They also Served..... Celebrities in uniform IN ww2
Posted 23 July 2008 - 09:24 PM
France Honors Veteran and Actor Charles Durning
Beverly Hills, April 22, 2008
Speech by Consul General of France Philippe Larrieu
Dear Charles Durning, Dear Friends,
It is both my great honor and pleasure this evening to award Mr. Charles Durning the highest French distinction, through which the French Republic seeks to recognize his great heroism during the war as well as his outstanding accomplishments since.
I am particularly moved, firstly as a Consul General to the United States, at this truly emotive occasion where we realize France’s gratitude of a war veteran who fought to liberate our nation.
Secondly, it is of course an honor to come across a personality such as yours, Charles Durning, an exceptional individual, both because of your extraordinary feats of bravery during the war, and also because of your long and successful career as an actor.
It is also my great pleasure to reunite around you and your family, here at the Residence of France in Los Angeles, many of your friends, some of them veterans, some eminent members of the cinema and of the theatre.
Dear Charles Durning,
Your journey has been exemplary. The reality of it exceeds fiction, the plotline of your life surely outshines those of your characters we remember from your many films.
You were born in Highland Falls, in the great state of New York, to a family of five children ; your father was an officer who had lost a leg in the First World War. I say this to highlight your family’s selfless commitment to the defence of our values ; your three brothers served in the Second World War, as you did, all following in the heroic footsteps of your father. After his death when you were only fifteen, you had to break from your studies and work to support your family. You had quite an array of jobs : a taxi driver, a waiter, a construction worker, a factory worker, even a boxer.
In 1943 you joined the army, enlisting as an Army Ranger. Following your training period in 1943, you were sent to England in February of the following year. On D-Day, you took part in the invasion at Omaha Beach, landing early in the day with a battalion of Rangers, alongside the First Infantry Division. Your unit suffered heavy casualties, though you yourself made it to safety. You were seriously injured by a landmine in June of 1944. After six months of recovery, you fought on the front lines in the Ardennes Offensive in December, and again were injured, this time by a bayonet in hand-to-hand combat. Your unit was captured by an SS Panzer Unit in Belgium, which was taking no prisoners. You were one of the few to escape the notorious Malmédy massacre. Then with the 398th Infantry Regiment, you moved into Germany where, again, you were wounded in March 1945 and then evacuated home to the United States.
Your actions have earned you an impressive number of decorations : the World War Two Victory Medal, three Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star, and the very prestigious Silver Star for the brave act of destroying a battery of enemy machine guns.
The entire list of your many decorations would be too long to enumerate here, as is the list of awards you have received for your career as an actor.
In effect, after the war your new life began. You found work as a singer and dance instructor in New York City, before committing yourself to your career as an actor in the 1950’s, where you found tremendous success spanning many decades. You’ve acted in more than 180 films, on the movie screen and on television, and have acted on stage in over fifty plays. Your talent brought to life the visions of many great directors, and your name appeared alongside those of many of the greatest movie stars. It is difficult to chose which films to cite from your long list of works, especially because of how many have become classics. Allow me to name a few : “The Sting,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” “Starting Over,” “The Final Countdown,” “Tootsie,” “To Be or Not to Be”, "Death of a Salesman,” and “Dick Tracy,” just to name a very few.
Those in the theatre and in the cinema have recognized your great talent, as has the public. Your prize list is not a short one : two Oscar nominations, six Emmy nominations, a Tony Award in 1991, four Golden Globe nominations, a win at the Golden Globes for Best Supporting Actor in 1991. Only three months ago you were honored by the Screen Actor’s Guild with their Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations.
Let me add that, parallel to your acting career, you have devoted yourself to the cause of your fellow American combat veterans, whom you represent at many official ceremonies and for whom you have become a symbol.
Dear Charles Durning,
After this all-too-short résumé of your prolific career which demands such admiration, I now express to you, in the name of the people of France, our most sincere appreciation for your actions. As young men, you and your comrades left your country, your families and your friends to risk your lives in the defence of our common values of liberty, tolerance, and democracy. France has not forgotten, nor will she forget your many sacrifices.
On this note, permit me to quote from a speech given by the President of the French Republic, Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, which he gave while decorating seven American combat veterans during his official visit to Washington last November :
“In France, there are many white crosses where lie some of your comrades who did not return to the United States. Know that their memory is cherished by all the people of France. The sacrifice made by you and your comrades was not in vain. If I am here before you, it is because men like you did their duty.”
Charles Durning, in the Name of the President of the Republic, we make you Chevalier in the Legion of Honor.
Posted 23 July 2008 - 09:29 PM
His father was killed during the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915 and his mother remarried Sir Thomas Comyn-Platt. In his biography, NIV: The Authorized Biography of David Niven, Graham Lord suggests that Comyn-Platt had been conducting an affair with Niven's mother for some time prior to her husband's death, and that Sir Thomas may well have been Niven's biological father, a supposition not without some support from her children.
 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."
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.
 Early film career
According to his autobiography, The Moon's a Balloon, David Niven arrived in Hollywood to try to break into the movies by first finding work as an extra. He was given lodgings with the Belzer family, one of whose daughters - Gretchen - was already a major Hollywood star, under her stage name of Loretta Young. When he presented himself at the doors of Central Casting, he found out that he had to have a work permit, to allow him to reside and work in the U.S. Luckily for him, he was given the chance to do a screen test for director Edmund Goulding. Unfortunately, it was not long after this that he was paid a visit by the U.S. Immigration Service and told he had to apply for a Resident Alien Visa.
This meant that Niven had to leave U.S. soil in the meantime, and again, according to his autobiography, he left for Mexico - specifically Mexicali - where he worked as a "gun-man", cleaning and polishing the rifles of the visiting Americans who came there to hunt Quail and various other game. After a lengthy wait for his birth certificate to be sent out from England, he successfully applied - and received - his Resident Alien Visa from the American Consulate. He then returned to the U.S. and was accepted by Central Casting as "Anglo-Saxon Type No. 2008."
His first work as an extra was as a Mexican in a Western. This inauspicious start notwithstanding, he then found himself an agent - Bill Hawks. After this, he was then signed up for a non-speaking part in MGM's "Mutiny On The Bounty" (1935), starring Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian and Charles Laughton as Captain Bligh.
He then landed a longterm contract as a supporting player with independent film producer Samuel Goldwyn, which firmly established his career and enabled him to become a leading man in many films. Given his privileged English upbringing, Niven had no problems infiltrating what became known as the Hollywood Raj, a select group of British actors who had made Hollywood their home. Other members of the group, included Boris Karloff, Stan Laurel, Basil Rathbone, Ronald Colman and their self appointed leader C. Aubrey Smith. One of his first major roles was in The Charge of the Light Brigade in 1936, in which he starred alongside one of his closest friends Errol Flynn. A year later he starred as Capt. Fritz von Tarlenheim in 1937's The Prisoner of Zenda with C Aubrey Smith and Ronald Colman. However, not wanting to be typecast as a 'swashbuckler' as Flynn had been, Niven also made films in a light hearted vein such as the 1939 RKO comedy Bachelor Mother with Ginger Rogers, and Raffles (1939 film), in which he played a gentleman thief.
 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." 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."
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.
Posted 23 July 2008 - 09:36 PM
Albert served as a lieutenant in the United States Coast Guard in the Pacific during World War II. A genuine war hero, he was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions during the Battle of Tarawa in 1943, when, as a landing ship pilot, he rescued several hundred wounded Marines while under heavy enemy machine-gun fire. He later described some of these events during a short interview in a segment of a program about the war, which appeared on the History Channel. He also discussed it with Col. Ollie North on his series, War Stories (FOX). Albert returned from the war a different actor with a darker screen persona, although it would take another ten years before he became better known to audiences.
Posted 23 July 2008 - 09:45 PM
Posted 23 July 2008 - 09:51 PM
Rod Serling (December 25, 1924-June 28, 1975), one of television's most prolific writers, is best known for his science fiction television series, The Twilight Zone. He believed that the role of the writer was to "menace the public conscience." Throughout his life Serling used radio, television, and film as "vehicles of social criticism."
Rodman Edward Serling was born in Syracuse, New York to Samuel and Esther Serling. The Serlings, a Reform Jewish family, moved in 1926 to Binghamton, New York where Rod would spend the remainder of his childhood. The Serling family was involved in the Binghamton Jewish community; a community held together by ethnic underpinnings more than religious ties. Like many members of the local Jewish community, Serling's family infrequently attended synagogue except during High Holy days. Sam Serling, vice-president of the Reform temple, told Rod and his older brother Robert, "I'm not a good Jew, but I think I'm a good person. If you want to be very religious, that's up to you. My own philosophy is, I take people for what they are, not where they go to pray." Sam enrolled his sons in Sunday School at the local Jewish community center where director Isadore Friedlander and his wife, philosophical humanists, were spiritual mentors to many of Binghamton's Jewish youth. At high school, where he edited the newspaper, Serling experienced anti-Jewish discrimination when he was blackballed from the Theta Sigma fraternity. In an interview in 1972 he said of this incident, "it was the first time in my life that I became aware of religious difference." After graduation Serling enlisted in the United States Army. Beginning in May 1944 he served with the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division in New Guinea and during the invasion of the Philippines. He was awarded the Purple Heart for a severe shrapnel wound to his knee. The war also took a permanent mental toll; he would suffer from flashbacks, nightmares, and insomnia for the rest of his life. When discharged from the army in 1946 he was "bitter about everything and at loose ends."
Posted 23 July 2008 - 10:02 PM
Roll of Honor & Memories - WWII Obituaries - World War II Forums
For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.
Posted 27 July 2008 - 09:42 PM
"In 1943 you joined the army, enlisting as an Army Ranger. Following your training period in 1943, you were sent to England in February of the following year. On D-Day, you took part in the invasion at Omaha Beach, landing early in the day with a battalion of Rangers, alongside the First Infantry Division. Your unit suffered heavy casualties, though you yourself made it to safety. You were seriously injured by a landmine in June of 1944. After six months of recovery, you fought on the front lines in the Ardennes Offensive in December, and again were injured, this time by a bayonet in hand-to-hand combat. Your unit was captured by an SS Panzer Unit in Belgium, which was taking no prisoners. You were one of the few to escape the notorious Malmédy massacre. Then with the 398th Infantry Regiment, you moved into Germany where, again, you were wounded in March 1945 and then evacuated home to the United States."
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