Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Eric Portman, 1901-1969

Eric Portman terrorizes Leslie Howard in 49th Parallel (1941)

British actor Eric Portman was born on this day in 1901. He appeared in quite a few British movies, although I think his most famous might be that of the Nazi Lt. Hirth in 49th Parallel, where he tries to escape across the border into the still neutral United States.

I got the picture above from this interesting article that appeared in Britain's Guardian newspaper back in 2008, which detailed a few of the stories of war exploits of the Hollywood and British actors of a previous era. Some of the stories (Herbert Marshall's losing a leg in World War I) were ones I knew; others, such as Claude Rains and Lee Marvin, I didn't know so well. The mentions are all too brief, and this is a topic that would frankly make for some interesting blog posts, as there are a lot of Hollywood actors who served in active duty in World War II whose contributions aren't mentioned in the article due to space limitations.

As for women and the war effort, Myrna Loy took years out of her career to raise funds for war bonds; similar fundraising cost Carole Lombard her life in a plane crash. Women also went overseas to entertain the troops. And then there's Hedy Lamarr, who helped create a device that would better guide torpedos, except that the technology of the 1940s didn't make it feasible for use on ships. So, she too wound up hawking war bonds.

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