Did You Know That These Celebrities Served in WWII?
World War II brought people from all walks of life to the forefront of the battle to preserve freedom. While so many of our citizens went off to fight, it may surprise some to know how many celebrities were among their ranks.
It would be easy to assume that those who achieved Hollywood fame and glory would choose the comforts of their American lifestyle over the horrors of war. Though several on this list were deployed prior to their fame, some notable famous faces, signed up to serve during the height of their popularity.
MovieWeb shared a list of some of the biggest stars to serve in WWII. Below are a few of our favorite selections from their list.
Sidney Poitier is such a legendary actor that it is hard to imagine him outside of the acting world. Interestingly enough, he used his acting skills during the war to get out of a post he morally objected to. He was assigned to help treat white soldiers coming off the battlefields with shell shock, but quickly learned that the job was not as therapeutic as the role implied. He wrote in his autobiography: “[We would] tend wards [and] administer cold packs, shock treatments, and other supposedly rehabilitative therapies…. We would in time become no more than jailers. The army was not heavily into the mental health business.” Dissatisfied, and underage at the time, he put on a performance that got him declared “unfit to serve.”
Rod Serling was a mastermind when it came to his work in television. He was a brilliant writer and director, and he always seemed to have an incredible ability to tell stories that were surreal and imaginative and yet closely connected to humanity. Many people may not know that this is because his work, especially The Twilight Zone, was heavily influenced by his time in WWII. Serling suffered from PTSD and channeled a lot of his emotion into his work.
Kirk Douglas may be a celebrated actor, but after Pearl Harbor, he viewed himself as an American and a Jew and thus could not stand by as Hitler grew in power. Douglas joined the Navy as part of the anti-submarine unit where he dropped depth charges on Japanese subs. It was this that actually earned him a medical discharge when he was almost killed through a shipmate’s mistake
Jimmy Stewart Joined World War II during a high point in his Hollywood career. In fact, he was eager to serve, enlisting in the Army Air Corps as a private, but was commissioned a second lieutenant as a college graduate and private pilot. At first, he was placed in media and information roles to drum up support for the war, but that was not enough for him. He fought to do more and ended up flying B-24 Liberator Bombers in Europe. He flew numerous missions, demonstrated incredible heroics, was awarded medals and promotions (to full colonel by war’s end), and remained part of the Air Force, serving active-duty periods in the reserves with the Strategic Air Command until his retirement as a brigadier general in 1968
Were you surprised by any of these names? Read the full list from MovieWeb here.
This is part of why we call Americans from this era “the greatest generation.” When it came time to stand up to Hitler, even those who had Hollywood fame and fortune stepped up. We believe in giving back to those who gave so much. That is why we support the Greatest Generation Benefits Act. Learn more and sign our petition here.