There are a few people in today's Hollywood acting fraternity, like Clint Eastwood and Gary Sinese, whose work has been exceptional regarding the American veteran. Hollywood has become a stronghold for left-leaning ideology and their efforts stand apart from many of their collegues.
This wasn't always the case in Hollywood, especially during World War II. While reflecting on Veteran's Day, we found numerous examples whereby actors and actresses of the Greatest Generation put their personal careers and ambitions on hold to serve their country in wartime. Here are some of the notables we learned about:
Eddie Albert (Navy) - He drove Amtracks in several Pacific invasions. In the landings at Saipan in 1943, he was the pilot of a U.S. Coast Guard landing craft and while under heavy enemy machine-gun fire, rescued 47 Marines who were stranded offshore from the beachhead and supervised the rescue of 30 others. At Tarawa, he was wounded and lost most of his hearing, earning the Bronze Star.
Ernest Borgnine - He served in the U.S. Navy for 12 years, joining before WW II.
James Arness (Army) - was wounded at Anzio and won a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
Art Carney (Army) - Carney went to Normandy in July of 1944 as a replacement to the 28th Division in position around St Lo. On Aug. 15, 1944 he had just taken up his position with a 30 cal. machine gun squad when he was hit in the right leg by mortar shrapnel. He was sent back to Britain and then the U.S. He once said of his military career, "Never fired a shot ... I really cost the government money."
Don Adams (Marines) - contracted malaria on Guadalcanal.
Charles Durning (Army) - survived the landing at Omaha Beach on D-Day invasion but was later wounded in an ambush during the Battle of the Bulge. He was captured, escaped, and narrowly missed assassination at the Malmedy Massacre. Durning won three Purple Hearts and the Silver Star.
Glenn Ford (Navy) - In addition to his WW II service, he served in the reserves during the Korean War and the Viet Nam War. He retired as a captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve.
Audrey Hepburn - As a child she was a courier for World War II resistance fighters in Holland.
Lee Marvin (Marines) - was wounded in the battle of Saipan
Jack Palance (Army Air Corps) - flew in 455th bomb group. Required facial reconstruction from terrible injuries received in 1943 when his B17 crash landed in Britain.
Jason Robards Jr. (Navy) - He was a radioman on duty during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Judge Wapner of The People's Court (Army) - While an officer in the Pacific, he was saved from a sniper's bullet when it lodged in a can of tuna he was carrying.
It's somewhat surprising that a number of these veterans – Adams in "Get Smart", Albert in "Green Acres", Borgnine in "McHale's Navy", and Art Carney in the "Honeymooners" – later starred in comedy or lighthearted television sitcoms, belying their grim wartime service.
While the service of these Hollywood legends may surprise some of us, their duty to country was not unique among those of the Greatest Generation. After doing their their part in wartime, many of them simply wanted to build a better American way of life for their children and grandchildren.
Many of us, the sons and daughters of that exceptional generation, are living proof of that quest.
By Jim Zbick