Tuesday, December 15, 2015

30 Days of The Fade Out: Hollywood at War.

In addition to that brief reference to Sinatra, The Fade Out #4 features a significant cameo by Clark Gable -- and some details about Charlie Parish's wartime experience, as he helped Gable make war documentaries, including bomber runs over Europe.

(We do wonder whether there's more to learn about why Charlie returned from the war a broken man.)

What the comic documents about Clark Gable is true, and you can read all about it between a brief account of his service on a Clark Gable fan page and an extensive article from defense-sector publisher,  Gable's wife Carole Lombard had died in January, 1942, in the crash of a DC-3 airliner returning from a war bonds tour.  Gable subsequently telegrammed FDR asking to serve, and the President replied, “STAY WHERE YOU ARE.”

Clark Gable defied Roosevelt to serve under him, enlisting into the U.S. Army Air Corps on August 12, 1942, in an event strikingly captured by the LA Times.

Joining the First Motion Picture Unit, Clark Gable went to Britain to film Combat America, a promotional documentary about air gunners. Veterans who remember Gable believe he was on many more than the five combat missions that records suggest, and both essays mention a German bounty for Gable's capture.

Quite a bit of footage for Gable's military service can be found online, including a newsreel story, embedded below, on Gable's earning his air gunner wings, and a digitally color-corrected copy of that one-hour, 1943 documentary, Combat America.

Clark Gable returned home safely and passed away in peacetime, in 1960.  Not every celebrity soldier was that lucky, and on Facebook I saw that this day marks the 71st anniversary of Glenn Miller's disappearance over the English Channel -- a reminder of the truth of what John Steinbeck wrote, quoted in the America in WWII story we mentioned Saturday:  "From the ranks of show business have sprung heroes and even martyrs."

71 years ago today, Glenn Miller disappeared over the English Channel. Let's take a moment to remember a legend.
Posted by Glenn Miller on Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Bandleader and then founder of the Army Air Force Band, Major Glenn Miller's death should be remembered, but his life should now and always be celebrated:  his music will outlive all of the Greatest Generation and will surely outlive us as well, and we close tonight with perhaps the greatest song produced by The Glenn Miller Orchestra, the joyful "In the Mood."

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