James E. Wise, Jr., Anne Collier Rehill. Stars in the Corps: Movie Actors in the United States Marines. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1999. x + 246 pp. $28.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-55750-949-9.
Reviewed by Charles C. Kolb (National Endowment for the Humanities) Published on H-PCAACA (November, 1999)
Hollywood Stars and eir Service in the Marine Corps
well-wrien, and fascinating volume to Wise and Rehill’s Stars in Blue:
Movie Actor’s in America’s Sea Services, the Naval Institute Press in 1997, which
published by was also as-
Like its predecessor, Stars in the Corps is a valu- able resource for scholars and aficionados of motion pic- ture films, military buffs and historians, and students of American popular culture. is volume is the equal to and in several ways surpasses its earlier companion and is itself a valuable reference. Structurally, the volume contains a preface and introduction, two parts compris- ing 28 short biographies, four appendices, and 101 black- and-white images. A very useful Bibliography lists 92 books and periodicals, thirteen reference works, twelve interviews or correspondence, five major official records or archives, and five other sources. A six-page double column index lists, in the main, proper nouns and is an appropriate finding aid.
e senior author, James Wise, a retired captain in
the U.S. Navy, served as a naval aviator and intelligence officer, and is the author of four other books concern- ing naval topics. His co-author, Anne Rehill, a mag- azine writer and editor, is a former acquisitions editor for the Naval Institute Press, and professes English at Penn State University. In his initial remarks, Wise re- minds us that the USMC was founded in 1775 and since that time has participated in 171 wars and expeditions (with 40,000 Marines killed and 189,000 wounded), and that since 1862, 301 Marines have been awarded the Con- gressional Medal of Honor. e authors also point out that many of the actors they interviewed were extremely proud of their Marine experience and that their service had benefited them in their professional lives – indeed Semper Fidelis (“always faithful”) to the Corps. Actor Hugh O’Brien and comedian Jonathan Winters are ex-
Some of the biographies are upbeat and heart warm- ing and others pensive and melancholic. Known to many film fans as actors rather than as Marines are actors Lee Marvin, Steve Mceen, Tyrone Power, and George C. Sco. Perhaps less well know are Sterling Hayden, Pe- ter Ortiz, Lee Powell, and Tad Van Brunt. ere were troubled youths (Hayden, Marvin, and Mceen); Yale scholars (Bradford Dillman and George Roy Hill); Hol- lywood and Broadway stars before their service (Hay- den, Louis Hayward, Powell, and Ty Power); OSS – Office of Strategic Services, predecessor of the CIA –operatives (Hayden and Ortiz); combat photographers (Hayward and Bill Lundigan); aviators (Jock Mahoney, Ed McMa- hon, and Power); and aircrew (Brian Keith). Several earned high-school equivalency diplomas in the Corps (Gene Hackman and Harvey Keitel), others went to OCS
Officer’s Candidate School – (Dillman, Dale Dye, Hay-
den, and Power), or took advantage of the GI Bill for act- ing school (Dillman, George Peppard, and Robert Ryan). On the negative side, military service resulted in several nervous breakdowns (Hayward and Jonathan Winters), alcoholism (Macdonald Carey, Powell, Power, and Van Brunt), or lung disease and death from chain smoking (Mceen and John Russell).
e biographies begin with six Marines who made
various contributions in Hollywood, then, in alphabetic order, 22 others - some well known to film or television devotees. e authors lead off with Dale Dye, an enlistee who served two tours of duty in Vietnam (Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts), became a Chief Warrant Offi- cer, aended OCS, and was a Captain in Beirut in 1982- 1983. Dye has wrien five military novels, and because of his expertise became a motion picture technical advi- sor for Oliver Stone, Brian DePalma, and Steven Spiel- berg, and also appeared in more than 15 films – notably Platoon (1986), e Last of the Mohicans, (1992), Forrest Gump (1994), Outbreak (1995), and Saving Private Ryan