Joan Blondell in "Gold Diggers of 1933" singing "Remember My Forgotten Man"
Since Veteran’s Day celebrates men and women who served in the armed forces and helped fight for our country, I wanted to mention celebrity veterans who fought. Veteran’s Day was originally known as Armistice Day when the armistice was signed between the allies and the central powers at the end of the Great War in 1918. What better way to celebrate recognizing WW1 soldiers, specifically those that were actors.
Movie fans always hear about stars who fought in World War II, like Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable. I started wondering what stars fought in The Great War (or World War I.) I looked around on Google and found very little. Thanks to my prior knowledge and some huge silent film fans on the IMDB message boards, I came up with a list of actors who fought in World War I.
So today let’s remember all veteran’s, but especially those that brought us this day in the eleventh month, the eleventh day and the eleventh hour. And don’t forget the forgotten man.
Fighting with the Allied Powers
- Richard Arlen, Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan
Richard Arlen– Served as a fighter pilot with the Royal Flying Corps, but never saw combat.
Humphry Bogart– Served in the U.S. Navy on the Leviathan. He had an injury on his face and mouth which left him with his lisp, according to the website “Star War.”
Walter Brennan– Injured by gas attack during WWI which permanently affected his vocal chords.
Clive Brooks, Maurice Chevalier, Merian C. Cooper
Clive Brook-Served in the British Army
Maurice Chevalier– Enlisted in the French army and was wounded, captured and taken prisoner by the Germans in 1914. He spent two years in Alten prison camp.
Merian C. Cooper– Fighter pilot for the United States
Ronald Colman, Walt Disney, Cedric Hardwicke
Ronald Colman– Fought in the British Army. Was wounded/gassed in Messines.
Walt Disney-Was only 16 during World War I, but lied so he could serve in the Red Cross.
Cedric Hardwick-Stage actor till career interrupted by the war. Served the British Army.
Buster Keaton, Charles Laughton, Herbert Marshall
Buster Keaton– Was a Corporal in the U.S. 40 Division in France
Charles Laughton– Joined the Army as a private in 1917. Served with the Huntingdonshire Cyclist Regiment, and later with 7th Bn. Northamptonshire Regiment in the Western Front. Casualty of mustard gas.
Herbert Marshall-Lost part of his right leg in the war and wore a wooden leg for the rest of his life. May notice a limp in some of his movies.
- Ken Maynard, Victor McLaglen, Adolphe Menjou
Ken Maynard– Fought in the U.S. Army
Victor McLaglen– When the war broke out, McLaglen joined the Irish Fusiliers and fought in the Middle East and serving as Provost Marshal (head of Military Police) for the city of Baghdad.
Adolphe Menjou– Captain of the Ambulance Corp in France
George O'Brien, Pat O'Brien, Jack Pickford
George O’Brien– Served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Fleet where he was also the Heavy Weight Boxing Champ.
Pat O’Brien– Enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1918
Jack Pickford– (brother of Mary Pickford) U.S. Navy Reserve in 1918. Almost court-martialed for a scandal when he accepted bribes from draftees who wanted light shore duty. His mother had a secret meeting Wilson’s personal secretary, Joseph Tumulty. Tumulty requested Jack to be discharged to make movies in support of the Army Air Corps.
Claude Rains, Basil Rathbone, John Monk Saunders
Claude Rains-Served in the Scottish Regiment in England.
Basil Rathbone– Second Lieutenant for the Liverpool Scottish. Received the Military Cross in 1918 for bravery.
John Monk Saunders– (Hollywood Writer) Served in the Air Service.
William Desmond Taylor, Ernst Thesiger, Warren William
William Desmond Taylor– Fought in the Canadian Air Force
Ernst Thesiger– Fought in the British Army
Warren William– Fought in France with the U.S. Army
Fight with the Central Powers
- Fritz Lang, Bela Lugosi, Sig Rumand
Fritz Lang-Soldier in the Austrian Army and fought in Romania and Russia.
Bela Lugosi– Was an infantry lieutenant in the Hungarian Army
Sig Ruman-Served in the Imperial German Forces
*Tune into tonight’s “Radio Waves Over Hollywood” live stream on WINR at 6 p.m. ET. Tonight’s show is about war movies!
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