Though the article claims that the mystery has been solved, the explanation is a bit, er, lacking…he scrawled a message on a bulletin board, and voila, it’s all over the globe?
Perhaps it was the world’s first example of viral marketing.
The origins of Kilroy are usually attributed to another fellow, one James J. Kilroy, a steelyard worker in Massachusetts. You can read a bit more about this at The Straight Dope.
What Cecil doesn’t mention, though, is that James J. Kilroy was the winner of a contest for the best explanation about the origins of the phrase. Forty people entered the contest claiming to have originated the phrase. James J Kilroy’s story was selected as the best one. How much truth there is to this Kilroy’s story is another matter entirely.
But whether it’s James J. or Francis J., there’s no doubt that Francis gets First Mention in the 1945 story, above.
Francis J. was also featured in the 1946 Stars and Stripes article on Kilroy that I mentioned above. You can see it at the bottom of this page, along with a cool cartoon.
WWII newsreels took pains to report on the daily life of the GI’s, but they too are also strangely silent about Kilroy. Once again, it’s not until 1945 that I found a mention in this short film where the narrator (which sure sounds like Bob Hope) refers to all the returning soldiers as ‘Kilroys’.