Actors who fought during wartime

Discussions on WW2 and pre-WW2 related movies, games, military art and other fiction.
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edward_n_kelly
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Post by edward_n_kelly » 07 Dec 2006 07:49

Wayne was apparently 2-A "deferred in national interest" then A-1 (in 1944). It was the studio that apparently got back to 2A.

Henry Fonda was 3 years older at the time of Pearl Harbor with wife and 3 children. He volunteered.

Wayne was not an established actor so any "deferrement" of his career in favour of the war may have cruelled it completely. Fonda, et al were established so could afford the "time off".

It is surmised that his "uber-hawk" attitude in later life was due to this shame.....

Edward

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USMC03
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Post by USMC03 » 07 Dec 2006 14:52

Some names that come to mind are Lee Marvin..wounded in action, USMC, Pacific Theatre....Baseball legend Ted Williams was a Marine fighter pilot during WW2 and Korea...Jonathon Winters served with the Marines as well...

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Galahad
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Post by Galahad » 08 Dec 2006 11:10

Wayne Morris (1914-1959) served as a US Navy fighter pilot flying off the USS Essex in WW2. As far as I know he's the only actor on either side to attain ace status, with 7 confirmed kills--backed up by 4 Distinguished Flying Crosses.

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Ogorek
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Post by Ogorek » 08 Dec 2006 18:57

John Wayne toured New Guinea for morale tours....

I had the good fortune to speak to a troop carrier pilot who carried Wayne on his tour.... Wayne was well-liked for his friendly, off-hand manner. He often opened a bottle of whisky, and passed it around, and did not exclude the enlisted men.

This same pilot compared John Wayne with Gary Cooper.... the pilot shared Helena Montana with Cooper as a home town. When the pilot told Cooper about the fact, the actor blew him off with a "so what."

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Post by Potsdamerplatz » 08 Dec 2006 23:34

Someone mentioned the cast of Dad's Army:

ARTHUR LOWE
(Captain Mainwaring)
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0522884

Joined the British army during the last weeks of peace before World War II. He had intented to join the Navy but was unable to because of poor eyesight.

Stationed in the Middle East where he helped to organise shows for the troops as part of an army field entertainment unit. This early interest in acting led him to a full-time career in the theatre once hostilities had ended in 1945.


JOHN LE MESURIER
(Sergeant Wilson)
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0494452

Served as a captain during World War II in the Northwest Indian Frontier and also with the Royal Armoured Corps.


CLIVE DUNN
(Corporal Jones)
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0242533

Fought with the British Army during World War II with the 4th Hussars but captured during the desert campaign in North Africa and spent 4 years as a prisoner-of-war in Austria.


JOHN LAURIE
(Private Frazer)
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0491406

Fought with the British Army during World War I.

During World War II he fought with the Home Guard - the only member of the cast to have done so.


ARNOLD RIDLEY
(Private Godfrey)
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0725965

He saw active service in World War I, sustaining several serious injuries: his left arm was left virtually useless by injuries sustained on the Somme, his legs were riddled with shrapnel and the legacy of a blow to the head by a German soldier's rifle butt left him prone to blackouts. Invalided out of the army in 1917 due to his serious injuries.

Joined up again at the beginning of World War II and reached the rank of Major. Fought in France as part of the B.E.F (British Expeditionary Force) in 1940 but was discharged again on health grounds due to shell-shock.


Image

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Fallschirmjäger
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Post by Fallschirmjäger » 09 Dec 2006 05:47

Thanks Potsdamerplatz for the info,i do remember a few of the cast being vets,saw in a dads army book.

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USMC03
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Post by USMC03 » 09 Dec 2006 14:27

I have never heard anyone who met him speak anything but good of John Wayne. Personally, I am glad he stayed home and made movies. There is always enough of us grunts! BTW, because I am a huge baseball fan, I would like to mention the Cleveland Indians hall of fame pitcher, "Rapid Robert" Bob Feller for his service in the US Navy.

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Post by Potsdamerplatz » 09 Dec 2006 14:43

JON PERTWEE
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0675727

He was an officer in the Royal Navy during World War II, spending some time working in naval intelligence. He was a crew member of HMS Hood and was transferred off the ship shortly before it was sunk, losing all but three men.


PATRICK TROUGHTON
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0873743

When World War II broke out, he returned to Britain from the United States on a Belgian ship. The ship hit a mine and sank off the coast of Great Britain, but Troughton was fortunate enough to escape in a lifeboat. Troughton joined the Tonbridge Repertory Company in 1939 and later he joined the Royal Navy in 1940. He attained the rank of captaincy of a motor gunboat on duty in the North Sea.

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Sewer King
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Post by Sewer King » 09 Dec 2006 17:09

Potsdamerplatz wrote: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.
Interesting. The World War I Allied expeditionary forces in north Russia and Siberia are little-known to Americans at large. The chances seem small that a future name actor would have been among them.

Massey was a good character actor. In the apocalyptic science-fiction film Things to Come (1936) he played an airman-scientist whose men keep up hope for an Earth that was nearly destroyed in a future World War II. Remember this was 1936, and the movie depicted fear of the ravages of poison gas in its next World War, the way we feared the nuclear destruction of a World War III.

In Action in the North Atlantic (1943), Massey plays a crusty merchant captain on the Atlantic convoys to Russia. Humphrey Bogart is his exec. The combat scenes against the U-boats and Luftwaffe seaplanes are too unbelievable, but since this was an out-and-out propaganda film we look at it that way today. Massey swears vengeance against the U-boat who sank his previous ship and throughout the film he symbolizes the few men who tasted bitter defeat at the beginning, but live to see final victory.

Just after the war, Massey played the departed spirit of an fiery American Revolutionary War patriot in Stairway to Heaven (1947). In this romance film, he still despises the British and tries to stop the lease-on-life of an RAF bombardier (David Niven), who was supposed to have died in his fatally-damaged Lancaster bomber. But the airman appeals to Heaven for his life, based on the eleventh-hour love of an American WAC (Kim Hunter). She had heard him on air-traffic radio reporting his expectation to die.
Potsdamerplatz wrote: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.
Strangely, Alec Guinness was to act the part of Adolf Hitler in the not-so-memorable The Last Ten Days of Hitler (1973). This was the only role of his I didn't like. There was a wave of Third Reich-related film, books, documentaries around that time. Hitler biographer Robert Waite (The Psychopathic God) joked that it was the Führer’s best year in England.

I haven’t seen Guinness’ earliest roles, but mainly his best-known ones in war films like Lawrence of Arabia and The Bridge on the River Kwai. I suspect a generation of Americans below a certain age might know him only as Star Wars’ Obi-wan Kenobi, a role he thought little of and even came to despise I think.
Potsdamerplatz wrote: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.
I smile when my kids watch the cartoon Spongebob Squarepants, where Borgnine often does voice work with Tim Conway. Before, both had done voices for The Simpsons, although not together. But since neither of my kids has heard of the original TV series McHale's Navy, I cannot explain to them my amusement.
Beppo Schmidt wrote:... [Gert Fröbe] 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.
German actor Curt Jürgens is in that same class as Gert Fröbe. Like him, he may have been old for wartime service, though not for prewar. Often, older men in Hitler’s Germany had military reserve or paramilitary obligations of one kind or another. So what might theirs have been, if any? Interestingly, Jürgens was a stage actor until sent to a concentration camp in 1944, apparently as a political unreliable.

For me Jürgens was often cast as the classic, aristocratic German Army general. Hard to picture him below the rank of Oberst. One twist was his role as a half-German, Chinese Nationalist Army colonel in The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1957).

I think his last such role was as a general in the “July 20” plot in Steiner – das Eiserne Kreuz, 2. Teil (1979). This was released in English under the title Breakthrough.
edward_n_kelly wrote:If Audrey Hepburn had accepted the role for her [in A Bridge Too Far] she could have been rated as one of the "participants".
Although Liv Ullmann was good in the role of Kate ter Horst, I agree that Audrey Hepburn might have added an extra history touch however little-known it would have been. It seems to be why she was originally cast in the first place.
USMC03 wrote:Baseball legend Ted Williams was a Marine fighter pilot during WW2 and Korea...
Incidentally, Ted Williams’ wingman in US Marine Corsairs over Korea was a then-unknown John Glenn.
Potsdamerplatz wrote:JON PERTWEE http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0675727 He was an officer in the Royal Navy during World War II, spending some time working in naval intelligence. He was a crew member of HMS Hood and was transferred off the ship shortly before it was sunk, losing all but three men.
Brian Ross mentioned Pertwee on Dec 2, especially of interest to me because I became a Doctor Who fan only recently. He is on the HMS Hood Association crew list and passed away only four days short of the 55th anniversary of Hood's loss. Our list may be getting long to check, for Lee Marvin appears three times! :D

I seem to remember reading that Marvin was accidentally saved from further injury in the Pacific due to the corpse of another Marine that had been blasted against him by the Japanese shell.
Annelie wrote:Its almost as if one should ask which actors did not participate in the conflict of WWII?
Most served as a generation, more or less. Even if everyone did not necessarily fight, or win awards for valor, most still served. And not done anything to get out of combat had they been sent to it.

And because most everyone served, it was not a postwar issue as it would be in the US from the Vietnam War onwards. Back then, enough of the rich and poor, political scion or not – and actors and their audiences – they went in harm’s way.

Not like today.

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Post by Potsdamerplatz » 09 Dec 2006 17:52

A few popular comedians who are worthy of inclusion:

NORMAN WISDOM
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0936295

Joined the army at the beginning of World War II and served in India.


GEORGE FORMBY
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0286399

George Formby didn't actually serve with the armed forces during World War II but he made such a unique contribution to the war effort that I feel he is worth mentioning here in the roll of honour.

During the war he entertained troops with ENSA in Sicily, North Africa, India, Burma and Malta. George received an O.B.E (Order of the British Empire) for his efforts in 1946 from King George VI. Although George Formby didn't fight at the front he toured tirelessly entertaining the troops and this took a massive toll on his health from which he never fully recovered.

His films were massively popular in Russia and worked wonders with Soviet soldiers' morale, so much so that in 1943 he was awarded the Order of Lenin on the order of Joseph Stalin and then a year later he was also awarded the USSR State Prize which is the highest Russian award a foreigner can be honoured with. He must be one of the most bizarre recipients of both awards!!!


GEORGE COLE
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0170552

Served in the Royal Air Force (ground crew) from 1944 onwards.

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Peachy
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Post by Peachy » 09 Dec 2006 20:48

Dirk Bogart..Real name..Derek Jules Gaspard van den Bogaerde.
Joined up in The Queens Royal Regiment,went on to Army Int.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001958/bio

Kenneth Williams of Carry on fame served in the Royal Engineers in the far east.

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Post by Potsdamerplatz » 09 Dec 2006 22:24

Peachy wrote:Kenneth Williams of Carry on fame served in the Royal Engineers in the far east.
Thanks for that information. You have given me a great idea - I will research the Carry On cast over the next few hours or so and post my results here tomorrow.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 10 Dec 2006 08:22

Rod Serling

http://www.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/rodserling.html
After graduation Serling enlisted in the United States Army. Beginning in May 1944 he served with the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division in New Guinea and during the invasion of the Philippines. He was awarded the Purple Heart for a severe shrapnel wound to his knee. The war also took a permanent mental toll; he would suffer from flashbacks, nightmares, and insomnia for the rest of his life. When discharged from the army in 1946 he was "bitter about everything and at loose ends."

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 10 Dec 2006 08:34

Bob Hope's 1944 near fatal aircrash in Australia:

http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/conten ... 912879.htm
Bob Hope and some of his accompanying troops, Jerry Colonna and others, were on their way back from Guadalcanal, where they'd been entertaining the troops, and they were coming back to Sydney, as Bob Hope tells the story, as they were heading down towards Sydney he asked if he could sit behind the controls and fly the plane.

He no sooner took the seat they declared an emergency and said they were going down, and what had happened is that a fuel liner had broken on one of the engines, there was fuel spilling down the side of the aircraft, and the pilot had to make an emergency landing.

Unfortunately, as they landed at Lake Cassie, they clipped a sandbank and the aircraft almost somersaulted in the water. Had that happened, they probably would have been killed.

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Post by Potsdamerplatz » 10 Dec 2006 19:58

As promised, here is some information on the regular cast of the Carry On series:

SID JAMES
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0416228

During World War II, he became a Lieutenant in the South African Army in an entertainment unit.


KENNETH WILLIAMS
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0931054

In 1944 he was drafted into the army, and although posted to the Royal Engineers, he managed to land a job in the Combined Services Entertainment unit, where he got a chance to act in shows that were put on to entertain the troops, and even designed the posters that advertised the shows.


KENNETH CONNOR
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0175427

Fought in the British Army from 1939 to 1945 and participated in the invasion of Italy in summer 1944.


LESLIE PHILLIPS
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0680587

During World War II he was selected for officer training at Catterick and duly commissioned as a second lieutenant with the Durham Light Infantry. However before he saw active service on D-Day he experienced a breakdown, declared unfit for service and put in a psychiatric hospital. Discharged from the army in 1944.


PETER BUTTERWORTH
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0125350

Served during World War II in the Royal Navy as a lieutenant. He was captured in the Netherlands in 1940 when the plane he was travelling in was shot down by the Germans. He became a Prisoner-of-war and attempted to escape three times. During one attempt that occurred in June, 1940 at Dugaluft near Frankfurt, Butterworth managed to escape through a tunnel and covered 27 miles (43 km) over the next three days before German secret police recaptured him. The other attempts were abortive and never got beyond the camp grounds.

Ending up at Stalag Luft III, he met Talbot Rothwell, who would go on to co-write many of the Carry On films. Rothwell and Butterworth sang together in a camp show, where the booing and the catcalls were so loud that they covered up the sounds of an escape tunnel being dug by other prisoners. Butterworth also acted as one of the 'vaulters' covering for the digging escapers during the escape immortalised by the book and film "The Wooden Horse" - Butterworth would later audition for a part in the subsequent film but fail to get one as he 'didn't look convincingly heroic and athletic enough'. Rothwell and Butterworth continued to be close friends after the war, and the latter was inspired by the experience to take up acting.


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