Synopsis: In 1968, two best friends joined an elite team and flew into a war zone wearing powder blue dresses. They were Red Cross Donut Dollies. These idealistic young women embraced their mission – to cheer up battle-worn GIs on the frontlines of the Vietnam War – with energy, creativity, compassion and resolve, but had no idea what they were getting into. 46 years later, they reunite in Vietnam to retrace their steps; ask why they went; ask whether they made a difference; unlock buried memories and share their stories for the first time.
Mary Bowe (Featured Donut Dollie)
I am proud to say that my mother is a Donut Dollie. But while raising my sister and me, she never spoke about her time in Vietnam. I only knew my Mom had been there from a few mementoes she had, and a big scar on her leg which she mentioned she’d gotten there. At the time, I had no idea what she did in Vietnam, I had no idea she’d been madly in love with a helicopter pilot (not my Dad), and I had no idea that being a Donut Dollie was such a formative period in her life.
Eventually, when she did begin to open up about it, I found that she and her fellow Donut Dollies had an amazing and important story that needed to be preserved and told. In 1998, my mom decided to unbox her Vietnam journals that had been stored away for almost 30 years. I, fortunately, had the foresight to film the moment. That was the beginning of this documentary and the beginning of my life as a filmmaker.
The road towards a finished film has been long and in early 2015 we overcame myriad challenges including funding, logistics, government red tape and serious health issues and completed an amazing three week trip to Vietnam for principal photography.
We undertook this project to tell the little known story of the Donut Dollies, which we believe is an important part of women’s history and that of the Vietnam War. As the Donut Dollies who served in Vietnam are now in their late 60s and 70s, their stories are at risk of remaining untold forever. Through this film, we will not let that happen.
Norm Anderson is a Daytime Emmy-nominated executive producer, writer and documentary filmmaker with credits on a wide variety of shows and networks – from Discovery’s Shark Week to shows on VH1, the CW, CNBC, and most recently, as the creator of “Prairie Dog Manor” for Nat Geo Wild and Disney+.
The recipient of an Austrian Fulbright Grant, a graduate of Williams College and USC’s Film Production MFA Program, Norm currently serves as Video Content Director for SOSV – The Accelerator VC.
His feature documentary, “The Donut Dollies,” tells the story of the brave women who volunteered through the Red Cross to serve in the war zones of Vietnam, won the “Best Documentary Feature” award at the GI Film Festival in San Diego and screened to capacity crowds at the 2020 Palm Springs International Film Festival. Most importantly, the film features and was inspired by his mom, Dorset Anderson.
GI Film Festival - United States - 2019
Best Documentary Feature (Norm Anderson & Jess Hill)
GI Film Festival - United States - 2019
Palm Springs International Film Festival - United States - 2020
“Movies have the power to transport us to another world, often teaching us about things we might never have had the pleasure of knowing. And the results can be powerful.
The same way that Penny Marshall’s 1992 film “A League of Their Own” enlightened us on a virtually unknown era of sports history (the true-to-life All American Girls Professional Baseball League), Norman Anderson’s moving documentary ‘Donut Dollies’ introduces us to a little-known era of volunteerism: the seven Vietnam War-era years that the American Red Cross recruited young women to join an elite team and — with absolutely no idea what they were getting themselves into — fly into a war zone in powder blue dresses with the mission to make the GIs forget, however temporarily, about the war.” - Winston Gieseke, Palm Springs Desert Sun USA TODAY NETWORK (January 12, 2020)