Excerpt from Arthur Godfrey on Emergency Plans


As longtime readers of CONELRAD know we have, for many years, been seeking the tape that entertainer Arthur Godfrey allegedly recorded to be broadcast in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States. The obsessive quest for this Cold War Holy Grail is chronicled in greater detail here.

In February of 2008 CONELRAD, working with an archivist at the National Archives and Records Administration, discovered a document related to an April 29, 1952 CBS television special Mr. Godfrey served as "Master of Ceremonies" on titled "It Can Happen Here." This special also featured Col. Justice M. Chambers, Assistant Administrator of the Federal Civil Defense Administration.

The document, "Arthur Godfrey on Emergency Plans," is not the "smoking gun" evidence that proves the radio and TV legend recorded a message to be played during World War III, but it does tend to support his more than casual involvement with continuity of government matters.

The full text of the document is transcribed below:


You know one thing that kind of bothers me and I am sure it does you is knowing that in the present state of world affairs out country could be attacked. It is not a pleasant thought but sometimes, you know, you have to spend a little time and energy on unpleasant things. I've been doing that lately. You may have seen a telecast of a show that Col. Joe Chambers of the Federal Civil Defense Administration and I put on a while ago. We went into this business of the possibility of attack and what we as individuals and as a nation ought to do about it.

I've been checking on how things are coming along in Civil Defense and I'm pretty encouraged. Its (sic) true that in some locations in our country we are not moving too rapidly but in others considerable progress is being made. I think you ought to know that the Federal Civil Defense Administration in Washington is working hard on plans to do an effective job if that attack should strike. They're working with the states and cities to make sure supplies and equipment are ready. And since Washington might be one of the first places to be hit, they have emergency locations where the national Civil Defense operations would be controlled. The set-up is getting better every day. Lord knows we all hope none of this will ever be needed but its (sic) good to know that this kind of national insurance is being handled for us, even without much money to do the job. – If the emergency arises, I'll be working on the Civil Defense team, and that gets me to you.

Are you doing anything to protect yourself and your family if the attack we don’t like to think about, should happen? I don't mean to sound like a "gloomy Gus" or scare ya but – brother – in these days you have to face facts. There's no way to get around 'em. You ought to look into the Civil Defense outfit where you live. Let 'em tell ya what you can do. It could be the biggest pay-off of your life.
Broadcaster and 'National Grandfather' Arthur Godfrey

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
Public Affairs Office Files
Material for Arthur Godfrey
Accession 62A314, Box 739

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