USO performers always seem like they're laboring in the shadows of the greats. Even Stephen Colbert, who just broadcast a week of "Colbert Report" episodes from Baghdad's Camp Victory, faced some pressure to live up to the organization's golden era.

"Back in World War II, the USO used to send us great big stars like Marlene Dietrich, Lauren Bacall, and the Rockettes," George H.W. Bush told the troops via a video link to Baghdad. "I'm just saying, this Stephen Colbert guy better have great legs."

In today's TNR slideshow we look back at some of the iconic stars who defined the USO's early decades.

--Elizabeth Sher

Photo courtesy of AP