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A Pathfinder in Hollywood

Discussion in 'WWII Today' started by GRW, Jul 29, 2021.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Oct 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Stirling, Scotland
    One for Martin. What a great story.
    "Newly discovered wartime letters reveal how a British RAF pilot rubbed shoulders with Hollywood's biggest stars while posted at a flying school deep in California's Mojave Desert.
    John Kelly, from Portsmouth, was sent to the US aged 22 in May 1942 to train as a pilot at War Eagle Field, which was just a four-hour drive from Death Valley – one of the hottest places on earth.
    He was one of thousands of British airmen sent across the Atlantic during the Second World War as part of an agreement between the UK and the US for pilots to be trained away from the conflict in Europe.
    Kelly's letters to his mother, unearthed in the RAF Museum by author Will Iredale during research for his new book The Pathfinders, reveal how he was not looking forward to seven months of 'frazzling' in the desert.
    But then, on one of his first visits to Hollywood soon after arriving in the US, Kelly told how he met actress Marjorie Reynolds at the swanky Beverly Hills Hotel.
    He noted how she 'appeared in a bathing costume' whilst having publicity pictures taken and 'promised to let me have a picture which I may send home'.
    Kelly's extraordinary letters, which have been shared exclusively with MailOnline, also show how he met 'swell guy' Tarzan star Johnny Weissmuller, who told him his secret to finding his next leading lady: 'All I have to do is climb a few
    trees and holla.'
    The pilot was also invited for drinks with Mrs Miniver star Greer Garson and chatted to her fellow actress Bette Davis for two hours, his letters show.
    'It was wonderful to sit next to her and watch all the little mannerisms that you see on the screen,' Kelly wrote home after meeting Davis.
    'She is really beautiful and after a few moments you feel you have known her for years.'"
    Biak likes this.

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