Lady Be Good

From Academic Kids

Lady Be Good is a 1924 song by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, as well as the title of the Broadway show which the song was featured in. Later two motion pictures were made of the title, and a World War II combat airplane was named after it.


The song

The song was a hit for the Gershwins, and was performed popularly on stage and phonograph records were made of it. Cliff Edwards was a noted star of the day who had a hit with the song.

The show

The Broadway show was written by Guy Bolton, Fred Thompson, and the Gershwin Brothers. It is a musical comedy of young songwriters in love. It ran for 330 performances in the original Broadway run.

1928 film

In 1928 a silent film of Lady Be Good appeared, directed by Richard Wallace.

1941 film

The 1941 Lady Be Good is an MGM musical film starring Eleanor Powell, Ann Sothern, Robert Young, Lionel Barrymore, and Red Skelton. It was directed by Norman Z. McLeod. The film had new music by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein. The film is best known for Powell's show-stopping tap dancing performance to "Fascinating Rhythm".


The Lady Be Good was an American B-24D Liberator based at Benina Airfield in Soluch, Libya and commanded by 1st Lieutenant William J. Hatton. Following an April 4 1943 bombing raid on Naples, Italy conducted by the 376th Bomb Group, the Lady Be Good failed to return to base. After attempts to locate the plane in Libya, its nine crewmen were classified as MIA, and presumed dead, believed to have perished after crashing in the Mediterranean.

On November 9, 1958, British oil surveyors located the wreckage of the Lady Be Good 440 miles south east of Soluch. Although the plane was broken into two pieces, it was immaculately preserved, with functioning machine guns, and a working radio. Evidence aboard the plane indicated that the men had bailed out. Records in the log of the navigator Lieutenant Hays ended at Naples, suggesting that he may have been incapacitated by altitude sickness. The United States Army conducted a search for the remains of the airmen. Finding evidence of the men's progress northward, the exploration concluded that their bodies were buried beneath sand dunes.

In 1960, the bodies of eight airmen were found by another British oil exploration. Five were found nearly 80 miles from the crash site, while another two were found another twenty and twenty seven miles further north respectively. A journal found in the pocket of co-pilot Robert Toner indicated that eight of the men had managed to meet up by firing their revolvers and signal flares into the air and had survived for eight days without water before perishing, managing over 100 hundred miles in searing heat. Three of the eight (Guy Shelley, 'Rip' Ripslinger and Vernon Moore) had set off to try and find help while the other five waited behind. The crew never suspected that they were more than 100 miles inland. The body of one of the three, radio operator Moore was never found. The last man, bombardier John Woravka, was found dead not far from the crash site. The other crew members had been unable to meet up with him and presumed him lost. In fact his parachute had failed causing him to die during the evacuation.

Tragically the crew could have survived had they known how far they were inland and had their escape maps covered the area in which they had bailed out over. Had they travelled south instead of north, the distance covered would have been only slightly less than the distance to the oasis of El Zighen. On their way there they would have come across the wreckage of the Lady Be Good and have been able to retrieve the water stored aboard.

According to the Graves Registration Report on the incident:

The aircraft flew on a 150 degree course toward Benina Airfield. The craft radioed for a directional reading from the HF/DF station at Benina and received a reading of 330 degrees from Benina. The actions of the pilot in flying 440 miles into the desert, however, indicate the navigator probably took a reciprocal reading off the back of the radio directional loop antenna from a position beyond and south of Benina but 'on course'. The pilot few into the desert, thinking he was still over the Mediterranean and on his way to Benina. [1] (

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