Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Hollywood Walk of Fame

The Hollywood Walk of fame is embedded with more than 2300 five pointed stars featuring the names of human celebrities, fictional characters and animal celebrities for their contributions to the entertainment industry.

There are five categories on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: Motion Pictures, Radio, Television, Live Theater and Recording.

The Walk of Fame runs west on Hollywood Boulevard from Gower Avenue to La Brea Avenue and south to north on Vine Street between Yucca and Sunset Boulevard. The Walk of Fame is nearly a three-and-a-half round-trip walk.

Nominations are submitted annually by May 31, and the Walk of Fame committee meets the following month to pick the next year's group of honorees.

On February 9, 1960, Joanne Woodward became the first performer to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 6801 Hollywood Blvd.

Gene Autry is the only person to have been honored with all five possible stars, for his contribution in each of the five categories.

Three animals have been honored with stars (all dogs): Strongheart, Lassie and Rin Tin Tin.

Mickey Mouse became the first fictional character to be honored with a star on November 18, 1978. The other fictional characters honored with stars are The Simpsons, Kermit the Frog, Bugs Bunny, Rugrats, Winnie the Pooh, and Snow White.

One time actor Ronald Reagan is the only President of the United States to have a star.

In February 2006, Judithg Sheindin (Judge Judy) became the first television judge to be awarded a star.

On November 12, 2009, Judge Joseph A. Wapner became the second television judge to be awarded a star.

Four stars have been stolen from the Walk of Fame: James Stewart, Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck and Gene Autry.

The most honored Family on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: The Barrymores with Drew, Ethel, John, John Drew and Lionel (2) with a total of six stars.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The USO and War Bonds, Hollywood Entertains

The USO, United States Service Organization, was established at the request of military authorities on October 30, 1941, to bring celebrity entertainment to troops in the U.S. and abroad during World War II.

During World War II, the USO became the G.I.'s "home away from home," and began a tradition of entertaining the troops that continues today.

The organization became particularly famous for its live performances called Camp Shows, through which the entertainment industry helped boost the morale of its servicemen and women,

Hollywood in general was eager to show its patriotism, and lots of big names joined the ranks of USO entertainers. They entertained in military bases both at home and overseas, often placing their own lives in danger by traveling or performing under hazardous conditions.

At its high point in 1944, the USO had more than 3,000 clubs, and curtains were rising on USO shows 700 times a day.

Al Jolson, the first entertainer to go overseas in World War II, lost a lung and caught malaria, cutting short his tour.

During World War II, more than 7,000 entertainers were sent overseas and gave more than 428,000 performances. Some Hollywood stars took their shows on the road to entertain the troops close to the front lines. Entertainers included Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra, Ingrid Bergman, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Hattie McDaniel, Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brothers, Jack Benny, James Cagney, Gary Cooper, Rita Hayworth, Danny Kaye, Al Jolson, Fred Astaire, The Andrews Sisters, Glenn Miller, Ray Bolger, Lucille Ball, Martha Raye, Hedy Lamarr, Ann Sothern, Betty Hutton, John Wayne and of course, Bob Hope.

During the Korean War, some 126 entertainment units put on more than 5,400 shows in Korea. Entertainers included Errol Flynn, Debbie Reyonds, Donald O'Connor, Jane Russell, Paul Douglas, Marilyn Monroe, Danny Kaye, Mickey Roonery, Jayne Mansfield, Al Jolson and Bob Hope.

During Vietnam, 5000 USO shows, with nearly 3,000 celebrities. Entertainers included John Wayne, Ann-Margaret, Sammy Davis Jr., Jayne Mansfied, Redd Foxx, Nancy Sinatra, and Bob Hope.

Bob Hope performed his first (USO) show on May 6, 1941, at March Field, California. He continued to travel and entertain troops for the rest of World War II, The Korean War, The Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War.

War Bonds and World War I: The government used famous artists to make posters, and used movie stars to host bond rallies. Al Jolson, Elsie Janis, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin were among the celebrities that made public appearances promoting the patriotic element of purchasing Liberty Bonds.

World War II: Bond rallies were held throughout the country with famous celebrities, usually Hollywood film stars, to enhance the advertising's effectiveness. Free movie days were held in theaters nationwide with a bond purchase as the admission. Such popular Hollywood stars as Greer Garson, Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth, Abbott & Costello, and Carole Lombard (who died in a plane crash returning from a war bond rally).

Finally, a special mention to Cary Grant. During the war years, Grant donated his entire salaries from several movies (The Philadelphia Story and Arsenic and Old Lace among others) to British war charities and the U.S. War Relief Fund.

In Memoriam, World War II

Carole Lombard was born October 6, 1908 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She starred in such films as Twentieth Century (1934), My Man Godfrey (1936) and Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941). Carole Lombard traveled to her home state of Indiana for a war bond rally. She was killed when the plane she was returning home on crashed on January 16, 1942.

Leslie Howard was born April 3, 1893 in London, England. He starred in such films as The Scarlet Pimpernal (1934), The Petrified Forest (1936) and Gone With The Wind (1939). When World War II began, he returned to England and served with British Intelligence. On June 1, 1943, Leslie Howard was flying to Bristol, U.K. from Lisbon, Portugal on a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines/ BOAC Flight 777. The airplane was shot down by a German Junkers Ju 88 over the Bay of Biscary.

Glenn Miller was born on March 1, 1904 in Clarinda, Iowa. He was an American jazz musician, arranger, composer, and bandleader in the swing era. He was one of the best-selling recording artists from 1939 to 1942, Miller's signature recordings include In The Mood, American Patrol, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Tuxedo Junction, Little Brown Jug and Moonlight Serenade. On December 15, 1944 he was traveling to entertain U.S. troops in France, his plane disappeared in bad weather. His body has never been found.

Saluting our World War I Veterens

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as "the Great War." Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.

Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World Wars I and II on or near November 11th: Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November). In Europe, Britain and the Commonwealth countries it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every November 11.

1) Jack Benny: US Navy

2) Humphrey Bogart: US Navy

3) Maurice Chevalier: France, once a prisoner of war

4) Ronald Coleman: London Scottish Regiment

5) Buster Keaton: US Army

6) Bela Lugosi: Captain, infantry, Austro-Hungarian Army

7) Herbert Marshall: London Scottish Regiment

8) Pat O'Brien: US Navy

9) Claude Rains: London Scottish Regiment

10) Basil Rathbone: London Scottish Regiment

11) Spencer Tracy: US Navy

Saluting Our World War II Veterans

It is almost impossible to list all of the classic movie actors who participated in World War II. When Pearl Harbor was bombed, they were literally lining up to enlist and serve their country.

Two lied about their ages to serve: Audie Murphy and Rod Stieger

Four were awarded the Purple Heart: Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Audie Murphy, and Charles Durning

Two are buried at Arlington National Cemetary: Lee Marvin and Audie Murphy (2 purple hearts)

One was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor: Audie Murphy

Three Fought at the Battle of the Bulge: Mel Brooks, Jack Warden and Charles Durning

One Actor would be killed in World War II: Leslie Howard, when his plane was shot down

One would obtain the rank of Brigadier General: James Stewart

One Fought at D-Day: Alec Guiness

One fought at the Battle of Guadalcanal: John Russell

The Most Decorated with 33 US medals, plus five medals from France and one from Belgium: Audie Murphy

One would also serve in Vietnam: Glenn Ford

Finally, here is a list of several actors who fought and served in World War II, some served for the USA and some for Great Britain:

Claude Adkins

Eddie Albert

Gene Autry

Ernest Borgnine

Charles Bronson

Mel Brooks

Jackie Coogan

Tony Curtis

Charles Durning

Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Henry Fonda

Glenn Ford

John Ford

Clark Gable

Alec Guiness

Sterling Hayden

Van Heflin

Charleton Heston

William Holden

Leslie Howard

Rock Hudson

George Kennedy

Walter Matthau

Lee Marvin

Burgess Meredith

Audie Murphy

David Niven

Jack Palance

Donald Pleasance

Tyrone Power

Mickey Rooney

John Russell

Robert Ryan

George C. Scott

Robert Stack

James Stewart

Rod Stieger

Jack Warden

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy 89th Birthday Ann Rutherford!

Ann Rutherford is best known for playing Polly Benedict in the Andy Hardy movies and Carreen O'Hara in Gone With The Wind (1939).

Ann Rutherford was born Therese Ann Rutherford on November 2, 1920 in Vancouver, British Columbia to John Rutherford, a Metropolitan Opera tenor and Lillian Mansfield, an actress.

Ann Rutherford made her stage debut in 1925 and appeared in many plays and on radio (as Blondie) for the next nine years before making her first screen appearance.

Her first film role was in Waterfront Lady (1935). She appeared in eighteen films between 1935 and 1937 frequently westerns with either Gene Autry or John Wayne.

Ann Rutherford and Gene Autry starred together in Comin' Round the Mountain (1936), Melody Trail (1935), Public Cowboy No. 1 (1937), and The Singing Vagabond (1935).

Ann Rutherford and John Wayne starred together in The Lawless Nineties (1936), The Lonely Trail (1936) and The Oregon Trail (1936).

In 1937, Ann Rutherford was cast to play Polly Benedict (Andy Hardy's girlfriend) in You're Only Young Once. She would play Polly twelve times with her last appearance in Andy Hardy's Double Life (1942). She also appeared in The Courtship of Andy Hardy (1942), Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941), Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941), Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (1940), Judge Hardy and Son (1939), The Hardys Ride High (1939), Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever (1939), Judge Hardy's Children (1938), Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938), and Out West With the Hardys (1938).

In 1939, she played Scarlett O'Hara's sister Carren in the epic Gone With the Wind.

She also starred in a series of mystery/comedies with Red Skelton: Whistling in the Dark (1941), Whistling in Dixie (1942) and Whistling in Brooklyn (1943).

Ann Rutherford's other film credits include A Christmas Carol (1938), Pride and Prejudice (1940), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), and Adventures of Don Juan (1948). Her final silver screen appearance would be in Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976).

Ann Rutherford also appeared on television classics as Perry Mason, The Donna Reed Show, Robert Montgomery Presents and General Electric Theater.

During the 1970s, she would play Aggie Harrison (Emily Hartley's mother) on The Bob Newhart Show.

Ann Rutherford has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for motion pictures and one for television.