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This Day in WWII 17 December 1939 - 1944 *1938


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EsterbrookPenAd-Dec1942.jpg Esterbrook Pen Ad - December 1942

1939: Unable to complete the repairs to the Admiral Graf Spee within 24 hours, the time limit stipulated by international law for foreign warships in neutral ports to leave and under strict orders by OKM not to go in to internment in Uruguay, Captain Langsdorff takes his ship outside the harbor of Montevideo and orders his crew to scuttle her, thus denying the British fleet that's converging on the River Plate the opportunity of destroying her in an unequal battle.

1939: Russian forces launch heavy attacks at Summa, Finland.

Anne%20Francis1.jpg **Anne Francis

1940: Home Office announces third German spy hanged at Pentonville Prison. Winchester housewife sentenced to death for spying. Rations increased temporarily in Britain for Christmas week.

1940: Fifty British Bomber Command Whitley and Hampden bombers attack German seaplane bases on the island of Sylt, part of the Frisian Islands.

Anne%20Francis2.jpg Anne Francis

1940: While pursuing the retreating Italians, the British forces in North Africa take Sollum, Fort Capuzzo and several other crucial Italian defensive positions. They also capture another 38,000 Italians along the way.

1940: Destroyer Acheron sunk by mine off Isle of Wight.

Anne%20Francis3.jpg Anne Francis

1941: After strong resistance, Rommel's forces retreat from the Gazala defensive area.

1941: Japanese troops make gains in northern Malaya and are now only 10 miles from Penang, as British and Commonwealth forces begin to fall back to the river Perak.

1941: Japanese forces make landings in northern Borneo.

Anne%20Francis4.jpg Anne Francis

1942: The British Parliament vows to avenge Nazi crimes against Jews, as Eden announces that the Germans 'are now carrying into effect Hitler's often repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe'. U.S. declares those crimes will be avenged.

1942: The Final US-Australian assault on Buna begins.

Anne%20Francis5.jpg Anne Francis

1943: The U.S. Fifth Army captures the village of San Pietro in central Italy after 10 days of heavy fighting.

1943: Roosevelt reveals a plot to assassinate him at Teheran.

1943: U.S. forces invade Japanese-held New Britain Island in New Guinea.

HamiltonWatchAd-Dec1942.jpg Hamilton Watch Ad - December 1942

1944: U.S. approves end to internment of Japanese Americans. U.S. Major General Henry C. Pratt issues Public Proclamation No. 21, declaring that Japanese American "evacuees" from the West Coast could return to their homes effective January 2, 1945.

1944: After some deep penetrations into the lines of the unprepared American forces, the Germans make only slow progress due to limited roads as well as difficult terrain and weather conditions in the Ardennes, not reaching any assigned first day objectives. The allies rush reinforcements to the Ardennes.

Anne%20Francis6.jpg Anne Francis

1944: The German Army renews the attack on the Belgian town of Losheimergraben against the defending Americans during the Battle of the Bulge.

Malmedy-1944.jpg

1944: The bodies of 81 American soldiers from Battery B of the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion, killed by Waffen SS troops, Dec. 17, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge near the Belgian town of Malmedy. (MORE INFO)

1944: U.S. troops capture San Jose airbase on Mindoro.

Anne%20Francis7.jpg Anne Francis

1944: The U.S. Army Air Force begins preparations for dropping the Atomic Bomb by establishing the 509th Composite Group to operate the B-29s that will deliver the bomb.

*1938: Italy declares the 1935 pact with France invalid, because ratifications had not been exchanged. France denies the argument.

Anne%20Francis8.jpg Anne Francis

**One tall, cool drink of water, the beautiful, curvaceous, mole-lipped Anne Francis got into show business quite early in life. She was born Anne Lloyd Francis on September 16, 1930 in Ossining, New York (which is near Sing Sing prison), the only child of Phillip, a businessman/salesman, and Edith Francis. A natural little beauty, she became a John Robert Powers model at age 6(!) and swiftly moved into radio soap work and TV in New York. By 11, she was making her stage debut on Broadway alongside Gertrude Lawrence in the star's 1941 hit vehicle "Lady in the Dark". All the while portraying Ms. Lawrence's character as a child, Anne was attending New York's Professional Children's School.

MGM put the lovely, blue-eyed, wavy-blonde hopeful under contract during the post-war WWII years. While Anne appeared in a couple of obscure bobbysoxer bits, nothing much came of it. Frustrated at the standard cheesecake treatment she was receiving in Hollywood, the serious-minded actress trekked back to New York where she appeared to good notice on TV's "Golden Age" drama and found some summer stock work on the sly ("My Sister Eileen").

Anne%20Francis9.jpg Anne Francis

Discovered and signed by 20th Century-Fox's Darryl F. Zanuck after playing a seductive juvenile delinquent in the low budget film "So Young So Bad" (1950), Anne soon starred in a number of promising ingenue roles, including "Elopement" (1951), "Lydia Bailey" (1952) and "Dreamboat" (1952) but she still couldn't seem to rise above the starlet typecast. At MGM, she found promising leading lady work in a few noteworthy 1950s classics: "Bad Day at Black Rock" (1955); "Blackboard Jungle" (1955); and the sci-fi classic "Forbidden Planet" (1956). While co-starring with Hollywood's hunkiest best, including Paul Newman, Dale Robertson, Glenn Ford and Cornel Wilde, her roles still emphasized more her glam appeal than her acting capabilities.

Anne%20Francis10.jpg Anne Francis in "Forbidden Planet" (1956)

In the 1960s, Anne began refocusing strongly on the smaller screen, finding a comfortable niche on 60s series TV. She found a most appreciative audience in two classic "Twilight Zone" (1959) episodes and then as an Emma Peel-like detective in the short-lived cult series "Honey West" (1965), where she combined glamour and a sexy veneer with judo throws and karate chops. She returned to films only on occasion, the most controversial being "Funny Girl" (1968), in which her co-starring role as Barbra Streisand's pal was heartlessly reduced to a glorified cameo. Her gratuitous co-star parts opposite some of filmdom's top comics' in their lesser vehicles -- Jerry Lewis' "Hook, Line and Sinker" (1969) and Don Knotts' "The Love God?" (1969) -- did little to show off her talents and upgrade her career.

Anne%20Francis11.jpg Anne Francis as Detective "Honey West" (1965)

For the next couple of decades, Anne remained a steadfast presence in a slew of TV-movies ("The Intruders" (1970) (TV), "Haunts of the Very Rich" (1972) (TV), "Little Mo" (1978) (TV), "A Masterpiece of Murder" (1986) (TV)), usually providing colorful, wisecracking support. For such a promising start and with such amazing stamina and longevity, the girl with the sexy mole probably deserved better. Yet, her output, especially in her character years, has been strong and varied, and her realistic take on the whole Hollywood industry quite balanced.

Twice divorced with one daughter from her second marriage, Anne adopted (as a single mother) a girl back in 1970 in California. Anne has long been involved with a metaphysical-based church, channeling her own thoughts and feelings into the inspirational 1982 book "Voices from Home: An Inner Journey". Lately, she has spent more time off-camera and involved in such charitable programs as "Direct Relief", "Angel View" and the "Desert AIDS Project", among others. Diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007, the actress sadly died on January 2, 2011, from complications of pancreatic cancer in a Santa Barbara (California) retirement home.

TRIVIA:

Measurements: 34-22-35 (in 1953), 36-24-35 1/2 (shooting "Honey West" (1965) at age 35), (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine).

Height: 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Spouse:

Dr. Robert Abeloff (31 January 1960 - 1964) (divorced) 1 child

Bamlet Lawrence Price Jr. (17 May 1952 - 6 April 1955) (divorced)

Diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007, despite having quit smoking nearly twenty years earlier. She immediately underwent chemotherapy and had surgery to remove the upper lobe of her right lung.

Not only participated in radio programs early in her career, but she also regularly appeared on one of New York's first television stations before World War II. The CBS-owned station used television cameras from the Farnsworth Corporation because RCA, the only other U.S. manufacturer of television equipment, was affiliated with NBC. Her participation included an early experiment with color television.

CurtisWrightAd-Dec1944.jpg Curtiss Wright Ad - December 1944

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