They were called bobby-soxers, his young fans, named after the rolled-down hosiery that peeped above their saddle shoes. Their fanatical behavior is familiar to us now, ensconced as we are within an intense celebrity culture. But in October 1944, outsiders did not understand why girls were in line outside of the Paramount Theatre at 3:00 am, hours and hours before the box office opened, in defiance of New York City’s juvenile curfew, to hear a common-looking balladeer sing a commonplace love song like “All or Nothing at All.” Theater ushers were not trained to handle the girls who swooned inside or outside the theater—some from anticipation and excitement, and some from among the cohort of fans who were mentally prepared to sit through all six of the day’s scheduled performances, but who had neglected to pack their lunches. The city police force couldn’t predict that a crowd of 30,000 outside of the theater would overwhelm its hundreds of police officers, when, after the day’s first show, all but 250 of the 3,600 ticketholders refused to leave their seats—as was their privilege, according to theater’s custom—causing those waiting in line to riot in frustration. Who could have predicted that a throng of girls would smash windows, trample passersby, and even, according to one report, overturn a car?
Sitting with Nancy Sinatra, Amy tells a gentleman that she is one of the few Bobby Soxers left.