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This Day in WWII 17 June 1940 - 1944


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desotoadjune1943.jpg DeSoto Ad - June 1943

1940: Liner Lancastria, with 3,000 British troops aboard, bombed and sunk at St. Nazaire, in North West France.

1940: German troops cross the Loire near Orleans. Petain orders French to stop fighting and sues for ‘honourable’ peace terms. Churchill broadcasts to the nation, saying the British will defend their island home and fight on until the curse of Hitler is removed. Unemployment in Britain falls 114,000 in May to new low of 767,000.

marycarlisle7.jpg *Mary Carlisle

1940: The USSR announces that Estonia and Latvia have agreed to the free passage of troops and to the formation of new governments.

1941: Rommel beats back the British attack at Sollum. ‘Operation Battleaxe’ fails with 1,000 British casualties and 100 tanks lost.

marycarlisle6.jpg Mary Carlisle

1942: The Eighth Army's withdrawal reaches the Egyptian frontier, leaving behind a garrison of some 30,000 troops at Tobruk, which is now again under siege.

1942: Yank a weekly magazine for the U.S. armed services, begins publication.

marycarlisle3.jpg Mary Carlisle

1943: The British battleships Valiant and Warspite are transferred from Scapa Flow to Oran and Alexandria in North Africa in preparation for Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily.

marycarlisle4.jpg Mary Carlisle

1944: General de Lattre de Tassigny’s Free French land on Elba and complete its capture in just two days.

1944: German troops evacuate the island of Elba off the west coast of Italy.

marycarlisle.jpg Mary Carlisle

*Mary Carlisle was born February 3, 1912, in Boston, Massachusetts. She was the standard prototype of the porcelain-pretty collegiate and starry-eyed romantic interest in a host of Depression-era films and although her name may not ring a bell to most, Mary Carlisle enjoyed a fairly solid decade in the cinematic limelight. The 5' 1", blue-eyed blonde was brought to Hollywood in 1916, at age 4, by her mother after her father passed away. The story goes that the attractive 14-year-old and her mother were having lunch at the Universal commissary when she was noticed by producer Carl Laemmle Jr. who immediately gave her a screen test. Her age was a hindering factor, however, and Mary instead completed her high school studies before moving into the acting arena. An uncle connected to MGM helped give the young hopeful her break into the movies as a singer/dancer a few years later.

Mary started out typically as an extra and bit player in such films as "Madam Satan" (1930), "The Great Lover" (1931) and in "Grand Hotel" (1932) in which she played a honeymooner. The glamorous, vibrant beauty's career was given a build-up as a "Wampas Baby Star" in 1933 and soon she began finding work in films playing stylish, well-mannered young co-eds. Although she performed in a number of lightweight pictures such as "Night Court" (1932) with Anita Page, "Murder in the Private Car" (1934) starring Charles Ruggles and "It's in the Air" (1935) toplining Jack Benny, she is perhaps best remembered as a breezy co-star to Bing Crosby in three of his earlier, lightweight 30s musicals: "College Humor" (1933), "Double or Nothing" (1937) and "Dr. Rhythm" (1938). In the last picture mentioned she is the lovely focus of his song "My Heart Is Taking Lessons". Her participation in weightier material such as "Kind Lady" (1935), was often overshadowed by her even weightier co-stars - in this case Basil Rathbone and Aline MacMahon.

Disappointed with the momentum of her career and her inability to extricate herself from the picture-pretty, paragon-of-virtue stereotype, Mary traveled and lived in to London for a time in the late 30s. Following her damsel-in-distress role in the horror opus "Dead Men Walk" (1943) with George Zucco and Dwight Frye, Mary retired from the screen prompted by her marriage to James Blakeley, a flying supervisor, the year before. The Beverly Hills couple had one son. Her husband, a former actor who also appeared in 30s musicals with Crosby as a dapper second lead (Two for Tonight (1935)), later became an important executive (producer, editor, etc) at Twentieth Century-Fox.

In later years Mary managed an Elizabeth Arden Salon in Beverly Hills. Recently receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, her husband, who wrote an autobiography entitled "Wide-Eyed in Babylon" in 1974, passed away in 2007.

fisherbodyadjune1944vic.jpg Fisher Body Ad - June 1944

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1940: The USSR announces that Estonia and Latvia have agreed to the free passage of troops and to the formation of new governments.

They agreed all right. Their choices were to passively allow the Soviet Union to absorb them or be absorbed through military action.

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