Serving without the camera during WWII

In thinking of Memorial Day Holiday Weekend and WWII it feels like that was a different era and what came to mind is the number of movie stars who volunteered and served in WWII without the camera on them.   From what I read in researching for today’s blogpost, the actors who did have attention focused on them tended to shy away from it, and did so if it would help with recruitment and morale.

For the photo shown upper left, I was able to discover an extensive article, about the RAF Polebrook, including its section on “Hollywood at Polebrook”, about the circumstances for this photo from 1943 of Lt. Col. James T. Stewart & Major Clark Gable – RAF Polebrook, Source: USAAF.        It talks about the five combat missions that Captain Clark Gable flew and his medals.   “He was able to return to the US with over 50,000 feet of 16mm color film and in 1944, the film Combat America, narrated by Gable, was shown in theaters.”  Photo upper left attribution: by The original uploader was Bwmoll3 at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

In further researching for today’s blog post I did not realize that Clark Gable, Major, U.S. Army Air Corps,  enlisted after his wife Carole Lombard had tragically died in 1942.  At they mention that “during World War II, Adolf Hitler offered a reward to any German soldier who could capture screen legend Clark Gable alive.    The “Gone with the Wind” star—who was then flying combat missions as a B-17 gunner—was reportedly the Führer’s favorite actor, in part because of his German ancestry.  Despite news of the bounty on his head, Gable continued to serve and later earned the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross.”

Earlier this week, May 20, in my blog here at I wrote about Celebrating Charles Lindbergh Spirit of St. Louis! and it included Jimmy Stewart with his playing Lindbergh in the 1957 biographical movie “The Spirit of St. Louis” and that Jimmy Stewart served during World War II and was later promoted to Brigadier General on July 23, 1959 in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.  He retired in 1968 from the Air Force after 27 years of service.  I had made a note to myself to include here with today’s post – which seemed very fitting – that he “rarely spoke about his wartime service but did appear in January 1974 in an episode of the TV series The World At War, “Whirlwind: Bombing Germany (September 1939 – April 1944)”, commenting on the disastrous mission of October 14, 1943, against Schweinfurt, Germany. At his request, he was identified only as “James Stewart, Squadron Commander” in the documentary.”  From the wiki/James_Stewart.

Attribution: Armed Forces Radio Services broadcaster Jack Brown interviews Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall for broadcast to troops overseas during World War II.  Source: AFRTS.
Attribution: Armed Forces Radio Services broadcaster Jack Brown interviews Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall for broadcast to troops overseas during World War II. Source: AFRTS.

Humphrey Bogart enlisted in the United States Navy in the spring of 1918.  On his wiki page it said that “during World War II Bogart volunteered to travel to Africa with the USO to entertain the troops. … It was rumored Bogart attempted to enlist but was turned down because of his age.”

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart were married in 1945.   This photo on right was for a broadcast to troops overseas during World War II.

There were several well written articles from the past few years that I came across and are worth sharing links to them here with my blog post today.  They are best read when you have some quiet time to read with respect the stories of those who served and to be reflective for a few minutes.   When you read their individual stories and some of the things they went through it makes one sit up and take notice and again be grateful for the freedom we experience daily.

Thank you to the following five authors, Jo Davidsmeyer who maintains a reference list of who served in WWII and to these four who wrote articles about famous movie stars who served: Evan Andrews (from June 2, 2014), Scott Beggs (from May 27, 2013), Jeff Danelek (from November 11, 2012), and Sharon Knolle (from April 12th, 2011).  Listed below are links to each of their respective posts.

Ongoing – There is a wonderful compendium on “They Also Served: Actors with WWII Military Records” – By Jo Davidsmeyer (On twitter @JoDavidsmeyer) – It is not an article but what appears to be listed names by alpha a “reference of actors and other entertainers who served in uniform in WWII, with details about their war records.  It was started in 2002 and appears to be kept updated!

From June 2, 2014 –   9 People You May Not Know Were WWII Veterans – By Evan Andrews – The History Channel (On Twitter @history).    If you go to that title link it will give details and includes a photo of each person:   1. Sir Alec Guinness; 2. Mel Brooks; 3. Lenny Bruce; 4. Medgar Evers; 5. Yogi Berra; 6. Marcel Marceau; 7. Tony Bennett; 8. Josephine Baker; 9. Jimmy Stewart

From May 27, 2013 20MOVIE ICONS YOU DIDN’T KNOW WERE IN THE MILITARY – By Scott Beggs (On Twitter @scottmbeggs).   While this article did not include any photo of each person listed, the information is well gathered and worth reading.  At that title link it will describe:  Flt. Lt. Donald Pleasance, Royal Air Force; Lt. Alan Alda, US Army Reserve; Col. Frank Capra, US Army; Lt. Col. Dr. Seuss, US Army; HM Bill Cosby, US Navy; Humphrey Bogart, US Navy; Airman Chuck Norris, US Air Force; Lt. Col. David Niven, British Army; Rod Serling, US Army Air Force; Audrey Hepburn, Dutch Resistance; Sean Connery, Royal Navy; Lt. James Doohan, Royal Canadian Army; Clint Eastwood, US Army; Don Knotts, US Army; Lt. Alec Guinness, Royal Navy; Jack Palance, US Army Air Force; Michael Caine, British Army; Lt. Kirk Douglas, US Navy; Lt. Gene Kelly, US Navy; Cpl. Mel Brooks, US Army; Lloyd Bridges, US Coast Guard; Beau Bridges, US Coast Guard; Chris Cooper, US Coast Guard.    In addition, the article includes an Editor’s note: “There are a ton of movie stars and directors who served in the military (including even more who served their home countries while building a career in Hollywood). For a fairly extensive list, go here.”  That link takes you to Kids Thank a Veteran site.

From November 11, 2012 Top 10 Most Famous Actors Who Served in the Military – By Jeff Danelek.  At that title link it will give details and includes a photo of each person:  1. Jimmy Stewart; 2. Audie Murphy; 3. Lee Marvin; 4. Russell Johnson; 5. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. ; 6. Charles Durning; 7. Art Carney; 8. Mel Brooks; 9. James Arness; 10. Eddie Albert. Honorable Mentions: Jason Robards; Tom Posten; Clark Gable; Henry Fonda; and Jackie Coogan.

From April 12th, 2011 Actors Who Served: Hollywood Stars Who Are Military Veterans – By Sharon Knolle (On Twitter @sknolle).  At that title link are details given and includes a photo of each person:   Humphrey Bogart: Sailor, U.S. Navy;   Ronald Reagan: Captain, U.S. Army; Jimmy Stewart: Brigadier General, U.S. Army;   Clark Gable: Major, U.S. Army Air Corps; Henry Fonda: Quartermaster, U .S. Navy; Paul Newman: Radioman/Gunner, U.S. Navy; Kirk Douglas: Lieutenant, U.S. Navy; George C. Scott: Guard/Instructor, U.S. Marines; Gene Hackman: Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps; Steve McQueen: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps; Clint Eastwood: Swimming Instructor, U.S. Army; James Earl Jones: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army; Harvey Keitel: U.S. Marine Corps; Elvis Presley: Private, U.S. Army; Dennis Franz: Airborne Division, U.S. Army; and Rob Riggle: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

This will be my first Memorial Day where I will not be able to call my Dad and say ‘Thank you for serving our Country Dad” recalling him always wearing his Korean War Veteran cap.  The baton has now been passed to the next generation and so today’s blog post I will be printing off a copy of it and mailing in an old-fashioned letter to my brother, who served during the Vietnam War.  In previous years I have phoned him but this year I will send a print out of this blog post along with my personal thank you for his serving.  While still handsome alas he is not a movie star, but none the less he served our country for which I am grateful.

Join me for tomorrow’s blogpost on Memorial Day 2015 and note I will be posting it early as we reflect on the day.

Anchors Aweigh,  





Select Month