CELEBRITIES WHO CONTRIBUTED THEIR SERVICES IN WWII-Part 2

J.D. Salinger

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The author of one of the most famous books “Catcher in the rye”

Salinger was assigned to a counter-intelligence division, for which he used his proficiency in French and German to interrogate prisoners of war.In April 1945 he entered a liberated concentration camp, probably one of Dachau’s sub-camps.Salinger earned the rank of Staff Sergeant and served in five campaigns.Salinger’s experiences in the war affected him emotionally. He was hospitalized for a few weeks for combat stress reaction after Germany was defeated, and he later told his daughter: “You never really get the smell of burning flesh out of your nose entirely, no matter how long you live.” Both of his biographers speculate that Salinger drew upon his wartime experiences in several stories, such as “For Esmé—with Love and Squalor”, which is narrated by a traumatized soldier. Salinger continued to write while serving in the army, publishing several stories in slick magazines such as Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post. He also continued to submit stories to The New Yorker, but with little success; it rejected all of his submissions from 1944 to 1946, a group of 15 poems in 1945 alone

After Germany’s defeat, Salinger signed up for a six-month period of “Denazification” duty in Germany for the Counterintelligence Corps.

Beatrice Arthur

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Actress mainly known for he role as Dorothy in “the Golden Girls” During World War II, she worked as a truck driver and typist in the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, receiving an Honorable Discharge in September 1945.

Arthur C. Clarke

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Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS (16 December 1917 – 19 March 2008) was a British science fiction writer, science writer and futurist, inventor, undersea explorer, and television series host.

He is perhaps most famous for being co-writer of the screenplay for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, widely considered to be one of the most influential films of all time.

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During the Second World War from 1941 to 1945 he served in the Royal Air Force as a radar specialist and was involved in the early-warning radar defence system, which contributed to the RAF’s success during the Battle of Britain. Clarke spent most of his wartime service working on ground-controlled approach (GCA) radar.. Although GCA did not see much practical use during the war, it proved vital to the Berlin Airlift of 1948–1949 after several years of development. Clarke initially served in the ranks, and was a corporal instructor on radar at No. 2 Radio School, RAF Yatesbury in Wiltshire. He was commissioned as a pilot officer (technical branch) on 27 May 1943.He was promoted flying officer on 27 November 1943.He was appointed chief training instructor at RAF Honiley in Warwickshire and was demobilised with the rank of flight lieutenant.

David Niven

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James David Graham Niven (1 March 1910 – 29 July 1983)was an English actor and novelist. His many roles included Squadron Leader Peter Carter in A Matter of Life and Death, Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days, and Sir Charles Lytton, (“the Phantom”) in The Pink Panther. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Separate Tables (1958).

After Britain declared war on Germany in 1939, Niven returned home and rejoined the British Army. He was alone among British stars in Hollywood in doing so; the British Embassy advised most actors to stay.Niven was recommissioned as a lieutenant into the Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own) on 25 February 1940,and was assigned to a motor training battalion.

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He wanted something more exciting, however, and transferred into the Commandos. He was assigned to a training base at Inverailort House in the Western Highlands. Niven later claimed credit for bringing future Major General Sir Robert E. Laycock to the Commandos. Niven commanded “A” Squadron GHQ Liaison Regiment, better known as “Phantom”. He worked with the Army Film Unit. He acted in two films made during the war, The First of the Few(1942) and The Way Ahead (1944). Both were made with a view to winning support for the British war effort, especially in the United States. Niven’s Film Unit work included a small part in the deception operation that used minor actor M.E. Clifton James to impersonate General Sir Bernard Montgomery. During his work with the Film Unit, Peter Ustinov, though one of the script-writers, had to pose as Niven’s batman. (Ustinov also acted in The Way Ahead.) Niven explained in his autobiography that there was no military way that he, as a lieutenant-colonel, and Ustinov, who was only a private, could associate, other than as an officer and his subordinate, hence their strange “act”. Ustinov later appeared with Niven in Death on the Nile (1978).

Niven took part in the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944, although he was sent to France several days after D-Day. He served in the “Phantom Signals Unit,” which located and reported enemy positions, and kept rear commanders informed on changing battle lines. Niven was posted at one time to Chilham in Kent. He remained close-mouthed about the war, despite public interest in celebrities in combat and a reputation for storytelling. He once said:

I will, however, tell you just one thing about the war, my first story and my last. I was asked by some American friends to search out the grave of their son near Bastogne. I found it where they told me I would, but it was among 27,000 others, and I told myself that here, Niven, were 27,000 reasons why you should keep your mouth shut after the war.

Yogi Berra

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Lawrence PeterYogiBerra (May 12, 1925 – September 22, 2015) was an American professional baseball catcher, manager, and coach who played 19 seasons in Major League Baseball.

During World War II, Berra served in the U.S. Navy as a gunner’s mate on the attack transport USS Bayfield  during the D-Day invasion of France.

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A Second Class Seaman, Berra was one of a six-man crew on a Navy rocket boat, firing machine guns and launching rockets at the German defenses at Omaha Beach. He was fired upon, but was not hit, and later received several commendations for his bravery. During an interview on the 65th Anniversary of D-Day, Yogi confirmed that he was sent to Utah Beach during the D-Day invasion as well.

Gene Roddenberry

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Eugene WesleyGeneRoddenberry (August 19, 1921 – October 24, 1991) was an American television screenwriterand producer. He is best remembered for creating the original Star Trek television series.

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Born in El Paso, Texas, Roddenberry grew up in Los Angeles, where his father was a police officer. Roddenberry flew eighty-nine combat missions in the Army Air Forces during World War II, and worked as a commercial pilot after the war.

He enlisted with the USAAC on December 18, 1941. He graduated from the USAAC on August 5, 1942, when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant.

He was posted to Bellows Field, Oahu, to join the 394th Bomb Squadron, 5th Bombardment Group, of the Thirteenth Air Force, which flew the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.

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On August 2, 1943, while flying out of Espiritu Santo, the plane Roddenberry was piloting overshot the runway by 500 feet (150 m) and impacted trees, crushing the nose, and starting a fire, killing two men. The official report absolved Roddenberry of any responsibility.Roddenberry spent the remainder of his military career in the United States,and flew all over the country as a plane crash investigator. He was involved in a further plane crash, this time as a passenger. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.

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Celebrities who contributed their services in WWII.

Without trying to sound too much like an old fogy but most of the “Celebrities” nowadays don’t really contribute anything to society as a whole. Sure, some entertain us with their sporting skills or talents(some don’t even have that) but as far as actually contributing some worth while or substantial there are very few who do so.

Below is a summary of celebrities who offered their services during WWII some even risked their own lives to fight for the freedom of others.

Yul Brynner

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During World War II, Brynner worked as a French-speaking radio announcer and commentator for the US Office of War Information, broadcasting to occupied France.

Marcel Marceau

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Long before he donned his famous face paint and toured the world as “Bip the Clown,” beloved mime Marcel Marceau was serving as a member of the French Resistance during World War II. Along with his brother Alain, Marceau forged documents and doctored identity cards to help prevent French children from being conscripted into German labor camps. He also smuggled some 70 Jewish children out of the country by posing as a Boy Scout leader and leading them through the wilderness to safety in neutral Switzerland. The silent performer later joined the Free French Forces under Charles De Gaulle, and served as a liaison offer to General George Patton’s army while entertaining Allied troops with his miming.

Sir Alec Guinness

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Some 35 years before he counseled Luke Skywalker to “use the Force” as Obi Wan Kenobi, Sir Alec Guinness was piloting infantry landing craft in the Mediterranean. A trained thespian, Guinness put his theater career on hold in 1939 to join the Royal Navy. He landed some 200 British soldiers on the beaches of Sicily during the July 1943 invasion of Italy, and went on to ferry arms to partisan fighters in Yugoslavia. During one such voyage in 1944, Guinness’s boat was caught in a violent hurricane off the coast of Italy, and he only narrowly managed to guide the ship into a harbor before it was thrown onto a rocky shoreline and damaged beyond repair. Guinness would later put his wartime experience to use portraying military officers in such films as “The Bridge on the River Kwai” and “Tunes of Glory,” and even played Adolf Hitler in 1973’s “Hitler: The Last Ten Days.

Mel Brooks

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Mel Brooks is best known as the writer-director behind the laugh-a-minute comedies “Young Frankenstein,” “Blazing Saddles” and “Spaceballs.” But along with writing killer one-liners, he is also an old hand at defusing German mines. Born Melvin Kaminsky in Brooklyn, New York, Brooks enlisted in the army in 1944 at the age of 17. He later served in 1104th Engineer Combat Battalion, a unit that braved sniper fire and shelling to build bridges, clear blocked roads and deactivate landmines ahead of advancing Allied forces. Ever the comedian, Brooks once used a bullhorn to serenade nearby enemy troops along the German-French border with the Al Jolson song “Toot, Toot, Tootsie”—and received a round of applause in return.

Jackie Coogan

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The “Addams Family” actor was a star by the age of 5, appearing alongside Charlie Chaplin in the silent film sensation “The Kid.” Coogan put acting on hold during WWII to deliver troops behind enemy lines in the Burma campaign.

James Stewart

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In August 1943, Stewart was assigned to the 445th Bomb Group as operations officer of the 703d Bombardment Squadron, but after three weeks became its commander. On October 12, 1943, judged ready to go overseas, the 445th Bomb Group staged to Lincoln Army Airfield, Nebraska. Flying individually, the aircraft first flew to Morrison Army Airfield, Florida, and then on the circuitous Southern Route along the coasts of South America and Africa to RAF Tibenham, Norfolk, England. After several weeks of training missions, in which Stewart flew with most of his combat crews, the group flew its first combat mission on December 13, 1943, to bomb the U-boat facilities at Kiel, Germany, followed three days later by a mission to Bremen. Stewart led the high squadron of the group formation on the first mission, and the entire group on the second. Following a mission to Ludwigshafen, Germany, on January 7, 1944, Stewart was promoted to major.Stewart was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for actions as deputy commander of the 2nd Combat Bombardment Wing on the first day of “Big Week” operations in February and flew two other missions that week.

On March 22, 1944, Stewart flew his 12th combat mission, leading the 2nd Bomb Wing in an attack on Berlin. On March 30, 1944, he was sent to RAF Old Buckenham to become group operations officer of the 453rd Bombardment Group, a new B-24 unit that had just lost both its commander and operations officer on missions.To inspire the unit, Stewart flew as command pilot in the lead B-24 on several missions deep into Nazi-occupied Europe. As a staff officer, Stewart was assigned to the 453rd “for the duration” and thus not subject to a quota of missions of a combat tour. He nevertheless assigned himself as a combat crewman on the group’s missions until his promotion to lieutenant colonel on June 3 and reassignment on July 1, 1944, to the 2nd Bomb Wing, assigned as executive officer to Brigadier General Edward J. Timberlake. His official tally of mission credits while assigned to the 445th and 453rd Bomb Groups was 20 sorties.

Hugh Hefner

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Years before founding what would become the Playboy empire, Hefner served as a writer for a military newspaper in the U.S. Army at the end of WWII.

Tony Bennett

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The crooner responsible for “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and “Rags to Riches” is also a battle-tested World War II vet. Tony Bennett was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944, and spent the later stages of the war in the 63rd Infantry Division in France and Germany. Bennett’s unit was responsible for mopping up after the Battle of the Bulge, and he participated in intense urban combat while searching for Nazi stragglers in bombed-out German towns. The singer also witnessed the horror of the Holocaust firsthand when he helped liberate the Nazi concentration camp at Landsberg, Germany. Bennett would later write that his army service transformed him into an lifelong pacifist, but it also whetted his appetite for show business by giving him his first ever chance to perform as part of a military band.

Joe Louis

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One of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time, Louis was a major driver of anti-Nazi sentiment in America during WWII. In January 1942, Louis held a charity boxing match that raised $47,000 for the Navy Relief Society. The next day he enlisted in the U.S. Army.

I will be doing more articles in the future about celebrities who contributed to the WWII efforts since there were so many of them.