Marlene Dietrich kisses a soldier returning home from war, 1945

Marlene_Dietrich_in_No_Highway_(1951)_(Cropped)

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.

Marlene_Dietrich_ww2_47

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.

Destry-Rides-Again-1939

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.

Advertisements

Herbert Brenon-Forgotten Irish Oscar nominated Movie Director

800px-herbertbrenon

I pride myself to be a bit of a movie buff, but to my amazement I had never heard of this Oscar nominated and ‘Photo Play-Medal of Honor’ winner.

Today marks his 137th birthday. He has been credited for directing at least 124 movie and shorts, which is an amazing feat by any measure.

brenon_reading_hughes

Herbert Brenon (13 January 1880 – 21 June 1958) born Alexander Herbert Reginald St. John Brenon was an Irish film director, actor and screenwriter during the era of silent movies through the 1930s.

He was born at 25 Crosthwaite Park, in Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire, Dublin, to journalist, poet and politician Edward St John Brenon and Francis Harries.

In 1882, the family moved to London, where Herbert was educated at St Paul’s School and at King’s College London.

 

Before becoming a director, he performed in vaudeville acts with his wife, Helen Oberg. Started as a stagehand in New York. By 1909 he operated a small picture theatre in Pennsylvania. Two years later he was hired as a writer by Carl Laemmle, directing his first short the next year. Signed by William Fox in 1915, graduating to feature films.

mv5by2zknzlkzjmtzdq2mi00zdi0ltk5mjatodu2mwe4mtlmogjmxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymduyotuynq-_v1_ux214_cr00214317_al_

Some of his more noteworthy films were the first movie adaptations of Peter Pan (1924) and Beau Geste (1926),and Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928) with Lon Chaney.

For the 1927 movie “Sorrell and Son” about a a decorated war hero, who raises his son Kit alone after Kit’s mother deserts husband and child in the boy’s infancy, he was nominated for the Academy Award for best director ,dramatic pictures, at the First ever Oscars(Academy Awards) in 1929.

mv5bzdkymdu1zdytztiyoc00zty1lwe5ogitmwrmzmeyodzlnwzjxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjyzmdy1ntg-_v1_  1st-academy-awards

 

Unfortunately he lost out to Frank Borzage for his picture “7th Heaven”

Regarded sound pictures with a measure of apprehension. Returned to Britain in 1934, but his career was well on the decline and he retired in 1940.His last movie “The Flying Squad”  he shot in London in 1940. It was based on a novel by Edgar Wallace in which the officers of the Flying Squad attempt to tackle a drug-smuggling organisation. The novel had previously been filmed in 1929 and 1932.

the_flying_squad-_1940

He died in Los Angeles, California and was interred in a private mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY. Survived by a son, Dr. Herbert Cyril Brenon.

1024px-herbert_brenon_mausoleum_12-2-2008

Kirk Douglas-More than just an Actor

121209042633-15-kirk-douglas-horizontal-large-gallery

On his 100th birthday it is a good time to look back at the life of one of my all time favourite actors. But rather then looking at all the marvelous movies he did I’ll be looking at one change he made that changed the lives for many in Hollywood,at the risk of ending his own career.

hollywood_sign_zuschnitt

Douglas was born 9 December 1916,Issur Danielovitch in Amsterdam, New York, the son of Bryna “Bertha” (née Sanglel; 1884–1958) and Herschel “Harry” Danielovitch (c. 1884–1950). His parents were Jewish immigrants from Chavusy, Mogilev Region, in the Russian Empire (present-day Belarus), and the family spoke Yiddish at home.

His father’s brother, who emigrated earlier, used the surname Demsky, which Douglas’ family adopted in the United States. Douglas grew up as Izzy Demsky and legally changed his name to Kirk Douglas before entering the United States Navy during World War II.

Douglas first wanted to be an actor after he recited the poem The Red Robin of Spring while in kindergarten and received applause.He enlisted in the United States Navy in 1941, shortly after the United States entered World War II, where he served as a communications officer in anti-submarine warfare. He was medically discharged for war injuries in 1944.

After the war, Douglas returned to New York City and found work in radio, theater and commercials. In his radio work, he acted in a number of network soap operas, and sees those experiences as being especially valuable, as skill in using one’s voice is important for aspiring actors, and regrets that the same avenues are no longer open to them.[13] His stage break occurred when he took over the role played by Richard Widmark in Kiss and Tell  which then led to other offers.

richard_widmark_-_1973

Douglas had planned to remain a stage actor, until his friend, Lauren Bacall, helped him get his first film role by recommending him to director Hal Wallis, who was looking for a new male talent. Wallis’s film, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), with Barbara Stanwyck, became Douglas’s debut screen appearance.

strangeloveofmartha

He played a young, insecure man, stung with jealousy, whose life was dominated by a ruthless older woman, and he hid his feelings with alcohol. It would be the last time that Douglas portrayed a weakling in a film role.

In 1955 Douglas launched his own production company, Bryna Productions, the company behind two pivotal film roles in his career. The first was as French army officer Col. Dax in director Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant anti-war epic Paths of Glory (1957).

mv5bmtc2njawnjg1mf5bml5banbnxkftztcwmzywotc2na-_v1_

 

The Hollywood Black list

lossless-page1-325px-anticommunist_literature_1950s-tiff

In October 1947, 10 members of the Hollywood film industry publicly denounced the tactics employed by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), an investigative committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, during its probe of alleged communist influence in the American motion picture business.

chairman_dies_of_house_committee_investigating_un-american_activities

The committee’s anti-Communist investigations are often associated with those of Joseph McCarthy who, as a U.S. Senator, had no direct involvement with this House committee.McCarthy was the Chairman of the Government Operations Committee and its Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the U.S. Senate, not the House.

800px-joseph_mccarthy

These prominent screenwriters and directors, who became known as the Hollywood Ten, received jail sentences and were banned from working for the major Hollywood studios.

h10protest

Their defiant stands also placed them at center stage in a national debate over the controversial anti-communist crackdown that swept through the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Besides the Hollywood Ten, other members of the film industry with alleged communist ties were later banned from working for the big movie studios. The Hollywood blacklist came to an end in the 1960s.

Nine Posing After Cited for Contempt

The Hollywood Ten in November 1947 waiting to be fingerprinted in the U.S. Marshal’s office after being cited for contempt of Congress. Front row (from left): Herbert Biberman, attorneys Martin Popper and Robert W. Kenny, Albert Maltz, Lester Cole. Middle row: Dalton Trumbo, John Howard Lawson, Alvah Bessie, Samuel Ornitz. Back row: Ring Lardner Jr., Edward Dmytryk, Adrian Scott.

Kirk Douglas was instrumental in getting this black list lifted.Douglas reunited with Kubrick for yet another epic, the magnificent Spartacus (1960).

mv5bythiodfkmdutmzi3ms00otcxltk1ntqtyjmznjblmgeyyzqxxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjc1ntyymjg-_v1_

The film also marked a key turning point in the life of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who had been blacklisted during the McCarthy “Red Scare” hysteria in the 1950s.

trumbo_1947

At Douglas’ insistence Trumbo was given on-screen credit for his contributions, which began the dissolution of the infamous blacklisting policies begun almost a decade previously that had destroyed so many careers and lives.

About that event, Douglas said, “I’ve made over 85 pictures, but the thing I’m most proud of is breaking the blacklist.”At the time, his career was at risk, with Hollywood people claiming Douglas would never get work again. “I was scared to death, but I insisted on doing it,”

On a side note I have to mention one movie which is forgotten by most and did not receive good reviews by critics or at the box office.I think it’s still one of best comedies I have ever seen, what makes it even funnier is that none of the actors are comedic actors.It had different titles ,in the US it was called “the Villain” and in the UK and Australia it was known as “Cactus Jack”

Along Kirk Douglas, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a character called Handsome Stranger.

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

yul_brynner_anna_and_the_king_television_1972

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

Marcel Marceau Photo Call

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

list-wwii-vets-alec-guinness-e

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

list-wwii-vets-mel-brooks

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

ac00000000000000

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

800px-jimmy_stewart_getting_medal

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

2d00000000000000

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

list-wwii-vets-tony-bennett-138782835-e

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

7d00000000000000

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.

 

Emil Jannings-Oscar Winner and Nazi propagandist.

This is a slightly different story from the WWII era but nevertheless still an intriguing one. WWII wasn’t only death and destruction ‘normal’ life went on too. People would still go to the Cinema and watch movies. However in Germany these movies were often used as propaganda tools to divert the attention of what was really going on.

Emil Jannings, original name Theodor Friedrich Emil Janenz (born July 23, 1884, Rorschach, Switzerland—died January 2, 1950, Strobl, near Salzburg, Austria) internationally known German actor famous for his tragic roles in motion pictures.

To date, he is still the only German to have won the Best Actor Oscar.

Jannings is best known for his collaborations with F.W. Murnau and Josef von Sternberg, including 1930’s The Blue Angel, with Marlene Dietrich.

MV5BNTU2MTcxMDA2Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTM3MjMxMTE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_

 

Der blaue Engel was meant as a vehicle for Jannings to score a place for himself in the new medium of sound film, but Dietrich stole the show. Jannings later starred in a number of Nazi propaganda films, which made him unemployable as an actor after the fall of the Third Reich.

 

 

 

In 1929, the first year of the Academy Awards, Jannings won a Best Actor award for his performances in the American-made films The Way of All Flesh (1927, now lost), in which he played an embittered family man, and The Last Command (1928), in which he was an exiled Russian general reduced to playing bit parts in war films. (During the early years of the awards, actors could be nominated for multiple performances.) With the advent of sound in American cinema, Jannings was forced because of his thick accent to abandon his career in the United States. He continued to work in German films, but his support of the Nazi regime made him a pariah elsewhere in the world. He continues to be a subject of great controversy, though many of his detractors begrudgingly admit that he was one of the finest actors of his generation.

After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Jannings continued his career in the service of Nazism and cinema. During the Third Reich, he starred in several films which were intended to promote Nazism, particularly the Führerprinzip (prescribed the fundamental basis of political authority in the governmental structures of the Third Reich)by presenting unyielding historical characters, such as Der alte und der junge König (The Old and the Young King 1934), Der Herrscher (The Ruler 1937) directed by Veit Harlan, Robert Koch (1939), Ohm Krüger (Uncle Kruger, 1941) and Die Entlassung (Bismarck’s Dismissal, 1942).

 

He also performed in his famed role in The Broken Jug directed by Gustav Ucicky. Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels named Jannings an “Artist of the State” (Staatsschauspieler) in 1936.

St. Wolfgang, Goebbels und Emil Jannings

The shooting of his last film Wo ist Herr Belling? was aborted, when troops of the Allied Powers entered Germany in Spring 1945. Jannings reportedly carried his Oscar statuette with him as proof of his former association with Hollywood. However, his active role in Nazi propaganda meant that he was subject to denazification, and a comeback attempt would not be legal.

The Denazification was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society, culture, press, economy, judiciary, and politics of any remnants of the National Socialist ideology (Nazism).

Eure_Schuld

It was carried out specifically by removing from positions of power and influence those who had been Nazi Party members and by disbanding or rendering impotent the organizations associated with Nazism. The program of denazification was launched after the end of the Second World War and was solidified by the Potsdam Agreement.

Ironically, in the same period Dietrich would become a US citizen and an influential anti-Nazi activist, spending much of the war entertaining troops on the front lines and broadcasting on behalf of the OSS.

marlene

Dietrich particularly loathed Jannings for his Nazi ties, and would later refer to her former co-star as a “ham”.

According to Susan Orlean, author of Rin Tin Tin: The Life and The Legend (Simon and Schuster, 2011), Jannings was not actually the winner of the first best actor vote, but the runner-up. While researching her book, Orlean discovered that it was in fact Rin Tin Tin, the German Shepherd dog, one of the biggest movie stars of his time, who won the vote. The Academy, however, worried about not being taken seriously if they gave the first Oscar to a dog, chose to award the Oscar to the human runner-up.

Jannings retired to Strobl near Salzburg, Austria, and became an Austrian citizen in 1947.He died in 1950, aged 65, from liver cancer.He is buried in the St. Wolfgang cemetery.

Friedhof_St_Wolfgang_im_Salzkammergut_-_Emil_Jannings

His Best Actor Oscar is now on display at the Berlin Filmmuseum.

His Birth place of Rorschach, Switzerland, honored him with a special star (similar to the ones on the Walk of Fame in L.A.), which was revealed on November 12, 2004. Only hours prior to the ceremony, the town’s council learned of Jannings’ efforts on behalf of the Nazis during World War II. A few days later, the star was removed.I am a bit cynical about this especially in 2004 where information was readily available about Emil Jannings, I find it hard to believe they weren’t aware of his involvement with the Nazi party and especially Joseph Goebbels.