I Am Number: USO

In 1969, a small-town girl from Bergen, NJ auditioned and was cast as a singer and dancer on the "Dean Martin Show." Off to Hollywood she went! As one of the Golddiggers, she was invited to entertain American Troops with the USO and "Bob Hope Christmas Show" in wartime Vietnam. Michelle DellaFave tells us her story.

  • Maria Rusolo
  • Maria Rusolo
  • Michelle DellaFave
    Key Cast
    Dean Martin Show, Bob Hope Christmas Special 1969/1970
  • Maria Rusolo
    Executive Producers
  • Sean Simpson
    Executive Producers
  • Cara Gordon
  • JoAnn Rusolo Ward
  • Mark Ward
  • ROAM Pictures
    Production Company
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Military, Entertainment, Women
  • Runtime:
    15 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    1,200 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Maria Rusolo

Maria Rusolo is a New York filmmaker born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. A graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School, she earned a Bachelor of Science from Siena College. Maria Rusolo is the founder of ROAM Pictures, an award-winning film production company. ROAM’s mission is to influence the prevailing attitudes and practices regarding and on behalf of women working in film, whether in front of the camera or behind the scenes; and is committed to producing female forward content. Rusolo has been creating content since 2008 and has been acknowledged for her work most notably by USA Film Festival, Columbus International Film Festival, Mexico International Film Festival, and has received the Panavision New-Filmmaker Award. She co-wrote the short “Black Saturday,” a recipient of a DCA Premier Grant from the Council on Arts and Humanities of Staten Island. Her Docu-Series on the Vietnam War Era, “I Am Number…,” received a Soroptomist International Community Grant; was selected to exhibit at the Staten Island Museum as part of “War and Aftermath on Staten Island” in cooperation with the Library of America and a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant. She is an active member of Women in Film, New York Women in Film, SAG-AFTRA, Actors Equity Association, and is a Troop Leader for Girl Scouts of America.

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Director Statement

"I Am Number: USO" was made possible by a Community Grant from Soroptomist International to extend the scope of my existing series “I Am Number…” to include the women who were witness to the Vietnam War Era.

“I Am Number…” is a human interest documentary series chronicling the individual experience of men subjected to the US Selective Service Draft during the Vietnam War Era (1955 - 1975). The series consists of video interviews, involving a single subject's first-hand experience during the Vietnam War Era as they recount their personal relationship to both the draft and the war itself, regardless of draft status and military involvement, thus providing varying perspectives on this defining moment in modern American history. The interviewees are identified only by their Lottery Draft Number (Numbers 1 - 366).

“I Am Number…” is unique because, despite the number of individuals affected by the Vietnam War Era, 40 years after the US withdrawal from Vietnam the men and women who lived through the era are still hesitant to talk about that time in their life. There is so much political and emotional tension surrounding the war, the veterans, the objectors, that it remains a taboo topic to the point that many individuals have never spoken to their families about it. Because of this, our knowledge of the era is limited and we are losing the first-hand accounts of what it was like to live during the time period and what it was like to be an American during the 1960s.

I am committed to capturing the full story of Americans during the Vietnam War Era. From the draft starting in the early 60's to addressing the deferments, unfair targeting of minorities and poor, the draft lottery, involvement of women, the protests, conscientious objectors, culture shock of being moved from the North East to training facilities in the south rampant with racism, going to war, survivors guilt, guilt of being "lucky" by not going, etc.

The series is nonjudgmental without a political agenda. This includes never before heard accounts from both veterans and civilians from all across New York State and surrounding Metro Areas. These first-hand accounts are presented with photographs, films, poems, art, medals, and music from the individual's personal collection from the time period and from the National Archives.

My intention is to present a documentary, but not one in the sense that has already been done. Traditional documentaries on war that I had been exposed too all cater to history buffs thirsty for the endless facts about the War, the Operations, the Equipment, etc. They talk about the political implications of the ‘Fall of Saigon’ but they don’t talk about the implications of being sent to basic training and the effect on Bob. Bob, who was born on Feb 8 and was enjoying a 2-S Student Deferment in 1969 that the draft lottery was about to put an end to. He is Number 175. They don’t talk about Tom. Tom who was fresh out of an inner-city high school with no prospects for work, who received his letter from the draft board complete with one token inside indicating he had enough fare to report to Ft Hamilton Army Base, but not enough to return home. He was drafted. He is Number 30. These men had lives before and after the war, and I want to hear them. I think others do too. I am compelled to break the silence and the stigma...both that of ‘Baby Killer’ and that of ‘Draft Dodger’...by documenting and sharing the personal stories of these men and women and putting a human face on history.