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This Day in WWII 14 October 1939 - 1944


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NorthAmericanAviation-Oct1942.jpgNorth American Aviation Ad - October 1942

 

 

1939: U47 (Kapitanleutnant Prien) sinks HMS Royal Oak at anchor in Scapa Flow, killing 883. U47 then escapes undetected and returns home to Germany. The press in Germany declare Prien a hero.

 

1939: Polish submarine Orzel arrives in Britain having escaped internment in Estonia.

 

Ava%20Gardner1.jpg*Ava Gardner

 

1941: Army Group Centre wipes out the Russian pocket at Bryansk, but only capture about 50,000 prisoners. The rain and mud begins to impede the German advance, but German troops manage to capture Rzhev. Hitler orders that Moscow is to be enveloped, rather that assaulted directly. Russian troops fall back in the southern Ukraine as the Germans make for the port of Rostov.

 

Ava%20Gardner2.jpgAva Gardner

 

 

1942: Japanese bombard Henderson Field at night from warships then send troops ashore onto Guadalcanal in the morning as U.S. planes attack.

 

1942: In the northern part of Stalingrad, units of the 6th Army advance in bitter fighting and surround the heavily defended Tractor Factory, following a series of devastating attacks (over 3,000 sorties) by bombers of Luftflotte 4.

 

Ava%20Gardner3.jpgAva Gardner

 

 

1943: The US 8th Air Force delivers a heavy attack against the ball bearing plants at Schweinfurt. However, of the original force of 291 B-17's, 198 are either shot down or damaged beyond repair, while the Luftwaffe has lost only about 40 fighter planes.

 

1943: German forces evacuate the Zaporozhe bridgehead on the eastern bank of the Dnieper river.

 

NorthAmericanAviationAd-October1945.jpgNorth American Aviation Ad - October 1945

 

 

1943: Massive escape from Sobibor as Jews and Soviet POWs break out, with 300 making it safely into nearby woods. Of those 300, fifty will survive. Exterminations then cease at Sobibor, after over 250,000 deaths. All traces of the death camp are then removed and trees are planted.

 

1943: Jose P. Laurel, a distinguished pre-war Filipino statesman, takes office as "president" of the Philippines after being elected by a Japanese puppet "National Assembly" on Sept. 25. Surviving two assassination attempts by Filipino guerrillas, Laurel's government enjoyed little popularity. A general amnesty after the war spared him a treason trial.

 

Ava%20Gardner4.jpgAva Gardner

 

 

1944: The British liberate Athens and Piraeus and also land on Corfu.

 

1944: Russian troops and Yugoslav Partisans force their way in to Belgrade.

 

1944: German Field Marshal Rommel, suspected of complicity in the July 20th plot against Hitler, is visited at home by two of Hitler's staff and given the choice of public trial or suicide by poison. He chooses suicide and it is announced that he died of wounds suffered earlier from a strafing attack.

 

Ava%20Gardner5.jpgAva Gardner

 

 

*Ava Lavinia Gardner was born on December 24, 1922 in the small farming community of Grabtown also known as Brogden, Johnston County, North Carolina near Smithfield, North Carolina, the youngest of seven children (she had two brothers; Raymond and Melvin, and four sisters; Beatrice, Elsie Mae, Inez and Myra) of poor cotton and tobacco farmers; her mother, Mollie, was a Baptist of Scots-Irish and English descent, while her father, Jonas Bailey Gardner, was a Catholic of Irish American and American Indian (Tuscarora) descent. When the children were still young, the Gardners lost their property, forcing Jonas Gardner to work at a sawmill and Mollie to begin working as a cook and housekeeper at a dormitory for teachers at the nearby Brogden School.

 

When Gardner was 13 years old, the family decided to try their luck in a bigger town, Newport News, Virginia, where Mollie Gardner found work managing a boardinghouse for the city's many shipworkers. That job did not last long, and the family moved to the Rock Ridge suburb of Wilson, North Carolina, where Mollie Gardner ran another boarding house. Gardner's father died of bronchitis in 1938. Gardner and some of her siblings attended high school in Rock Ridge and she graduated from there in 1939. She then attended secretarial classes at Atlantic Christian College in Wilson for about a year.

Gardner, who by age 18 had become a stunning, green-eyed brunette, was visiting her sister Beatrice ("Bappie") in New York in 1941 when Beatrice's husband Larry Tarr, a professional photographer, offered to take her portrait. He was so pleased with the results that he displayed the finished product in the front window of his Tarr Photography Studio on Fifth Avenue.

 

Ava%20Gardner6.jpgAva Gardner

 

 

Her picture in the window of her brother-in-law's New York photo studio brought her to the attention of MGM, leading quickly to Hollywood and a film contract based strictly on her beauty. With zero acting experience, her first 17 film roles, 1942-5, were one-line bits or little better. After her first starring role in B-grade "Whistle Stop" (1946), MGM loaned her to Universal for her first outstanding film, "The Killers" (1946). Few of her best films were made at MGM which, keeping her under contract for 17 years, used her popularity to sell many mediocre films. Perhaps as a result, she never believed in her own acting ability, but her latent talent shone brightly when brought out by a superior director, as with John Ford in "Mogambo" (1953) and George Cukor in "Bhowani Junction" (1956). After 3 failed marriages (Mickey Rooney - 1942 to 1943, Artie Shaw - 1945 to 1946 and Frank Sinatra - 1951 to 1957), and she dated billionaire aviator Howard Hughes in the early to mid-1940s, a relationship that lasted into the 1950s.

 

Dissatisfaction with Hollywood life prompted Ava to move to Spain in 1955; most of her subsequent films were made abroad. She for a time dated Spanish bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguín. By this time, stardom had made the country girl a cosmopolitan, but she never overcame a deep insecurity about acting and life in the spotlight. Her last quality starring film role was in "The Night of the Iguana" (1964), her later work being (as she said) strictly "for the loot". In 1968, tax trouble in Spain prompted a move to London, where she spent her last 22 years in reasonable comfort. Her film career did not bring her great fulfillment, but her looks may have made it inevitable; many fans still consider her the most beautiful actress in Hollywood history.

 

Ava%20Gardner7.jpgAva Gardner

 

 

After a lifetime of smoking, Gardner suffered from emphysema, in addition to an autoimmune disorder (which may have been lupus). After two strokes in 1986, which left her partially paralyzed and bedridden, Frank Sinatra paid the cost of her ($50,000) medical expenses. Her last words (to her housekeeper Carmen), were, "I'm so tired", before she died of pneumonia on January 25, 1990 at the age of 67. After her death, one of Frank Sinatra's daughters found him slumped in his room, crying, and unable to speak. Gardner was not only the love of his life but also the inspiration for one of his most personal songs, "I'm a Fool to Want You", which Sinatra (who received a co-writing credit for the song) recorded twice, toward the end of his contract with Columbia Records and during his years on Capitol Records. ("It was Ava who taught him how to sing a torch song," Sinatra arranger Nelson Riddle was once quoted as saying. "She was the greatest love of his life, and he lost her.") Reportedly, a lone black limousine parked behind the crowd of 500 mourners at Ava's funeral. No one exited the vehicle, but it was assumed that the anonymous mourner was indeed Frank Sinatra. A floral arrangement at Gardner's graveside simply read: "With My Love, Francis".

 

TRIVIA:

Measurements: 36-23 1/2-37 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)

Height: 5' 6" (1.68 m)

Nicknames: Snowdrop, Angel

Her early education was sketchy; by 1945, she had read two books, the Bible and "Gone with the Wind." In later life, she more than made up for this lack by continual self-education.

During the first two years of her marriage to Frank Sinatra, he was at the lowest point of his career. She often had to lend him money so he could buy presents for his children. He was so broke by 1951 that Gardner had to pay for his plane ticket so that he could accompany her to Africa, where she was shooting "Mogambo" (1953). This all changed after he won his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in the 1953 film "From Here to Eternity" (1953).

When shooting "Earthquake" (1974), she surprised director Mark Robson by insisting that she do her own stuntwork, which included dodging blocks of concrete and heavy steel pipes.

 

ConsolidatedVulteeAd-October1945.jpgConsolidated Vultee Aircraft Ad - October 1945

 

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