Bobbie The Weather Girl

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Any American stationed in Vietnam in 1967-1969 will recall Bobbie the Weather Girl, going away the most popular feature of American Forces Vietnam Network broadcasts.  Bobbie Keith was an army brat, the daughter of an Army intelligence officer in Vietnam.  Twenty years old in 67 she was a clerk for the Agency for International Development in Vietnam.  Chosen almost at random to be the Weathergirl, her good looks and a flare for comedy made her an instant hit.  A patriot, in her spare time on weekends she would visit combat units her fans invited her to, often coming under enemy fire.  To homesick grunts she was the epitome of the girl next door and was cheered wherever she went.  From an interview in 2009:

Clearly you were you a sex symbol, right?

I never thought of myself as being a sex symbol. I was treated more like the girl the guys left behind. I wore White Shoulders perfume back in those days, and the guys would say, “Oh my girlfriend wears that… that reminds me of my girlfriend.”  I was reminding the guys of their loved ones they left behind. I don’t think anyone ever treated me as a sex symbol. No. Even when they did the pin-ups. I wasn’t a movie star. I wasn’t Raquel Welch. I wasn’t Hollywood. I didn’t have any talents. I was just there, an American girl. It could have been anybody. There’s a way to conduct yourself and a way not to. And I think because I was on military bases as a brat growing up I could recognize and deal with this very chauvinistic organization full of testosterone.

Did you ever feel exploited or used?

No, never. The guys at the TV station treated me with a lot of respect. They were so cute. I think of all of those people as my big brothers. They took good care of me. When you treat people the way they want to be treated, if you treat somebody in that environment like “okay you’re my big brother,” then they act like your big brother, they become your big brother. They become your siblings. I never had a problem.

Were you ever criticized for doing the show?

Well, yeah, there were a couple of occasions, like when they painted the temperatures on my body. I don’t think any of us thought of it as being sexist, as even being cheeky. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a take-off of Goldie Hawn on the TV show Laugh-In. Somebody—I think in Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker’s office—took offense, so they put an end to that. Maybe if I had seen the show on TV I would have thought so too, but we didn’t think of it that way.

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Bobbie was and is a volunteer.  She never received a cent for her time as the Weather Girl or her hundreds of trips to the field.  She volunteers today with Vietnam vet groups and speaks to school classes containing the grandkids of the men she served with.  The vets she entertained will never forget her.

Bobbie the Weather Girl visiting the 199th Light Infantry

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