Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Celebrities in WWII

On this 69th anniversary of the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor, I picked up A Patriot’s History of the United States, by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, and read some of their account of WWII.

To see pictures of that grim day, click here and here.

Interesting to me as I read was the number of actors who were quick to enlist:

Major Cecil B. DeMille, director of The Ten Commandments and The Greatest Show on Earth, signed up for the reserves.

Van Heflin, Academy Award winner, joined the army as an artilleryman.

James Arness, Marshal Matt Dillon in TV’s Gunsmoke, served in the army, was wounded at Anzio, and was awarded a Bronze Star.

Eddie Albert, Academy Award winner, was wounded at Tarawa and also earned a Bronze Star for rescuing wounded and stranded marines from the beach.

Don Adams, alias Maxwell Smart (Get Smart), served in the Marines and contracted malaria at Guadalcanal.

Charlton Heston, actor (The Ten Commandments, Planet of the Apes, Ben-Hur), was a radio operator on B-25 bombers.

Art Carney, alias Ed Norton on The Honeymooners, incurred a shrapnel wound at Saint-Lo.

Ernest Borgnine, star of McHale’s Navy, had already served in the navy 12 years before WWII and was discharged in 1941. He reenlisted that same year when America entered WWII and served another 4 years.

Desi Arnaz, husband of Lucille Ball, alias Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy, was offered a commission in the Cuban navy, where he could safely patrol the Caribbean. He refused and chose to enlist in the U.S. Navy instead, but was rejected because he wasn’t a citizen. But he could be drafted, and he was. He failed the physical but still ended up in the infantry, where he injured his knees. He finished the war entertaining troops.

Lee Marvin, Academy Award winner and star of The Dirty Dozen, assaulted more than 20 beaches in the Pacific with his marine unit, and after one battle, only Marvin and 5 others out of 247 had survived.

Walter Matthau, actor, earned an impressive six Silver Stars as an air force gunner.

Jimmy Stewart was the first major American movie star to wear a uniform in WWII. He flew more than 20 combat missions and eventually rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the United State Air Force Reserve.

--Most of this information was culled from A Patriot's History, 597-598, and supplemented by Wikipedia.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention Harley Goldsmith, aka Dad, aka Grandpa Goldsmith, aka Great-Grandpa who served in Europe for a year in Germany, France, and Belgium, and was on his way to the Pacific when the war ended. His family is VERY proud to have one of the Great Generation be one of us!! Mom Becky

Kent S said...

Duly noted