“banish the black, burn the blue, and bury the beige! From now on
girls…Think pink! think pink!”
“Go out dancing but just remember one thing:
You can get a little wink
If you got a little pink
In your swing.”
(lyrics from ‘Think Pink’ in ‘Funny Face’)
Not only have beautiful ladies adorned many a beautiful war bird over the centuries but they have also become film starts in their own rights, some staring in many films. One of the premium film stars, nose art Royalty if you will, is ‘The Pink Lady’ !!
The B-17G Flying Fortress Bomber known as ‘The Pink Lady’ is not only a film star but also one of the few B -17’s still in flying condition today and was the only flying survivor to have seen action in Europe during World War II until her retirement in 2010, having flown her last in March of that year.
When she was rolled off the line at the Burbank, California, USA based production facility ‘Lockheed-Vega’, in December 1944, she was yet to receive her illustrious name and decoration. She was still known simply as a B-17G-85-VE Fortress with the serial number 44-8846. She was flown to the windy isle of England on March 1st 1945 to start her new life with the 511th Bomb Squadron, 351ST Bomb Group based at RAF Polebrook in Northamptonshire. Having arrived late to the ‘party’, not entering active service and joining the war until near the end, she was only able to partake in 6 missions over Germany. Though of course this was a good thing for her future career as a leading lady and viewing enjoyment of many generations. When the 351st ended their combat operations on April 20th 1945 ‘The Pink Lady’ had flown her last mission. The rest of the 351st returned to the US yet she was then transfered to RAF Chelverston, also in Northamptonshire, England with the 365th Bomb Squadron, 305th Bomb Group.
Although, after the war she continued to be a jet setter, serving in missions all around the world, she is now perhaps more well-known for her starring roles in movies….
“La Grande Vadrouille” (“Don’t look now, we’re being shot at”)1966
Directed by Gerard Oury, it tells the story of two French civilians and a British bomber crew member attempting to escape back from Germany to France.
“Memphis Belle” (1990)
Directed by Michael Caton-Jones and featuring an all-star cast, it is arguable the most famous film to feature nose art. It tells the story of the 25th and last mission flown by the ‘Memphis Belle’ who was stationed in England. In it ‘The Pink Lady’ had her work cut out for her, playing not just her self but also the fictional B-17G ‘Mother and County’.
‘Red Tails’ (2012)
Directed by Anthony Hemingway, it focuses on a crew of African-Americans at a training camp facing segregation during World War II.
As with other celebrities her fans are extensive and diverse. ‘The Pink Lady’ has flown not just across skies and celluloid but into the hearts of men and women alike. Even being personally requested to fly over the famous Champs-Elysee on July 14th 1984 by the then President Francois Mitterrand.
Praised for her loyalty, bold spirit and raven haired beauty ‘The Pink Lady’ will forever remain not just in history but in our hearts and minds…and thanks to the power of the movies we can glance upon her pink clad loveliness any time the fancy takes us.
“Think pink! think pink! when you shop for summer clothes.
Think pink! think pink! if you want that quel-que chose.
Red is dead, blue is through,
Green’s obscene, brown’s taboo.
And there is not the slightest excuse for plum or puce
Think pink! forget that Dior says black and rust.
Think pink! who cares if the new look has no bust.
Now, I wouldn’t presume to tell a woman
what a woman oughtta think,
But tell her if she’s gotta think: think pink!”
(lyrics from ‘Think Pink’ in ‘Funny Facel’)