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This Day in WWII 10 November 1940 - 1943

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WestinghouseAd-Nov1942.jpgWestinghouse Ad - November 1942

 

1940: A torpedo bomber raid cripples the Italian fleet at Taranto, Italy.

 

Virginia%20O%60Brien1.jpg *Virginia O`Brien

 

1941: Churchill's Mansion House Speech: Tells Japan that war on US means war on Britain. The Japanese Foreign Minister says their aim is to make the US and UK retreat from East Asia.

 

Virginia%20O%60Brien2.jpg Virginia O`Brien

 

1942: The Americans capture Oran. Petain takes command of all Vichy forces. British successes in Egypt continue with the capture of Sidi Barrani.

 

1942: Admiral Jean Darlan orders French forces in North Africa to cease resistance to the Anglo-American forces.

 

USArmyAirCorpsAd-Nov1943.jpg US Army Air Corps Ad - November 1943

 

1942: President Roosevelt announces the breaking-off of diplomatic relations with Vichy France.

 

1943: The Red Army achieves a breakthrough near Gomel in Byelorussia.

 

Virginia%20O%60Brien3.jpg Virginia O`Brien

*Virginia Lee O'Brien was born on April 18, 1919 in Los Angeles, California. The daughter of the captain of detectives of the Los Angeles Police Department, Virginia O'Brien became interested in music and dance at an early age (it didn't hurt her career chances that her uncle was noted film director Lloyd Bacon).

O'Brien primarily performed in comedic roles during the height of her formal film career. This was in part due to her intentionally humorous singing style, which involved her singing in a deadpan manner, with no facial expressions and very little movement reportedly she stumbled upon this "gimmick" by accident during a stage show when she became virtually paralyzed with stage fright before singing a number in the Los Angeles stage production "Meet The People" (1939). The audience found the performance to be hilarious and she was soon hired to repeat this performance in a number of movies beginning in 1940 for which she gained the nicknames "Frozen Face" and "Miss Ice Glacier" among others. When she wasn't singing, her acting style was just as emotive as other actresses, and she didn't always employ her gimmick when singing as evidenced by her performance in the excerpt from Show Boat in the 1946 film "Till the Clouds Roll By". She made her Broadway debut in the short-lived musical "Keep Off The Grass" with Jimmy Durante, and recorded four of the songs for Columbia Records. She also recorded several sides for Decca Records, including two of her signature songs "The Wild, Wild West" and "Say We're Sweethearts Again".

Among the films she appeared in during her time at MGM were "The Big Store" (1941) with the Marx Brothers, "Ship Ahoy" (1942) with Eleanor Powell and Red Skelton, "Thousands Cheer" (1943) in which she endured ribbing from Mickey Rooney about her singing style, "Du Barry Was a Lady" (1943) with Skelton and Lucille Ball, the film version of "Meet the People" (1944) with Dick Powell, "Ziegfeld Follies" (1945) with Fred Astaire and Lucille Ball, "Till the Clouds Roll By" (1946) with June Allyson, and "The Harvey Girls" (1946) with Judy Garland. After appearing once again with Red Skelton in 1947's, "Merton of the Movies", and after a guest appearance the following year in the short Musical "Merry-Go-Round", O'Brien was suddenly dropped from her MGM film contract and she moved into television and back to live performances.

Virginia%20O%60Brien4.jpg Virginia O`Brien

She made two film appearances after this: "Francis in the Navy" (1955) with Donald O'Connor and the 1976 Walt Disney Studios comedy, "Gus" with Don Knotts. She was among the stars in a 1972 nostalgia revue entitled "The Big Show of 1928" with Allan Jones, Cass Daley, Beatrice Kay and Sally Rand, which toured the country and played New York's Madison Square Garden. In 1984 she created a cabaret act, "Virginia O'Brien Salutes the Great MGM Musicals," which was recorded at the Masquer's Club in Hollywood, and is currently available on CD and on iTunes. She performed several times at such clubs as Hollywood's Roosevelt Hotel Cinegrill, the Vine St. Bar and Grill and the Gardenia, as well as the Plush Room in San Francisco.

She continued to perform well into the 1990s with both her one-woman show and a production of "Show Boat" co-starring Alan Young and also headlined the "Palm Springs Follies". She remained in semi-retirement in a large home in Wrightwood, California, for most of her later years until her death of a heart attack at the Motion Picture Country Hospital in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California on January 16, 2001 (aged 81).

TRIVIA:

Height: 5' 6 1/2" (1.69 m)

Spouse:

Vern Evans (1958 - 1966) 1 child

Kirk Alyn (1942 - 1955) (divorced) 3 children

Harry B. White (contractor) (1968 - 1996)

Was mayor of Wrightwood, CA.

WestinghouseAd-Nov1943.jpg Westinghouse Ad - November 1943

 

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