Stars in the Corps: Movie Actors in the United States Marines

Article excerpt

Stars in the Corps: Movie Actors in the United States Marines. James E. Wise, Jr., and Anne Collier Rehill. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1999. x + 246 pp., bibliography, photographs, and index.

This unique, well-written, and fascinating volume is a companion to Wise and Rehill's Stars in Blue: Movie Actors in America's Sea Services (1997). Like its predecessor, Stars in the Corps is a valuable resource for scholars and aficionados of motion picture films, military buffs and historians, and students of American popular culture. This volume equals and in several ways surpasses its earlier companion and is itself a valuable reference. The volume contains a preface and introduction, two parts comprising 28 short biographies, four appendices, 101 black-and-- white images, a bibliography, and an index.

Some of the biographies are upbeat and heart warming and others pensive and melancholic. Known to many film fans as actors rather than as Marines are Lee Marvin, Steve McQueen, Tyrone Power, and George C. Scott. Perhaps less well known are Sterling Hayden, Peter Ortiz, Lee Powell, and Tad Van Brunt. There were troubled youths (Hayden, Marvin, and McQueen); Yale scholars (Bradford Dillman and George Roy Hill); Hollywood and Broadway stars before their service (Hayden, Louis Hayward, Powell, and Ty Power); OSS-Office of Strategic Services-- operatives (Hayden and Ortiz); combat photographers (Hayward and Bill Lundigan); aviators (Jock Mahoney, Ed McMahon, and Power); and air crew (Brian Keith). Several earned high-school equivalency diplomas in the corps (Gene Hackman and Harvey Keitel), others went to OCS-Officers' Candidate School (Dillman, Dale Dye, Hayden, and Power), or took advantage of the GI Bill for acting school (Dillman, George Peppard, and Robert Ryan). On the negative side, military service resulted in several nervous breakdowns (Hayward and Jonathan Winters), alcoholism (Macdonald Carey, Powell, Power, and Van Brunt), or lung disease and death from smoking (McQueen and John Russell).

The biographies begin with Dale Dye, a Vietnam and Beirut veteran, author of five military novels, and motion picture technical adviser for Oliver Stone, Brian DePalma, and Steven Spielberg, who also appeared in more than 15 films, including Saving Private Ryan. Sterling Hayden (1916-68), an established film star and graduate of the British Commando Training School, was injured and discharged, but enlisted as a boot in 1942, changed his name to John Hamilton, and commanded Yugoslav partisans in guerrilla warfare against the Nazis in the Balkans. Louis Hayward (1909-68), a star of swashbucklers in the 1930s, was a combat cinematographer, filming Academy Award documentary winner With the Marines at Tarawa (1944). Brian Keith was rear gunner in a SBD dive-bomber in missions against the Japanese navy at Rabaul. Lee Marvin (1924-87) enlisted in 1942, served in the Marshall Islands, and was severely wounded in the June 1944 Saipan invasion.

Pierre "Peter" Ortiz (1913-88), the most decorated man to serve in the OSS, spent five years with the French Foreign Legion in the 1930s, rejoined in 1939, was captured by the Germans in North Africa in 1941, became a POW in Austria, escaped through Portugal to the United States, and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942. …

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