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This Day in WWII 25 November 1939 - 1944


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FirestoneAd-Nov1942.jpg Firestone Ad - November 1942

1939: Germany reports four British ships sunk in the North Sea, but London denies the claim.

Debra%20Paget1.jpg *Debra Paget

1941: Hitler takes time out from monitoring the assault on Moscow to meet with Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in Berlin. While the Fuhrer refrains from giving an unqualified endorsement of Arab nationalist aims in the Middle East (he did not wish to upset Vichy France), the two agree on the need for the "destruction" of the "Jewish element."

1941: The Germans continue their advance against Moscow, throwing all their available strength in to the attack in a final attempt to capture the Russian capital.

Debra%20Paget2.jpg Debra Paget

1941: Rommel continues his attacks at the rear of the Eighth Army.

1941: U-331 (Kplt. Tiesenhausen) sinks the British battleship Barham in the Mediterranean.

Debra%20Paget3.jpg Debra Paget

1943: The US Navy Department announces that very few Japanese are left alive in the Gilbert Islands. On Tarawa, 1,090 Marines were killed and 2,193 wounded, with only 100 Japanese out of garrison of 4,836 being taken prisoner, with only 17 of them being soldiers. Sattelberg in New Guinea falls to the 9th Australian Division.

1943: A Destroyer action off Cape St. George results in the Japanese being routed to the north west of Bougainville and losing three destroyers out of five in the process.

ChryslerCorporationAd-Nov43.jpg Chrysler Ad - November 1943

1944: The French take Belfort.

1944: Himmler orders the destruction of the crematories at Auschwitz.

1944: The last Japanese resistance in Peleliu ends. 14,000 Japanese are killed or captured for 9,300 U.S. casualties.

Debra%20Paget4.jpg Debra Paget

*Paget was born on August 19, 1933 in Denver, Colorado as Debralee Griffin to show-business parents Frank H. and Margaret Griffin. She took the stage name "Paget" from two of her ancestors, Lord and Lady Paget of England. The family moved from Denver to Los Angeles in the 1930s to be close to the developing film industry. Her mother, actress Margaret Griffin, was determined that Debra and her siblings would also make their careers in show business. This ambition was realized: Paget's sisters Judith ("Teala Loring") and Lezlie ("Lisa Gaye"), and her brother Frank ("Ruell Shayne") all entered the business as either cast or crew.

Paget had her first professional job at age 8, and acquired some stage experience at 13 when she acted in a 1946 production of Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor". In the period 1950-1956 she also took part in six original radio plays for Family Theater. During those same years, she read parts in four episodes of Lux Radio Theater, sharing the microphone with such actors as Burt Lancaster, Tyrone Power, Cesar Romero, Ronald Colman, and Robert Stack. The latter set included dramatizations of two of her feature films.

Paget's first notable film role was as "Teena Riconti", girlfriend of the character played by Richard Conte, in "Cry of the City", a 1948 film noir directed by Robert Siodmak. Fresh out of high school in 1949, she acted in three other films before being signed by 20th Century-Fox. Her first vehicle under Fox was 1950's successful film, "Broken Arrow" with James Stewart. Paget played an Indian maiden, Sonseeahray ("Morningstar"), who gives up her life to save Stewart's character.

Debra%20Paget5.jpg Debra Paget

Paget again played an Indian Princess 'Appearing Day' in "White Feather" (1955) along with Robert Wagner and Jeffrey Hunter and later at MGM replaced Anne Bancroft as the Indian girl in "The Last Hunt" with Robert Taylor and Stewart Granger. In 1953 Paget, wearing a blonde wig, auditioned with Anita Ekberg, Irish McCalla and a fourth unknown actress for the starring role in "Sheena, Queen of the Jungle". She went on to starring roles in a variety of films, appearing along with such major stars as Richard Basehart, Michael Rennie, Cornel Wilde, Raymond Massey, Vincent Price, Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anthony Quinn, Edward G. Robinson, Elvis Presley, Joseph Cotten, Robert Wagner and Donald Crisp.

The Hollywood studio system dominated American feature film production in the first half of the 20th century. Under it, an actor would sign an exclusive contract to make films for a major studio, such as Fox. An actor would be slated for a specific number of films and could count on appearing with some of the top stars of the day in films produced with at least reasonable competence. Thus, actors just starting out could be sure of getting experience and exposure.

It was a system that worked well, at first, for Paget; she had beauty and talent, and her early Fox films did well, so the studio bolstered her film career. During the year after "Princess of the Nile" was released, the fan mail Paget received at 20th Century-Fox was topped only by that for Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable. However, by the mid-1950s, it was clear to Fox executives that she could not carry a film on her own.

Debra%20Paget6.jpg Debra Paget

But it was during this time that she appeared in what would become her signature role -- Lilia the water girl, in Cecil B. DeMille's monumental production of "The Ten Commandments" - Fox lent her to Paramount. Also in 1955, she broke the exclusivity clause of her contract; "White Feather" (1955) was not a Fox film. The studio dropped her contract and 1957's "The River's Edge" was the last film she made for Fox. During this period she tried out for the title role in the 1955 TV series "Sheena: Queen of the Jungle" but lost out to Irish McCalla.

After that, Paget's career began to decline. She was typically cast in "exotic" roles such as South Sea Island maidens or middle-eastern harem girls. She traveled to Germany in 1959 to join the cast of Fritz Lang's two-film adventure saga (called in America Journey to the Lost City) in a role that recalled her Shalimar/Taura of Princess of the Nile. Like the Egyptian epic, "Lost City" is remembered chiefly for her energetic dance scenes. She acted in a pair of films shot in Italy. Her final feature film was "The Haunted Palace", a 1963 horror film directed by Roger Corman for American International Pictures.

Paget had done television work, both comedy and drama, throughout her career. Her last performance in this medium came in a December 1965 episode of "Burke's Law". She retired from entertainment in 1965, after marrying a wealthy Chinese-American oil executive.

Paget turned to Christianity. She hosted her own show, "An Interlude with Debra Paget" on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), a Christian network, in the early 90s, and also was involved in "Praise the Lord". She comes out of retirement occasionally to appear on TBN as a guest. Currently, she lives in Houston, Texas, where her sisters Meg and Lezlie Gae (stage name: Lisa Gaye) also reside.

Debra%20Paget7.jpg Debra Paget

In 1987, the Motion Picture & Television Fund presented Paget with its Golden Boot Award. This award is presented to actors, writers, directors and stunt crew who "have contributed so much to the development and preservation of the western tradition in film and television."

In 1958, Paget was married for four months to actor and singer David Street; the marriage was annulled. In 1960, she married Budd Boetticher, a prominent director. They separated after just 22 days, and their divorce became official in 1961. (In his later years, Boetticher ascribed the failure of this marriage to the daunting difficulties he encountered when he went to Mexico to make a film about the life of his friend, legendary bullfighter Carlos Arruza.) Paget left the entertainment field in 1964 after marrying Louis C. Kung, a Chinese-American nephew of Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, who was successful in the oil industry. This third marriage produced a son, Greg. Kung and Paget divorced in 1980.

TRIVIA:

Measurements: 31 1/2-21 1/2-31 1/2 (her debut in 1952), 34-22-34 (1954 at age 21), 35 1/2-21 1/2-35 1/2 (measured in 1956), (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)

Height: 5' 2" (1.57 m)

ChryslerCorporationAd2-Nov43.jpg Chrysler Ad - November 1943

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