Harry Belafonte felt that he could be part of a great cause when he joined the navy, and in a way he still was. He courageously enlisted in 1944 to join the fight in World War II, but to his disappointment, he never received the order from higher command to report overseas. He never got to fight, although he had served the military in his own small capacity.
His dreams of action never realized, Belafonte decided to pursue his studies at the New School for Social Research just after he was discharged. He then studied acting at the New School’s dramatic workshop and performed with the American Negro Theatre in the 1940s, singing in clubs to earn enough to pay for his acting classes.
Aside from Charlie Chaplin, there were other slapstick comedians out there that made an impact on silent film history. Benny Hill was one of them. Do you guys remember The Benny Hill Show? That’s where he became known for being one of the best and funniest showmen ever, having reached a record audience of over 21 million people in 1971.
Did you know that before he became the jokester we all know and love, he served in the military? Hill served as an electrical and mechanical engineer for the British army. He was one of those who arrived in Normandy during WWII on September 1, 1944, although he’s quick to say he’d rather not talk about it.
A lot of people would likely be disappointed if American actor Clint Eastwood hadn’t actually served in the military. Eastwood is the man’s man, the very image of rugged toughness, machismo epitomized. As no-one will be surprised to learn, he served in the US Army after being drafted straight from high school, during the Korean War.
But his military experience was limited as a lifeguard; not exactly the role you’d expect apropos his image. Most of his popular war movies reference what he saw at the time; and he saw a lot, just not as part of the fighting unit.
The popular host of The Price is Right and Who’s Line is it Anyway? got a foretaste to his stand-up career while serving the military. He served his time in the US Marine Corps, where he spent six years as a corporal. And big as he is today, he still supports the troops by touring overseas with the USO like a true patriot.
He admits that, had he not gotten a big break in his comedic career, he’d probably still be in the armed forces up to this day; a path he would still have been happy with. He loved the camaraderie... and now you know why he’s always maintained that clean-cut hair.
John Coltrane’s first recording on the alto saxophone was made in July 1946 while he was a member of the U.S. Navy. Coltrane had enlisted in the Navy on August 6, 1945, one day after the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan. In late 1945, he was shipped to Pearl Harbor as an apprentice seaman. He joined the base swing band and became one of few servicemen in the Navy who served as musicians without having a musicians’ rating. Because the band had only white members, Coltrane played as a “guest performer.”