalanetz posed for more photos.

Still atop the hill, Lily again poses, bracketed by Phylliss and Barbara.

Lily Pons, Andre Kastelanetz, Frank Versacci and Theodore Paxtion offered a photo op inside The LAST RESORT. None of the men behind and beside them are identified.

After settling in a little and awaiting the start of her show, Lily Pons posed again. She sat and along with members of her entourage chatted with the "welcoming committee" of men assigned at Yangkai.

Andre Kastelanetz led the orchestra in a couple of songs,

before stepping to the front of the stage...> introduce Lily Pons first performance.

Theodore Paxton, emcee, then introduced Frank Versacci's first performance, then sat at the piano for accompaniment. He was forced to share his chair with Frank's feet as Frank stood on the edge so that everyone in the audience might see him.

Fianlly, Andre took over the piano to accompany a duet by Lily's voice and Frank's flute.

Back to USO Overview  USO Camp Shows List