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This Day in WWII 3 July 1940 - 1945

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BellTelephone-July1944.jpgBell Telephone Ad - July 1944

 

1940: 59 French warships that had sought refuge at Plymouth and Portsmouth are seized by the Royal Navy, but only after overcoming armed French resistance in some cases. The British Auxiliary AA ship Foyle Bank is sunk in German air attacks on the docks at Portland, Dorset. Due to heavy losses at the hands of the Luftwaffe the British suspend all future convoy from passing through the English Channel.

 

1940: Heavy units of the British Navy, code named Force H (Somerville), launch an attack (Operation Catapult) on the French fleet stationed at Mers-el-Kebir near Oran in Algeria, sinking the battleship Bretagne and heavily damaging the battleship Provence and the battlecruiser Dunkerque. 1,300 French sailors are killed and hundreds wounded.

 

Peggy%20Moran1.jpg *Peggy Moran

 

1941: For the first time since the beginning of the German attack on the Soviet Union, Stalin speaks to the Russian people over the radio. Demanding utmost resistance 'in our patriotic war against German Fascism' and says 'A grave threat hangs over our country.' He calls for a policy of scorched earth if the Red Army is forced to yield ground and the formation of 'people's partisan' groups behind enemy lines, as well as the summary execution of all cowards and shirkers. Army Group Centre eradicates the Bialystok pocket capturing 290,000 prisoners, 2,500 tanks, 1,500 guns in the process.

 

1942: Sevastopol, the Crimean capital, finally falls to Germans, along with 97,000 Soviet prisoners. The German and Romanian forces lost 24,000 men.

 

Peggy%20Moran2.jpg Peggy Moran

 

1942: 11 U-boats in the area begin to close in on convoy PQ-17 or place themselves along the route of the convoy. 6 U-boats make attack runs throughout the day, but have no success and either lose contact or fall behind the convoy.

 

1942: Due to exhaustion and lack of supplies, especially fuel for the armored divisions, Rommel orders his German and Italian forces to suspend all offensive operations before El Alamein and begin constructing defensive positions.

 

BellTelephone-July1945.jpg Bell Telephone Ad - July 1945

 

1943: The RAF carries out a heavy night raid on Cologne, causing considerable damage and killing hundreds of civilians.

 

1943: The opening of operation 'Citadel', the massive German offensive to encircle and destroy the Soviet forces in the Orel-Belgorod salient near Kursk, is delayed by one day because of heavy Soviet air attacks against the German deployment areas.

 

1943: US troops from Nassau Beach link up with the Australians who are under heavy attack at Mubo in New Guinea. Operation 'Cartwheel' continues with further advances in the Solomon's.

 

Peggy%20Moran3.jpg Peggy Moran

1944: The U.S. First Army opens a general offensive to break out of the hedgerow area of Normandy, France.

 

1944: The U.S. VIII Corps drives southwards to Coutances.

 

1944: French troops take Siena, only 30 miles South of Florence.

 

Peggy%20Moran5.jpg Peggy Moran

 

1944: Minsk, the capital of Byelorussia is captured by the Russians, trapping 100,000 Germans in a pocket to the East.

 

1944: Prime Minister Curtin returns to Australia after the Commonwealth conference in Britain.

 

1945: U.S. troops land at Balikpapan and take Sepinggan airfield on Borneo in the Pacific.

 

Peggy%20Moran6.jpg Peggy Moran

 

*Mary Jeanette Moran was born on October 23, 1918 in Clinton, Iowa. The daughter of Louise Moran, a dancer with the famous Denishawn Dancers, and the celebrated artist Earl Moran, whose paintings graced many a barracks wall during World War II. One of Earl's favorite models was Norma Jean Baker, who later changed her name to Marilyn Monroe. Peggy never modeled for Earl although a publicity still of the two of them was taken in Earl's atelier with Peggy posing.

 

From early childhood she was called by the nickname, "Peggy". Peggy's mother took six-year-old Peggy to the office of Derio, a famous psychic of the time. Louise wanted her fortune told. Derio did not have the time for them but, when he came out of his office into the hall, he passed Peggy and her mother. Looking down at Peggy, he caressed her cheek, and said, "Hmm... an actress". From that moment on, Peggy knew she was destined to act.

Peggy appeared in some plays at school. She attended Hollywood High, where she was squired by Mike Stokey, founder of the original TV show, "Stump the Stars" (1947). She also attended John Marshall High for a time. There, she appeared in every play or show she could.

 

Hollywood soon beckoned. Peggy went to the front door of Warner Brothers and told the startled guard that she wanted to get into the lot because she was going to be a movie star. The guard introduced her to a producer who introduced her to an agent, and her career was started. She acted in a few clunkers at the beginning, playing mostly bit parts and minor roles. Among them was _'Ernst Lubitch''s masterpiece, "Ninotchka" (1939), in which Peggy appeared in two scenes as a cute cigarette girl. Later, when the picture was released, it appeared in Clinton, Iowa's only movie theatre under the marquee: "Clinton's Own Peggy Moran starring in Ninotchka (1939), with Greta Garbo".

 

Peggy%20Moran4.jpg Unknown & Peggy Moran

 

Peggy moved from Warner Brothers to Universal Pictures in the late 1930s. In between, she played the female lead in a Gene Autry western entitled "Rhythm of the Saddle" (1938). Working now at Universal, she met the producer, Joe Pasternak, who introduced her to his director, Henry Koster. It was love at first sight. Henry cast her first in a Deanna Durbin film, "First Love" (1939). She played Deanna's schoolmate. In the meantime, Universal was keeping Peggy busy starring in many of their "B" films. During this time, also, she starred in her most famous movie, the one for which she would always be remembered, "The Mummy's Hand" (1940). Even up to her passing, she received four or five fan letters a week from people who wanted photos of her from that film though it was produced over sixty years ago. Henry had discovered two comedians, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, and their first movie, "One Night in the Tropics" (1940), starred Alan Young, Nancy Kelly, Robert Cummings, and Peggy Moran. Henry did not direct that one, or any other Abbott and Costello film, but he was responsible for their introduction to Hollywood, and Peggy was their first film character foil. Peggy was also tapped to star with Franchot Tone in "Trail of the Vigilantes" (1940), a Western that had all the other contract players from Universal whether they were cowboys or not, including Broderick Crawford and Mischa Auer.

 

A year or so later, Henry and Peggy were married. Conrad Veidt was best man in Las Vegas at the wedding. Peggy was soon pregnant with her first son. Just after that, she was hired by Republic Pictures to play female lead opposite Roy Rogers in "King of the Cowboys" (1943). Henry encouraged her to take the role even though she was pregnant. After that, whenever she saw the movie with her son, Nicolas Koster, she always told him, "You were there!".

That was Peggy's last film appearance except for some very recent films about stars of the early era. Peggy's life with Henry was the picture of marital bliss. They had two children, Nicolas, who also acted in several of Henry's films, and Peter, who works in Contra Costa County. Henry passed away in 1988. Peggy was quite active during these last fourteen years, playing billiards, dancing, entertaining, and traveling around the country to attend movie nostalgia conventions where she invariably amazed and impressed everyone from hardened veterans of movies to new fans, with her wit, charm, intelligence and beauty. She was also active in her church, the Camarillo Church of Religious Science, where she studied to become a practitioner. On 26 August 2002, she was being driven from a friend's apartment in Ventura back to her apartment in Woodland Hills when the driver lost control of the car on the freeway. She broke her neck, leg and several ribs as well as puncturing one of her lungs. Peggy never recovered from the terrible damage that accident caused. She finally left us on October 24th, one day after her 84th birthday.

 

BellTelephone2-July1945.jpg Bell Telephone Ad - July 1945

 

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