History of Movie Stars and World War I

History of Movie Stars and World War I



hi on the history guide I have a degree in history and I love history in the fuel of history – this is the channel for you so many celebrities have seen distinguished military service in their time that it would be easy just to do a channel about their experiences to the Stars in service it's not that celebrities suffer more than common soldiers is that their fame can help to illustrate the suffering of war and one startling example of that occurred during the Great War when four of who would become the world's most famous movie stars served in the same famed British regiment and their experience says much about the horror of that war it is history that deserves to be remembered facing the rising demands of defending its vast empire in 1859 Jonathan Peel the British Secretary of State for war authorized local counties to form voluntary Rifle Corps which would serve as a Ready Reserve for the army the movement was popularized by the poem rifleman form written by Alfred Lord Tennyson in 1859 storm storm rifleman form ready be ready against the storm rifleman rifleman rifleman form according to report in April of 1862 the volunteer force had a strength of over a hundred sixty two thousand one such unit that was formed was the London Scottish rifle Volunteers formed in 1859 from a meeting of Scottish residents of the City of London in 1909 the volunteer force was reorganized as the territorial force and designated as that force that would defend the home islands in time of war bring the Regular Army for service overseas but when the Great War started units of the territorial force were given the option of serving overseas as well the 1st battalion of the London Scottish was the very first infantry battalion of the territorial force to join the British Expeditionary Force fighting in France and one of the first soldiers to go with it was private Ronald Colman our Tillery had been a critical component of warfare for centuries but the nature of the threat of artillery changed in the Great War when industrial might and the limits of static warfare resulted in more and larger guns some sections of the front average more than 100 artillery pieces per mile a well-trained crew could fire an artillery piece about every two seconds firing ever larger and more explosive shells in the barrage before one battle in 1917 the British Army fired three and a half million artillery shells and as many as 60 million were fired at the Battle of her diamond private Coleman was the victim of one such shell receiving trattner wounds in the ankle and knee in the fabled Flanders field the wound would cause him to limp the rest of his life but he was able to cover that as a unique sort of jaunty walk that became characteristic of the swathe leading men who starred in dozens of Hollywood films known for the titular role in 1926 Beau Geste and the starring role in pink peppers 1937 masterwork Lost Horizon Coleman was three times nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor winning for his role in the film a double life in 1947 already an established actor 27 year-old Claude Rains said himself when he enlisted in the London Scottish in 1916 I was not heroic I just knew I'd be ashamed of myself if I did not one of the true terrors of the Great War was the use of chemical weapons well such weapons had been used in previous Wars their first widespread use was on the battlefields of the First World War although it could be deadly killing nearly a hundred thousand troops during the war poison gas was used more as a terror weapon with the goal of demoralizing and injuring troops and gas shells were often mixed with explosive shells during Burridge's in November of 1916 private reigns was caught in one such attack becoming one of the nearly 180,000 British casualties of poison gas during the war as a result he lost most of his vision in his right eye and his vocal cords were paralyzed his eyesight never returned but his voice did come back albeit with a lower huskier quality that was the hallmark of the star of 1933 the Invisible Man a Tony Award winner he was four times nominated for Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor and perhaps best known for his role as Captain Renault in the classic movie Casablanca herbert marshall was an established stage actor when he enlisted in the london scottish in June of 1916 spending ten months in the trenches in what he called terrific boredom sharpshooter's have been playing a role in war since the introduction of the firearm and telescopic scopes were being attached rifles as early as the Crimean War snipers had not been developed into a professional arm of armies until the great war at the outset of the war only German soldiers were outfitted with scope equipped rifles and the Germans developed a reputation for deadly accuracy partly because Germany was able to manufacture higher quality lenses for the rifle scopes private Marshall was a victim of one such sniper struck in the knee during an offensive in the French city of Arras after several surgeries to try to repair his leg it had to be amputated at the hip he learned to walk with a very square shoulder gait and the use of a prosthetic leg was hardly noticeable for the popular actor who graced more than a hundred film and TV roles notably starring opposite Marlena Dietrich in the letter in 1940 in an Alfred Hitchcock's 1930 film murder in 1940 film foreign correspondents although modern viewers may know him best for his character role as Inspector Shiraz in the 1958 horror classic the fly although admitting that he felt no called to duty as so many who enlisted Massa Rathbone nonetheless joined the London Scottish regiment he in March of 1916 completing officers training camp and being commissioned a second lieutenant while concealment had always been some part of military tactics the proximity of trenches in the use of aerial reconnaissance made it a central part of military doctrine during the Great War when the French slang word camouflage first came into widespread use an intelligence officer Rathbone was tasked with sneaking through no-man's land at night to try to gather information on enemy trenches and defensive works frustrated by their inability to gather good information while fooling around in the dark he suggested camouflaging his group as foliage and gathering information during the day dressed in leaves with their face and hands darkened with suit they crept ever so slowly across the battlefield and were able to surprise and kill a German soldier and gather information from papers in his pockets before him being spotted and having to flee home under machine-gun fire all four of his group made it back to their lines okay and Rathbone earned the Military Cross for the daring raid such an adventure was perhaps fitting for starv adventure films such as Captain Blood The Adventures of Marco Polo the Mark of Zorro and famously the 1938 film The Adventures of Robin Hood opposite Errol Flynn and co-starring fellow London Scottish veteran Claude Rains and he was of course most famous for his many films playing the iconic role of Sherlock Holmes the London Scottish served throughout the Great War both on the Western Front and in Palestine in all 1542 members of the regiment lost their lives in the Great War that four of the most famous actors of their era combining for hundreds of iconic film roles in some of the most important films of their day and winning a combined won Academy Award nine Academy Award nominations two Tony Awards and seven stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame all served in the same British regiment in the first world war is testament to a time when the entire world was at war and everybody was expected to contribute and while we remember them for their iconic film roles their film personalities cannot be separated from their experiences in the war reigns's husky voice marshal square-shouldered stance Coleman's jaunty walk all trademarks of their characters were actually responses to the wounds they received during the war well for example Hollywood was able to successfully hide the fact that Herbert Marshall used a prosthetic leg he suffered from ghost pain his entire life and severe pain from the straps that were used to hold on the prosthetic and during the Second World War he counseled other war amputees but perhaps their successful film careers had more to do with their war experience than even that because war inevitably changes a person as Ron Ronald Coleman later said of his war experience we went out strangers came back it was the war that made an actor out of me that's all I was good for when I came back acting I wasn't my own man anymore I'm the history guy and I hope you enjoyed this episode of my series five minutes of history short snippets of forgotten history five to ten minutes and that you did enjoy please go ahead and click that thumbs up button which is there on your left you have any questions or comments would like to make a suggestion for another topic for the history guide feel free to write those in the comment section I will be happy to respond and if you'd like five minutes for a forgotten history all you need to do is subscribe [Applause]

20 thoughts on “History of Movie Stars and World War I

  1. I knew about Claude Rains being a war veteran. I vaguely remember hearing about Herbert Marshall's war record and loss of part of his leg. But I never knew of Ronald Coleman & Basil Rathbone being veterans of WW1. Thanks for the information. A lesser known American actor of the 1930's & 40's, Chester Morris was a pilot in the Army Air Force in WW2. He won several medals for heroics in battle as a pilot. Director John Ford filmed actual battle scenes during the battle of Midway, and suffered wounds during the battle in WW2.

  2. Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes co-star Nigel Bruce was also severely injured serving with the Honourable Artillery Company in Belgium and invalided out in 1915.. He later rejoined, but was ruled unfit for active service and served in a training role. A member of the Scottish landed gentry, he had been a stockbroker in London, but decided to become an actor after the Armistice,. Perhaps he too lost a bit of himself in the war.

  3. War does change a person. Doesn't matter who you are or how tough you act, it changes you. Ronald Colman's quote "…we went out, strangers came back.." rings very load in me. I can agree that that's 100% accurate from personal experience.

  4. Leslie Banks who during the First World War served with the Essex Regiment and was wounded, sustaining injuries that left his face partially scarred and paralyzed.
    In his acting career he would use this injury to good effect, by showing the unblemished side of his face when playing comedy or romance or even better showing the scarred/paralyzed side to great effect as the Evil Count Zaroff in one of my favorite movies, The Most Dangerous Game (1932).

  5. I am a old movie fan and a fan of all these actors. I am at loss for words. All these people hid there injuries so well. So many movies and rolls went through my head. WOW!!!

  6. Good article, But it wasn't just actors that went, there was also a dedicated sportsman regiment "including Boxers & Footballers of the time" so maybe we could have a show about them. There's also the so called dodgers such as Charlie Chaplin, Jack Dempsey, Les Darcy, Stan Laurel/Oliver Hardy, ETC which could well work well in another future episode.

  7. Snipers as a recognized and specifically organized force did not originate with the First World War. Special sniper units (Birge's Sharpshooters, and the 1st and 2nd US Sharpshooter Regiments) were raised in the American Civil War, using special super-accurate rifles and telescopic sights. The British raised the 60th and 95th Rifle Regiments during the Napoleonic Wars, equipping them with Baker Rifles. The Russians and several German States also had special rifle equipped units in the 18th Century. Otherwise, though, I really liked this piece of history. Thank you.

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