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This Day in WWII 23 July 1940 - 1945


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shellresearchadjuly1943.jpg Shell Research Ad - July 1943

1940: Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Kingsley Wood announces third War Budget: income lax up 1d to 8s 6d in the £, beer up 1d a pint, purchase tax introduced for first time at 33°/o on luxuries, war expenditure for the next year estimated at £3,470,000,000. Secretary of War announces that Local Defense Volunteers to be called the Home Guard, more than 1,300,000 now enrolled.

1940: The Soviets officially absorbs Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia into the Soviet union, as per the Soviet-German non-aggression pact.

marybethhughes.jpg *Mary Beth Hughes

1941: Vital convoy reaches Malta after two-day battle; HMS Fearless is sunk.

1941: Brest-Litovsk is taken by German troops after a month-long siege.

marybethhughes4.jpg Mary Beth Hughes

1941: The Japanese extend their occupation across the whole of Indochina, as agreed with Vichy France.

1942: Fierce fighting continues along the El Alamein front.

marybethhughes5.jpg Mary Beth Hughes

1942: Hitler, dissatisfied by what he viewed as von Bocks tardiness since the beginning of the summer offensive, dismisses him from command of Army Group B, dissolves his command HQ and gives command of Army Group B to von Weichs. Hitler also issues Directive No. 45 for Operation 'Brunswick', the capture of the Caucasus. Army Group A, once having destroyed the enemy in the Rostov area, was to secure the entire eastern coastline of the Black Sea, simultaneously capturing Maikop and Grozny and the advance to Baku. Army Group B would continue east to seize Stalingrad and the advance down the Volga to Astrakhan. This meant that the two would advance on diverging axes and a large gap would develop between them. This was aggravated by the return of Hoth's 4th Panzer Army to Army Group B. Marshal Timoshenko is removed from command of the Stalingrad Front and replaced by General Gordov.

1942: Treblinka extermination camp opened in occupied Poland, east of Warsaw. The camp is fitted with two buildings containing 10 gas chambers, each holding 200 persons. Carbon monoxide gas is piped in from engines placed outside the chamber, but Zyklon-B will later be substituted. Bodies are burned in open pits.

marybethhughes6.jpg Mary Beth Hughes

1943: Soviet forces continue their advance into the Orel salient.

westinghouseadjuly1943.jpg Westinghouse Ad - July 1943

1944: "Deutsche Gruss", the Nazi form of salute, is introduced in to the Wehrmacht in the wake of the July 20th bomb plot against Adolf Hitler.

1944: The U.S. 34th Division takes Pisa.

1944: The Russians take Pskov, 150 miles to the South West of Leningrad on Estonian border. Heavy street fighting is reported from Lublin in Poland.

marybethhughes8.jpg Mary Beth Hughes

1945: The Allies launch a massive 36-hour air and sea bombardment of Kure naval base and other ports on the Japanese coast from Osaka to Nagoya, sinking and escort carrier and 12 other warships, as well as 84 cargo vessels sunk or damaged and over 200 planes destroyed or damaged.

marybethhughes2.jpg Mary Beth Hughes

*Born Mary Elizabeth Hughes in Alton, Illinois, Hughes' parents divorced in 1923. After the divorce, Hughes' mother, Mary Frances Hughes (née Lucas), moved with her only child to Washington, D.C. As a child, Hughes began acting in stage productions. While acting in a school play in the early 1930s, her performance caught the attention of Clifford Brown, a repertory theater company owner, who offered her a part in a touring production of Alice in Wonderland. While touring with another production in Brown's company, she was offered a contract from a talent scout with Gaumont-British Studios, but declined the offer to finish high school.

Upon graduating from high school in 1937, she returned to Brown's theater company where she continued to appear in various stage productions until the summer of 1938 when she relocated to Los Angeles with her mother to pursue a film career. After six months of failing to land movie roles, Hughes and her mother made plans to return to Washington, D.C. until Hughes met an agent, Wally Ross. Ross introduced Hughes to powerful William Morris agent Johnny Hyde. Hyde landed Hughes a contract with MGM, and she soon landed a small, uncredited role in the 1939 film Broadway Serenade.

After Broadway Serenade, Hughes appeared in other bit parts in films including The Women with Norma Shearer, Dancing Co-Ed with Lana Turner, and the Busby Berkeley film Fast and Furious.

In 1940, Hughes was offered a contract with 20th Century Fox. Later that year, she landed a role opposite John Barrymore in "The Great Profile", a role that she later noted as one of her favorites. In 1943, Fox did not renew her contract when it expired, and the following year, Hughes began appearing as a nightclub act and she soon signed a three-picture deal with Universal Pictures.

Throughout the mid-1940s and 1950s, Hughes appeared in film and television roles including the cult classic "I Accuse My Parents" (which was later parodied on Mystery Science Theater 3000), "Waterfront at Midnight", "The Devil's Henchman", "The Abbott and Costello Show", "Dragnet", and "Studio One".

marybethhughes7.jpg Mary Beth Hughes

In 1961, Hughes decided to retire from acting and began working as a receptionist in a plastic surgeon's office. While working as a receptionist, she also continued her appearances in nightclubs. The following year, she directed and starred in a Los Angeles production of "Pajama Tops". For the rest of the 1960s, she would go on to appear in television shows like "Rawhide" and "Dennis the Menace". In 1970, she landed a regular role on "The Red Skelton Show", appearing in 11 episodes before the show ended later that year. In 1976, she again retired from show business citing that she was "tired of auditioning for sexy grandma roles". Hughes' last onscreen appearances was in the 1976 film "Tanya".

In the late 1970s, Hughes opened a beauty parlor in Canoga Park, California. She closed the shop in the late 1980s and began working as a telemarketer until 1991 when she was laid off.

As a starlet under contract with MGM, Hughes went on studio appointed dates with several actors including Lew Ayres, Franchot Tone, Mickey Rooney, and James Stewart. While under contract to Fox, she also went prearranged dates with Milton Berle and George Montgomery.

In 1940, against Fox's wishes, Hughes began a relationship with actor Robert Stack. The romance lasted a year.

After her romance with Stack ended, Hughes married actor Ted North in 1943. The couple had one son, Donald, before divorcing in 1947. In 1948, she married singer/actor David Street. The marriage ended in 1956. In 1973, Hughes married her manager, Nicky Stewart, but that marriage also ended in divorce four years later.

Mary Beth Hughes died at the age of 75 on August 27, 1995 of natural causes in Los Angeles.


Height: 5' 4" (1.63 m)

Was a natural redhead, but is best known as a platinum blonde.

Was TV's first celebrity weather girl, "The Weather Miss," for Los Angeles station KTLA from 1953-1954.

shellaviationfuelsadjul.jpg Shell Aviation Fuels Ad - July 1944

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