Actors who fought during wartime

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Sewer King
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Re: Actors who fought during wartime

Post by Sewer King » 19 Sep 2009 03:55

Tolga Alkan wrote:... Eddie Albert was considered as a hero and decorated to Silver Star by rescuing 47 marines during the İnvasion of Tarawa.Interesting thing is that, contrary to his shining military background, he very well portrayed a coward company commander who caused death of the GIs by own mistakes in the film "Attack" 1956.

Sometimes it is said that an actor best plays the opposite of his personality. Not sure I agree with this, but certainly they might be the most memorable roles for any particular actor. General Jimmy Stewart, veteran of the European air war, had one of his signature roles as a small-town man left behind by the war as 4-F in It's a Wonderful Life (1947).

Kim Sung wrote:My impression is that this thread is excessively focused on English-speaking actors

This is understandable if unfortunate, since it follows from the audiences' exposure to non-English-language film and the marketing of the latter of course.

For Korean and Japanese actors of a certain time, there should be enough who came from wartime military experience simply because it was common enough among their generation, just as for Western actors of the time. If so many of them served in uniform and often in combat, it rated little mention then and only seems remarkable to some today. This also explains a natural modesty about their military service. whether combat or not, or decorated or not.

There are some references about wartime Japanese films depicting the Imperial soldier in the field, but I haven't yet seen those about Japan's postwar film industry revived and how it depicted the war.

Kim Sung wrote:[Kim Yum] volunteered for an fighter pilot when the Sino-Japanese war broke out, but was rejected. He remarried Chinese actress Chen Yi (秦怡) in 1947 and became a member of People's Representative in Shanghai in the People's Republic of China. He was nominated as the First-Rate Actor of China, the highest status of actor in China by Mao Ze-Dong in the 1950s. However, he was persecuted during the Cultural Revolution and passed away in oblivion in 1983. Sadly, he is an almost forgotten figure in today's Korea.

This is to say that Mao himself nominated Kim to the award?

It would seem that Kim also made his acting name in a prewar China into which he assimilated enough not to be well-remembered in Korea today. Also, as with most silent-film actors not well-remembered in the West, might his work be seldom seen except by specialized audiences seeking it out?

-- Alan

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Actors who fought during wartime

Post by Kim Sung » 19 Sep 2009 14:16

Sewer King wrote:
Kim Sung wrote:My impression is that this thread is excessively focused on English-speaking actors

This is understandable if unfortunate, since it follows from the audiences' exposure to non-English-language film and the marketing of the latter of course.

Yes, it's understandable, considering that the majority of the posters in this forum are from English-speaking countries. However, it's not desirable to view phenomena commonly seen in all the other parts of the world through a single spectrum of the English-speaking or the western European culture, which is frequently observed in many discussions in this forum.

Sewer King wrote:For Korean and Japanese actors of a certain time, there should be enough who came from wartime military experience simply because it was common enough among their generation, just as for Western actors of the time. If so many of them served in uniform and often in combat, it rated little mention then and only seems remarkable to some today. This also explains a natural modesty about their military service. whether combat or not, or decorated or not.

Obviously, there are some Asian actors who served in combat units. I'll introduce some of them in my future posts.

Sewer King wrote:
Kim Sung wrote:[Kim Yum] volunteered for an fighter pilot when the Sino-Japanese war broke out, but was rejected. He remarried Chinese actress Chen Yi (秦怡) in 1947 and became a member of People's Representative in Shanghai in the People's Republic of China. He was nominated as the First-Rate Actor of China, the highest status of actor in China by Mao Ze-Dong in the 1950s. However, he was persecuted during the Cultural Revolution and passed away in oblivion in 1983. Sadly, he is an almost forgotten figure in today's Korea.

This is to say that Mao himself nominated Kim to the award?

Yes, Kim Yum was nominated to the award by Mao Ze-Dong himself. It was a higher status than a government minister at that time, according to Park Kyu-Won (박규원), a granddaughter of Kim's sister who researched about Kim Yum's life. We have to note that Kim Yum played a leading role in some anti-KMT movies as well as many anti-Japanese movies. And Kim Yum maintained a close personal relationship with Zhou En-Lai. At a dinner, Zhou once joked to Kim, "You are a bad Korean who stole our prescious Chinese actress as your wife!"

Sewer King wrote:It would seem that Kim also made his acting name in a prewar China into which he assimilated enough not to be well-remembered in Korea today.

We have to consider the political situation of that time. He couldn't come back to his hometown forever although he was dispatched to Pyongyang as the head of actors' delegation in 1952 during the Korean War. In Pyongyang, he met his mother and sister whom he hadn't met for long years. His sister Kim Wee (김위, 金煒), who was also an actress and member of the Korean Volunteer Unit of the Chinese communist forces, also fought against the Japanese troops during the Sino-Japanese War. It is an irony that their famous uncle Kim Kyu-Shik (김규식) was kidnapped and executed by North Korean troops during the war while his nephew and niece were enjoying some success in communist China and North Korea.

Sewer King wrote:Also, as with most silent-film actors not well-remembered in the West, might his work be seldom seen except by specialized audiences seeking it out?

I'm not sure but, to the Chinese people, he seems to be remembered as a legendary figure as actress Ruan Ling-Yu in the history of Chinese cinema. You can find a memorial website for Kim Yum here.

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Re: Actors who fought during wartime

Post by Sewer King » 10 Oct 2009 19:24

Sessue Hayakawa, the first Asian movie star in America, who dated back to early silent film.

    Filmography and film biography might have some lower level of contention than many other history fields, and we have seen it here as much as elsewhere. Actors' and directors' biographies are not as arguable a subject but maybe not as well-documented when relevant here, so I cited the authors below in their entirety together with the imdb.com on-line capsule bio for Hayakawa. For their purposes, their entry about him was also a limited one in keeping with their book series on entertainers in military service.

    From James E. Wise and Scott Baron's International Stars at War (US Naval Institute Press, 2002), pages 87-89:

A man of many talents, Sessue Hayakawa was an accomplished director, actor, writer, and watercolor artist, as well as a college football star and a Zen Buddhist priest. But he is remembered by most American moviegoers for his role as a Japanese Army officer, Colonel Saito, in the the 1957 film The Bridge on the River Kwai, which starred Alec Guinness and William Holden.

He was born Kintaro Hayakawa at his father's estate near the town of Nanaura on the island of Honshu, Japan, on 10 June 1889, the youngest of five children. From an early age Hayakawa's ambition was to be an admiral, and his father, governor of Chiba prefecture, raised him under the strict warrior code of Bushido and encouraged him in his desire to pursue a naval career.

Hayakawa entered the Naval Preparatory School in Tokyo and was a student at the start of the 1904 Russo-Japanese War. An average student, he excelled in athletics and martial arts. Upon completing his course of instruction in June 1908 he was scheduled to enter the Naval Academy, but an injury sustained while diving to win a bet resulted in his hospitalization for severely damaged ear drums. This mishap caused his subsequent disqualification and dismissal from the Academy in December 1908.

Despondent over his loss of face and his uncertain future, he attempted seppuku but survived despite multiple self-inflicted stab wounds. After a period of recovery, during which he meditated and worked to master the principles of Zen Buddhism, and a chance meeting with Americans in May 1909, he decided to visit the United States.

Overcoming his father's objections, Hayakawa went to America and enrolled in a political science course of study at the University of Chicago. He played football on the university's team until he was disqualified for excessive fouls. (He was known to use judo on his gridiron opponents.) In 1913, after graduating from the university, he returned to Japan to commence a political career. However, before sailing for home he was distracted by a stage production he saw in the Little Tokyo section of Los Angeles. He decided to stay in America and joined a Japanese theater group. He was discovered by [Hollywood film studio pioneer] Thomas H. Ince while performing with a troupe in San Francisco and hired at $500 a week to star in the 1914 movie Typhoon.

The following year Hayakawa was cast in Cecil B. deMille's film The Cheat and received glowing reviews from movie critics. His star began to rise rapidly. By 1918 he had his own production company and within a few years he became a millionaire. His popularity in the United States soared. He worked with such American stars as Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, was invited to the White House by President Warren G. Harding, and gave a command performance for Britain's King George V and Queen Mary in the 1930s.

Although he made films in his native country, his pro-Western lecture tour of the Far East in 1932 won him no friends in Japanese military circles. In 1937 he went to Paris to film Yoshiwara, and he remained in France to work with Erich von Stroheim in Macao, l'enfer de Jeu (Macao, Hell of Gambling) [1942]. He was in Paris at the start of World War II and learned that he was unwelcome in Japan because of his opposition to the warlord faction in power. When Germany occupied France in 1940, Hayakawa found himself in the uncomfortable position of being a pro-Western Japanese national in an occupied country. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the US declarations of war on Japan, he could not return to the United States because he was an enemy national. Fleeing to England was not possible for the same reason. He subsequently rejected the opportunity to collaborate with the Germans in France. Suspected by both sides, Hayakawa remained in France throughout the war, supporting himself by selling watercolors he painted.

Although he kept a low profile, he cooperated with the local French underground where possible and was present for the Liberation. He welcomed Allied troops and entertained them in his home. He was relieved to be accepted as “a famous American movie star.” He remained in France making films until he was permitted by American authorities to return to the United States in January 1949 for a role in Tokyo Joe, which starred Humphrey Bogart and Florence Marly, and later Three Came Home (1950), with Claudette Colbert.

In the early 1950s Hayakawa returned for a time to Japan, where he was chosen for a candidate for the Zen Buddhist priesthood in recognition of his work in producing the play The Life of the Buddha (1949). He was ordained as a Buddhist priest in the early 1950s. He returned to Hollywood in 1956 to work in the film The Bridge on the River Kwai. The movie, released in December 1957, won seven Academy Awards … Hayakawa was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

Sessue Hayakawa died in Tokyo on 23 November 1974 at age of eighty-four.


What is told about the actor here raises a few interesting questions. Many might have better answered if he had left anything autobiographical. Although he did not actually get to serve in uniform as he had hoped, he might have had something to add about the times and places he did see.

His deep disappointment and attempted suicide after dismissal from the Naval Academy might be something many Japanese will easily understand. Finding his spiritual recovery in Zen Buddhism sounds comparable to some Japanese prisoners-of-war in Allied captivity, who felt a similar rebirth after losing their former selves as Japanese soldiers and subjects.

Suppose for a moment that he had not injured himself, and instead gone on to serve in the Imperial Japanese Navy. He would have been of age to become a lesser admiral, or at least hold a sea command in a navy largely sunk in the war. Either way -- and if he had been an otherwise undistinguished officer in any third case -- he would be forgotten today, and I feel certain he thought something of the same with or without a Zen perspective.

It is not clear here what political aspirations Hayakawa could have had in planning a return to Japan, although maybe not certain to himself at that time just before his film career took off. If so, it was another twist in life.

To one extent or another, departure from Japan seems to be a wrench for those that do it. An overseas Chinese who is ten generations distant from China can easily and securely think of himself as Chinese, in or out of China. But a Japanese, once having removed his life from Japan, has palpably separated from the homeland and may experience some distance by others upon return there. So, it might be particularly interesting to know more about Hayakawa's own experience of an Imperial Japan with rising militarism, and then a postwar Japan reshaping itself. It might also have both some limited comparison and difference with that of with Korean actor Kim Yum in China, as told earlier.

In occupied France how would he have had to officially identify himself as Japanese? What was his citizenship and legal standing through this time? What was his reported association with the underground?

What might have happened if he had been in the US when the Pacific War broke out? For him this would have been a third twist in his life. I like to think that like the American Nisei he could have been of some service to the US had he been allowed the chance.

Three Came Home (1950) may be Hayakawa's best-known latter-day role aside from The Bridge on the River Kwai, and was probably a help in being cast for the latter film. In River Kwai his character's open anger at the British for the dilemma of the uncompleted bridge (“I shall have to kill myself!”) has a slight edge when you know that he had quite nearly done so in real life.

His number of American TV guest star appearances in the mid-1960s is probably unremembered in the American nostalgia for that time's popular culture. But it seems a good finish for one of the early silent-era film stars, for being among those who reached into the new TV media before we called them “cross-overs,” and as the first Asian film star in America.

– Alan

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Re: Actors who fought during wartime

Post by Annelie » 18 Jan 2010 14:39

James Garner

James Garner
AKA James Scott Bumgarner

Born: 7-Apr-1928
Birthplace: Norman, OK


Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Actor
Party Affiliation: Democratic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Jim Rockford on Rockford Files

Military service: Oklahoma National Guard; US Army (drafted, Korean War, discharged 1952)

James Garner was the first man drafted from Oklahoma for service in the Korean War. He was wounded in action, and won a Purple Heart. Garner's first major role was on the TV western, Maverick. The show was a huge hit and Garner was its breakout star, but during a writers' strike in 1960, the studio suspended production of the show, and stopped paying the actors. Garner considered this a breach of his contract, and refused to return when the strike was settled. He was sued by the studio, and won, and stayed away from television work for the next decade.






http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=htt ... CCcQ9QEwCA

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Re: Actors who fought during wartime

Post by sylvieK4 » 21 Mar 2010 16:40

As Waldorf mentioned in an earlier post, actor Jack Warden (born John Lebzelter) served as a Sergeant paratrooper with the 101 Airborne. He saw action at the Battle of the Bulge. Here's a photo of of him in uniform, and years later:

Image..Image
(Both photos from http://www.101airborneww2.com/ )

See: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0912001/bio and http://www.101airborneww2.com/souvenirs2.html

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Re: Actors who fought during wartime

Post by JamesL » 11 Jun 2010 15:12

Mel Brooks - Jewish comic, actor and movie maker.

Corporal, US Army, Combat Engineer - Battle of the Bulge Veteran

"Then one day they put us all in trucks, drove us to the railroad staton, put us in a locked train with the windows blacked out. We get off the train, we get on a boat. We get off the boat, we get into trucks. We get out of the trucks, we start walking. Suddenly all around us, Waauhwaaawhwaauh! Sirens! Tiger Tanks! We're surrounded by the Germans! It's the Battle of the Bulge! Hands Up! 'Wait,' I say. 'We just left Oklahoma. We're Americans! We're supposed to win!' Very scary, but we escaped .... And then they started shooting. 'Incoming mail!' Bullshit! Only Burt Lancaster says that. We said, "Oh God, Oh Christ! Who knows, he might help. He was Jewish, too. MOTHER!"

Source: PLAYBOY magazine interview, Feb. 1978.

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Re: Actors who fought during wartime

Post by Penn44 » 11 Jun 2010 20:30

Annelie wrote:James Garner
AKA James Scott Bumgarner

James Garner was the first man drafted from Oklahoma for service in the Korean War. He was wounded in action, and won a Purple Heart.


Garner was assigned to 1st Bn, 5th RCT; I think Co A.

He was shot in buttocks while lying prone. Years ago, I met his former Co Cdr who added that bit of info.

Considering how much pain you go can go through when wounded, I don't think "won" is the right word when referring to the Purple Heart. "Awarded" is more appropriate.

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Re: Actors who fought during wartime

Post by Annelie » 11 Jun 2010 21:08

Considering how much pain you go can go through when wounded, I don't think "won" is the right word when referring to the Purple Heart. "Awarded" is more appropriate.





Point well taken. :milwink:

However, I did copy and paste from the bio of Garners that I found at the time.

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Actors who fought during wartime

Post by Kim Sung » 15 Jun 2010 08:44

Japanese actor Mikuni Rentaro (三國連太郎) who won the Japanese Academy Award for Best Actor three times fought in China during the Pacific War.

Image

In December 1943 when he received a draft notice in Osaka, he rejected the military service for the fear of death and tried to flee to Korea or China. His mother forced him to accept the 'honorable duty' and reported his son's evasion of military service to the police. Just before he was getting on a ship bound for Kyushu at Yobukocho, he was arrested by the military police that got a letter about his whereabouts from his mother. Without being punished for his behavior, he was sent to the Chinese front after military training. Among more than 1,000 members of his unit, only 30~40 could come back to Japan after the war. He didn't forgive his mother until she died.

After the war, the former draft evader Mikuni got leading roles in several war movies like 'The Eagle of the Pacific' (太平洋の鷲, Taiheiyo no Washi), 'Farewell Rabaul' (さらばラバウル, Saraba Rabauru) and 'The Burmese Harp' (ビルマの竪琴, Biruma no Tategoto).

'The Eagle of the Pacific' (太平洋の鷲, Taiheiyo no Washi) - A 1953 movie depicting Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku's life




'The Burmese Harp' (ビルマの竪琴, Biruma no Tategoto) - A 1956 movie depicting the last days of Japanese troops in the Burmese Front


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Re: Actors who fought during wartime

Post by Roddoss72 » 15 Jul 2010 05:02

Mike Farrell from M*A*S*H served in the Uited States Marine Corps in Vietnam, ironically he was the only actor in the show with a previous military career.

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Re: Actors who fought during wartime

Post by Sewer King » 16 Jul 2010 05:52

Roddoss72 wrote:Mike Farrell from M*A*S*H served in the Uited States Marine Corps in Vietnam, ironically he was the only actor in the show with a previous military career.

I think various of the TV M*A*S*H* cast were of age to serve between the Korean and Vietnam Wars, but none of them as career.

Mike Farrell (B.J. Hunnicutt) was in the Marine Corps in the late 1950s, rather than during the Vietnam War. He was in Okinawa and Japan but does not look back fondly at his service. However, he added that there had been a small chance of his being among the first Marines sent to Vietnam, before their actual landing in 1965.

Jamie Farr (Max Klinger) had served with the Army in Korea, also during the late 1950s. He had worn his issue dog tags when performing in M*A*S*H*.

Alan Alda (Hawkeye Pierce) had also been in Korea as a US Army reservist, apparently as an artilleryman. One M*A*S*H* episode has Hawkeye caught under artillery fire in the front lines, but he knows to take cover in a ruined house that the gunners would need to spare as a targeting benchmark. Alda wrote and directed many episodes of the series but I don't know if that figured into it here.

Wayne Rogers (Trapper John) and McLean Stevenson (Henry Blake) of the original TV cast had both served in the US Navy.

===================================

Kim Sung wrote:... After the war, the former draft evader Mikuni [Rentaro] got leading roles in several war movies like 'The Eagle of the Pacific' (太平洋の鷲, Taiheiyo no Washi), 'Farewell Rabaul' (さらばラバウル, Saraba Rabauru) and 'The Burmese Harp' (ビルマの竪琴, Biruma no Tategoto).


I saw the original The Burmese Harp in 1982 on cable TV and had long sought a copy (there is a 1985 remake, and even an animated version(?)). It seemed to be known abroad a little more than other contemporary Japanese war movies, maybe because it was based on an award-winning book with an anti-war theme.

    One of the film's most horrifying scenes compares to another in Roland Joffe's The Killing Fields (1985), about the bloodbath of Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia.

    The main character's fate has some distant real-life parallels in several well-known Japanese war veterans (Wachi, Hashimoto, Fuchida) -- and maybe others less well-known?
.

Kim Sung wrote:... In December 1943 when [Mikuni Rentaro] received a draft notice in Osaka, he rejected the military service for the fear of death and tried to flee to Korea or China. His mother forced him to accept the 'honorable duty' and reported his son's evasion of military service to the police. Just before he was getting on a ship bound for Kyushu at Yobukocho, he was arrested by the military police that got a letter about his whereabouts from his mother. Without being punished for his behavior, he was sent to the Chinese front after military training. Among more than 1,000 members of his unit, only 30~40 could come back to Japan after the war. He didn't forgive his mother until she died.

Wasn't it unusual and remarkable that he was not punished for draft evasion? although maybe something less than desertion, and maybe the demand for conscripts too high to punish it, at least in his case. How free or not was anyone's movement inside wartime Japan, that he could have tried to escape this way?

-- Alan

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Re: Actors who fought during wartime

Post by Roddoss72 » 16 Jul 2010 16:52

Thanx Sewer King for the addition info on the MASH actors.

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Actors who fought during wartime

Post by Kim Sung » 27 Jul 2010 15:26

Japanese actor Nishimura Kō (西村晃) fought as a Kamikaze pilot in the Pacific War. He was conscripted in 1944 when he was studying in the college. Posted in the Tokushima Naval Aviation Unit, he made his final sortie just before the end of the war. Due to a malfunction in the aircraft, he returned to the air base. When the war ended, only two pilots in his unit, including him and Sen Genshitsu(千玄室), the eldest son of the Sen family (裏千家) renowned for tea ceremony, survived.

Image

Nishimura Kō in 'The Burmese Harp' (the guy in the center)

Nishimura started his acting career after the war and appeared in many films including war movies like 'The Vacuum Zone' (真空地帯, Shinkuchitai, 1952), 'The Burmese Harp' (ビルマの竪琴, Biruma no Tategoto, 1956), 'Wings of the Pacific' (太平洋の翼, Taiheiyo no Tsubasa, 1963), 'Dear Your Majesty' (拝啓天皇陛下様, Haikei Tenno Heika Sama, 1963), 'The Miraculous Operation in Kiska' (太平洋奇跡の作戦 キスカ, Taiheiyo Kiseki no Sakusen Kisuka, 1965), and 'War and Man' (戦争と人間, Senso to Ningen, 1971).

'Wings of the Pacific' (太平洋の翼, Taiheiyo no Tsubasa) - A 1963 movie depicting fierce air battles of the 343 Naval Aviation Unit




'Dear Your Majesty' (拝啓天皇陛下様, Haikei Tenno Heika Sama) - A 1963 comic war movie with the Sino-Japanese War its historical backdrop




'The Miraculous Operation in Kiska' (太平洋奇跡の作戦 キスカ, Taiheiyo Kiseki no Sakusen Kisuka) - A 1965 movie on the successful evacuation operation in Kiska island in July 1943, a rare happy-ending Japanese war movie




'War and Man' (戦争と人間, Senso to Ningen) - A 1971 movie based on Gomigawa Junpei(五味川純平)'s novel on Japanese invasion of China

Last edited by Kim Sung on 27 Jul 2010 18:22, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Actors who fought during wartime

Post by Baltasar » 27 Jul 2010 17:58

Kim Sung, is there a way of watching these movies? I've searched amazon and the such, even sharing portals, but couldn't find them.

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Actors who fought during wartime

Post by Kim Sung » 27 Jul 2010 18:11

Baltasar wrote:Kim Sung, is there a way of watching these movies? I've searched amazon and the such, even sharing portals, but couldn't find them.


You can order DVDs of some of these movies in Amazon Japan, but it seems that there is no English subtitle in them.

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