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This Day in WWII 19 May 1940 - 1944


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NashKelvinatorAd1-May1944.jpg Nash - Kelvinator Ad - May 1944

 

1940: General Gamelin is replaced by Maxime Weygand as Chief of the French General Staff and C-in-C of all theatres of operations. Marshal Henri Petain, the hero of the First World War, is appointed as Deputy Prime Minister. German troops of 20th Panzer Korps (Reinhardt) capture St. Quentin.

 

1940: The rapid German advance now poses a threat to the remaining RAF aircraft in Belgium. Evacuation of the remaining squadrons is carried out over the next two days, and fighter operations over the battlefield are carried out by Hurricanes and Spitfires based in southern England.

 

VivianBlaine1.jpg *Vivian Blaine

 

1941: Vichy France announces release and repatriation of 100,000 French POWs.

 

1941: In order to save life's and aircraft in the face of total Luftwaffe supremacy, the RAF evacuates all its aircraft and personnel from Crete to Egypt.

 

VivianBlaine2.jpg Vivian Blaine

 

1941: The British capture Fallujah in Iraq after fierce fighting. They also bomb Baghdad airport.

 

1941: Egyptian liner Zamzam reported sunk by Germans in the South Atlantic, passenger list included over 200 Americans.

 

VivianBlaine3.jpg Vivian Blaine

 

1942: The German 6th Army launches an offensive to the North of the Russian salient in order to link hands with Kleist's Panzers who have ripped a 50 mile gap through the Red Army's flank. With the Germans cutting off the Russian Barvenkovo offensive from their rear, the Russian cancel their offensive, do a fast U-turn and try to fight their way out of the pocket and back to safety. Unfortunately, the attack is badly organized and uncoordinated.

 

1942: A busy day for Soviet partisans, who blast railway tracks between Bryansk and Roslavl at five points. Hungarian security troops move in to fight the partisans and do so by killing everyone in the local villages. An irritated Josef Goebbels diaries "In consequence, we can hardly get any agricultural work done in such regions.

 

1943: In an address to the U.S. Congress, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill pledged his country's full support in the war against Japan.

 

VivianBlaine4.jpg Vivian Blaine

 

1944: Eden tells the House of Commons that 47 RAF officers were shot while 'escaping' from Stalag Luft III.

 

1944: British troops capture Aquino airfield in the Liri valley, to the South East of Rome.

 

1944: Wake is Island secured, during which 800 Japanese are killed.

 

VivianBlaine5.jpg Vivian Blaine

 

*Born Vivian Stapleton on November 21, 1921 in Newark, New Jersey, the cherry-blonde-haired Blaine appeared on local stages as early as 1934 and was a touring singer with dance bands starting in 1937. In 1942, her agent and soon-to-be husband Manny Franks signed her to a contract with Twentieth Century-Fox, and she relocated to Hollywood, sharing top billing with Laurel and Hardy in "Jitterbugs" (1943) and starring in "Greenwich Village" (1944), "Nob Hill" (1945), and "State Fair" (1945), among other films.

 

Following her Fox years, Blaine returned to the stage, making her Broadway debut in the Frank Loesser musical "Guys and Dolls" in 1950. Her character Adelaide has been engaged to inveterate gambler Nathan Detroit for 14 years, a condition which, according to her song "Adelaide's Lament", can foster physical illness as well as chronic heartbreak. After the show's 1200-performance run on Broadway, in which she starred opposite Sam Levene as Nathan Detroit and Robert Alda as fellow gambler Sky Masterson, she reprised the role in London's "West End" in 1953, and then on film in 1955, with Frank Sinatra playing Nathan and Marlon Brando in Sky's role.

 

Blaine also appeared on the Broadway stage in "A Hatful of Rain", "Say", "Darling", "Enter Laughing", "Company", and "Zorba", as well as participating in the touring companies of such musicals as "Gypsy". As she reached age 50, her television career took off, with guest roles on shows like "Fantasy Island" and "The Love Boat". On the 25th annual Tony Awards in 1971, she appeared as a guest performer and sang "Adelaide's Lament" from "Guys and Dolls", providing a visual recording of the performance for posterity.

 

VivianBlaine6.jpg Vivian Blaine

 

Blaine in her later years was managed by Rob Cipriano and L'Etoile Talent Agencies in New York City. Cipriano spent the early 1980s developing projects for Blaine including "Puppy Love" a TV sitcom with Jake LaMotta and Pat Cooper. She always shared in meeting that working with Cipriano reminded her working with her first husband Manny Franks.

 

Blaine's first marriage, to Franks, lasted from 1945 to 1956. She then married Milton Rackmil, president of Universal Studios and Decca Records, in 1959, and recorded several albums prior to their 1961 divorce. In 1973, Blaine married Stuart Clark. In 1983 she became the first celebrity to make public service announcements for AIDS-related causes. She made numerous appearances in support of the then fledgling AIDS-Project Los Angeles (APLA) and recorded her cabaret act which donated its royalties to the new group; this included the last recordings of her songs from "Guys and Dolls". She died of congestive heart failure on December 9, 1995 at age 74 in New York City, New York.

 

NashKelvinatorAd2-May1944.jpg Nash - Kelvinator Ad - May 1944

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