Marlene Dietrich kisses a soldier returning home from war, 1945

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Dietrich was noted for her humanitarian efforts during the war, housing German and French exiles, providing financial support and even advocating their US citizenship. For her work on improving morale on the front lines during the war, she received several honors from the United States.

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This photo shows Marlene Dietrich passionately kissing an American soldier as he arrives home from World War II. It seems that the guy on the left holding her up is enjoying the view. It was first published in Life Magazine with the caption: “While soldiers hold her up by her famous legs, Marlene Dietrich is kissed by a home-coming GI”.

Actress Marlene Dietrich kisses a soldier returning home from war, 1945

The ship was the Monticello, a converted cruise liner. Her original name was SS Conte Grande and was built in 1927 in Trieste, Italy. During World War II, she was acquired by the United States and was used as an American troopship—renamed USS Monticello (AP-61) in 1942.1928-conte

At the time the photo was taken it was transporting parts of the 2nd infantry division home.The 2nd division soldiers had entered the war in Normandy on D-Day. They fought across Europe into Czechoslovakia. They arrived in New York (when this photo was taken) on July 20, 1945. The war was not over for them. They were on their way to Camp Swift in Texas for training. They were supposed to be a part of the invasion of Japan.

Marlene Dietrich has a curious story. She was a German actress and singer. Her cinematography life started in Germany and later in Hollywood where she became very famous.

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Dietrich was known to have strong political convictions and the mind to speak them. In interviews, Dietrich stated that she had been approached by representatives of the Nazi Party to return to Germany but had turned them down flat. Dietrich, a staunch anti-Nazi, became an American citizen in 1939. In December 1941, the U.S. entered World War II, and Dietrich became one of the first celebrities to raise war bonds. She toured the US from January 1942 to September 1943 (appearing before 250,000 troops on the Pacific Coast leg of her tour alone) and was reported to have sold more war bonds than any other star. At the end of the war she was awarded the highest American civil medal: The Medal of Freedom.

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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.

 

Forgotten History- Audrey Hepburn and WWII

Aside from my interest in WW2 and I am also a movie buff. And to be honest looking at actors and actresses nowadays none of them have the screen presence like the classic screen Icons such as  Audrey Hepburn.

Although I was never a huge fan there is no denying her acting talents and some of the all time classic movies she starred in. ‘Robin and Marian’ is still one of my all time favorites.

Bur not to get side tracked since this blog is referring to her activities during World War 2 and is not meant to be a movies review.

The fact that she actively did help the resistance is amazing given the background of her parents.

Hepburn was born on 4 May 1929 at number 48 Rue Keyenveld in Ixelles, a municipality in Brussels, Belgium.Her father, Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston was a British subject born in Úžice, Bohemia.

Her mother, Baroness Ella van Heemstra , was a Dutch aristocrat and the daughter of Baron Aarnoud van Heemstra, who was mayor of Arnhem from 1910 to 1920, and served as Governor of Dutch Suriname from 1921 to 1928.

Hepburn’s mother and father married in the Dutch-Colonial Batavia (now Jakarta), Dutch East Indies, in September 1926. They moved back to Europe, to Ixelles in Belgium, where Hepburn was born in 1929, before moving to Linkebeek, a nearby Brussels municipality, in January 1932.Hepburn held British citizenship through her father.

As a result of her multinational background and travelling with her family because of her father’s job,she learned to speak five languages: Dutch and English from her parents and later French, Spanish, and Italian. Hepburn began studying ballet when she was five years old

Hepburn’s parents were members of the British Union of Fascists in the mid-1930s,with her father becoming a true Nazi sympathizer.

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The marriage began to fail in 1935, and after her mother discovered him in bed with the nanny of her children,[Hepburn’s father left the family abruptly. Joseph settled in London following the divorce.In the 1960’s, Hepburn would finally locate him again in  Dublin through the Red Cross.

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Although he remained emotionally detached, his daughter remained in contact and supported him financially until his death.

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Hepburn’s father, Joseph, who abandoned her when she was a little girl, and her mother, Ella, were members of the British Union of Fascists. In 1935, they toured Germany with other members of the organization, including the notorious Mitford sisters, British aristocrats who were jailed for their Nazi sympathies. After Hepburn’s parents divorced, Ella returned to Germany to attend the Nuremberg rallies and wrote an enthusiastic account of the experience for fascist magazineThe Blackshirt. Joseph was investigated by the British House of Commons for receiving seed money to start a newspaper from Germans with ties to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. He was imprisoned as an enemy of the state for the duration of the war.

In 1937, Ella and Audrey moved to Kent, South East England, where Hepburn was educated at a small independent school in Elham, run by two sisters known as “The Mesdemoiselles Smith”.In September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany, and Hepburn’s mother relocated with her daughter back to Arnhem in the hope that (as during World War I) the Netherlands would remain neutral and be spared a German attack.

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While there, Hepburn attended the Arnhem Conservatory from 1939 to 1945 where, in addition to the standard school curriculum, she trained in ballet with Winja Marova. After the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940, Hepburn adopted the pseudonym Edda van Heemstra because an “English sounding” name was considered dangerous during the German occupation. In 1942, Hepburn’s uncle, Otto van Limburg Stirum (husband of her mother’s older sister, Miesje), was executed in retaliation for an act of sabotage by the resistance movement.

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While Hepburn’s half brother Ian was deported to Berlin to work in a German labour camp. Hepburn’s other half-brother Alex went into hiding to avoid the same fate.”We saw young men put against the wall and shot, and they’d close the street and then open it and you could pass by again…Don’t discount anything awful you hear or read about the Nazis. It’s worse than you could ever imagine.” Audret Hepburn recalled.

After this, Ella, Miesje, and Hepburn moved in with her grandfather Baron Aarnoud van Heemstra in nearby Velp. At the time, Hepburn suffered from malnutrition, developed acute anæmia, respiratory problems, and edema.Hepburn, in a retrospective interview, commented, “I have memories. More than once I was at the station seeing trainloads of Jews being transported, seeing all these faces over the top of the wagon.

I remember, very sharply, one little boy standing with his parents on the platform, very pale, very blond, wearing a coat that was much too big for him, and he stepped on to the train. I was a child observing a child. Later in her career, Hepburn was asked to play Holocaust victim Anne Frank in both the Broadway and film adaptations of Frank’s life. Hepburn, however, who was born the same year as Frank, found herself “emotionally incapable” of the task, and at almost 30 years old at the time, too old.

By 1944, Hepburn had become a proficient ballet dancer and she had secretly danced for groups of people to collect money for the Dutch resistance.

“The best audience I ever had made not a single sound at the end of my performances”, she remarked She also occasionally acted as a courier for the resistance, delivering messages and packages Had she been discovered doing either of these things, a swift execution would have followed.. After the Allied landing on D-Day, living conditions grew worse and Arnhem was subsequently destroyed during Operation Market Garden.

During the Dutch famine that followed in the winter of 1944, the Germans blocked the resupply routes of the Dutch’s already-limited food and fuel supplies as retaliation for railway strikes that were held to hinder German occupation.

People starved and froze to death in the streets; Hepburn and many others resorted to making flour out of tulip bulbs to bake cakes and biscuits.

During those times, the future Hollywood icon’s meals were often comprised of endive, the low-calorie green leafy vegetable often used in salads, tulip bulbs that she dug up from the ground and water. This was how she survived.Audrey Hepburn disclosed that there were times she couldn’t stand up; she felt to weak to make use of her limbs.

By the time WWII ended, the then 16-year-old Audrey Hepburn only weighed 88 pounds [about 40 kilograms]

One way young Audrey passed the time was by drawing; some of her childhood artwork can be seen today.When the country was liberated, United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration trucks followed. Hepburn said in an interview that she fell ill from putting too much sugar in her porridge and eating an entire can of condensed milk. Hepburn’s war-time experiences sparked her devotion to UNICEF, an international humanitarian organisation, in her later career.

Audrey Hepburn’s legacy as an actress and a personality has endured long after her death. The American Film Institute named Hepburn third among the Greatest Female Stars of All Time. She stands as one of few entertainers who have won Academy, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Awards. She won a record three Bafta Awards for Best British Actress in a Leading Role. In her last years, she remained a visible presence in the film world. She received a tribute from the Film Society of Lincoln Center in 1991 and was a frequent presenter at the Academy Awards. She received the BAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992. She was the recipient of numerous posthumous awards including the 1993 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and competitive Grammy and Emmy Awards. She has been the subject of many biographies since her death and the 2000 dramatisation of her life titled The Audrey Hepburn Story which starred Jennifer Love Hewitt and Emmy Rossum as the older and younger Hepburn respectively. The film concludes with footage of the real Audrey Hepburn, shot during one of her final missions for UNICEF.

During the 1950s, it would have been disastrous for Hepburn’s squeaky clean image if it were known that her parents were Nazi sympathizers. By today’s standards, her rejection of her parents’ racist ideology makes her even more admirable.

Hepburn’s image is widely used in advertising campaigns across the world. In Japan, a series of commercials used colourised and digitally enhanced clips of Hepburn in Roman Holiday to advertise Kirin black tea. In the United States, Hepburn was featured in a 2006 Gap commercial which used clips of her dancing from Funny Face, set to AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, with the tagline “It’s Back – The Skinny Black Pant”.

To celebrate its “Keep it Simple” campaign, the Gap made a sizeable donation to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund.In 2013, a computer-manipulated representation of Hepburn was used in a television advert for the British chocolate bar Galaxy. On 4 May 2014 Google featured a doodle on its homepage on the occasion of Hepburn’s 85th birthday.

 

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/the-film-star-and-her-fascist-father-28961174.html

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000030/?ref_=nv_sr_1