Virginia Barton

19 October 2015: On Parade


19 October 2015


joanJoan Leslie, who died aged ninety last week, alternated with Princess Margaret as BH’s pin-up, back in the Forties. He tells me he preferred Joan because “She had a sweet face.” He doesn’t remember which films he saw her in, but certainly in 1942’s Yankee Doodle Dandy with Jimmy Cagney. (A film in my book as bad as Went the Day Well.)

BH is congratulating himself on living longer than Joan.

“But you’re only 86 and she died at 90,” say I.

“Well, I’m nearly 90,” says he, darkly.


Nonsensically, I have always been jealous of Joan Leslie, and when we first marry I deride her “homely” look, refer to her as “Joanie,” and retaliate with Gregory Peck – but it’s water off a duck’s back.


“Anyway,” I ask, “how can you pin up a pin-up when you’re living in a tent?”

It seems you didn’t PIN anything. There was a rope at the top of the tent and upon this you hung your British army top quality greatcoat, facing frontwards. Into the V-shaped gap, you tucked your pin-up. Got it? No pins, and as easily changed as your fickle mood.

The pictures were cut out of Parade magazine; in BH’s case, the Polish edition, Polska Parada. He tells me he joined the Military Cadet School after reading an article about it in Polska Parada in Tehran in 1944.

Does Parade still persuade young men and women to join the Army? Is it still on the newsstand? And if so, who are the pin-ups today, I wonder?


RIP Joanie; you who gave so much pleasure to my BH and countless others, no doubt.





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