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This Day in WWII 12 November 1939 - 1945 **1948

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TalonFastenersAd-Nov1942.jpgTalon Fasteners Ad - November 1942

 

1939: Negotiations between Russia and Finland over territorial dispute reach deadlock.

 

Taina%20Elg1.jpg *Taina Elg

 

1940: Colonel Burns again proposes a Canadian parachute force to the Chief of General Staff. The idea is shelved, and no action is taken.

 

1940: Germany prepares to enter war in Greece.

 

1940: Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov arrives in Berlin to discuss the mutual spheres of interest, especially regarding Finland. The talks show serious disagreements between the participants.

 

Taina%20Elg2.jpg Taina Elg

 

1942: The British 8th Army retakes Sollum and Bardia, while Panzer Army Afrika continues its withdrawal toward Tripoli.

 

Taina%20Elg3.jpg Taina Elg

 

1943: German troops invade Leros by sea and drop 500 paratroops.

 

1943: The Russians take Zhitomir in Ukraine. The Kiev bridgehead is now 95 miles deep and 150 miles wide.

 

RCA-Ad-Nov1943.jpg RCA Victor Ad - November 1943

 

1944: Speculation over Hitler mounts as Himmler reads his proclamation at the 'beer cellar putsch' celebrations.

 

1944: Heavy bombers of the RAF, after several previous attempts, succeed in sinking the battleship Tirpitz, the sister ship of the Bismarck, which is lying at anchor in a fjord near Tromso in Norway. Over 1,000 men of her crew trapped in her capsized hull are lost.

 

Taina%20Elg4.jpg Taina Elg in "Imitation General" (1958)

 

1944: U.S. fighters wipe out a Japanese convoy near Leyte, consisting of six destroyers, four transports and 8,000 troops.

 

1945: The institute of France awards Churchill a gold medal.

 

DotFastenersAd-Nov1943.jpg Dot Fasteners Ad - November 1943

 

**1948: Hikedi Tojo, Japanese prime minister, and seven others are sentenced to hang by an international tribunal.

 

Taina%20Elg5.jpg Taina Elg

*One of her country's most celebrated performers, Finnish actress and dancer Taina Elg was born on March 9, 1930 in Impilahti, in Southeastern Finland (located near the Finnish/Russian border). Her home later became a target during the Finnish-Soviet wars between 1939 and 1944 and when it became part of the Soviet Union, the family was forced to leave.

At a very young age, she began her training in ballet and acting. When the family moved to Helsinki, Taina continued with her dance and acting training and eventually was invited to join the Finnish National Ballet. She appeared in a few homeland movies as early as age 10 and found a couple of obscure film roles as a teenager, one in which she danced.

Taina's international reputation began to grow when she joined the famed Sadler's Wells ballet dance company (The Royal Ballet) in London and then the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, in Paris. A serious injury forced her to rethink her dancing career. Fortunately, she was discovered in London by American film producer Edwin H. Knopf and, on the heels of the spectacular Hollywood success fellow Scandinavian Anita Ekberg was having, MGM decided to sign Taina for a seven-year Hollywood contract.

She made her American debut for MGM with the secondary role of Elissa in the Lana Turner biblical costumer "The Prodigal" (1955). The following year MGM utilized her acting talents in their films "Diane" (1956), again starring Ms. Turner, and "Gaby" (1956) with Leslie Caron. For the afore-mentioned work she was honored with a Golden Globe award for female "foreign newcomer".

Taina%20Elg6.jpg Taina Elg with Gene Kelly, Mitzi Gaynor & Kay Kendall in "Les Girls" (1957)

Taina was subsequently handed her best all-around opportunity by MGM to display her sublime dancing, sexy figure and comedic acting skills when asked to portray Angèle Ducros in Cole Porter's musical "Les Girls" (1957) opposite Gene Kelly and alongside fellow dazzlers Mitzi Gaynor and Kay Kendall. Receiving her second consecutive Golden Globe (tying with Kendall) for "Best Actress" in a musical, "Les Girls" (1957) also won the Golden Globe for "Best Picture - Musical" and an Oscar for its costume design.

Taina%20Elg7.jpg Taina Elg in "Watusi" (1959)

More films came her way with "Imitation General" (1958) starring Glenn Ford and Red Buttons; the remake of the classic "The 39 Steps" (1959) opposite Kenneth More; the African adventure "Watusi" (1959) with George Montgomery and David Farrar and the war story "Mission of Danger" (1959), which was actually culled from a few TV episodes. None, however, could match the quality of "Les Girls" (1957).

Ms. Elg's Hollywood film career went into a steep decline at this juncture and she began focusing on TV projects, foreign films and especially theatre roles. Appearing on stage in such 1960s productions as "Redhead," "Silk Stockings," "Irma La Douce," "West Side Story," "The Sound of Music" and "There's a Girl in My Soup," she finally made her Broadway debut with the musical "Look to the Lilies" in 1970, which was based on the Oscar-winning film Lilies of the Field (1963).

She never found a strong footing again in films and has appeared in less than a handful since. Other than the 1961 Italian spectacle "Bondage Gladiator Sexy" (1961), she showed up in the musclebound Arnold Schwarzenegger's vehicle "Hercules in New York" (1969), "Liebestraum" (1991), and the Barbra Streisand feature "The Mirror Has Two Faces" (1996).

Her love for the stage was obvious and she remained as colorful than ever gracing such musicals as Sondheim's "A Little Night Music" (1973) in which she sang the haunting "Send in the Clowns." She also returned to Broadway in later years with the musicals "Where's Charley?", for which she earned a Tony nomination, "Nine" and "Cabaret". She appeared in the national tour of the musical "Titanic" in 1998-1999. On the non-musical stage she had strong roles in "Uncle Vanya," "I Hate Hamlet" "O Pioneers!" and, more recently, "Requiem for William" and Memory of a Summer" (both 2003).

In 2004, the actress received a special honor from her native Finland, when she was knight by the Order of the Lion of Finland. She is a naturalized American citizen.

The jazz guitarist Raoul Björkenheim is Taina's son from her first marriage (1953-1958) to Carl "Poku" Björkenheim. In 1985 she married to Rocco Caporale, an Italian educator and professor of sociology. The couple lived in New York City until his death in 2008. She still lives in New York City to this day. Every summer she travels back to Finland to visit with her son and her old friends from the days of the Finnish National Ballet.

RCA-Ad2-Nov1943.jpg RCA Victor Ad - November 1943

 

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