“Orphan Ann” Home Page: II. Orphan of the Pacific
“Orphan Ann” Home Page
Sayonara, “Tokyo Rose” … Hello Again, “Orphan Ann”!
(4 Jul 1916 – 26 Sep 2006)
Since their capture and conscription into Radio Tokyo, the Allied POWs had waged a covert campaign to sabotage the Japanese propaganda effort through the use of on-air flubs, innuendo, double entendre, and sarcastic, rushed or muffled readings. When their Japanese overseers were too alert to such trickery, they resorted to mechanical intonations to sound like men being forced to read at gunpoint. Now they had to bring a fourth party into the conspiracy and the only person they could trust was Iva Toguri.
Reluctantly, she agreed. At first, she only broadcast anonymously, but when the Japanese authorities insisted that all speaking parts had to have names she chose “Ann” from the abbreviation ANN for Announcer that appeared on all her lines in the script. Seeing possibilities in this, Cousens expanded the name to “Orphan Ann” and began creating a character to go with it. “Orphan Ann” combined Iva’s naturally exuberant personality with that of the Little Orphan Annie radio character and tied in with the phrase “Orphans Of The Pacific” used to describe her Allied GI audience. Cousens plan was to turn his program into a burlesque of a propaganda broadcast, a shared joke between them and the GIs.
So what was Iva’s “Orphan Ann” segment of the Zero Hour like? Here’s a 20-second excerpt from the closing of her 14 August 1944 broadcast:
Iva only spent twenty minutes a day broadcasting at Radio Tokyo. The rest of her time was spent as a typist and on scavenger hunts for black-market food, medicine and supplies for what she had come to regard as “her” POWs.
As the war worsened, her pro-American sentiment was tolerated less and less by her co-workers. After Felipe got into a fistfight over a comment she had made, Iva quit her job at Domei and found work at the Danish legation, where she took part of her pay in luxury items from the legation’s diplomatic rations, which she then traded on the black market for even more goods for the POWs.
When Cousens suffered a heart attack and was taken off the air, the heart went out of Iva as well, but she carried on as best she could, re-writing Cousens’ old scripts as much as possible, writing in his flippant style, keeping the faith.
Things had changed at Radio Tokyo. Cousens was hospitalized, Ince had been taken off the program for insubordination and Reyes had been declared a “friendly alien” following the annexation of the Philippines by the Japanese. But Zero Hour was perceived as a success by the Japanese Army following reports from neutral Portugal and Sweden that American forces were listening raptly to the broadcasts of “Tokyo Rose” throughout the Pacific. No one at Radio Tokyo knew to which program the name “Tokyo Rose” applied, but the brass were pleased that notice was being taken.
The descriptions of the programs suggested Iva Toguri’s “Orphan Ann” but descriptions of the voice suggested Foumy Saisho’s “Madame Tojo” or Ruth Hayakawa’s “Nightingale of Nanking” or anything but Iva’s music-hall comedienne style delivery. Either way, it was clear that any attempt by Iva to quit the program at this point was out of the question.
Iva moved in with Felipe d’Aquino’s family in Atsugi and contrived to stay away from Radio Tokyo as much as possible. Various women filled in for her at this time, reading straight propaganda as in the other NHK programs. B-29s launched from China and Okinawa began to firebomb Tokyo for days on end. After a quick conversion to Catholicism, Iva married Felipe in a small, quiet ceremony marred by an air raid that sent the wedding party scurrying to shelter. A month later, Iva was ordered by a Kempeitai plainclothesman to report back to Radio Tokyo. Three months later, the war was over.
Iva Toguri d’Aquino cheered as the Emperor’s broadcast on Radio Tokyo announced the unconditional surrender and made plans for a triumphal return to America with her new husband. This was also to prove not to be the case.
Last Update: 01 January 2020
Copyright © 1995–present by Dafydd Neal Dyar