Thursday, December 19, 2013

When Hollywood stars were real men

There was a time when Hollywood reflected American values of hard work, integrity and perseverance, and that's how the heroes won the day, got the girl, and often lived in real life. And this was especially true in the 1940s and 1950s, when many of Hollywood's leading men put their film careers on hold and enlisted in one of the armed forces to fight for America. Examples include but are not limited to:

Sterling Hayden, US Marines and OSS. Smuggled guns into Yugoslavia and parachuted into Croatia.
James Stewart, US Army Air Corps. Bomber pilot who rose to the rank of General.
Ernest Borgnine, US Navy. Gunners Mate 1c, destroyer USS Lamberton.
Ed McMahon, US Marines. Fighter Pilot. (Flew OE-1 Bird Dogs over Korea as well.)
Telly Savalas, US Army.
Walter Matthau, US Army Air Corps., B-24 Radioman/Gunner and cryptographer.
Steve Forrest, US Army. Wounded, Battle of the Bulge.
Jonathan Winters, USMC. Battleship USS Wisconsin and Carrier USS Bon Homme Richard. Anti-aircraft gunner, Battle of Okinawa.
Paul Newman, US Navy Rear seat gunner/radioman, torpedo bombers of USS Bunker Hill
Kirk Douglas, US Navy. Sub-chaser in the Pacific. Wounded in action and medically discharged.
Robert Mitchum, US Army.
Dale Robertson, US Army. Tank Commander in North Africa under Patton. Wounded twice. Battlefield Commission.
Henry Fonda, US Navy. Destroyer USS Satterlee.
John Carroll, US Army Air Corps. Pilot in North Africa. Broke his back in a crash.
Lee Marvin US Marines. Sniper. Wounded in action on Saipan. Buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Sec. 7A next to Greg Boyington and Joe Louis.
Art Carney, US Army. Wounded on Normandy beach, D-Day. Limped for the rest of his life.
Wayne Morris, US Navy fighter pilot, USS Essex. Downed seven Japanese fighters.
Rod Steiger, US Navy. Was aboard one of the ships that launched the Doolittle Raid.
Tony Curtis, US Navy. Sub tender USS Proteus. In Tokyo Bay for the surrender of Japan.
Larry Storch. US Navy. Sub tender USS Proteus with Tony Curtis.
Forrest Tucker, US Army. Enlisted as a private, rose to Lieutenant.
Robert Montgomery, US Navy.
George Kennedy, US Army. Enlisted after Pearl Harbor, stayed in sixteen years.
Mickey Rooney, US Army under Patton. Bronze Star.
Denver Pyle, US Navy. Wounded in the Battle of Guadalcanal. Medically discharged.
Burgess Meredith, US Army Air Corps.
DeForest Kelley, US Army Air Corps.
Robert Stack, US Navy. Gunnery Officer.
Neville Brand, US Army, Europe. Was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart.
Tyrone Power, US Marines. Transport pilot in the Pacific Theater.
Charlton Heston, US Army Air Corps. Radio operator and aerial gunner on a B-25, Aleutians.
Danny Aiello, US Army. Lied about his age to enlist at 16. Served three years.
James Arness, US Army. As an infantryman, he was severely wounded at Anzio, Italy.
Efram Zimbalist, Jr., US Army. Purple Heart for a severe wound received at Huertgen Forest.
Mickey Spillane, US Army Air Corps, Fighter Pilot and later Instructor Pilot.
Rod Serling. US Army. 11th Airborne Division in the Pacific. He jumped at Tagaytay in the Philippines and was later wounded in Manila.
Gene Autry, US Army Air Corps. Crewman on transports that ferried supplies over "The Hump" in the China-Burma-India Theater.
Wiliam Holden, US Army Air Corps.
Alan Hale Jr, US Coast Guard.
Harry Dean Stanton, US Navy. Battle of Okinawa.
Russell Johnson, US Army Air Corps. B-24 crewman who was awarded Purple Heart when his aircraft was shot down by the Japanese in the Philippines.
William Conrad, US Army Air Corps. Fighter Pilot.
Jack Klugman, US Army.
Frank Sutton, US Army. Took part in 14 assault landings, including Leyte, Luzon, Bataan and Corregidor.
Jackie Coogan, US Army Air Corps. Volunteered for gliders and flew troops and materials into Burma behind enemy lines.
Tom Bosley, US Navy.
Claude Akins, US Army. Signal Corps., Burma and the Philippines.
Chuck Connors, US Army. Tank-warfare instructor.
Harry Carey Jr., US Navy.
Mel Brooks, US Army. Combat Engineer. Saw action in the Battle of the Bulge.
Robert Altman, US Army Air Corps. B-24 Co-Pilot.
Pat Hingle, US Navy. Destroyer USS Marshall
Fred Gwynne, US Navy. Radioman.
Karl Malden, US Army Air Corps. 8th Air Force, NCO.
Earl Holliman. US Navy. Lied about his age to enlist. Discharged after a year when they Navy found out.
Rock Hudson, US Navy. Aircraft mechanic, the Philippines.
Harvey Korman, US Navy.
Aldo Ray. US Navy. UDT frogman, Okinawa.
Don Knotts, US Army, Pacific Theater.
Don Rickles, US Navy aboard USS Cyrene.
Harry Dean Stanton, US Navy. Served aboard an LST in the Battle of Okinawa.
Robert Stack, US Navy. Gunnery Instructor.
Soupy Sales, US Navy. Served on USS Randall in the South Pacific.
Lee Van Cleef, US Navy. Served aboard a sub chaser then a mine sweeper.
Clifton James, US Army, South Pacific. Was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart.
Ted Knight, US Army, Combat Engineers.
Jack Warden, US Navy, 1938-1942, then US Army, 1942-1945. 101st Airborne Division.
Don Adams. US Marines. Wounded on Guadalcanal, then served as a Drill Instructor.
James Gregory, US Navy and US Marines.
Brian Keith, US Marines. Radioman/Gunner in Dauntless dive-bombers.
Fess Parker, US Navy and US Marines. Booted from pilot training for being too tall, joined Marines as a radio operator.
Charles Durning. US Army. Landed at Normandy on D-Day. Shot multiple times. Awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Survived Malmedy Massacre.
Raymond Burr, US Navy. Shot in the stomach on Okinawa and medically discharged.
Hugh O'Brian, US Marines.
Robert Ryan, US Marines.
Eddie Albert, US Coast Guard. Bronze Star with Combat V for saving several Marines under heavy fire as pilot of a landing craft during the invasion of Tarawa.
Cark Gable, US Army Air Corps. B-17 gunner over Europe.
Charles Bronson, US Army Air Corps. B-29 gunner, wounded in action.
Peter Graves, US Army Air Corps.
Buddy Hackett, US Army anti-aircraft gunner.
Victor Mature, US Coast Guard.
Jack Palance, US Army Air Corps. Severely injured bailing out of a burning B-24 bomber.
Robert Preston, US Army Air Corps. Intelligence Officer
Cesar Romero, US Coast Guard. Coast Guard. Participated in the invasions of Tinian and Saipan on the assault transport USS Cavalier.
Norman Fell, US Army Air Corps., Tail Gunner, Pacific Theater.
Jason Robards, US Navy. was aboard heavy cruiser USS Northampton when it was sunk off Guadalcanal. Also served on the USS Nashville during the invasion of the Philippines, surviving a kamikaze hit that caused 223 casualties.
Charlie Callas, US Army.
Steve Reeves, US Army, Philippines.
Dennis Weaver, US Navy. Pilot.
Richard Crenna, US Army. Radioman, Battle of the Bulge. Saw further service in the Pacific after VE Day.
Robert Taylor, US Navy. Instructor Pilot.
Randolph Scott. Tried to enlist in the Marines but was rejected due to injuries sustained in US Army, World War 1.
Ronald Reagan. US Army. Was a 2nd Lt. in the Cavalry Reserves before the war. His poor eyesight kept him from being sent overseas with his unit when war came so he transferred to the Army Air Corps Public Relations Unit where he served for the duration.
John Wayne. Declared "4F medically unfit" due to pre-existing injuries, he nonetheless attempted to volunteer three times(Army, Navy and Film Corps.) so he gets honorable mention.
And of course we have Audie Murphy, America's most-decorated soldier, who became a Hollywood star as a result of his US Army service that included his being awarded the Medal of Honor.

Would someone please remind me again how many of today's Hollywood elite put their careers on hold to enlist in Iraq or Afghanistan?

The only one who even comes close was Pat Tillman, who turned down a contract offer of $3.6 million over three years from the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the US Army after September, 11, 2001 and serve as a Ranger in Afghanistan, where he died in 2004. But rather than being lauded for his choice and his decision to put his country before his career, he was mocked and derided by many of his peers and the Left.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I submit to you that this is not the America today that it was seventy years ago. And I, for one, am saddened.


  1. It's not, and never will be again... And that is truly sad. Those gents had been there, done it and survived. They 'knew' the value of life and the reality of war. Today, not so much...

  2. I don't often disagree with you, but I'm going to this time about this statement. "Ladies and Gentlemen, I submit to you that this is not the America today that it was seventy years ago. And I, for one, am saddened."
    I believe that America today is, by and large, populated with people much like your list. We see their actions every day in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Philippines, all over the world.
    What is not the same today as it was 70 years ago, is Hollywood and other areas of putrid elitism along each coast. These dens of vipers have used Hollywood's propaganda abilities to mask and denigrate the greatness inherent in America. For that, I AM saddened and enraged.

    1. Well said! Big Media is toxic, rancid, un_American poison. 'think it's all different from 70 years ago? Wait 5 or 10 years; we won't recognize it. TV, its operators, and baby boomers have laid waste to the Founders' great creation.

  3. Just as sad, atheles like Bob Fuller and Ted Williams gave up their prime years to serve. And Dennis Rodman trains the N Koreans?

  4. @ Juvat: I would hold that the Hollywood of yesterday used to reflect America's values. Now it sets them because many of today's generation thinks that the ideal role model is a Clooney, a DiCaprio or a Kardashian. The fact that today's America makes that sort of trash rich beyond comprehension is a damning indictment of what this nation has by and large become.

    Yes, there are exceptions, and plenty of them, but we're the minority now. It didn't used to be that way.

  5. @ James: Yeah, Ted Williams. Thanks for reminding me. There's a pending post, right there.

  6. @Murphy's Law. Can't disagree with you on that.

  7. So-called "middle America" is still much the same. The liberal/elite/intelligentsia (what a joke that is) has changed to reflect the worst of us.

    On a related note, general conversations about secession have cropped up again, around Anchorage. Interesting, that.

  8. Anonymous11:17 AM

    Thanks for the reminders.
    Even those who later became 'liberals' are worth a mention - because they did their duty.


  9. Thanks for the list. Some I knew, some I didn't.
    A list of sports greats would be great too. New book out about Williams recently.
    How about a list of USO entertainers, then and now. That would be good.

  10. Anonymous8:35 PM

    Thanks for posting this list.
    It saddens me the way America is going

  11. Anonymous9:36 AM

    While agreeing entirely with your point that those men served honorably and well and even more with your point that today's Hollywood is, by and large, a nest of hypocritical leeches; I do, nonetheless, have a quibble.

    Both WWI and WWII saw very fast mobilization of a largely civilian population through the draft and selective service. When the wars ended, they returned to civilian life. They were not professional soldiers; they were citizen soldiers, a very different beast.

    A professional, standing army of a size capable of fighting those conflicts did not exist. Whereas, (leaving aside fact that the gov't has not maintained appropriate funding levels) both Iraq and Afghanistan have not required that sort of mobilization. Which is to the credit of the military.

    The thing is, how many of those same individuals on that list, already pursuing a definite career in show business, would have signed up had there Not been a conflict on the scale of those two wars and had there not been a draft?


    During WWII the movies were declared an "Essential Industry" (like the police force, civil servants, and some manufacturing) and established actors were basically exempt from service, although many young unknown actors just starting out may have been eligible for the draft.

    It is to their credit that the actors listed above chose to serve, even if only to make movies for the military, when they were exempted from service.

  13. Anonymous10:10 PM

    It is absolutely to their credit that they still enlisted; but I would argue that the government during WWII had, and made, a much stronger case for mobilization than has been made by the executive in the last generation.
    Classifying Hollywood as 'Essential Services', the idea that it would need to be such, is very hard to fathom today.
    IMHO, the Federal gov't never made the case after 9/11 that there was an existential threat to the US requiring the mobilization of the citizenry. (I personally think they oould/should have, but they didn't)
    It frankly is to the credit of the US Armed Services that the US citizenry was confident enough in the military that no rush to enlist occurred. The mindset was that 'obviously, the gov't can take care of us, that is their job' (I should note, I was not living in the USA between 1999-2009)
    It is, as I see it, the risk with having a standing army of sufficient size to deal with all plausible threats: you end up with a citizenry that is at once smugly complacent and pathologically submissive.

  14. @ acairfearann: There was definitely a rush to enlist post 9/11. Lots of Americans put other business aside and went to see their recruiters. Just this time, Hollywood was firmly on the other side of the issue and scumbags like George Clooney began cranking out anti-military movies as fast as they could.

  15. Commander Douglas Elton Fairbanks, Jr., USNR

    Active duty from 4/'41 to 2/'46.

    Hollywood was not happy that he was so gung ho on the military, and his post war movie career suffered.
    BTW, Hollywood was in Germany's pocket right up 'til war was declared. German control of our movies was near absolute, it turns out. What movies got made, script refusal, etc.

  16. The entry named DeSteward Hayden should read, "Sterling Hayden," and Elvis is missing from the list. Despite being offered the chance to enlist in Special Services to entertain the troops and live in priority housing, he decided to serve as a regular soldier.

    1. Thanks for the catch on Sterling Hayden. Sometimes I just can't type. As for Elvis, he wasn't drafted until 1957, and this list is just WW2. But yep, he did refuse a "soft" slot in Special Services and served as a tanker in Germany.