Motion Picture, October 1950
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Following are brief notations about the military service as it relates to the movie career of the actors named in this article.
Ronald Reagan volunteered for military service but was turned down for combat duty because of
his eyesight. He made several training films for the Army Air Corps. Reagan's movie career began in 1937, but it took him several years to get much notice. In 1942, his career had finally gained momentum with King's Row. In 1943, he appeared as Lt. Ronald Reagan in This Is the Army. That same year
For God and Country was released. After the war, he returned to the silver screen in 1947's
Stallion Road . He never was able to fully re-gain the momentum that his movie career had going into the war.
Audie Murphy was not an actor during World War II. He was a most decorated soldier during the war, with twenty-four awards, including the Congressional Medal of Honor. His first movie was in 1948. He starred in a number of low-budget Westerns before being cast in some bigger budgeted ones in the 1950's, for a time at least. By the 1960's, he was back doing low-budget Westerns.
Tyrone Power was a superstar when he enlisted for the U.S. Marines. The last movie that he made before leaving was Crash Dive. He had already reported for duty, when he was called in by a superior officer, who told him that he needed to report back to the Fox lot to finish the movie. That movie was released in early 1943. His return to movies was 1946's The Razor's Edge. Ty, who was a Lieutenant during the war, stayed in the Marine Reserves until his death in 1958. He was a Major at the time of his death.
John Derek, like Guy Madison, was not a movie actor when war broke out. He was in a couple bit parts during the war years: 1944's Since You Went Away and 1945's I'll Be Seeing You. After the war, he was in an uncredited role in A Double Life. His first starring role did not come until 1949, in Knock on Any Door, where he was second-billed to Humphrey Bogart..
Donald O'Connor began his film career in 1937, at age 12, and he made movies through 1939. He left for vaudeville but returned to Hollywood in 1942 and signed on with Universal. While serving in the military,
he had a number of movies released: three in 1943, four in 1944, and one in 1945. His first movie post-war was 1947's Something in the Wind .
Robert Taylor was a huge star for MGM when the war broke out. In 1943, he was an instructor for Primary Flight Instruction: Stearman N2-S Part 1 and
Primary Flight Instruction: Stearman N2-S Part 2 . Then, serving in the Navy, he directed numerous training films and narrated 1944's documentary The Fighting Lady. He returned to movies in 1946's
Victor Mature's last movie to be released before he entered service was 1942's Seven Days' Leave. He wasn't seen on the big screen again until 1946, when My Darling Clementine was released. He served as a petty officer in the Coast Guard during the war.
William Holden's last movie during the war years was 1943's Young and Willing. By the end
of World War II, Holden was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He returned to the big screen in 1947's Blaze of Noon.
Robert Stack was a gunnery officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II. His first movie was in 1939. By the time the war broke out, he had been in several movies, and he was on his way up. His last movie before service was 1942's Men of Texas. His first film after the war was 1948's A Date with Judy.
Though he was back to making movies, he never really was able to establish a career as a top movie actor. Like so many other men who served, he returned more grim and distant.
Farley Granger was barely eighteen in 1943 when his first movie, The North Star was released. In 1944 The Purple Heart was released. No other appearances in movies by Granger until 1948, when The Rope was released.
Gene Kelly only had one movie released before his military service -- 1942's For Me and My Gal.
He then served at the U S Naval Photographic Center in Anacostia, around the DC area. He made some Navy films while serving and some studio movies while on leave. Those movies were: Cross of Lorraine, The
Thousands Cheer, Du Barry Was a Lady, and
Pilot No. 5 , all in 1943. In 1944, released were Christmas Holiday and Cover Girl. Then, in 1945 Anchors Aweigh . His return to full-time moving making was in 1946's
Ziegfeld Follies .
Guy Madison's movie career actually began in 1944, in a bit part in Since You Went Away. He was already in service, when, on leave for the weekend in Hollywood, he was spotted in the audience of a Lux Radio Show by a studio scout for David O. Seznick. He filmed that small part over the weekend then returned to duty. His next movie was in 1946's Till the End of Time.
Howard Duff was another actor named in this article who actually was not an actor during
World War II. His first movie was released in 1947, when he had a bit part in Brute Force.
Robert Montgomery was already in the Naval Reserve in 1941. His last movie before entering the war was the 1941 movie, Unfinished Business. He then served as a PT-boat commander in the Pacific. Later, he served in the European theater of operation, participating in the D-Day invasion. Near war's end, he made a movie called They Were Expendable, released in 1945. He returned full-time to movies in 1947's Lady in the Lake.
James Stewart's last movie before he entered the service was Ziegfeld Girl in 1941. After a distinguished military service, he returned to movies in 1946's It's a Wonderful Life, though he remained in the Air Force Reserve.
2With respect to the statement, "new stars soon would appear on the nation's screens, following a pattern set during the last war" .... Some of the top stars left for military service. 20th Century-Fox got the bad news the same day that two of their top stars had enlisted -- Ty Power in the Marines and Henry Fonda in the Navy. With top stars leaving, there was a void at the studios, which left some stars who remained behind additional opportunity for starring roles... and also room for other men to make their way into the movies, moving up the ladder of stardom more quickly than might otherwise be expected. By way of example, in 1944, Gregory Peck made his first movie, Days of Glory, in a top-billed role for RKO. He followed that up with another top-billed role in Keys to the Kingdom, for 20th Century-Fox. Then, in 1945, for MGM, he made The Valley of Decision and, for Seznick International, Spellbound.
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