Clark Gable (1901-1960) [Gone with the Wind (1939); Command Decision (1948)]. Was already a mega-movie star when WWII broke out. Although he was beyond draft age when the U.S. entered the war, Gable enlisted as a private in the AAF on Aug. 12, 1942 at Los Angeles. He attended Officer's Candidate School in Miami Beach, Fla. and graduated as a second lieutenant on Oct. 28, 1942. He then attended aerial gunnery school and in Feb. 1943 was assigned to the 351st Bomb Group at Polebrook, England, where he flew operational missions over Europe in B-17s making film records of the missions. Capt. Gable was rotated back to the U.S. in Oct. 1943 because he was over-age for combat. At his request he was relieved from active duty as a Major on Jun. 12, 1944.
James Garner (1928- ) born James Baumgarner, dropped out of high school at 16 to join the Merchant Marine in the closing year of World War II. Later, in the Army, he received the Purple Heart when he was wounded during the Korean War. He had his first chance to act when a friend got him a non-speaking role in the Broadway stage play "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial (1954)." Part of his work was to read lines to the lead actors and he began to learn the craft of acting. The play led to small TV roles, TV commercials and eventually a contract with Warner Brothers. Director David Butler saw something in Garner and gave him all the attention he needed when he appeared in The Girl He Left Behind (1956). After co-starring in a handful of films during 1956-57, Warner Brothers gave Garner a co-starring role in the the TV western series "Maverick" (1957). The series was highly successful, and Garner continued in it into 1960 when he left in a dispute over money. Garner returned to films, often playing the same type of character he had played on "Maverick". His successful films included The Thrill of It All (1963); Move Over, Darling (1963); The Great Escape (1963) and The Americanization of Emily (1964). Amiable and handsome James Garner has obtained success in both films and television, often playing variations of the charming anti-hero con-man persona he first developed in Maverick.
Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez (1925-2006) [Wings of the Hawk (1953); Rio Bravo (1959)] was born in Aguilares, Texas, and had only the most elemental schooling as a youngster. He remained functionally illiterate for much of his life. One of his early talents was making musical instruments out of tangible items such as hubcaps, water-filled bottles and frying pans. During World War II he was a driver in the Army. First came to notice as a contestant on Groucho Marx's quiz show, You Bet Your Life (1950). His highly amusing personality won him bit parts in films, and he continued to work as a minor supporting player for years. He is the brother of Jose Gonzales Gonzales.
Harold Gould (1923- ) [The Yellow Canary (1963); English as a Second Language (2005)] was born Harold Goldstein in Schenectady, NY. He worked as a professional actor while still in high school, playing several roles in each episode of a local radio station's The FBI In Action. But his high school guidance counselor advised him that very few actors earn a decent living, and suggested he teach instead. He went to college with a career in education in mind, but left to join the Army during World War II. Assigned to a mortar platoon, he saw combat in eastern France. After the war, he earned his PhD in Theatre, and taught drama for many years, spending his summers as a part-time actor. He made his professional stage debut playing Thomas Jefferson in a Virginia production of The Common Glory in 1955, and he won an Obie in 1969 for his first New York stage appearance, The Increased Difficulty of Concentration. Gould is best known as Rhoda's father on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977) and Rhoda (1974-1978), and as Betty White's boyfriend on The Golden Girls (1985-1992).
Betty Grable (1916-1973) [By Your Leave (1934); Sweet Rosie O'Grady (1943)] was born Elizabeth Ruth Grable in St. Louis, Missouri. She became a big star in the 1930s and the public was enchanted with Betty. Her famous pin-up pose to console homesick GIs was easily the most popular pinup girl of World War II. A rearview swimsuit shot, in which she smiled invitingly over her shoulder adorned barracks all around the world. With that pin-up, the public buzz over the $1 million insurance policy on her legs, and as the star of lavish musicals, Betty became the highest-paid star in Hollywood. After the war, her star continued to rise.
Peter Graves (1926- ) [Fort Defiance (1951); Stalag 17 (1953); Number One with a Bullet (1987)] excelled at sports and music (as a saxophonist) while growing up in Minnesota and by age 16 he was a radio announcer at WMIN in Minneapolis. After two years in the U.S. Air Force in World War II, he studied drama at the University of Minnesota and then headed to Hollywood, where he first appeared on television and later made his film debut in Rogue River (1951). Numerous film appearances followed, especially in Westerns. Graves is primarily recognized for his television work, however, particularly as Jim Phelps in "Mission: Impossible" (1966). Graves is younger brother of James Arness, star of the long-running "Gunsmoke" (1955-1975) TV series.
Fred Gwynne (1926-1993) [On the Waterfront (1954); My Cousin Vinny (1992)] was an enormously talented character actor most famous for starring in the television situation comedies Car 54, Where Are You? (1961) (as "Officer Francis Muldoon") and The Munsters (1964) (as the Frankenstein clone, Herman Munster). He was very tall and had a resonant, baritone voice that he put to good use in Broadway musicals. Born Frederick Hubbard Gwynne in New York City to a wealthy stockbroker father, he attended the exclusive prep school, Groton, where he first appeared on stage in a student production of William Shakespeare's Henry V. After serving in the United States Navy as a radioman during World War II, he went on to Harvard, where he majored in English and was on the staff of the Harvard Crimson student newspaper.
...more next week...