Actors who fought during wartime

Discussions on WW2 and pre-WW2 related movies, games, military art and other fiction.
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Sewer King
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Post by Sewer King » 03 Dec 2006 02:02

I see that The Way Ahead has been released on DVD, but have never viewed it. But long ago I saw its movie poster in an art history book about propaganda.

On it, a squad of British soldiers march in line along the horizon, passing through the muzzle ring of a giant graphic-design bayonet which points -- The Way Ahead. It looks very much like many other expressionist British posters for the war effort, but it was the first I had heard that David Niven had served and acted during the war.

Niven's reticence about the war is like that of Charles Durning and others, though I seem to remember his mention of attending Sandhurst and the traditional "hazing" of cadet life there.

I didn't know he held these other honors. I first thought of him as one of many in the 1960s "British Invasion" of film and pop music talent in the US. At a young age I first heard of him in that silly Woody Allen satire of James Bond films, Casino Royale (1967). At the time also, Peter Ustinov was in childrens' story narration and Disney.

Niven was always the grand British gentleman on or off screen. His wife was also known for a classic of British understatement when she fell terribly hard down a flight of stairs at a Hollywood party. Her last words to Niven were "They'll never ask us again," after which she fell into a coma and died.

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German actor Gerd Fröbe may be best known as the villain Auric Goldfinger in the James Bond film Goldfinger (1964). He was also the phlegmatic Sergeant Kaffeeklatsch who went out on horseback with milk bottles in The Longest Day (1962). Also the German garrison commander of Paris in Is Paris Burning? (1965). At the time he had not yet learned English and so his roles were dubbed as needed.

I might not be looking in the right places, but have not found if Fröbe had served in German uniform. Born 1912, he was old enough to have seen some kind of service in World War II or even in the prewar period.

JamesL
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Post by JamesL » 03 Dec 2006 03:52

President Ronald Reagan was commissioned as a reserve officer in the US Army in 1935. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Lieutenant Reagan was activated and assigned to the First Motion Picture Unit in the United States Army Air Forces.

During the war he also made some movies. In one movie where he played a member of a shot down bomber crew alongside Errol Flynn, he told the evil Gestapo officer Raymond Massey that he "was half American, half Jersey City." I gather the audience in the Jersey City theater where this played stood up and cheered.

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Beppo Schmidt
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Post by Beppo Schmidt » 03 Dec 2006 04:41

I might not be looking in the right places, but have not found if Fröbe had served in German uniform. Born 1912, he was old enough to have seen some kind of service in World War II or even in the prewar period.
I don't know if he served, but he had trouble getting film roles after WWII because he'd been a member of the Nazi Party, until several Jews came forward and said he'd protected them.

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Post by Potsdamerplatz » 03 Dec 2006 04:43

RAYMOND MASSEY
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0557339

Joined the Canadian Field Artillery in World War I, served in France and was seriously wounded. After being sent home to recuperate, he returned to active service with the army as part of the occupying force in Siberia in 1918 where he made his first appearances on the stage.

Rejoined the Canadian army at the outbreak of World War II but did not see combat and returned to movie work in 1943, retiring from the army with the rank of Major.


ALEC GUINNESS
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000027

Alec Guinness served in the Royal Navy throughout World War II, serving first as a seaman in 1941 and being commissioned the following year. He commanded a landing craft taking part in the invasion of Sicily and Elba and later ferried supplies to the Yugoslav partisans.

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Dan W.
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Post by Dan W. » 03 Dec 2006 04:46

Sewer King wrote:
Dan W. wrote:I recently visited Punchbowl and never even knew he was buried there, or the circumstances surrounding [Powell's] death.
Harris' book Factories of Death gives the reference to the methanol-related deaths as a Current Intelligence report disproving Japanese biological warfare in the Marianas. Addressed to Commanding General, Headquarters US Army Forces, Pacific Ocean Areas, 29 Sep 44; from National Archives Records Group 112, entry 295A, Box 11, 47.

I am not sure how likely this source would be to name Powell or anyone else in connection with this, but it seems possible.

I have been to Hawaii as a boy, but not to the Punchbowl. For some reason it surprises me to think that the Marines buried at Iwo Jima were all transferred there when that island was returned to Japan in 1968.
Warning: OT (sort of)
There are a considerable number of MOH winners buried there. It is located in a volcanic bowl high above Honolulu, meticulously maintained, with stunning views of Honolulu and the ocean facing West and towards the many atolls and islands where Powell and many others would fight. Many native Hawaiian soldiers and soldiers of Asian ancestry would go on to distinguished (and often posthumous) awards for valor in Europe and are buried there.

Image

Image

Potsdamerplatz
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Post by Potsdamerplatz » 03 Dec 2006 05:11

CHARLES BRONSON
http://imdb.com/name/nm0000314

Was drafted into the army 1943 and placed in the Army Air Corps. At first given duties as a truck driver, he was later trained as a tail-gunner and assigned to a B-29 bomber. He flew on 25 missions and received, among other decorations, a Purple Heart for wounds incurred in battle.


ERNEST BORGNINE
http://imdb.com/name/nm0000308

Served in the US Navy from 1935 to 1945 and left the service as a Gunner's Mate 1st Class.


Telly Savalas and Jack Klugman both served in the US Army during World War II but I have been unable to find any in-depth information on their service.

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maxxx
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Post by maxxx » 04 Dec 2006 01:54

Beppo Schmidt wrote:
I might not be looking in the right places, but have not found if Fröbe had served in German uniform. Born 1912, he was old enough to have seen some kind of service in World War II or even in the prewar period.
I don't know if he served, but he had trouble getting film roles after WWII because he'd been a member of the Nazi Party, until several Jews came forward and said he'd protected them.
GErt Froebe was still working as an actor until 1944 at the Volkstheater in Vienna.
So if he ever served in the army it might have been in the last months and propably at volkssturm or similar.

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Post by Potsdamerplatz » 04 Dec 2006 18:08

JACK LEMMON
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000493

During World War II, he served in the Naval Reserve and was the communications officer on the USS Lake Champlain.


WALTER MATTHAU
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000527

During World War II, he served in the US Army Air Forces with the Eighth Air Force in England as a B-24 Liberator radioman-gunner, in the same bomb group as Jimmy Stewart. He reached the rank of Staff Sergeant and returned home with six battle stars.


RICHARD TODD
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0865262

Richard Todd served as an officer and paratrooper during the Second World War with the 7th Batallion of the Parachute Regiment. After landing in Normandy on D-Day as one of the first British officers, he met up with Major John Howard on Pegasus Bridge - he would later appear in two films in which this scene was recreated: in "D-Day the Sixth of June" (1956) he played the commanding officer of the unit in which both of them served, and in "The Longest Day" (1962) he played Major Howard himself.

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Brian Ross
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Post by Brian Ross » 06 Dec 2006 12:39

James Roberston Justice - RNVR - joined the International Brigade to fight in the Spanish Civil War (as a Captain?).
1941, joined RNVR, served in MV Georgic (troop ship); HMS Edinburgh Castle (RN base, Freetown, Sierra Leone).

Alec Guinness - RNVR - enlisted under his real name of Cuffe, 1941; joined RN as a rating; midshipman, HMS King Alfred (training establishment, Hove, Sussex) 31.05.1942 - (07.1945); HMS Dinosaur (Combined Operations base, Troon) (for LCTs).

More, Kenneth Gilbert - RNVR - 1939?-1945 RNVR service: 01.1941- 02.1941 Lancing College;1941 HMS King Alfred (training establishment, Hove, Sussex); 25.04.1942 - (12.1944) HMS Aurora (cruiser); 01.1945 - 02.1945 HMS Heron (RNAS Yeovilton); 02.1945 - (07.1945) HMS Victorious (aircraft carrier).

Olivier, Laurence Kerr - RNVR - 1941 - 12.05.1944 - in two to three years' service Olivier became a lieutenant in the Fleet Air Arm; he stepped unhurt out of a number of forced or crash landings, gave ground and gunnery instruction, but never saw combat

Troughton, Patrick George - RNVR - 22.06.1942 - (10.1943) First Lieutenant, HMS MGB 603;(10.1943)-(06.1944) First Lieutenant, HMS MTB 500;(07.1945) HMS RML 514

Information from http://www.unithistories.com/officers/R ... cersA.html

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Post by Potsdamerplatz » 06 Dec 2006 16:11

BILL FRASER
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0292077

and

ERIC SYKES
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0843059

Both men served together in the same Royal Air Force Special Liaison Unit during World War II before they began their acting careers.

Bill Fraser reached the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

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Annelie
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Post by Annelie » 06 Dec 2006 16:44

Wonderfully interesting thread. Thankyou.

Its almost as if one should ask which actors did not participate
in the conflict of WWII?
No one has mentioned "The Duke" John Wayne?
Without researching I am guessing John Wayne did not
serve?

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Post by Potsdamerplatz » 06 Dec 2006 16:58

Annelie wrote:Wonderfully interesting thread. Thankyou.

Its almost as if one should ask which actors did not participate
in the conflict of WWII?
No one has mentioned "The Duke" John Wayne?
Without researching I am guessing John Wayne did not
serve?
I think he was too busy making movies Annelie.

By my count "The Duke" made 18 movies between 1941 and 1945. Five of these were war movies to inspire the troops including:

* Flying Tigers (1942)
* Reunion In France (1942)
* The Fighting Seabees (1944)
* Back To Bataan (1945)
* They Were Expendable (1945)

Best regards.

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Brian Ross
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Post by Brian Ross » 07 Dec 2006 00:52

John Wayne was too old, had physical impairment (IIRC "flat feet") and was the father of too many children (four, IIRC).

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Annelie
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Post by Annelie » 07 Dec 2006 04:51

John Wayne was too old, had physical impairment (IIRC "flat feet") and was the father of too many children (four, IIRC).

don't know about the flat feet, or that the number of children made any difference
but I do know he was born 1907, so in 1940 he was only 33 years old.
Guess 33 means he was too old?

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Fallschirmjäger
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Post by Fallschirmjäger » 07 Dec 2006 05:45

I think that they said he was better of for america fighting the germans and japanese in movies than fighting for real,like as a propaganda tool or something.

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