- 1928 – James Coburn, American actor (d. 2002).
- 1949 – Richard Gere, American actor and producer.
- 1973 – John Ford, American actor, director, producer, screenwriter, and US Navy Admiral (b. 1894).
James Harrison Coburn III (31 August 1928 to 18 November 2002) was an American film and television actor who was featured in more than 70 films, largely action roles, and made 100 television appearances during a 45-year career.
Coburn was a capable, rough-hewn leading man, whose toothy grin and lanky physique made him a perfect tough guy in numerous leading and supporting roles in westerns and action films, such as The Magnificent Seven, Hell Is for Heroes (1962); The Great Escape (1963); Charade, Our Man Flint, In Like Flint, The President’s Analyst, Hard Times, Duck, You Sucker!, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, and Cross of Iron (1977). In 1998, Coburn won an Academy Award for his supporting role as Glen Whitehouse in Affliction. In 2002, he received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries nomination for producing The Mists of Avalon.
During the New Hollywood era, he cultivated an image synonymous with “cool” and, with such contemporaries as Lee Marvin, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and Clint Eastwood, became one of the most prominent “tough guy” actors of his day.
Richard Tiffany Gere (born 31 August 1949) is an American actor. He began in films in the 1970s, playing a supporting role in Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) and a starring role in Days of Heaven (1978). He came to prominence with his role in the film American Gigolo (1980), which established him as a leading man and a sex symbol. He has starred in many films, including An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), The Cotton Club (1984), Pretty Woman (1990), Sommersby (1993), Primal Fear (1996), Runaway Bride (1999), I’m Not There (2007), Arbitrage (2012) and Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (2016). For portraying Billy Flynn in the musical Chicago (2002), he won a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award as part of the cast.
John Martin Feeney (01 February 1894 to 31 August 1973), known professionally as John Ford, was an American film director and naval officer. He is renowned both for Westerns such as Stagecoach (1939), The Searchers (1956), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and adaptations of classic 20th century American novels such as The Grapes of Wrath (1940). He was the recipient of six Academy Awards including a record four wins for Best Director.
In a career of more than 50 years, Ford directed more than 140 films (although most of his silent films are now lost) and he is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers of his generation. Ford’s work was held in high regard by his colleagues, with Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles and Ingmar Bergman among those who named him one of the greatest directors of all time.
Ford made frequent use of location shooting and wide shots, in which his characters were framed against a vast, harsh, and rugged natural terrain.
During World War II, Ford served as head of the photographic unit for the Office of Strategic Services and made documentaries for the Navy Department. He was commissioned as a commander in the United States Navy Reserve. He won two more Academy Awards during this time, one for the semi-documentary The Battle of Midway (1942), and one for the propaganda film December 7th: The Movie (1943). Ford filmed the Japanese attack on Midway from the power plant of Sand Island and was wounded in the left arm by a machine gun bullet.
Ford was also present on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He crossed the English Channel on the USS Plunkett (DD-431), which anchored off Omaha Beach at 0600. He observed the first wave land on the beach from the ship, landing on the beach himself later with a team of Coast Guard cameramen who filmed the battle from behind the beach obstacles, with Ford directing operations. The film was edited in London, but very little was released to the public. Ford explained in a 1964 interview that the US Government was “afraid to show so many American casualties on the screen”, adding that all of the D-Day film “still exists in color in storage in Anacostia near Washington, D.C.” Thirty years later, historian Stephen E. Ambrose reported that the Eisenhower Center had been unable to find the film. A film matching Ford’s description was unearthed by the US National Archives in 2014.
Ford eventually rose to become a top adviser to OSS head William Joseph Donovan. According to records released in 2008, Ford was cited by his superiors for bravery, taking a position to film one mission that was “an obvious and clear target”. He survived “continuous attack and was wounded” while he continued filming, one commendation in his file states. In 1945, Ford executed affidavits testifying to the integrity of films taken to document conditions at Nazi concentration camps.
His last wartime film was They Were Expendable (MGM, 1945), an account of America’s disastrous defeat in The Philippines, told from the viewpoint of a PT boat squadron and its commander. Ford created a part for the recovering Ward Bond, who needed money. Although he was seen throughout the movie, he never walked until they put in a part where he was shot in the leg. For the rest of the picture, he was able to use a crutch on the final march. Ford repeatedly declared that he disliked the film and had never watched it, complaining that he had been forced to make it, although it was strongly championed by filmmaker Lindsay Anderson. Released several months after the end of the war, it was among the year’s top 20 box-office draws, although Tag Gallagher notes that many critics have incorrectly claimed that it lost money.
After the war, Ford remained an officer in the United States Navy Reserve. He returned to active service during the Korean War, and was promoted to Rear Admiral the day he left service.