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Peter Lawford 

Peter was born to Miss Lady Lawford and Sir Sydney Lawford (a decorated English general who assisted Mussolini in shaping his troops before WWII).

An arm injury at childhood, caused by trying to run through a glass door, thrashed all hopes of Peter's military career (much to his relief), and so he went into acting.




Marlene Dietrich

Best remembered during WWII, Dietrich--a German who had renounced her country following the rise of the Nazis and rejected Hitler's request that she return--became an ardent and fearless supporter of the Allied Forces, performing hundreds of times for the troops as near the war zone as she could get. Actor Conrad Veidt, who played the weaselly Nazi Major Strasser in Casablanca, was--in reality--a German gentile who felt empathy for persecuted Jews. After making a film called The Wandering Jew, the Nazis denounced Veidt and banned his films. He never returned to his homeland.


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Charlie Chaplin

During the First World War, Charlie Chaplin, at the height of his fame as the Little Tramp, helped raise millions selling war bonds to support U.S. and British troops. But perhaps his more lasting wartime achievement--or at least best remembered one--is a film that spoofed the rise of Adolf Hitler (who was rumored to have patterned his own Tramp-like mustache after Chaplin). In The Great Dictator, released in 1940, Chaplin returns the favor, ranting and raving as psychotic leader Adenoid Hynkel, as well as playing another role as a gentle Jewish barber who gets mistaken for the crazed tyrant. The film was not a huge success, and Chaplin later said had he known the magnitude of Hitler's crimes he wouldn't have joked about them.



Raymond Burr


Burr who was Canadian and his family returned to America ahead of the worst of World War II, settling in the Los Angeles area, where Burr joined the theater and workshop of the lauded Pasadena Playhouse. Burr's theater work eventually took him to Broadway, where he scored a hit in the 1943 show "Duke In Darkness". On the eve of Burr's professional triumph personal tragedy struck: Annette Sutherland, with other British actors supporting the troops and the war effort, traveled to her native Great Britain on a public relations junket. On June 1st, 1943, the plane carrying Ms. Sutherland, actor Leslie Howard and others from London to Lisbon was shot down over the Atlantic by German forces. All on board were killed.

Burr placed his young son in the care of relatives, walked away from an RKO Pictures offer and joined the US Navy, serving in the Pacific Theater until the battle at Okinawa, where he was seriously wounded by shrapnel. Decorated with the Purple Heart, Burr was honorably discharged, but spent months recovering and becoming reacquainted with his son Michael.

Michael Rennie

Served in World War II as a flying officer in the RAF, Rennie came to the United States for the first time to be a training instructor in Georgia



Hedy Lamarr

About Lamarr

Following the outbreak of World War II, actress Hedy Lamarr, an Austrian-born actress who despised the Nazis, collaborated with experimental music pioneer George Antheil on an invention for radio-controlled torpedoes. Lamarr, who never even attended college, had picked up some useful knowledge while married to a German arms dealer, whom she ditched--by drugging her maid and slipping away in her uniform--after he became involved with the Nazis. Her invention was so revolutionary it's the basis for modern mobile telecommunications. Not bad for an actress most famous for her nude scene--cinema's first!--in the film Ecstasy. She also raised $7 million in war bonds for the Allied effort, largely by selling kisses.

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Harold Russell

One of the most moving films to come out of World War II wasn't even about the struggles of the battlefield. The Best Years of Our Lives follows three returning veterans and their attempts to readjust to civilian life. The movie won seven Oscars, including two for double amputee Harold Russell, the only actor in Oscar history to win two awards for the same film. (One was the Best Supporting Actor statuette and the other a special Oscar for bringing hope and courage to disabled veterans.) The story was all upbeat, though. In 1992, when his wife was dying, Russell decided to put his Supporting Actor statuette on the block. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tried to keep Russell from selling the award, but he ultimately auctioned it for $60,000. The actor died last year at the age of 88.


Lew Ayres,

Star of the 1930 antiwar film All Quiet on the Western Front, was so affected by the film's message he became a conscientious objector during WWII.

Ayres' star status was boosted in 1938 when he was hired to play Dr. Kildare in MGM's long-running series of Kildare B-pictures. After appearing in nine Kildare films, he declared himself a conscientious objector and refused to bear weapons when called upon to serve in World War II; the actor was publicly perceived to be a coward, and MGM dropped his contract. After the war, the public learned of Ayres' bravery under fire as a non-combatant medical corpsman, and he was permitted to resume his career.


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