Any Other Actors Besides Jimmy Stewart Do This?

Jimmy Stewart started acting in films in the 1930’s, then he joined the military (Before Pearl Harbor!), flew combat missions with USAAF, and then after the war resumed his acting career (while still serving in the reserves). Cite. I know that many of Hollywood stars joined the military after Pearl Harbor, but AFAIK, none of them saw combat. Most spent their time making training films, or morale boosting. Did any of his contemporaries see combat on a regular basis like Stewart did after being an actor? (I know that there were folks like Audie Murphey who became actors after serving during the war.)

I can’t remember if Leslie Howard, Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind, was in the military when his airplane was shot down during WWII. Even if he wasn’t, I suppose it’s fair to say he saw combat.

Here is a list of actors who served in WWII. I am sure this has been a thread subject before and that there are several on the list.

Eddie Albert was a successful actor under contract to Warner Bros. before the war. He served in the Navy during WWII, and was involved in the battle of Tarawa where he was wounded and earned a Bronze star.

Didn’t Bogart get his famous lisp from a piece of a shrapnel being lodged in his lip?

I always view with skepticism lists, etc, which take their info from imdb. These are often cites entered with no verification.

For instance, the Mel Brooks WWII listing would indicate he was a combat engineeer who cleared land mines. In reality, he was a corporal who cleared land mines. He was a flunky. Engineer is an embellishment. Other cites perpetuate myths which indicate he had some incredible sense of comedy at that point by paroding Jolson to German broadcasts. Perhaps he did. Prove it.

Sorry for the sour taste.

Your call.

Owen Wilson had written some (unpublished) poetry before fighting in WWI, in which he was killed, but didn’t really gain fame until after the Armistice–and his death, seven days prior to it. He of course wrote Dulce et Decorum Est, one of history’s great anti-war poems. I don’t think that’s what you’re looking for, though; he wasn’t a famous person who decided to go off to fight despite his fame.

Duh. Wilfred Owen, not Owen Wilson.


Ted Williams (not an actor, but a celeb nonetheless) was called in both WW2 and Korea and was a fighter pilot.

He was John Glenn’s wingman in Korea, IIRC.

I am afraid that the cite provided by **Don’t Ask ** contains some errors . Both Alan Bates and Michael Caine are listed as having WW2 combat records . According to my film encyclopedia both of these actors were only twelve years old in 1945. And Sean Connery was only fifteen.

Wasn’t James Arness (of “Gunsmoke”) the first man on Anzio Beach? According to his official webpage he was awarded a purple heart from his actions there.

I dunno about the veracity of Brooks’ military service, but Combat Engineer is the US Army’s term for people who do that sort of thing, be they a PFC or a Major. There is no implication of an EE or ME or whatever you were expecting. The Brits called 'em sappers; would that make you happier?


Michael Caine saw action in Korea, not WWII.

Richard Todd, who played major John Howard in The Longest Day, participated in the same action that the movie recreated (the Pegasus Bridge airlanding).

I don’t know whether he ever saw much real action, but Clark Gable joined the Army Air Corps during WW2. Legend has it that Hitler offered a high bounty to any Luftwaffe pilot who managed to shoot down Gable.

Glenn Miller joined up and became leader of the Army Air Corp Band. Of course, we all know what happened to him.

Do you give pro athletes credit for being entertainers?

A number of professional athletes served in the war, to the extent that the US baseball major leagues were in danger of shutting down. Ted Williams had perhaps the highest profile before his service, and there were many others who were effectively assigned to play their sport for the entertainment of combat troops, but not all. Warren Spahn was lucky to survive the Bulge; Bob Feller was a gunner on a battleship; Yogi Berra waded ashore at Omaha Beach, just for a few examples.

Clark Gable was a B-17 bomber pilot in WWII, flying raids over Germany (possibly the most dangerous job in the war, outside fo special forces). He rose to the rank of Major, and received the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. I think that counts. (-:

Jimmy Stewart achieved a higher rank than any other Hollywood stars. He was actually a Brigadier General in the Air Force. Pretty impressive. He also won a DFC, and the French Palme de Guerre, along with many other medals. A great, great man.

David Niven was already a huge star when he re-joined the military (he served in the 20’s or early 30’s), and went on to participate in the D-Day invasion. He retired a Lt. Colonel.

Don Adams (“Get Smart”) saw combat on Guadalcanal.

James Arness wasn’t wounded on the beaches of Normandy. He was wounded in the battle of Anzio.

Eddie Albert participated in a number of invasions, and received a Bronze Star on Tarawa.

Ernest Borgnine was career military before WWII, and served through the war.

Lee Marvin was in the marines, wounded on Saipan.

Tyrone Power, already a huge star when WWII broke out, served as an army air corps pilot in the Pacific.

Gene Autry was a big star, and became a flight officer in WWII

Richard Burton served in the Royal Marines.

Art Carney enlisted, got sent to Europe, was wounded by Shrapnel, and sent back home without firing a shot.

Charles Bronson was a nose-gunner in WWII.

Jackie Coogan volunteered in WWII, and kept requesting extremely dangerous assignments, including a glider landing behind Japanese lines during the invasion of Burma.

Michael Cain was a gunner on a Royal Navy ship in WWII.

Audrey Hepburn was a courier for the Holland resistance in WWII, but she wasn’t a star yet.

And of course Audi Murphy was the most decorated soldier of WWII, although he wasn’t a star until after the war (his service made him a star).