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Thread: Actors who Served in WW2

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Pennsylvania, USA

    Default Actors who Served in WW2

    Anyone know any actors who served in WW2?
    1. Lee Marvin - Marine
    2. Charles Durning - Army Infantry (Europe)
    3. Eddie Albert - Navy (Pacific)
    4. Don Adams - Army Paratrooper (Pacific)
    5. Ed McMahan - Marine

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Florida, USA

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by George Eller View Post
    Not on the list

    James Doohan - Scottie from Star Trek

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Kutno, Poland


    Don Adams - USMC, Contracted malaria on Guadalcanal
    John Agar - US Army Air Corps, Sergeant.
    Gene Autry - Flight Officer, Air Transport Command, 1942-1946 [Source:
    Eddie Albert - US Navy. Drove Amtracks in several Pacific invasions. He served in the landings at Saipan in 1943, where he rescued wounded and stranded Marines from the beachhead. At Tarawa, he was wounded and lost most of his hearing and earned the Bronze Star.
    James Arness - US Army, Wounded at Anzio. Purple Heart and Bronze Star
    Martin Balsam - US Army.
    James Best - US Army Air Corps.
    Richard Boone - US Navy.
    Neville Brand - US Army.
    Ernest Borgnine he served in the U.S. Navy for twelve years, joining before WWII.
    Mel Brooks (Melvin Kaminsky) joined army in WWII and became a combat engineer. Cleared German mines after the Battle of the Bulge. He organized shows for the US troops, and when the German army began transmitting propaganda over loudspeakers Brooks is said to have replied with a version of Al Jolson's 'Toot-toot-tootsie'. (Information from BBC H2G2.)
    Charles Bronson - US Army
    Richard Burton - Royal Navy
    Art Carney - US Army. Carney went to Normandy in July of 1944 as a replacement to the 28th Division in position around St Lô. He was part of a 30 calibre machine gun squad. On 15 August 1944 he had just taken up his position and was hit in the right leg by mortar shrapnel. After receiving field treatment, he was sent back to Britain and then the US. He once said of his military career, "Never fired a shot and maybe never wanted to. I really cost the government money."
    Julia Child served with the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) in Ceylon and China during WWII.
    Jeff Chandller - US Army.
    Robert Clary - In a Nazi concentration camp
    Jackie Coogan - US Army Air Corps. Enlisted in Army March 1941. After Pearl Harbor, requested transfer to Air Corps as a glider pilot because of his civilian flying experience. After graduating from Glider School, he was made a Flight Officer and volunteered for hazardous duty with the 1st Air Commando Group. In Dec. 1943, the unit was sent to India where, by using CG-4A gliders, it airlifted crack British troops under Gen. Orde Wingate during the night aerial invasion of Burma (Mar. 5, 1944), landing them in a small jungle clearing 100 miles behind Japanese lines.
    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.
    Ossie Davis - US Army [Source: Internet Movie Database]
    Kirk Douglas - US Navy [Source: Internet Movie Database]
    Charles Durning - US Army. Durning landed at Omaha Beach in the D-Day invasion. He survived the landing, but was wounded in an ambush during the Battle of the Bulge. He was captured, escaped, and narrowly missed assassination at the Malmedy Massacre. He won three Purple Hearts and the Silver Star. He still carries his memories and battle fatigue to this day.
    Maurice Evans was in a Special Entertainment Unit that toured the South Pacific.
    Douglas Fairbanks Jr. - US Navy. He joined the naval reserves before the war. During the war he served on the Battleship Massachuesetts and was a Commando raider sent on several land attack missions. He retired from the reserves, years later, as a full Captain. He wrote about his war years in the book "A Hell of a War" which also covers his duties in helping organize the forerunners of today's Navy Seals.
    Henry Fonda - US Navy. Bronze Star for Valor.
    Glenn Ford - US Navy. In addition to his WWII service, he served in the reserves during the Korean War and the Viet Nam War. He retired as a Captain in the US Naval Reserve. [Information provided by Tom Mischke, Commander, USNR (ret.)]
    Clark Gable - Captain, US Army Air Corps. Although beyond draft age, Clark Gable enlisted as a private in the Air Corps on Aug. 12, 1942 at Los Angeles. He attended Officers' Candidate School at Miami Beach and graduated as a second lieutenant. He then attended aerial gunnery school and in Feb. 1943, on personal orders from Gen. Arnold, went to England to make a motion picture of aerial gunners in action. He was assigned to the 351st Bomb Group at Polebrook and although neither ordered nor expected to do so, flew operational missions over Europe in B-17s to obtain the combat film footage he believed was required for producing the movie entitled "Combat America." Gable returned to the U.S. in Oct. 1943 and was relieved from active duty as a major on Jun. 12, 1944 at his own request, since he was over age for combat. [Source: US Air Force museum - wpafb.af.mil]
    Frank Gorshin - US Army (Appeared in the Combat episode The Medal)
    Shecky Greene - US Navy
    Alan Hale US Coast Guard during WWII.
    Sterling Hayden USMC
    Jack Hawkins - Volunteered to serve in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He spent most of his military career arranging entertainment for the British forces in India
    Audrey Hepburn, as a child she was a courier for World War II resistance fighters in Holland
    Benny Hill - British Army
    William Holden - US Army
    Rick Jason - US Army Air Corps
    Bob Keeshan - ("Captain Kangaroo") U.S. Marines, enlisted two weeks before his 18th birthday. He saw no combat because his enlistment was just two months before the bombing of Hiroshima
    Brian Keith - USMC, Aerial gunner
    George Kennedy - US Army, served 16 Years
    Werner Klemperer - US Army
    Burt Lancaster - US Army
    Jack Lemmon - US Navy Reserve 1945-1946
    Strother Martin - US Navy Swimming instructor
    Lee Marvin - US Marines, wounded in the battle of Saipan
    Patrick MacNee - British Royal Navy.
    Steve McQueen - USMC
    Jan Merlin - Enlisted in US Navy April, 1942, served as a destroyer torpedoman until April 1946, honorably discharged. Played Roger Manning, Space Cadet!
    Burgess Meredith - US Army Air Corps
    Gary Merrill - US Army
    Robert Montgomery - US Navy Reserve
    Audie Murphy - US Army, most decorated soldier of WWII
    David Niven Royal Army. His relates several charming tales of his war service (including the time he lets a German general slip away) in his autobiography The Moon's a Balloon
    Caroll O’Connor - Merchant Marines 1942 [Source: Internet Movie Database]
    Jack Palance US Army Air Corps. 455th bomb group. Required facial reconstruction from terrible injuries received in 1943 when his B17 crash landed in Britain.
    **** Peabody - US Navy
    Tyrone Power - USMC Pilot in the South Pacific.
    Anthony Quayle Royal Artillery
    Jason Robards Jr - US Navy. He was a radioman on duty at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack. He wrote about his experiences in A Hell of a War.
    Ronald Reagan - Captain, US Army Air Corps. Because of a severe hearing loss, he was not allowed any flying duties. However, he appeared in training films. Prior to the war, he was a cavalry officer in the Nebraska National Guard.
    Carl Reiner Entered army In 1942 and trained as a radio operator. He later studied French on assignment at Georgetown University to become an interpreter, but became a teletype operator in the Signal Corps where, on the way to Iwo Jima from Hawaii, was assigned to Maurice Evans' Special Entertainment Unit. For 18 months, he toured the South Pacific as a comedian in GI reviews.
    Don Rickles - US Navy. Destroyer duty. He has said of one deployment, "It was so hot and humid, the crew rotted."
    Andy Rooney - (okay, not an actor, but he is a TV personality) Sergeant, US Army. Early in war served with artillery regiment assigned to England. Joined Stars And Stripes in London. In 1943, Rooney is among first correspondents allowed aboard B-17 bombers attacking Germany. He wrote of his war experiences in the book My War.
    Mickey Rooney - US Army. PFC. Served 21 months with a unit that entertained the troops [Source: Internet Movie Database]
    Albert Salmi - US Army.
    Charles Schultz (cartoonist) - US Army. Staff sergeant and leader of machine gun squad.
    Rod Serling - US Army paratroopers
    Robert Stack - US Navy. Because of his expertise as an Olympic champion skeet shooter, he was assigned to teach anti-aircraft gunnery.
    Rod Stieger - Torpedoman, US Navy. Falsified his age to enlist at 16
    Jimmy Stewart - US Army Air Corps.
    Eli Wallich (Magnificent Seven) was an admin clerk/Sgt in WWII. The Skipper on Gilligan's Island served with the Coast Guard during WWII.
    Judge Wapner of The People's Court was saved from a sniper's bullet when it lodged in a can of tuna he was carrying while an Army officer in the Pacific
    Jack Warden Served in the 101st Airborne during WWII.
    James Whitmore - USMC. WWII interrupted his pre-law studies at Yale. He received his degree while at boot camp and served as an officer in the Marine Corps.

    source: http://www.jodavidsmeyer.com/combat/...in_wwii.html#N

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
    In German Hillbilly country, the Hunsrück


    Josephine Baker (Actress and dancer). American citizen, but lived for most of her life in France. French Women's Auxiliary Air Force, French resistance, was involved in background work in preparation of OP Torch. Croix de Guerre

    James Stewart: USAAF bomber pilot, flew B-24s in combat over Europe, later chief of staff of the 2nd Combat Bombardment Wing of the 8th Air force , ended his military career a Brigadier-General. Distinguished Flying Cross, Croix de Guerre, Air medal with three oak leave clusters.

    Marlene Dietrich (Actress, singer): German born, exiled in the US. joined the US Army and worked for the USO (entertainment for soldiers), often close to the front line.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Florida, USA



    Neville Brand


    Biography for Neville Brand


    Biography for Neville Brand
    Date of Birth
    13 August 1920, Griswold, Iowa, USA

    Date of Death
    16 April 1992, Sacramento, California, USA. (emphysema)

    5' 8" (1.73 m)

    Mini Biography

    Neville Brand joined the US Army in 1939, meaning to make a career in the military. It was while he was in the Army that he made his acting debut, in Army training films, and this experience apparently changed the direction of his life. Once a civilian again, he used his GI Bill education assistance to study drama with the American Theater Wing, then appeared in several Broadway plays. His first movie was 1950's D.O.A. (1950). Among his earliest films was the Oscar-winning Stalag 17 (1953). His heavy features and gravelly voice made Brand a natural tough guy: "With this kisser, I knew early in the game I wasn't going to make the world forget Clark Gable", he once told a reporter. He played Al Capone in The George Raft Story (1961), The Scarface Mob (1959) (TV), and TV's "The Untouchables" (1959). Among his other memorable roles are the sympathetic guard in Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) and the representative of rioting convicts in Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954). Perhaps his best-loved role was that of the soft-hearted, loud-mouthed, none-too-bright-but-very-effective Texas Ranger Reese Bennett of Backtrack! (1969), Three Guns for Texas (1968), and TV's "Laredo" (1965).

    Rae Brand (? - 16 April 1992) (his death) 2 children


    Neville Brand was regularly cited as the '4th most decorated soldier in WWII' but that information is incorrect and was denied by Brand before his death. He was, however, a recipient of, according to official military records the Silver Star, for gallantry in combat. His other awards and decorations are the Purple Heart, the Good Conduct Medal, the American Defense Service Ribbon, the European/African/Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with three Battle Stars, one Overseas Service Bar, one Service Stripe, and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.


    Setting the Record Straight
    by Robert E. Witter

    How many of you remember the tough, but compassionate prison guard Bull Ransom in the 1962 classic "The Birdman of Alcatraz?" What about Duke, the barely restrained prisoner of war in "Stalag 17" ? Well, Ransom, Duke, and dozens of other characters, shared the same craggy face and gravelly voice of one man — Mr. Neville Brand — an "actor's actor"1 and real life World War II hero. If you do a little searching, you'll find references to his acting career, but nearly every biographical account of his military service is just, plain wrong. As his brother, Bryce Brand, once put it, "There was a lot they printed about Nev that wasn't true."(2) To illustrate his point, one example is a published account of how Neville Brand participated in (and barely survived) the ill-fated Dieppe Raid on the coast of Western Europe -- two years before he ever left the States!

    One of seven children, Neville Brand was born to Leo and Helen Brand on August 135h, 1920, in Griswold, Iowa. At the age of seven, he and his family moved to Kewanee, Illinois, where he grew up, graduated from high school, and entered the Illinois National Guard on October 23rd, 1939, as a private with Company F, 129th Infantry. A year-and-a-half later, Corporal Brand was inducted into Federal service with the 129th, and assigned Army Serial Number 20602562.(3)

    After five weeks of infantry training, and an unsuccessful attempt at Officers Candidate School, the twenty-four-year-old former shoe salesman departed for the European Theater of Operations on December 9th, 1944, and arrived there on December 16th. Relatively little is known of his nine months and nineteen days overseas, but his official military records reflect that Neville Brand participated in the Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central European campaigns, and received the Silver star while convalescing at the 21st General Hospital for gallantry in combat. His other awards and decorations are the Purple Heart, the Good Conduct Medal, the American Defense Service Ribbon, the European/African/Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with three Battle Stars, one Overseas Service Bar, one Service Stripe, and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.(4) In a rare 1966 interview in which he consented to speak of his wartime service, Brand recalled how he earned his Silver Star when his unit came under intense fire from German machine guns located within a hunting lodge. "I must have flipped my lid," he said, for "I decided to go into that lodge." Disregarding his own safety, he worked his way around to the rear of the lodge/command post, burst in through the back and single-handedly dispatched the enemy within.(5)

    Later, on April 7th, 1945, exactly one month and a day before the official German surrender, Sergeant Brand was wounded in action by the Weser River.(6) Felled by a gunshot to his upper right arm, and pinned down by withering enemy ground fire, Brand lay there slowly bleeding to death. "I knew I was dying," he said, "It was a lovely feeling, like being half-loaded."(7) Rescued and treated, Brand was evacuated to a military hospital and, on September 17th, 1945, he departed for the United States. Less than a month later, Staff Sergeant Brand was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army at Fort Sheridan, Illinois.(8)

    After his discharge, Neville Brand studied acting under the G.I. Bill, and appeared in his first film as a sadistic hoodlum opposite Edmond O'Brien in the 1950 production of "D.O.A."(9) Over the next thirty-five years, Neville Brand consistently delivered outstanding performances on the stage, television and film, winning the prestigious Sylvania Award in 1958 for his performance in "All the King's Men."(10) Having performed with Mr. Brand in a 1964 episode of the television show Combat!, Mr. Richard Peabody (who played the part of "Littlejohn") recalled that, "He was sort of an actor's actor...his peers respected his work a great deal." Moreover, "He was one of the nicer guests we had on the show; extremely friendly, and very well liked by both the cast and the crew."(11)

    One of Neville Brand's passions was reading. Having once visited Mr. Brand's home in Malibu, co-star Richard Peabody remembers, "I saw all these book cases — I couldn't believe it, I've never seen such an array of books in anybody's private home in my life -- it looked like a library ... I was amazed about what an avid reader he was. You look at the titles, and his tastes were really eclectic — he was interested in everything."(12)

    Neville Brand's home was destroyed by fire, and most of his personal mementoes (and cherished books) were lost. Some years later, reclusive and enduring a protracted struggle with emphysema, Neville Brand passed away on April 16th, 1992, at Sutter General Hospital in Sacramento, California. His ashes are interred at East Lawn Memorial Park, Sacramento, California, in a vessel shaped like a book, with his name engraved on the spine.


    Combat! episode review
    (078)Fly Away Home

    In his column in the Mountain Democrat, **** Peabody said, "The late Neville Brand was as interesting as any guest we had. He liked to drink, but wisely held off until the last scene was shot. We invited him to the bar in Vic's dressing room, and a couple of hours later everyone had left except Neville and myself." **** Peabody had to drive Brand to his Malibu home, where his wife invited him in for a drink. Peabody was impressed with the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in every room of the house. "There were literally thousands of volumes," says Peabody. "His tastes were eclectic, since almost everything interested him. Neville's wife pointed to the books and said, 'He's read every one of them.'" A high-school drop-out, Neville Brand was self-educated.



    Neville Brand Biography

    Neville Brand Movies

    Neville Brand (Actor)

    LAREDO Actor Info
    NEVILLE BRAND as Reese Bennett (a Texas Ranger)







    I remember watching the western series Larado on TV as a little kid in the 1960's - it was one of my favorites.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Paramilitary wing of CAMRA


    Mentioned in passing already, David Niven. Pre-war British Army (Highland Light Infantry), returned from Hollywood to the UK to fight in 1939 and was promptly hit with a massive tax bill for doing so. During WW2 he ended up as a Company Commander in a recce unit (Phantom), with Peter Ustinov as his batman.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by Laconia View Post
    Anyone know any actors who served in WW2?
    1. Lee Marvin - Marine
    2. Charles Durning - Army Infantry (Europe)
    3. Eddie Albert - Navy (Pacific)
    4. Don Adams - Army Paratrooper (Pacific)
    5. Ed McMahan - Marine
    Honoring a Hollywood legend and war hero

    Charles Durning will be honored for lifetime achievement by the Screen Actors Guild.

    Durning, 84, will receive the award for fostering the "finest ideals of the acting profession" during the 14th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards show Jan. 27, the guild said Monday in a statement.

    "Throughout his career, he has epitomized the art and grace of acting and brought something special to every role," SAG president Alan Rosenberg said in a statement. "He is above all things a great actor with the talent to which we all aspire: the power to create indelible characters."

    Durning received Oscar nominations for his roles in "To Be or Not to Be" and "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." His movie credits also include "The Sting," "Dog Day Afternoon," "Tootsie" and "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

    During World War II, Durning was seriously wounded as a member of the first wave of soldiers to land on Omaha Beach during the D-Day Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944, according to the guild statement.

    He was taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge and was one of a few survivors of the attack on American POWs at Malmedy, Belgium.

    Durning was honored with three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star.>ASSOCIATED PRESS

    As a traffic cop in Southern California, I actually handled a traffic collision he was involved in years ago. Strangley enough he was hit by another actor.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Florida, USA

    Default Re: Actors who Served in WW2


    David Niven

    David Niven, and his wife Primula


    David Niven

    Early military service

    After attending Stowe as a boy, Niven trained at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, which gave him the "officer and gentleman" bearing that was to be his trademark. Although he had done well at Sandhurst, Niven did not enjoy his time in the regular Army, in part because he was not accepted for the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on which he had set his heart. He served for two years in Malta and two years in Dover with the Highland Light Infantry. While on Malta, he became acquainted and friendly with Captain Roy Urquhart, who would later lead the British 1st Airborne Division in the ill-fated Operation Market-Garden.

    Niven grew tired of the peacetime Army and saw no opportunity for promotion or advancement. As he related in his memoirs, his ultimate decision to resign came after a lengthy lecture on machine guns, which was interfering with his plans for dinner with a particularly attractive young lady. At the end of the speech, the major general giving the lecture asked if there were any questions. Showing the typical rebelliousness of his early years, Niven stated that he felt compelled to ask, "Could you tell me the time, sir? I have to catch a train."[6]

    After being placed under close arrest for this act of insubordination, Niven claims to have finished a bottle of whisky with the officer who was guarding him and, with the connivance of the latter, escaped from a first floor window. En route across the Atlantic, Niven sent a telegram resigning his commission. Niven relocated to New York, where he began an unsuccessful career in whisky sales and horse rodeo promotion in Atlantic City. After subsequent detours to Bermuda and Cuba, he finally arrived in Hollywood in the summer of 1934.

    World War II service

    After the United Kingdom declared war in 1939, 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 base at Inverailort House 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 (with whom he would later co-star in Death on the Nile).

    Niven remained politely, but firmly, close-mouthed about the war, despite public interest in celebrities in combat and a reputation for telling good stories over and over again. He said once: "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." Niven also had special scorn for the newspaper columnists covering the war who typed out self-glorifying and excessively florid prose about their meagre wartime experiences. Niven stated, "Anyone who says a bullet sings past, hums past, flies, pings, or whines past, has never heard one − they go crack."[6] One story has surfaced: about to lead his men into a battle with an expectation of heavy casualties, Niven supposedly eased their nervousness by telling them, "It's all very well for you chaps, but I'll have to do this all over again in Hollywood with Errol Flynn!"

    He did, however, finally open up about his war experience in his 1971 autobiography, The Moon's a Balloon, mentioning his private conversations with Winston Churchill, the bombings, and what it was like entering a nearly completely destroyed Germany with the occupation forces. Niven stated that he first met Churchill during a dinner party in February 1940 when Churchill singled him out from the crowd and stated, "Young man, you did a fine thing to give up your film career to fight for your country. Mark you, had you not done so − it would have been despicable."[6]

    In spite of a six year virtual absence from the screen, he came second in the 1945 Popularity Poll of British film stars. On his return to Hollywood after the war, he was made a Legionnaire of the Legion of Merit, the highest American order that can be earned by a foreigner. This was presented to Lt. Col. David Niven by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

    David Niven was actually a member of the specialist Phantom Signals Unit, and was responsible for reporting and locating enemy positions, bomb lines and also keeping rear Commanders up to date on changing battle lines. Niven was posted at one time to Chilham in Kent. Eisenhower was so disappointed with communications difficulty on D-Day that he personally ordered a Phantom Unit to be attached to his headquarters.

    David Niven

    Born in London, England, the son of a British Army Captain who was killed at Gallipoli in 1915. He attended Stowe School and Sandhurst Military Academy, where he was commissioned and served two years with the Highland Light Infantry. Leaving the army in 1931, he worked at a variety of jobs before trying his hand at acting. His first role was in "There Goes the Bride" (1932). When Britain declared war on Germany in 1939, he immediately returned to England and enlisted in the British Army, serving in the commandos and rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Mountaintop Bunker, Montana

    Default Re: Actors who Served in WW2

    I didn't see Charleton Heston on the list above. He was a gunner on a B-25 Mitchell in the Aluetians towards the end of the war.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Florida, USA

    Default Re: Actors who Served in WW2

    Quote Originally Posted by Cav1 View Post
    I didn't see Charleton Heston on the list above. He was a gunner on a B-25 Mitchell in the Aluetians towards the end of the war.
    Charlton Heston


    Charlton Heston

    Charlton Heston (born John Charles Carter; October 4, 1923 – April 5, 2008) was an American actor of film, theater and television. Heston is known for having played heroic roles, such as Moses in The Ten Commandments, Colonel George Taylor in Planet of the Apes and Judah Ben-Hur in Ben-Hur, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. He was one of a handful of Hollywood actors to speak openly against racism and was an active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Initially a liberal Democrat, he later supported conservative politics and was president of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003.

    Heston was born John Charles Carter in No Man's Land, an unincorporated area between Evanston and Wilmette, Illinois, the son of Lilla (née Charlton) and Russell Whitford Carter, a mill operator. (However, the 1930 Census for Richfield, Michigan (see St. Helen, Michigan), where the family then lived, reports Russell Whitford Carter was a real estate salesman. Heston himself in his autobiography refers only to his father participating in his family's construction business.) Heston was of English and Scottish descent and a member of the Fraser clan.

    When he was ten, his parents divorced. Shortly thereafter, his mother married Chester Heston. The new family moved to well-off Wilmette, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago. Heston (his new surname) attended New Trier High School.

    World War II service

    Heston enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces in 1944. He served for two years as a B-25 radio operator and gunner stationed in the Alaskan Aleutian Islands with the Eleventh Air Force, rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant. He married Northwestern student Lydia Marie Clarke in the same year.


    Real Hollywood Heroes

    Alec Guinness (Star Wars) operated a British Royal Navy landing craft on D-Day.

    James Doohan (”Scotty” on Star Trek) landed in Normandy with the U. S. Army on D-Day.

    Donald Pleasance (The Great Escape) really was an R. A. F. pilot who was shot down, held prisoner and tortured by the Germans.

    David Niven was a Sandhurst graduate and Lt. Colonel of the British Commandos in Normandy.

    Earnest Borgnine was a U. S. Navy Gunners Mate 1935-1945.

    Eddie Albert (Green Acres TV) was awarded a Bronze Star for his heroic action as a U. S. Naval officer aiding Marines at the horrific battle on the island of Tarawa in the Pacific Nov. 1943.

    Brian Keith served as a U.S. Marine rear gunner in several actions against the Japanese on Rabal in the Pacific.

    James Stewart Entered the Army Air Force as a private and worked his way to the rank of Colonel. During World War II, Stewart served as a bomber pilot, his service record crediting him with leading more than 20 missions over Germany, and taking part in hundreds of air strikes during his tour of duty. Stewart earned the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, France’s Croix de Guerre, and 7 Battle Stars during World War II. In peace time, Stewart continued to be an active member of the Air Force as a reservist, reaching the rank of Brigadier General before retiring in the late 1950s.

    Charlton Heston was an Army Air Corps Sergeant in Kodiak.

    Charles Durning was a U. S. Army Ranger at Normandy earning a Silver Star and awarded the Purple Heart.

    Clark Gable (Mega-Movie Star when war broke out) Although he was beyond the draft age at the time the U.S. entered WW II, Clark Gable enlisted as a private in the AAF on Aug. 12, 1942 at Los Angeles. He attended the Officers’ Candidate School at Miami Beach, Fla. and graduated as a second lieutenant on Oct. 28, 1942. He then attended aerial gunnery school and in Feb. 1943 he was assigned to the 351st Bomb Group at Polebrook where flew operational missions over Europe in B-17s Capt. Gable returned to the U.S. in Oct. 1943 and was relieved from active duty as a major on Jun. 12, 1944 at his own request, since he was over-age for combat.

    Charles Bronson was a tail gunner in the Army Air Corps, more specifically on B-29s in the 20th Air Force out of Guam, Tinian, and Saipan.

    Tyrone Power (an established movie star when Pearl Harbor was bombed) joined the U.S. Marines, was a pilot flying supplies into, and wounded Marines out of, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

    George C. Scott was a decorated U. S. Marine.

    Lee Marvin was a U.S. Marine on Saipan during the Marianas campaign when he was wounded earning the Purple Heart.

    John Russell: In 1942, he enlisted in the Marine Corps where he received a battlefield commission and was wounded and highly decorated for valor at Guadalcanal.

    Robert Ryan was a U. S. Marine who served with the O. S. S. in Yugoslavia…

    Audie Murphy, little 5′5″ tall 110 pound guy from Texas who played cowboy parts was the Most Decorated serviceman of WWII and earned: Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, 2 Silver Star Medals, Legion of Merit, 2 Bronze Star Medals with “V”, 2 Purple Hearts, U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, 2 Distinguished Unit Emblems, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with One Silver Star, Four Bronze Service Stars (representing nine campaigns) and one Bronze Arrowhead (representing assault landing at Sicily and Southern France) World War II Victory Medal Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar, Expert Badge with Bayonet Bar, French Fourragere in Colors of the Croix de Guerre, French Legion of Honor, Grade of Chevalier, French Croix de Guerre With Silver Star, French Croix de Guerre with Palm, Medal of Liberated France, Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 Palm.

    So how do you feel the real heroes of the silver screen acted when compared to the hollywonks today who spew out anti-American drivel as they bite the hand that feeds them? Can you imagine these stars of yesteryear saying they hate our flag, making antiwar speeches, marching in anti-American parades and saying they hate our president? I thought not, neither did I!”

    Here are more stars/celebrities who have served their country during war and peace:


    Don Adams (Get Smart) - Marines
    Gene Autry (The Singing Cowboy) - Air Transport Command
    Tony Bennett - Army
    Mel Brooks - Army
    Art Carney (The Honeymooners) - Army
    Johnny Carson - Navy
    Julia Childs (chef) - O.S.S.
    Tony Curtis - Navy
    Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. - Naval Reserves (Created the “beach jumpers” of WWII)
    Henry Fonda - Naval Intelligence Officer (so what happened with Jane?!)
    Malcolm Forbes - Army
    Glenn Ford - Navy (served in the reserves during Korea and Viet Nam)
    Alan Hale (Gilligan’s Island) - Coast Guard
    Jason Robards - Navy (he was a radioman and was on duty when Pearl Harbor was bombed)
    Andy Rooney - Army (served with the Artillery Regiment then wrote for Stars & Stripes)
    Mickey Rooney - Army
    Charles Schultz (cartoonist) - Army
    Rod Serling (Twilight Zone) - Army
    Rod Steiger - Navy (lied about his age and enlisted at age 16)
    Jack Warden - Army (101st Airborne)
    Jack Palance (Ripley�s Believe It or Not, City Slickers) - Army Air Corps (with the 455th bomb group. Required facial reconstruction from terrible injuries received in 1943 when his B17 crash landed in Britain)


    Jimi Hendrix - Army ‘61 (101st Airborne) (discharged when he broke his ankle on his 26th jump)
    Audrey Hepburn - With the Resistance (courier) in Holland (she was a child)
    Alan Alda - Army Reserve (had a 6 month tour in Korea!)
    Humphrey Bogart - Navy (served in WWI, tried to enlist during WWII and was turned down-too old!)
    Bill Cosby - Navy (trained as a corpsman and worked with Korean War casualties)
    Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit) - Navy (18 months, injured skateboarding and was medically discharged)
    Steve McQueen - Marines (cited for saving lives, but was promoted & demoted quite often!)
    Chuck Norris - Air Force (learned martial arts while stationed in Korea)
    Montel Williams - Marines and Navy (go here to read more about his amazing service and see the others that I haven’t listed here!)


    Charles Bronson


    The tail gunner on a bomber was forced to defend his aircraft from within a tiny, cramped cubical from a virtually prone position. He flew 21 combat missions in World War II, most as a tail gunner. He also flew five weather observation missions.


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: Actors who Served in WW2

    James Doohan (”Scotty” on Star Trek) landed in Normandy with the U. S. Army on D-Day.
    James Doohan was Canadian. He did land in Normandy on D-Day, but he was a lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Artillery, and he landed on Juno Beach. He was badly wounded later on in the same day when he was hit by six bullets, four in the leg, one in the chest, and one which took off a finger.
    Last edited by redcoat; 06-13-2008 at 07:57 PM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: Actors who Served in WW2

    The British actor Anthony Quayle who played an SOE agent in The Guns Of Navarone, was actually an officer in the SOE during WW2 and served as a liaison officer with the partisans in Albania.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Buffalo, New York

    Default Re: Actors who Served in WW2

    I recall reading about Charles Durning's experiences. I have no idea how he made it out of there...Omaha Beach, the first wave! He SURVIVED THE MALMENDY MASSACRE at the Bulge!

    From Wiki:

    Military service

    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.

    On Omaha Beach itself, Pvt. Charles Durning was among the first troops to land. Drafted early in the war, he was first assigned as a rifleman with the 398th Infantry Regiment, but later served overseas with the 3rd Army Support troops and the 386th Anti-aircraft Artillery (AAA) Battalion.

    Durning was wounded by an “S” Mine on June 15, 1944, at Les Mare des Mares. He was transported by the 499th Medical Collection Company to the 24th Evacuation Hospital. By June 17, he was back in England at the 217th General Hospital. Although severely wounded by shrapnel in the left and right thigh, right hand, the frontal region of the head and the interior left chest wall, Durning recovered quickly and was determined to be “fit for duty” on December 6, 1944. Durning was present for the Battle of the Bulge, the German counter-offensive in December 1944.[1]

    He was taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge, and was one of the few survivors of the infamous Malmedy massacre of American POWs, perpetrated by a battlegroup under Joachim Peiper of the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler. "He escaped with two others, and returned to find the remainder murdered."[1]

    After being wounded in the chest, Durning was repatriated to the United States where he remained in army hospitals, receiving treatment for both physical and psychological wounds, until discharged with the rank of Private First Class on January 30, 1946.

    Durning has said that he still suffers from nightmares about his war experiences (which is common among veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder, although Durning himself is not confirmed to have suffered PTSD).[citation needed] He was nominated for an Emmy Award for his extraordinary portrayal of a Marine veteran in "Call of Silence", an unusual episode of the television series NCIS, first broadcast November 23, 2004. Clearly drawing on his first-hand knowledge of the lingering effects of battle-induced stress, Durning's character turns himself in to authorities, insisting that he must be prosecuted for having murdered his buddy during ferocious combat on Iwo Jima six decades earlier.[2] The real truth of the incident only becomes known for certain when the guilt-stricken veteran goes through a cathartic reliving of the battlefield events.

    Durning is well-known for participating in various functions to honor American veterans. He was the chairman one year of the U.S. National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans.[3]

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