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This Day in WWII 27 May 1940 - 1945


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mobilgasadmay1943.jpg Mobilgas Ad - May 1943

1940: British position in Flander’s worsens as King Leopold of Belgium surrenders the remnants of his Army.

1940: British sugar ration reduced from 12oz to 8oz.

1940: Japanese Premier Admiral Yonai forms ‘Inner Cabinet’ with ministers for Foreign Affairs, War and the Navy.

doloresdelrio7.jpg *Dolores del Río

1941: President Roosevelt declares unlimited national emergency; calls upon all Americans to resist Hitlerism.

1941: Proposal to introduce conscription in Northern Ireland finally scrapped.

1941: 400 miles west of Brest, the crippled Bismarck is relentlessly bombarded by dozens of British warships, including the battleships Rodney and King George V. After all her guns are silenced, she is sunk by torpedo's from the cruiser Dorsetshire. There are only 110 survivors out of a crew of 2,300.

doloresdelrio5.jpg Dolores del Río

1941: The convoy HX129, becomes the first to have continuous escort protection across the Atlantic.

1941: Germans paratroopers take Canea and with it the main British supply point of Suda Bay. This convinces Major General Freyberg VC, that the situation has gone against the British and that he must withdraw from Crete to save what he can.

1941: Having been reinforced by the 15th Panzer Division, Rommel retakes the Halfaya Pass on Egyptian border. The 10th Indian Division begins to advance north from Basra towards Baghdad.

doloresdelrio6.jpg Dolores del Río

1942: Luftwaffe bombers sink 5 ships of Convoy PQ-16 off the northern coast of Norway.

1942: The siege of Sevastopol rages on, becoming the only incident of a formal siege of a modern fortress being pushed through to final reduction. Sevastopol is the premier port on the Black Sea, and its defenses include three zones of trenches, pillboxes, and batteries. The strongest defenses lie in the middle zone, which includes the heights and the south bank of the Belbek River. Among these hills are "Fort Stalin" on the East and the massive western anchor of "Fort Maxim Gorki I," with its turret of twin 305 mm (12-inch) guns sweeping the length of the Belbek valley. 105,000 men defend this port. Against this the Germans and Romanians range 203,000 men and some of the most powerful siege artillery ever disposed by any army in World War II. Field Marshal Erich von Manstein aims 305 mm, 350 mm, and 420 mm howitzers at the Russians, along with two of the new, stubby "Karl" and "Thor" 600 mm mortars. Also on hand is the 800 mm (31.5-inch) "Big Dora" from Krupp, which has to be transported to position by 60 railway wagons. "Big Dora" is commanded by a major general and a colonel, protected by two flak regiments and periodically fed with a 10,500 lb. shell.

1942: Czech patriots shoot Reinhard Heydrich in the suburbs of Prague. His condition is described as critical.

doloresdelrio3.jpg Dolores del Río

1942: The Afrika Korps, having pushed around the British defenses, move northeast. They are engaged by elements of the British 1st and 7th Armored Divisions. Many tank losses were taken by both sides, although as the battle went on the British armor became increasingly scattered. The Italian Ariete Armored Division continued to meet stiff resistance from the Free French at Bir Hacheim, while the Italian Trieste Motorized Division further north, found itself grinding through minefields under heavy fire as a result of a navigation error.

1942: Japanese Combined Fleet lifts anchor and sets sail for Midway. On the same day, Admiral Nimitz, having been for warned of the impending Japanese attack against Midway by US intelligence who were intercepting Japanese naval signals, issues orders for Task Force 16 (Admiral Spruance) with the carriers Enterprise and Hornet, plus 6 cruisers, 11 destroyers, 2 tankers and 19 submarines, to sail for Midway the next day.

doloresdelrio2.jpg Dolores del Río

1943: Jean Moulin presides over the first-ever unified meeting of the French Resistance at 48 Rue de Four in Paris, where Charles de Gaulle is unanimously recognized as the movement's leader. A month later, Moulin is betrayed and arrested by the Gestapo, dying on his way to a concentration camp in Germany.

1943: The first British ‘liaison’ team is dropped into Yugoslavia to join up with Tito’s partisans.

doloresdelrio.jpg Dolores del Río

1944: Start of the monsoon season bogs down operations in Burma.

1944: 12,000 U.S. troops land on Biak in the Schouten Island Group, 350 miles West of Hollandia. MacArthur says, 'this marks the strategic end of the New Guinea campaign'.

doloresdelrio4.jpg Dolores del Río

1945: Chinese troops are now 25 miles North of Foochow and take Loyaun.

1945: The U.S. Sixth Army takes Santa Fe on Luzon.

doloresdelrio8.jpg Dolores del Río

*Born María de los Dolores Asúnsolo López-Negrete on August 3, 1905 to an aristocratic family in Durango, Mexico, Dolores del Rio was the first Mexican movie star with international appeal and had a meteoric career in 1920s Hollywood (an extraordinary accomplishment for an Hispanic female on those years). In the Mexican revolution of 1916, however, the family lost everything they had and emigrated to Mexico City, where Dolores became a socialite. In 1921 she married Jaime Del Río (also known as Jaime Martínez Del Río), a wealthy Mexican, and the two became friends with Hollywood producer/director Edwin Carewe. In a somewhat unorthodox manner, for those years, the couple moved to Hollywood where they expected to launch careers in the movie business (she as an actress, he as a screenwriter). Eventually they were divorced after Dolores made her first film, "Joanna" (1925). The film was a success and Dolores was hailed as a female Rudolph Valentino. Del Rio struggled against the "Mexicali Rose" image initially pitched to her by Hollywood executives. Despite her brief appearance, Carewe arranged for much publicity for the actress. In her second film "High Steppers" (1926), del Rio took the second female credit after Mary Astor. These films were not blockbusters, but helped increase del Río's popularity. In 1926 the artist Theodore Lukits painted her portrait. Titled "A Souvenir of Seville", it depicted the actress in the dress worn for her presentation to the Spanish Court. Also featured was her pet monkey. The large painting was displayed in the Carthay Circle Theatre for the premier of "The Loves of Carmen' (1927). It was reproduced in magazine and newspaper articles in the United States and Mexico.

In late 1926, director Raoul Walsh called del Río to give her a role in "What Price Glory" (1926). With the character of Charmaine, del Río achieved her desired success. Later, she was selected as one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars in 1926 (along with fellow newcomers Joan Crawford, Fay Wray, Janet Gaynor, and Mary Astor). She came to be admired as one of the most beautiful women on screen.

After she gained fame, Carewe produced "Resurrection" (1927), which was a box office hit. In 1927, Raoul Walsh called del Río for a second version of Carmen. The first was with Theda Bara in 1917. Walsh thought del Río to be the best interpreter of all the "Hollywoods Carmen" for his authentically Latin American version, "The Loves of Carmen" (1927). With Walsh she also filmed "The Red Dance" (1928).

In 1928, Dolores replaced the actress Renée Adorée in the MGM film "The Trail of '98", directed by Clarence Brown. Her career flourished until the end of the silent era. She had successful films such as "Ramona" (1928, for which she recorded the famous song "Ramona" with RCA Victor), and "Evangeline" (1929).

While del Río's career was flourishing, her marriage declined. Her husband moved to Germany, where he committed suicide from depression in 1929.

With the arrival of the talkies, del Río left her working relationship with Carewe. He seemed to take revenge by filming a new version of "Resurrection" with the alleged Dolores rival, Lupe Vélez. With the support of United Artists, del Rio left Carewe and debuted in the talkies with "The Bad One" in 1930.

In 1930, she married Cedric Gibbons, one of MGM's leading art directors and production designers, whom she met at a party organized by William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies at Hearst Castle. Her presence in Hollywood of the 30's is not just limited to the world of cinema, also the high society circles. The Gibbons-Del Río house in Hollywood was a frequent meeting place from personalities like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Errol Flynn, Lili Damita, Clark Gable and many more.

With the advent of talkies, she was relegated to exotic and unimportant roles. The Hollywood executives sought "do not talk too much at her movies", because of her Latin accent. She scored successes with "Bird of Paradise" (1932), directed by King Vidor. The film was produced by David O. Selznick that request the script to King Vidor and say: "I want Del Rio in a love story in the South Seas. I don't care the script, but in the end, Del Rio should be thrown into a volcano". The film scandalized audiences when she took a naked swim with Joel McCrea. This film was made before the Hays Code was enacted so nudity could be shown. Next she filmed "Flying Down to Rio" (1933), (the film that launched the careers of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) (1933); Madame Du Barry (1934) and Wonder Bar (1934).

Later, del Rio starred in the Busby Berkeley comedies "In Caliente" (1935) and "I Live for Love" (1935), but she refuses to participate in the film "Viva Villa!" (Fay Wray took her place). Dolores accused the film as a "Anti-Mexican movie".

In 1934, Dolores del Río was one of the victims of the "open season" of the "reds" in Hollywood. With James Cagney, Ramón Novarro and Lupe Vélez, she was accused of promoting communism in California. Twenty years later this would have consequences later in the career of the actress.

In the late thirties, del Río's career declined. With the support of Warner Bros. she made a series of police films (such as Lancer Spy in 1937 and International Settlement in 1938). But del Río's career in the later 1930s unfortunately suffered from too many exotic, two-dimensional roles designed with Hollywood's cliched ideas of ethnic minorities in mind. She was marked as "box office poison" by exhibitors, along with actresses such as Katharine Hepburn, Mae West, Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford.

Dolores returned to Mexico in 1942. Her Hollywood career was over, and a romance with Orson Welles--who later called her "the most exciting woman I've ever met"--caused her second divorce. Mexican director Emilio Fernández offered her the lead in his film "Flor silvestre" (1943), with a wholly unexpected result: at age 37, Dolores Del Río became the most famous movie star in her country, filming in Spanish for the first time. Her association with Fernández' team (cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, writer Mauricio Magdaleno and actor Pedro Armendáriz) was mainly responsible for creating what has been called the Golden Era of Mexican Cinema. With such pictures as "María Candelaria" (Xochimilco) (1944), "Las abandonadas" (1945) and "Bugambilia" (1945), Del Río became the prototypical Mexican beauty in foreign countries. Her career included film, theater and television. In her last years she received accolades because of her work for orphaned children. Her last film was "The Children of Sanchez" (1978).

livesaversadmay1944.jpg Life Savers Candy Ad - May 1944

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