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“Zooming Back”: Nancy in “China Beach” and Viet Nam

November 4th, 2013 by Andrew

“…zooming back…”

Nancy Sinatra

Johnny Grant introduces Nancy…

Art imitated life. Two decades after Nancy’s first tour in Viet Nam, she portrayed herself as a USO entertainer in “Chao Ong,” the season 1 finale of China Beach. Affording insight into unsung heroism, this 1988-1991 TV series focused on the daily lives of doctors, nurses, soldiers and USO entertainers at an American base in Viet Nam during the late 1960s.

 Fast forward another two decades:
Nancy’s association with the series reverberates…

April 6-7, 2011: Nancy and Dana Delany (“Colleen McMurphy” in the series) exchange tweets.

Nancy Sinatra

February 18, 2013: Dana’s apparent style homage to Nancy is recognized by co-host Sherri Shepherd as Dana arrives on the set of The View.

Nancy Sinatra

And now: Nancy’s classic appearance on China Beach is available on DVD, as part of the Season 1 set (released on October 1, 2013) and The Complete Series box set (released in April 2013), from StarVista/Time Life.

Nancy Sinatra


 Filming “Chao Ong”…

Nancy Sinatra

Prior to China Beach’s April 26, 1988 debut on ABC, Entertainment Tonight was on location in Malibu to cover production of Nancy’s episode, which would feature a recreation of her USO shows in Viet Nam.

Nancy Sinatra

On the June 7, 1988 broadcast of E.T., Nancy discussed her “zooming back, instant flashback to Viet Nam.”



Nancy was photographed by Nguyen Thanh Tai (for UPI), as she entertained U.S. troops from the First Infantry Division in Bien Hoa, South Viet Nam, February 1967.

Nancy Sinatra

In Bien Hoa, Nancy descended a ramp into her audience.

Nancy Sinatra


Back to the future…

Nancy Sinatra

Nancy Sinatra

The “Insider” column in TV Guide’s June 4-10, 1988 issue spotlighted Nancy and honorary mayor of Hollywood Johnny Grant.

Nancy Sinatra

Nancy’s episode, “Chao Ong,” which aired on ABC on June 8, 1988, was featured in TV Guide’s “Previews” column for that evening’s highlights.

Nancy Sinatra


Nancy remembers…

“The filming wasn’t fun although it was nice to meet Marg [Helgenberger] and Dana [Delany] and the rest of the cast. Since I had walked through my films and never had any formal training as an actor, it was interesting to see how intense they all were, focusing and not being social.
Acting is serious business.”

“My husband had died and I was Mom and Dad to my kids. A while later, Bill Broyles, the producer/creator called me and asked if I could come do a walk on for some reason that was vital to him. He practically begged me to do it. I had a plan that day with my daughters, going to Disneyland or something they had been looking forward to for weeks, so I told him that though I’d do anything for my veterans and for him, I simply couldn’t do it. Things were never the same between Bill and me. Sometimes I wonder if he ever had children of his own and learned how important it is to not disappoint them.”

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One Response to ““Zooming Back”: Nancy in “China Beach” and Viet Nam”

  1. ManinBlackAtlGa says:

    I saw that episode, and it brought tears to my eyes reliving the memories of 1967. It’s taken some time to be able to think about that era and the experiences without getting just totally spazed out. Seeing her in that Episode helped a little. There are some things you don’t mind Remembering, and there are some things you don’t mind Forgetting.

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