Some actors will do anything to get a part. The subject of a new movie, Mildred Gillars (1900–1987)—a drama school reject and disillusioned former Broadway chorus girl and vaudevillian—blossomed poisonously during World War II as “Midge,” Berlin Reich Radio’s star D.J. and anti-Semitic announcer. She supposedly had a sensationally sexy coo but was, in fact, more Mrs. Miniver than Marilyn Monroe.
Gillars’s claim that she was “the Irish type…a real Sally” earned her notoriety as “Axis Sally,” the weaponized Yank femme fatale of the Nazi propaganda machine, which deployed her to deter G.I.’s from fighting in Europe. Her vicious broadcasts were meant to make them feel homesick and paranoid about what their wives and sweethearts were getting up to. Yet Air Corps corporal Edward Van Dyne said in 1944, “We get an enormous bang out of her. We love her.”