Like the new series “Masters of The Air”, which tells the story of the 8th US Air Force during the Second World War, certain Hollywood stars were mobilized into the air forces. And not exactly for revolving door.
This is the new spectacular war series at the start of the year. A long-standing project announced in 2019, Masters of The Air is the new television juggernaut for which the Apple TV+ platform spent between $250 and $300 million.
Created by John Orloff, Masters of the Air takes place during World War II, and follows Band of Brothers and The Pacific, produced by Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman.
While the start of the series has just landed on the platform, it's a great opportunity to also talk about Masters of The Airs… Hollywood! Engaged during the Second World War, certain talents were incorporated into the air forces in the different theaters of operations. And not always, far from it, for revolving around behind a desk. The proof by four.
“WWII is something I think about almost every day. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.” said the great actor James Stewart, shortly before his death in 1997.
An actor adored by the American public who rose to stardom in the film You Shall Not Take It With You by Frank Capra in 1938 and the immense success Mr. Smith in the Senate the following year, James Stewart was an authentic war hero.
Passionate about aviation, he obtained his pilot's license in 1935, and even that of an airline pilot in 1938. Having served in the army during the war (he even became the very first US film star to wear the uniform), he began as an instructor pilot at an air force base in Glendale, Arizona.
Promoted to lieutenant in July 1942, he spent August through December of that year training to fly B-17 bombers. Promoted to captain in July 1943 with the rank of squadron leader, he carried out his first bombing mission, on the German U-boat naval base located in Kiel, in November 1943.
In total, until the end of the war, he will carry out 20 missions. Decorated numerous times, including the French Military Croix de Guerre with palm, his commitment was such that he continued to be very involved in the US Air Force even after the war.
Ending his military career at the rank of colonel, he was even promoted, on July 23, 1959, to the rank of brigadier general of the US Air Force.
A true cinema face with a famous weathered face, Charles Bronson left an inimitable mark on cinema. Son of Lithuanian immigrants, living in great poverty (he was the 11th child of 15 siblings), the future actor even worked in the coal mines at the age of 10, and was the first of his family to graduate.
Enlisted in the US Air Force in 1943, he trained as a machine gunner in the 760th aerial machine gunner training squadron. In 1945, he was part of a crew of a B-29, a flying fortress, whose squadron was on the Pacific island of Guam. He and his crew flew 25 bombing missions over Japan. He received a Purple Heart for combat wounds, and was discharged from military service in 1946.
The reasons that led Clark Gable to get involved are painful. His wife, actress Carole Lombard, who died in a plane crash on January 16, 1942, was declared by President Franklin D. Roosevelt the first woman killed in the line of duty in wartime, and credited to her as posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Considered too old to serve in the army (he was 40 at the time), Gable sent a telegram to the president to assign him a position supporting the war effort. Roosevelt replied: “stay where you are”. Gable overstepped the presidential order and enlisted in the US Air Force.
Trained in aerial photography and as a machine gunner, he was sent to England with his six crew members within the 351st air unit. He carried out 5 missions, including an air raid in Germany, where one of his teammates died while a bullet passed through the actor's boot and grazed his head. MGM, the studio with which he was under contract, will arrange to have him reassigned to a less exposed position…
Promoted to Major in 1944, he was relieved of his obligations on June 12 of the same year. It is said that, a great admirer of the actor, Adolf Hitler offered a large reward for anyone who would bring the captive star back to Berlin.
In 1944, Charlton Heston enlisted in the United States Air Force. He served for two years as a radio operator and aerial gunner aboard a B-25 Mitchell stationed in the Aleutian Islands off southwest Alaska with the 77th Bombardment Squadron, 11th Air Force. He was then promoted to the rank of staff sergeant. He will also participate in the Aleutian Islands campaign.
Demobilized in March 1946, he also lent his voice to military educational films under the supervision of the Ministry of Energy. Films on top secret subjects, moreover, since some of them concerned the development of nuclear weapons. For six years, the actor thus held the highest level of security clearance in the country's government bodies.