Curator’s Corner: Introducing Phoebee the Female Seabee

The original 1944 Walt Disney sketch of Phoebee the Female Seabee (U.S. Navy Seabee Museum Archives)

The original 1944 Walt Disney sketch of Phoebee the Female Seabee (U.S. Navy Seabee Museum Archives)

From the beginning of WWII it was popular for different military units to adopt divisional mascots as their representative insignia. The Seabees were no different. Although the official Fighting Seabee Insignia is “Disney-type” in style, it was not an original Disney design. Over the course of WWII numerous Naval Construction Battalions requested to have their Fighting Seabee Insignia sketched by an artist at Walt Disney Studios.

Framed artwork of “Phoebe the Female Seabee” by Disney artist Hank Porter and 1944 article from Yank Magazine. (U.S. Navy Museum Collection)

Framed artwork of “Phoebe the Female Seabee” by Disney artist Hank Porter and 1944 article from Yank Magazine. (U.S. Navy Museum Collection)

In 1944, Seabees at Camp Hueneme, California (present day Port Hueneme Naval Base) wrote to Hank Porter, head of the ‘Military Insignia’ Department, at Walt Disney Studios. According to Yank Magazine they requested a sketch of a Seabee pin-up girl. They wanted a “deliciously feminine queen bee, with rosebud lips, dewy bedroom eyes and an atomizer to make her deadlier than the male, who carries only a Tommy gun”.

Porter, who was busy producing more than 1,000 designs for the Army and the Navy, fulfilled the Seabees’ request and created a real beauty, Phoebee the Female Seabee.

Wooden shadowbox of Phoebe standing in front of house, donated to the Seabee Museum from the Seabees on San Nicholas Island. (U.S. Navy Museum Collection)

Wooden shadowbox of Phoebe standing in front of house, donated to the Seabee Museum from the Seabees on San Nicholas Island. (U.S. Navy Museum Collection)

The Seabees’ pin-up girl came to represent the many wives and sweethearts of Seabees all over the world. Numerous wives clubs such as the Phoebee Hut, the Civil Engineers Corps wives club at Port Hueneme Naval Base were created. Pheobee became an established insignia in the Seabee world and she can be found represented on numerous artifacts in the museum.

Cookbook, created by the NMCB 4 wives club with Phoebe on the cover. 1976 (U.S. Navy Museum Collection)

Cookbook, created by the NMCB 4 wives club with Phoebe on the cover. 1976 (U.S. Navy Museum Collection)

——–

150225-N-JU810-010Meet the Curator: Robyn King
Robyn King earned her Bachelors in History and Anthropology from the State University of New York at Oneonta. She has experience working at State Museums, Historic Sites, the National Parks Service, and most recently the Navy. She’s an expert in collection management, and has worked closely with both natural and cultural collections. Robyn loves all museums and sharing her love of history. When’s she not working, she’s volunteering her time with the National Peace Corps Association, as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from West Africa.

One comment on “Curator’s Corner: Introducing Phoebee the Female Seabee

  1. Christine St.Onge says:

    I have her tattooed on my leg.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s