by Elizabeth Milligan, Lake Forest College
Frank Sinatra's starring role in "The House I Live In" serves as a spring board for asking questions about different groups of people in American society during World War II. As change rapidly permeated throughout global and American society, groups of people were affected in different ways. Sinatra's plea for tolerance provides a window into the historical issues of 1945 that were shaping World War II society.
In 1945, Frank Sinatra starred in a 10-minute film entitled The House I Live In. The release of the film followed the end of World War II, in which many young men were drafted to fight. Sources indicate that Sinatra was excused from the draft because of a punctured ear drum, and he became a controversial and resented figure as men left their women at home to drool over Sinatra, who was allowed to stay home. Sinatra toured Europe after World War II to entertain the troops, receiving both praise and criticism for his efforts.
In November 1945, this short film was released. According to Sinatra, he used his position as a celebrity to promote tolerance in America. America, fighting to preserve democracy and freedom for those being oppressed in the world, faced difficult times at home in the 1940s. While we do not always discuss the various aspects of freedom and tolerance on the World War II home front, The House I Live In indicates that there was more than one kind of American experience during the war.