Jean Ruth Hay, the world’s first global disc jockey, died on Sept. 18 after suffering a stroke. She was 87.
At 24, the Philadelphia native offered to create a “painless reveille” for the troops stationed at Fort Logan in Colorado. Her daily wake-up call, which was aired on Denver radio station KFEL, led to publicity in Time Magazine and a job offer from KNX-AM in Hollywood.
During World War II, Hay’s radio program ”Reveille With Beverly,” roused American troops in 54 countries. Each day at 5:30 a.m., she opened a cold bottle of Coca-Cola, greeted an estimated 11 million servicemen with the signature line (”Hi there, boys of the U.S.A.”) and broadcast music by Benny Goodman, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington and Artie Shaw on the Armed Forces Radio Service. She took requests and read notes from GIs on the air — a few of which turned out to be coded messages. In 1943, Columbia Pictures produced a movie about her radio program; the film starred Ann Miller and featured the vocal talents of an unknown singer named Frank Sinatra.
Hay remained in California after the war ended. She worked for a radio station in Santa Barbara and did charity work for Direct Relief International, a non-profit organization that provides health care and disaster relief. In later years, she hosted the TV show, “Beverly on 3,” and appeared in commercials for Carnation Milk, Wonder Bread and Kraft Cheese. Hay was also the spokeswoman for Pillsbury until 1965 when the company replaced her with the Pillsbury Doughboy.
Jean was a 1935 graduate from the State Preparatory high school (SPS) in Boulder, CO. I, too, graduated from there but in an earlier class (1931).
There was an interesting coincidence in our respective careers. My first job in radio was also at KFEL in Denver and a year later I was hired by KNX in Hollywood.
I am sure Jean never knew of this and it wasn’t until after her death that I learned of her early days at KFEL and KNX and later very productive career.
Forrest A. Bartlett
No tribute, but yes question. Is this the same Jean Ruth who was an actress in the Martin and Lewis film “At War With The Army”? (1950) This actress also looked a lot like the mother in an early seventies sit-com with Dom Delouise where her signature line was “Do I have a son, or do I have a son…?
I have the same question: Is this the Jean Ruth who was an actress in the 1940s/1950s? I have an autographed photo with a penciled date on the back that reads 5/12/47. Photo looks like it could be this Jean Ruth…Hoping someone will know and let me know.
No, they are two separate people. Jean Ruth Hay was never an actress of any sorts. But unless there has been an error in information, they were both born and died in the same year. Jean Ruth retired from acting in 1957. Her next to last acting performance was in an episode of the Highway Patrol called “Double Cross” which is available on Youtube. The episode is excellent, and so is she. I would imagine that she decided to devote all her time to raising a family, because there would have been plenty of T.V. work available for a woman that expierenced, beautiful, and talented. She reminds me a lot of actress Barbara Bel Geddess – of Hitchcock and Dallas fame.
I, like previous commenter
Morgan Paris, was very
impressed with “Jean Ruth” in
the 1957 Highway Patrol
episode. VERY attractive. Hard
to believe she retired. Our
family had a 57 Plymouth
like the bad guy! (not wagon)