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The Hollywood Heroes of WWII

Alan Hale served in the US Coast Guard.

Alec Guiness - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

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.

Art Carney - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Art Carney was drafted as an infantryman during World War II. During the Battle of Normandy, he was wounded in the leg by shrapnel and walked with a limp for the rest of his life.

Audie Murphy - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Audie Murphy, received 33 US medals, plus five medals from France and one from Belgium.[1][4] It has been said that he received every US medal available at the time; 5 of them awarded more than once. The official U.S. Army citation for Audie Murphy's Medal of Honor reads: [1] [7] Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company B 15th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Holtzwihr France, 26 January 1945. Entered service at: Dallas, Texas. Birth: Hunt County, near Kingston, Texas, G.O. No. 65, 9 August 1944. Citation: Second Lt. Murphy commanded Company B, which was attacked by six tanks and waves of infantry. 2d Lt. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to a prepared position in a woods, while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. Behind him, to his right, one of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. Its crew withdrew to the woods. 2d Lt. Murphy continued to direct artillery fire, which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, 2d Lt. Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer, which was in danger of blowing up at any moment, and employed its .50 caliber machine gun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to German fire from three sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. The enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back. For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminate 2d Lt. Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad that was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as 10 yards, only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound, but ignored it and continued his single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way back to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack, which forced the Germans to withdraw. His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he killed or wounded about 50. 2d Lt. Murphy's indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction, and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy's objective. [1][7]

Bob Keeshan - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Bob Keeshan served in the U.S. Marine Corp Reserves.

Brian Keith - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

After high school in East Rockaway, New York Brian Keith joined the U.S. Marines (1942-1945). He served during World War II as an aerial gunner and received an Air Medal. He was involved in several actions against the Japanese on Rabal in the Pacific.

Burt Lancaster served in the US Army. During World War II, Lancaster joined the United States Army and performed with the USO.

Charles Bronson - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

In 1943, Charles Bronson joined the United States Army Air Forces and served in the Pacific theater as a B-29 Superfortress tail gunner. Assigned to the 61st Bomb Squadron of the 39th Bomb Group of the Twentieth Air Force, he flew bombing missions to Japan from North Field, Guam.

Charles Durning - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Charles Durning served as a soldier in World War II, during which he was awarded a Silver Star, three Purple Heart medals, and a Good Conduct Medal. He was drafted into the U.S. Army at the age of 21, and landed on D-Day in the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944. Some sources state he was in the 1st Infantry Division at the time, but it is unclear if he was a rifleman or in an artillery unit by 1944.

Charleton Heston - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

In 1944, Charlton Heston left college and enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps. He served for two years as a B-25 radio operator/gunner stationed in the Alaskan Aleutian Islands with the Eleventh Air Force, rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant.

Clark Gable - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Clark Gable joined the U.S. Army Air Forces. With the rank of Captain, Gable trained with and accompanied the 351st Heavy Bomb Group as head of a 6-man motion picture unit making a gunnery training film. While at RAF Polebrook, England, Gable flew five combat missions, including one to Germany, as an observer-gunner in B-17 Flying Fortresses between May 4 and September 23, 1943, earning the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts. Adolf Hitler esteemed Gable above all other actors; during the Second World War he offered a sizable reward to anyone who could capture and bring Gable unscathed to him.[32] Gable left the Army Air Forces with the rank of Major.

David Niven - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

After Great Britain declared war in 1939, David Niven was one of the first British actors to return to England. He rejoined the British Army. First serving with the Rifle Brigade, Niven was assigned to a motor training battalion. Niven later interviewed for a position with the British Commandos, and was assigned to a training area near Lochailort Castle in the Western Highlands of Scotland. Niven would later claim credit for introducing British hero Robert Laycock to the Commandos. Working with the Army Film Unit, he also took part in the deception campaign, using a minor actor M.E. Clifton James, a Montgomery lookalike, to convince the Germans that the D-Day landings would be made in the Mediterranean. Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel by General Frederick E. Morgan and assigned as a liaison officer between the British Second Army and the First United States Army, Niven took part in the Normandy landings, arriving several days after D-Day. He acted in two films during the war, both of strong propaganda value: The First of the Few (1942) and The Way Ahead (1944). During his war service, his batman was Private Peter Ustinov.

Don Adams served with the United States Marine Corps during World War II in the Pacific Theater. He was wounded during the Battle of Guadalcanal and he contracted malaria, nearly dying of blackwater fever. Upon his recovery and return to the States, he served as a drill instructor.

Don Knotts - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Don Knotts At 19, Knotts joined the Army and served in World War II as part of a traveling GI variety show and as a nurse.

Douglas Fairbanks Junior - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

In 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as a special envoy to South America. Fairbanks served with the U.S. Navy Beach Jumpers who saw their initial action in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. Throughout the remainder of the war, the Beach Jumpers conducted their hazardous, shallow-water operations throughout the Mediterranean. For his planning the diversion-deception operations and his part in the amphibious assault on Southern France, Lieutenant Commander Fairbanks was awarded the U.S. Navy's Legion of Merit with bronze V (for valor), the Italian War Cross for Military Valor, the French Legion d'Honneur and the Croix de Guerre with Palm, and the British Distinguished Service Cross. Fairbanks was also awarded the Silver Star for valor displayed while serving on PT boats. He was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) in 1949. It is not a stretch to say that Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. was the father of the United States Navy's Information Operations. As for the Beach Jumpers, they changed names several times in the decades following World War II, expanded their focus, and are currently known as the Navy Information Operations Command. Fairbanks stayed in the Naval Reserve after the war and ultimately retired a captain in 1954. Many of the Navy's most important information operations since World War II remain classified, but it is clear that the U.S. military retains its interest in this art of war.

Eddie Arnold - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Eddie Albert   Albert served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy in the Pacific during World War II. A genuine war hero, he was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions during the Battle of Tarawa in 1943, when, as a landing ship pilot, he rescued 70 wounded Marines while under heavy enemy machine-gun fire. He later described some of these events during a short interview in a segment of a program about the war, which appeared on the History Channel.

Earnest Borgnine - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Ernest Borgnine joined the United States Navy in 1935 after high school. He was discharged in 1941, but he re-enlisted when the United States entered World War II and served until 1945 (a total of ten years), reaching the rank of Gunner's Mate 1st Class. In 2004, Borgnine received the honorary rank of Chief Petty Officer from the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Terry D. Scott -- the Navy's highest ranking enlisted sailor at the time -- for Borgnine's support of the Navy and Navy families worldwide.

Gary Merrill - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Gary Merrill served in the US Army Special Services.

Gene Autry - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Gene Autry was a Flight officer in air transport command, 1942-1946.

George C. Scott - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

George C. Scott  joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving from 1945 until 1949, and was assigned to the prestigious 8th and I Barracks in Washington, D.C. In that capacity, he served as a ceremonial guard at Arlington National Cemetery and taught English literature and radio speaking/writing at the Marine Corps Institute.

George Kennedy - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

George Kennedy  made his stage debut at the age of two, later becoming a radio performer. Kennedy put aside show business during World War II and spent sixteen years in the United States Army, seeing combat and working in the Armed Forces radio. After retiring from the military (reportedly because of a back injury), Kennedy found his way back to the entertainment industry.

Glenn Ford - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Glenn Ford's  film career was interrupted when he volunteered for duty in World War II with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve on 13 December as a photographic specialist at the rank of sergeant. He was assigned in March 1943 to active duty at the Marine Corps Base in San Diego. He was sent to Marine Corps Schools Detachment (Photographic Section) in Quantico, Virginia, that June, with orders as a motion-picture production technician. Sergeant Ford returned to the San Diego base in February 1944 and was assigned next to the radio section of the Public Relations Office, Headquarters Company, Base Headquarters Battalion. There he staged and broadcast the radio program Halls of Montezuma. Glenn Ford was honorably discharged from the Marines on 7 December 1944.

In 1942, at the peak of his civilian career, Glenn Miller decided to join the war effort. At 38, Miller was too old to be drafted, and first volunteered for the Navy but was told that they did not need his services.[62] Miller then wrote to Army Brigadier General Charles Young. He persuaded the United States Army to accept him so he could, in his own words, "be placed in charge of a modernized Army band."[3] After being accepted into the Army, Glenn’s civilian band played its last concert in Passaic, New Jersey, on September 27, 1942.[3] At first placed in the United States Army, Glenn Miller was transferred to the Army Air Force.[63] Captain Glenn Miller served initially as assistant special services officer for the Army Air Forces Southeast Training Center at Maxwell FieldMontgomery, Alabama, in December 1942. He played trombone with the Rhythmaires, a 15-piece dance band, in both Montgomery and in service clubs and recreation halls on Maxwell. Miller also appeared on both WAPI (Birmingham, Alabama) and WSFA radio (Montgomery), promoting the activities of civil service women aircraft mechanics employed at Maxwell.[64] Miller initially formed a large marching band that was to be the core of a network of service orchestras. Miller's attempts at modernizing military music were met with some resistance from tradition-minded career officers. For example, Miller's arrangement of "St. Louis Blues March", which combined blues and jazz with the traditional military march.[65] Miller's weekly radio broadcast "I Sustain the Wings", for which he co-wrote the eponymous theme song, moved from New Haven to New York City and was very popular. This led to permission for Miller to form his 50-piece Army Air Force Band and take it to England in the summer of 1944, where he gave 800 performances.[64] While in England, now Major Miller recorded a series of records at HMV- (now EMI-) owned Abbey Road StudiosHMV at this time was the British and sometime European distributor for the American record company that handled and originated Glenn Miller's recordings, RCA Victor.[66] The recordings the AAF band made in 1944 at Abbey Road were propaganda broadcasts for the Office of War Information. Many songs are sung in German by Johnny Desmond and Glenn Miller speaks in German about the war effort.[67][68] Also, the Miller-led AAF Orchestra recorded songs with the American singer Dinah Shore. These were done at the Abbey Road studios and were the last recorded songs made by the band while being led by Miller. They were stored with HMV/EMI for fifty years, never being released until their copyright expired in Europe in 1994.[69] [70] In summarizing Miller's military career, General Jimmy Doolittle said, “next to a letter from home, that organization was the greatest morale builder in the European Theater of Operations.”[71] Miller spent his last night alive at Milton Ernest Hall, on the outskirts of Kemspton, Bedfordshire. On December 15, 1944, Miller was to fly from the United Kingdom to Paris,France, to play for the soldiers there. His plane (a single-engined UC-64 Norseman, USAAF serial 44-70285) departed from RAF Twinwood Farm in Clapham, Bedfordshire and disappeared while flying over the English Channel.[72] No trace of the aircrew, passengers or plane has ever been found. Miller's status is missing in action. There are three main theories about what happened to Miller's plane, including the suggestion that he might have been hit by Royal Air Force bombs after an abortive raid onSiegenGermany. One hundred and thirty-eight Lancaster bombers, short on fuel, jettisoned approximately 100,000 incendiaries in a designated area before landing. The logbooks of Royal Air Force navigator Fred Shaw[73] recorded that he saw a small, single-engined monoplane spiraling out of control and crashing into the water. However, a second source, while acknowledging the possibility, cites other RAF crew members flying the same mission who stated that the drop area was in the North Sea[74][75]. In a book published in 2006, Clarence B. Wolfe, a gunner with Battery D, 134th AAA Battalion, in Folkestone, England, claims that his battery shot down Miller's plane.[76]However, Wolfe's account has been disputed.[77] Another book by Lt. Col. Huton Downs[78], a former member of Dwight D. Eisenhower's personal staff, argues that the U.S. government covered up Miller's death. Downs suggested that Miller, who spoke German, had been enlisted by Eisenhower to covertly attempt to convince some German officers to end the war early. The book goes on to suggest that Miller was captured and killed in a Paris brothel, and his death covered up to save the government embarrassment. However the Publishers' Weekly review talks of "breathlessly written suppositions."[79] When Glenn Miller went missing, he left behind his wife, the former Helen Burger, originally from BoulderColorado, and the two children they adopted in 1943 and 1944, Steven and Jonnie.[80] Helen Miller accepted the Bronze Star medal for Glenn Miller in February 1945.[81]

Henry Fonda - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Henry Fonda  enlisted in the Navy to fight in World War II, saying, "I don't want to be in a fake war in a studio."[14] Previously, he and Stewart had helped raise funds for the defense of Britain.[15] Fonda served for three years, initially as a Quartermaster 3rd Class on the destroyer USS Satterlee. He was later commissioned as a Lieutenant Junior Grade in Air Combat Intelligence in the Central Pacific and won a Presidential Citation and the Bronze Star.[16][17]

Jack Hawkins - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Jack Hawkins - After the fall of France in 1940, Hawkins volunteered for service with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He was posted to India where he was put in charge of troop entertainment and, by July 1944, he was a colonel commanding the administration of the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA) for India and Southeast Asia.

Jack Lemmon - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Jack Lemmon - Lemmon joined the Navy, received V-12 training and served as an ensign in the US Navy Reserve from 1945-1946.

Jack Palance - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

With the outbreak of the Second World War, Jack Palance military career began. Palance's rugged face was disfigured when he bailed out of his burning B-24 Liberator while on a training flight over southern Arizona, where he was a student pilot. Plastic surgeons repaired the damage as best they could, but he was left with a distinctive, somewhat gaunt, look. After much reconstructive surgery, he was discharged in 1944.

 Jackie Coogan - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Jackie Coogan -  enlisted in the US Army in March 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he requested a transfer to US Army Air Forces as a glider pilot because of his civilian flying experience. After graduating from glider school, he was made a Flight Officer and he volunteered for hazardous duty with the 1st Air Commando Group. In December 1943, the unit was sent to India. He flew British troops, the Chindits, under General Orde Wingate on 5 March 1944, landing them at night in a small jungle clearing 100 miles behind Japanese lines in the Burma campaign.

James Arness - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII


During World War II, James Arness served in the United States Army during World War II, and was severely wounded at the Battle of Anzio, leading to a lifelong slight limp.His military awards and medals include: the Bronze Star; the Purple Heart; the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign with three bronze star devices; World War II Victory Medal and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.

James Doohan - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

At the outbreak of the Second World War,  James Doohan, aged 19, joined the Royal Canadian Artillery, and was eventually commissioned as a lieutenant in the 13th Field Regiment, part of the divisional artillery of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. Doohan went to the United Kingdom in 1940 for what became years of training. His first combat assignment was the invasion of Normandy at Juno Beach on D-Day. Shooting two snipers along the way, Doohan led his unit to higher ground through a field of anti-tank mines and took defensive positions for the night. Crossing between command posts at 11:30 that night, Doohan took six rounds from a Bren gun fired by a nervous sentry:[3] four in his leg, one in the chest, and one through his right middle finger. The bullet to his chest was halted by the silver cigarette case he carried, and his wounded right middle finger was amputated, which he would conceal during his career as an actor.

Jimmy Stewart - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

James Stewart  twice received the Distinguished Flying Cross for actions in combat and was awarded the Croix de Guerre. He also received the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters. In July 1944, after flying 20 combat missions, Stewart was made chief of staff of the 2nd Combat Bombardment Wing of the Eighth Air Force. Before the war ended, he was promoted to colonel, one of only a few Americans to rise from private to colonel in four years.

Jan Merlin - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Jan Merlin - Enlisted in US Navy April, 1942, served as a destroyer torpedo man until April 1946. during the Second World War he enlisted in the US Navy to serve on three successive ships in the North Atlantic and Pacific Fleets, accumulating ten battle stars before entering Japan's Inland Sea with the first group of Occupation Forces.

Jeff Chandler - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Jeff Chandler served in the US Army. He served in World War II, mostly in the Aleutians. His enlistment record for the Cavalry in November 18, 1941 gave his height as six foot four inches and his weight as 210 pounds. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Cochise in Broken Arrow (1950).  He was the first actor nominated for an Academy Award for portraying a Native American.

 John Agar - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

During World War II John Agar served in the Army Air Corps, and he was a sergeant at the time he left the army in 1946.

Kirk Douglas - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Kirk Douglas served in the U.S. Navy from the entry of the US into World War II. Douglas enlisted in the United States Navy in 1941, shortly after the United States entered World War II. He was medically discharged for war injuries in 1944.

Lee Marvin - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Lee Marvin joined the U.S. 4th Marine Division, serving as a sniper. He was wounded in action during the WWII Battle of Saipan, eight months prior to the Battle of Iwo Jima. Most of his platoon were killed during the battle. This had a significant effect on Marvin for the rest of his life.[1] He was awarded the Purple Heart medal and was given a medical discharge with the rank of PFC.[2]

Richard Burton - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Richard Burton  served in the RAF (1944-1947) as a navigator. He was nominated six times for an Academy Award for Best Actor and once for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor – but he never won. From 1982, he and Becket co-star Peter O'Toole shared the record for the male actor with the most nominations (7) for a competitive acting Oscar without ever winning. In 2007, O'Toole was unsuccessfully nominated for an eighth time, for Venus (however, O'Toole also received an "honorary" Academy Award in 2003). Both Burton and O'Toole were nominated for the film Becket.

Robert Clary - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Frenchman, Robert Clary (Robert  Max Widerman) was captured and deported to the Nazi concentration camp, Buchenwald with 12 other members of his immediate family. Clary was the only survivor [1]. When he returned to Paris after the war, he was ecstatic when he found that some of his siblings had not been taken away and survived the Nazi occupation of France.

During World War II, Robert Montgomery  joined the Navy, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

Robert Montgomery - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Robert Ryan's beginning film career was interrupted by World War II. For two years Bob worked as a Marine corps drill instructor at Camp Pendleton.

Robert Stack - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Robert Stack Joined Air Force and became a PB4Y Gunnery Instructor.

Russell Johnson - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Russell Johnson joined the United States Army Air Forces in World War II. He had a very distinguished record and was highly decorated for his service. He flew 44 combat missions as a gunner in B-24 Liberator bombers, receiving a Purple Heart for injuries sustained when his plane was shot down over the Philippines. When the war ended, he joined the Army Reserves and used the GI Bill to fund his acting studies.

Shecky Greene - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Shecky Greene served in the US Navy.

Strother Martin  served in the US Navy as a Swimming instructor.

Tony Curtis - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Tony Curtis - US Navy joined 1943 at age 17. In Tokyo Bay he watched the surrender ceremonies from the Signal Bridge of the USS Proteus.

Tyrone Power - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Tyrone Power   arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina in July, 1944 and was assigned to VMR-352 as an R5C copilot. The squadron moved to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in California in October 1944. Power was reassigned to VMR-353 and joined them on Kwajalein in February 1945. He flew cargo and wounded Marines during the Battle of Iwo Jima and the Battle of Okinawa. He returned to the United States in November 1945 and he was released from active duty in January 1946. He was promoted to Captain in the reserves on May 8, 1951 but was not recalled for service for the Korean War.[5]


Walter Matthau - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

During World War II Walter Matthau served in the U.S. 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 became interested in acting.

While filming Flight Angels (1940), Wayne Morris became interested in flying and became a pilot. With war in the wind, he joined the Naval Reserve and became a Navy flier in 1942, leaving his film career behind for the duration of the war. Flying the F6F Hellcat off the aircraft carrier USS Essex, Morris shot down seven Japanese planes and contributed to the sinking of five ships. He was awarded four Distinguished Flying Crosses and two Air Medals. Morris was considered by the Navy as physically 'too big' to fly fighters. After being turned down several times as a fighter pilot, he went to his brother in law, Cdr. David McCampbell, imploring him for the chance to fly fighters. Cdr. McCampbell said "Give me a letter." He flew with the VF-15, the famed "McCampbell Heroes."

Werner Klemperer - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

Werner Klemperer joined the United States Army to fight in World War II. While stationed in Hawaii, he joined the Army's Special Services unit, spending the next few years touring the Pacific entertaining the troops.

William Holden - Hollywood Hero - Patriot of WWII

William Holden served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, where he acted in training films.

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