From Jack Benny and his screeching violin to Red Skelton and his cast of zany characters, Charlie Chaplin mimicking a raving lunatic, and Orson Welles ominously threatening a Martian invasion-these entertainers and hundreds more created memorable characters on the silver screen or dastardly fiends on the radio. It was a great era for fans. It was even greater to be an entertainer in the thirties. Unfortunately, it couldn't last.
December 7, 1941, was the hay maker that shoved America into war with the Axis-Powers. Literally overnight, just as thousands of its craftsmen and performers were enlisting for the duration, Hollywood geared up and cranked out a steady stream of war movies. Many were stinkers, but a handful were classics that rank right up there with the very best.
Many entertainers traveled to military camps across the country to perform for the troops and let them know how everyone back home missed them. The most difficult assignment was going to the hospitals and seeing young men, busted up and down-hearted. Yet hundreds of stars, such as Esther Williams, spent time with the boys, and dished out some TLC in just the right doses. Many future stars were wounded overseas, such as Neville Brand, Charles Durning, and Lee Marvin.
As soon as it was allowed, hundreds of entertainers headed overseas to play for the boys. Comedian Joe E. Brown was the first, Bob Hope was probably the best known, and Marlene Dietrich was the most daring. Gary Cooper and Humphrey Bogart may not have won any awards for their singing and dancing, but they learned that they could reprise their film roles and win the guys over. Of course, for starlets such as Frances Langford, Carole Landis, andDorothy Lamour, all they had to do was flash a little leg or muss up a guy's hair and whisper in his ear!
Uncle Sam didn't make many exceptions, and thousands of entertainers were called up. Hollywood's heartthrobs such as Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable, Victor Mature and Mickey Rooney all served, some as combatants, others continuing as entertainers in uniform. After the war many servicemen took advantage of the GI Bill and gave acting a try. Walter Matthau, Sidney Poitier, and Charles Bronson were just a few of the many rising stars who came out of World War II, ready to grasp whatever life had to offer, with all the trimmings.
0They're all here, the entertainers of WWII, the performing members of The Greatest Generation in American history.
From the backlots of Hollywood to the radio studios of New York, America's entertainers, like so many American men and women, made the abrupt transition from show business to the lifeand- death realities of war.
Painstakingly researched and profusely illustrated, DUTY, HONOR, APPLAUSE tells the stories of the entertainers whose public exploits brought another type of fame, but whose battlefield duty has long been overlooked. Here are the stories of Jimmy Stewart, risking one of the most important careers in film to fly bombers; Ronald Reagan, enlisting in 1937, and called up in 1942 to assist in the production of training films; and Glenn Miller, joining the army in 1942, and dying in a plane crash toward the close of the war.
Also includes stories of Clark Gable, Mickey Rooney, Martha Raye, Robert Stack, Tyrone Power, Gene Hackman, Sid Ceasar, and many more.
DUTY, HONOR, APPLAUSE covers World War II from the origins of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in the 1930s through their defeats in 1945. It is an uplifting account of talented and famous Americans making the ultimate sacrifice for their homeland.