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This Day in WWII 27 July 1940 - 1944


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VincoAd%20-%20July1943.jpgVinco Ad - July 1943

 

 

1940: German aircraft sink destroyers Codrington at Dover and Wren off the Suffolk coast.

 

1940: Japan announces its plans for the creation of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

 

Coleen%20Gray1.jpg*Coleen Gray

 

 

1941: London is severely bombed by the Luftwaffe, in its first air raid for 10 weeks.

 

1941: German troops liberate Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Guderian's Panzer Group 2 is removed from its subordination to von Kluge's 4th Army and put directly under the control of Army Group Centre. This is due to severe disagreements between the von Kluge and Guderian, which are disabling operations. Fierce battles rage 25 miles to the east of Smolensk.

 

Coleen%20Gray2.jpg Coleen Gray

 

 

1941: General Douglas MacArthur enjoys his first full day in command of all U.S. armed forces in the Far East. President Roosevelt later explains MacArthur's success; "Never underestimate a man who overestimates himself."

 

1942: German troops take Bataysk, and 6th Army launches an attack to destroy the soviet bridgehead west at Kalach.

 

NashKelvinatorAd-July1943.jpgNash-Kelvinator Ad - July 1943

 

 

1943: The liberation of Mussolini, the occupation of Rome and Italy, plus the capture of the Italian fleet is decided upon by the German High Command. Mussolini himself is transferred from Rome to the Island of Ponza. Heavy fighting continues in Sicily, leading Kesselring to order preparations for the evacuation of the island.

 

1944: U.S. troops breakthrough at St. Lo, forcing a general German withdrawal from Normandy toward the river Seine.

 

Coleen%20Gray3.jpgColeen Gray

 

 

1944: The Russians take Lvov, Dunaburg and Bialystok and secure a major bridgehead over the Magnuszew River. Further gains are also made in Baltic States.

 

1944: U.S. troops complete the liberation of Guam.

 

Coleen%20Gray4.jpgColeen Gray

 

 

*Born Doris Bernice Jensen on October 23, 1922, Gray was a farmer's daughter from Staplehurst, Nebraska. After graduating from high school, she studied dramatics at Hamline University in Minnesota, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree. She then decided to see America and traveled to California, stopping at La Jolla, where she worked as a waitress. After several weeks there, she moved to Los Angeles and enrolled in a drama school. She had several leading roles in the Los Angeles stage productions "Letters to Lucerne" and "Brief Music", which won her a 20th Century Fox contract in 1944. After initially playing a bit part in "State Fair" (1945), she became pregnant and briefly stopped working, only to return a year later as the love interest of John Wayne in "Red River" (1948), which was shot in 1946 but held for release until 1948, by which time she had already graduated to leading roles in films noir like "Kiss of Death" (1947) opposite Victor Mature and "Nightmare Alley" (1947) opposite Tyrone Power.

 

Gray appeared in two 1947 film noirs: "Kiss of Death", as ex-con Victor Mature's wife and Richard Widmark's target and "Nightmare Alley", as "Electra", Tyrone Power's carnival performer wife. In 1948, she appeared as John Wayne's love interest in the opening sequences of "Red River", but she was overshadowed by the men in Howard Hawks' western and from there, her career suffered. Fox ending her contract in 1950.

 

Gray worked steadily in the 1950s. She played a crooked nurse in "The Sleeping City" (1950) and appeared in "Kansas City Confidential" (1952), and the Stanley Kubrick film noir "The Killing" (1956), in which she plays a lonely woman desperate for love. Other films included "Father Is a Bachelor" (1950), the cult horror film "The Leech Woman" (1960), "The Phantom Planet" (1961), and "P.J." (1968).

 

She made only one film in the 70s, "The Late Liz" (1971). She also appeared in one in the 80s, the religious flick "Cry From the Mountain" (1986), produced by Billy Graham. She filmed "Forgotten Lady" (1977) in Houston, Texas and "Mother" (1978) with Patsy Ruth Miller. Mother had a premiere at Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

 

Coleen%20Gray5.jpgColeen Gray

 

 

In 1964, along with actors Victor Jory and Susan Seaforth, Gray testified before the United States Congress as part of "Project Prayer", arguing in favor of Constitutional amendment allowing school prayer.

 

From the 1950s, she guest starred in episodes of television series such as "Maverick", "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", "Mr. Ed", "Rawhide", "77 Sunset Strip", "Bonanza", and "The Deputy", "Have Gun Will Travel", "Perry Mason", "Family Affair", "Ironside" and "The Name of the Game", among dozens of others.

 

Gray married Rodney Amateau, a screenwriter, on August 10, 1945. They divorced on February 11, 1949. They had one daughter, Susan (born 1946). Her second husband was William Clymer Bidlack, an aviation executive. They were married from July 14, 1953 until his death in 1978. They have one child, a son named Bruce Robin Bidlack, born 1954.

 

She has been married to Fritz Zeiser since 1979. They are involved with the non-profit volunteer organization Prison Fellowship, founded in 1976 by Chuck Colson (a former prisoner himself for his involvement in the Watergate scandal), which assists the church in ministering to prisoners and their families, as well as their victims.

 

Gray died in her Bel Air, Los Angeles home on August 3, 2015, of natural causes. She was 92. She is buried at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, CA, beside her husband Fritz Zeiser, who predeceased her in March 2012.

 

USArmyAirforcesAd-July1944.jpgU.S. Army Air Force Ad - July 1944

 

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