The Lasting Impact of World War II on California

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California at War is a One-Hour Special that Reveals the Lasting Impact of World War II on California

The epic story of how World War II changed California and how California changed the war is the subject of California at War, a one-hour special from the award-winning public television series California Connected. California at War airs on KCET September 20 at 8 PM in conjunction with the premiere of Ken Burns’ PBS documentary series The War. California at War is hosted by renowned journalist Judy Muller. Bret Marcus is executive producer.

“World War II was a turning point for California; some have called it a second ‘Gold Rush’ in the sense that the war fast forwarded California into the future,” says Marcus. “California began its transformation from a sleepy West Coast enclave to the mega state it is today. And California changed the war. There are historians in this program who argue that victory in the Second World War would not have been possible without the production, technology and troops provided by California. We tell this amazing story through historians, veterans and eyewitnesses using film and stills – some of which is being shown for the first time ever.”

California at War, produced by KCET Los Angeles, airs in conjunction with Ken Burns’ PBS series The War. PBS is presenting this seven-part documentary series to audiences beginning September 23, 2007. KCET will feature California at War prominently in its schedule during the national broadcast of The War. KCET will also launch an online component to California at War at www.kcet.org to complement the special, featuring exclusive photos, video, local stories and an interactive community where people can comment on the impact of World War II on California’s culture, economy and history.

California at War tells its story in six sections.

  • The “Prologue” looks at the early forties when Californians enjoyed the good life, a world away from war-torn Europe.
  • “The War at Our Doorstop” takes us to the days and months directly after Pearl Harbor, when California actually became a target of Japanese submarines off the coast, culminating in the “Battle of L.A.,” which began after a false radio report that Los Angeles was under attack.
  • The “War Against Ourselves” takes a frank look at the “war” against non-whites – from the internment of more than a hundred thousand Japanese-Americans to the targeting of Mexican-Americans in the “Zoot Suit Riots.”
  • “The War Machine” speaks to the role California played in becoming both a defense industry powerhouse and a staging ground for the war in the Pacific.
  • “The Homefront” tells the story of the role Hollywood played – from propaganda films to the famed “Hollywood Canteen,” where celebrities entertained the troops.
  • Finally, “The Legacy” captures the joy and elation of VJ Day celebrations, and the war time innovations and industries that would have a lasting impact on the state.

    California at War features more than two dozen voices, including former state librarian and historian Kevin Starr, author Walter Mosley and Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney, among others. The program also includes interviews with female aircraft workers, witnesses to the Japanese submarine attacks, decorated Hispanic war veterans and Japanese-Americans who experienced internment. In addition to these special interviews are rare footage and stills from more than 50 archival sources and family collections. Some of this material has never been show before to the public.

    Host/anchor Judy Muller is an award-winning former ABC News correspondent (Nightline), NPR commentator and Professor at the Annenberg School of Journalism.

    Bret Marcus is KCET vice president of programming, publicity and promotion, as well as executive producer of California Connected, which recently won the prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award California at War is underwritten by The Annenberg Foundation, The California Endowment, the Elizabeth Hofert-Dailey Trust and Kaiser Permanente.

    Please check local listings for other stations.

    See Also:

    California at War Premieres on KCET August 23

  • Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it’s head and makes him start pounding the keyboard. Alan has a fascination with making video and video editing, so watch out if he points his Canon 7d in your direction.