Guest Post – gpcox – Hooray for Hollywood…

This is the 6th article I have written for Greatest Generation Lessons and since I value the opinion of the readers, I would like to ask you all to tell me which one you enjoyed the most:
1- American Family Life in the 1940’s
2- Technical & Ground Force Coordination
3- When Making a Car Was Illegal
4- It was hard to keep the good times rollin’
5- There’ll Be a Hot Time…
6- Hooray For Hollywood…
Thank you all for being such loyal readers and friends.

"Greatest Generation" Life Lessons

gpcox has done a fantastic job of research for this Guest Post. I learned quite a bit about their participation and personal sacrifice. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Hollywood was aware of the threat of war long before Pearl Harbor.  The show biz paper “Variety” called the films

‘preparedness pix’ and by the end of 1940, there were 36 titles concerning the subject: “I Married a Nazi,” “Sergeant York” and “British Intelligence” were among them.  Non-Japanese oriental actors or Caucasians were hired to play the roles of Japanese villains, such as Peter Lorre as ‘Mr. Moto.’  War movies came out in the theatres as though popping off an assembly line.  Greer Garson seemed to save the entire British Army from Dunkirk in “Mrs. Minivier.”  Abbott and Costello continued their comedy routines in such films as “Keep’em Flying” and “Buck Privates.”  The home front…

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About GP

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GP is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on June 11, 2013, in Home Front, Uncategorized, WWII. Bookmark the permalink. 42 Comments.

  1. THE IMPERIAL CRUISE is here, and I think I’ll take it to the local military museum today, where I volunteer on Thursdays to be there to open it and to be available for questions by visitors.. Few people come in, and I should be able to make some headway reading since there typically are few distractions. Of course, some days veterans come in and feel like sitting down and talking about their experiences, a real bonus!


    • You should get a personal recorder and tape the stories – that would be something! (When you read about some of our so-called historical “heroes” – this book is going to let you see why school never taught you these things.)


      • I made pretty good progress in THE IMPERIAL CRUISE yesterday. It reads fast, and doesn’t shock so much as flesh out what I vaguely understood had happened.

        I live an hours’ drive from the frontier fort where Crazy Horse was stabbed to death, and about an hour and a half from Wounded Knee. I am aware of the 19th Century attitudes that lead to genocide at the hands of the US Army in the West, so why should the same military be significantly different a few years later in the Philippines? The book shows it wasn’t.

        It is interesting how he ties this “we can save the dark masses and build democratic nations for them” mentality of the turn of the last century to events more familiar to us: Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. We still haven’t learned.

        Anyway, I’m enjoying the book, and look forward to the rest of the read. Carved over the north (main) entrance of the Nebraska State Capitol are these words: “The salvation of the state is watchfulness in the citizen.” Being aware of the dark side of our history and the outcomes should inform decisions, for example, like “Do we get involved in Syria’s sectarian civil war?” Frankly, I doubt it will. History doesn’t bear it out, and the warhawks shout the loudest.


        • The area you live in is chock full of history, how interesting. We have not had a habit of learning from our history either, but I don’t think it’s the warhawks so much as the money-power people who want all this chaos. Glad you are enjoying the book.


          • I’m 38 miles from the Oregon and Mormon Trails as well. Fort Laramie is a short day trip away. Deadwood-Lead, three hours away. It’s an interesting area.

            I’d agree with your assessment about the money-power people. Warhawks just make the racket, maybe get a nice donation for their senatorial re-election campaign (whatever) for being a whore for war. I’m no fan of such people. Their children rarely bothered to sign up for the military in my lifetime, often hid behind deferments to avoid service.

            The one Congressional Medal of Honor recipient I knew in my lifetime wasn’t a Congressman’s or Senator’s son or from a family with connections, he was a quiet, pleasant farm kid who saved a few lives then lost his own in the process. Semper fi. Whew!



            • As WWII started, men ran to Canada to join the war – not escape it. They were a different breed.


              • There is a grave not too far from my maternal grandparents’ grave of a young man who joined the Canadian air force before America went to war so he could do his part as a pilot defending England. Unfortunately, he died in an airplane training accident before he could make his contribution. You are exactly right!


                • Just another reason (one of many) that FDR wanted into the war – fast. Afraid he’s lose his best pilots to the RAF before he could get in there.


  2. I have no particular favorite as all are interesting. However, this one was of special interest as the stars of yesteryears were made of different stuff than those who today get far too much attention, and hold so little responsibility for their actions and the example they set.

    And yes, I realize even back then not all were the same as those mentioned in the guest post. Still . . . some pretty big names.


    • I appreciate your commenting and voting. You make a good point. Thanks.


      • This is from my brother-in-law who is into the history of the various wars.

        Not to forget:Eddie Albert (yes from Green Acres) was an active participant in the battle of Tarawa (Nov. 1943), one of the bloodiest battles of World War II and in the history of the U.S. Marine Corps. Albert was credited with rescuing up to 70 wounded Marines while under enemy fire. He was awarded the Bronze Star with a combat “V”.

        Jimmy Stewart: This guy walked the walk. Having learned to fly in 1935, he was drafted into the US Army as a private in 1940 (after twice failing the medical for being underweight) and during the course of World War II rose to the rank of Colonel, first as an instructor at home in the US, and later on combat missions in Europe. He remained involved with the US Air Force Reserve after the war and retired in 1959 as a Brigadier General.


        • Thanks for the added details. There were so many I wanted to include, I just had to draw the line somewhere. Do you happen to have a favorite guest post I’ve done for Judy?


          • Hard to say because they were read at different times, under different moods, etc.

            However, as I said, I did like this one. Perhaps in part because some of those actors are/where favorites of mine, and it’s good to know they had good qualities in addition to their acting abilities.


            • I have to admit, this was a fun article to research – just wished more names could have been listed – but 300?!?! Don’t think so. Thanks for voting in.


  3. I have not got my head round all of the posts (partly because I am a Brit, perhaps), but I have found those I have read fascinating. I think the correspondence about the origins of the acts of aggression by one or other country is truly important. I think we would be pushed to find an ‘innocent’ country.


  4. All of them are delightful to read. Thanks.


  5. Fascinating & informative~


  6. buffalotompeabody

    I usually do not comment on blogs. I am an avid reader however, my TTS usually messes up my comments. So I keep them to a minimum.
    As a kid, my brother and I, We’re very interested in what our ” Dad did in the war.” Our dad served in New Guinea, was officially declared dead twice, returned home after the war with more scar tissue than healthy, Purple Heart, other medals and a small box of sad souvenirs, removed from a Japanese soldier that he had killed, which haunted him the rest of his life. Only near the end of his life did he return to his pre war personality. He never recovered his health. So, as you can imagine, He did not talk about the war. He was deeply patriotic and believed in the cause for which he fought. The details of the war, he kept to himself. We all tried to get him to talk about it, knowing that that would help. To no avail.
    my brother has since researched our fathers experiences during the war. Which, finally, brings me to my point. Your blog and Judy’s, fill in ” the bigger picture.” Huge thanks to both of you!


    • You are very welcome, Tom. Judy’s idea of the guests posts turned out rather well, don’t you think? Has your brother done anything with his research about your father?


      • buffalotompeabody

        I am so sorry to be delinquent in this reply. the WordPress app is kind of confusing. sometimes I get notified and sometimes I don’t. not to mention I think I have been spamming some replies! my apologies as I get on track.
        In response to your question, yes. My brother has written one pictorial book on WW II Aircraft and is currently working on a book about my dads experiences.


  7. If you’d like to read the other Guest Posts by gpcox, Click this: or copy and paste it into your browser and click on the category “Guest Posts and Re-Posts”. They are all there and I’d be interested in which one you enjoyed the most, also.


  8. I think all these are fascinating. I especially liked, “It Was Hard to Keep the Good Times Rolling.” And the statement (I don’t remember in which post) by President Roosevelt about “the privilege of denial” keeps coming back to me. But I really enjoyed this last post, “Hooray for Hollywood.” Maybe because so much of what I feel I “know” about the WWII era comes from the movies you mention, and the stars you feature.


  9. I loved Sergeant York and can still remember walking toward the Albee Theater in Cincinnati and seeing the big SERGEANT YORK letters on the marquee.

    My favorite was #1 – American Life in the 1940s because so much of what was written is familiar to me.


  10. I, for one, enjoyed them all my friend?


  11. Looking through bound editions of late 1930s LIFE Magazines, there were many articles about the preparedness levels of all the countries that eventually fought WWII on both sides. There were articles on Japanese aggression in Manchuria and China as well. It astonished me, actually, how aware we were of coming risks, yet how strong the public sentiment was not to get involved or to support any of the countries lining up to invade or be invaded. I always thought we Americans were innocent babes in the woods about the up-coming war, but mostly we were ignoring something bigger than us and hoping it would go away.


    • FDR was bound and determined to get the U.S. in a war and his attempts to antagonize Hitler didn’t work. A lot of people knew that when America stopped selling fuel, food and airplane parts to Japan – it was only a matter of time. (Actually, Monday 8 Dec. was the expected date of attack)


      • I had a little disagreement with a Japanese national about the origins of war between the US and Japan. He attributed it to the US stopping supplies of oil, scrap metal, etc., to Japan (which he called an act of war) whereas I, of course, felt Pearl Harbor was the definitive reason (an undeniable act of war).

        Sometimes the victor doesn’t have complete control of how the vanquished choses to recall historical events!

        Even knowing the Japanese war machine needed these supplies to complete its conquest of SE Asia, with all its raw materials, I have a difficult time seeing how we topped the Japanese in war mongering till the other came into the fight.

        They hardly were innocent of aggressive war at the time we stopped selling them these things, as any Chinese citizen of Naking, for a horrific example, could have told anyone trying to make sense of December 7th.

        Of course, there is a part of the Japanese public that denies their military was anything but heroic in war and respectful of the people they conquered. Americans, if not happily, can, at least, agree individual service people did some horrific things, too, if not as a matter of general policy promulgated from the top or to the extent the Japanese military did.

        I’ll leave it to the historians to sort out.


        • You need to go farther back in history and discover that we wanted Japan to control China, Korea, etc. and we taught them how to do it. For just one example, try “The Imperial Cruise” by James Bradley (son of one of the men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima) and then get back to me.


          • I have no reason to doubt that. Where do you start history? Tell me who is the victim and who is the aggressor.

            I know Western powers meddled in Chinese affairs (and other places like Indochina, Dutch East Indies, Burma, India) well before the 20th Century, and that the US had river patrols in China in the 30s, and had the Philippines.

            Just how and when one or the other country stepped over the line to such an extent bombs were dropped and someone’s ships were sunk, with malice or undisguised intent is clear enough to me, though the diplomatic wrangling before and up to events is not so clear.

            I suppose the much earlier Great White Fleet had its impact as well, though the same President brokered the treaty between Japan and Russia as sent the US Navy on a show tour of the world. I think Teddy Roosevelt even got a Nobel Peace Prize out of it- must check.

            Regardless, I’ll check out THE IMPERIAL CRUISE. I clearly am ignorant, so just ordered the book, though it got reviews all over the place, some citing stylistic issues (calling TR “Teddy”…! I think I can handle it.). Regardless, it should be interesting. Though it was characterized as “well-researched”, some of the reviewers held the author to the flames for footnotes on some things of consequence, but none on other things they felt needed attribution. I guess I’ll find out, eh?


            • I’m glad you’re looking into it. Teddy DID receive the Prize, but the Nobel Committee were unaware of his behind the scenes actions and manipulations at the time. Oh, you’ll find out all right and it isn’t pretty.


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