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From Soldier to Film Star

In times of war, when the country needed funds, classic stars promoted War Bonds. When the country needed able-bodied men for soldiers, some famous actors risked their lives defending their country. Actors such as Jimmy Stuart, Clark Gable and Elvis Presley signed up. In one case, Audie Murphy went to war as a Regular Joe and came back with a future in film.

Like most men, Audie Murphy was affected by the tragedy of Pearl Harbor. Barely turning seventeen, Murphy enlisted with the United States Army as a combat soldier. With his involvement of stopping over 200 enemy soldiers in their tracks, Murphy was a national hero and found himself on the cover of the July 16, 1945 issue of “Life” Magazine. For his military feat, Murphy received over thirty medals including the Congressional Medal of Honor. Actor James Cagney was very effected by the patriotism Audie Murphy showed and invited Murphy out to Hollywood. After meeting the famous actor, Murphy decided he was going to stay in California and pursue a career in film. Murphy would later describe his acting career as, “I'm working under a great handicap . . . no talent.”

After working in a few bit parts, it would be four years until Murphy would finally receive his first starring role as Danny Lester in “Bad Boy” (1949). In 1949, Murphy wrote a best-selling autobiography titled, “To Hell and Back.” In 1955, Murphy starred as himself in a film adaptation of his book of the same title. When asked for a comment on playing himself in the autobio-pic, Murphy joked, “I don’t think I’m the type. Maybe Tony Curtis would do.” The film would be Universal’s highest-grossing picture to date. Twenty years later, it would be surpassed with the release of “Jaws” (1975).

In 1969, Murphy would complete his last film, “A Time For Dying” where he played Jesse James. Two years later, Murphy would perish in a tragic airplane accident. Today, Murphy is considered the most decorated soldier of World War II and at Arlington Cemetery, Murphy’s gravesite is the second most visited next to former President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite.

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