Soon after he graduated from George Washington High School in Alexandria, VA, he lined up at the Recruitment Center to enlist in the post World War II Navy. However, he was pulled out of line and asked to pose voluntarily for a recruitment poster. Up till this time, most posters used painted figures or characterizations. Recall the "Uncle Sam Wants You" poster. This recruitment poster was the first to use an actual photograph (see image below):
IMAGE: Uncle Eddie Gailliot poses for a Navy Recruitment poster and recites the oath: “… that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the United States of America and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies whomsoever …”
Eddie told me that the photographer allow him to wear a bracelet but requested him to remove his high school ring. I guess they thought viewers would think, "Geez, right out of high school".
Later on, Eddie appeared on the Classic TV game show “What’s My Line”, which ran on CBS, from 1950 to 1967. Panelists had to guess the "line of work" of the guests who would then respond yes or no to twenty questions posed by the panelists. John Daly, a journalist, was the show's host. Eddie’s “Line” of course was that he was the subject in the Navy’s recruitment poster. So, about 1952, Eddie took a train from Union Station in DC to Grand Central in NY and spent the day as a guest of CBS. Eddie told me he survived about half way through the panelist’s twenty questions. For every question asked, Eddie received 5 or 10 dollars which was donated to a cancer fund for Damon Runyon, writer and newspaperman. Uncle Eddie had the opportuny to meet some famous celebrities that were on the panel, such as: Steve Allen, Bennett Cerf, Dorothy Kilgallen, and Arlene Francis- and a NY cab driver who promised he’d watch Eddie on the show. Incidentally, the show was revived as a syndicated show in mid-1970s. The show was very popular and probably inspired many hosts and hostesses of house parties to invite their guests to play “20 Questions”. The first question was always, "Is it animal, vegetable, or mineral". I guess Eddie's reply to that one was "animal".
Eddie was also chosen to be another poster child. He won a contest in which a local grocery store invited customers to submit photos for the “Gerber Baby”. Gerber is still a favorite baby food. Eddie’s reward was a month’s supply of baby food packed in the famous Gerber jars with a baby’s face on the brand logo.
One more distinction? Uncle Eddie was a drummer in the band for the Washington Redskins professional football team. I think he was a better drummer that the Redskins were a football team- but that was years ago, in the early 1950s.
REFERENCES and LINKS:
War Time posters including recruitment posters available at University of MN: http://digital.lib.umn.edu/warposters/warpost.html
Web site concerning classic TV shows, particularly "What's My Line": http://www.tv.com/what-s-my-line/show/5501/summary.html
Damon Runyon (1884-1946): gambler, drinker, heavy smoker, writer of short stories of Manhattan NY characters (source of Broadway's "Guys and Dolls"), sports writer, newspaperman; died of throat cancer. His ashes were strewn over Manhattan, NY