On This Day … 09 December [2022]


People (Births)

  • 1909 – Douglas Fairbanks Jr., American captain, actor, and producer (d. 2000).
  • 1916 – Kirk Douglas, American actor, singer, and producer (d. 2020).
  • 1941 – Beau Bridges, American actor, director, and producer.
  • 1952 – Michael Dorn, American actor and voice artist.

People (Deaths)

  • 2009 – Gene Barry, American actor (b. 1919).

Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Douglas Elton Fairbanks Jr., KBE, DSC (09 December 1909 to 07 May 2000) was an American actor, producer and decorated naval officer of World War II. He is best known for starring in such films as The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), Gunga Din (1939) and The Corsican Brothers (1941). He was the son of actor Douglas Fairbanks and was once married to Joan Crawford.

World War II

Fairbanks was commissioned as a reserve officer in the United States Navy when the United States entered World War II and was assigned to Lord Mountbatten’s Commando staff in the United Kingdom.

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him special envoy to South America. Fairbanks served on the cruiser USS Wichita during the disastrous Convoy PQ 17 operation.

Lieutenant Fairbanks was subsequently transferred to Virginia Beach where he came under the command of Admiral H. Kent Hewitt, who was preparing US naval forces for the invasion of North Africa. Fairbanks convinced Hewitt of the advantages of a military deception unit, then repeated the proposal at Hewitt’s behest to Admiral Ernest King, Chief of Naval Operations. King thereupon issued a secret letter on 05 March 1943, charging the Vice Chief of Naval Operations with the recruitment of 180 officers and 300 enlisted men for the Beach Jumper programme.

The Beach Jumpers’ mission would simulate amphibious landings with a very limited force. Operating dozens of kilometres from the actual landing beaches and utilising their deception equipment, the Beach Jumpers would lure the enemy into believing that theirs was the principal landing.

United States Navy Beach Jumpers saw their initial action in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. For the remainder of the war, the Beach Jumpers conducted their hazardous, shallow-water operations throughout the Mediterranean.

For his planning the diversion-deception operations and his part in the amphibious assault on Southern France, Lieutenant Commander Fairbanks was awarded the United States Navy’s Legion of Merit with bronze V (for valour), the Italian War Cross for Military Valour, the French Légion d’honneur and the Croix de Guerre with Palm, and the British Distinguished Service Cross.

Fairbanks was also awarded the Silver Star for valour displayed while serving on PT boats and in 1942 made an Officer of the National Order of the Southern Cross, conferred by the Brazilian government.

Among his other exploits was the sinking of the corvette UJ-6083 (formerly the Regia Marina Gabbiano-class Capriolo) while in command of a mixed division of American PT boats and British Insect-class gunboats plus assorted other small craft. Fairbanks commanded from HMS Aphis.

Fairbanks stayed in the US Naval Reserve after the war and ultimately retired as a captain in 1954.

In 1982, Fairbanks was awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit for his contribution to the relief of the needy in occupied Germany.

Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch; 09 December 1916 to 05 February 2020) was an American actor and filmmaker. After an impoverished childhood, he made his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck. Douglas soon developed into a leading box-office star throughout the 1950s, known for serious dramas, including westerns and war films. During his career, he appeared in more than 90 films and was known for his explosive acting style. He was named by the American Film Institute the 17th-greatest male star of Classic Hollywood cinema and was the highest-ranked living person on the list.

Douglas became an international star for his role as an unscrupulous boxing hero in Champion (1949), which brought him his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. His other early films include Out of the Past (1947), Young Man with a Horn (1950), playing opposite Lauren Bacall and Doris Day, Ace in the Hole (1951), and Detective Story (1951), for which he received a Golden Globe nomination. He received his second Oscar nomination for his dramatic role in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), opposite Lana Turner, and earned his third for portraying Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956), a role for which he won the Golden Globe for the Best Actor in a Drama. He also starred with James Mason in the adventure 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), a large box-office hit.

In September 1949, he established Bryna Productions, which began producing films as varied as Paths of Glory (1957) and Spartacus (1960). In those two films, he collaborated with the then-relatively unknown director Stanley Kubrick, taking lead roles in both films. Douglas has been praised for helping to break the Hollywood blacklist by having Dalton Trumbo write Spartacus with an official on-screen credit. He produced and starred in Lonely Are the Brave (1962) and Seven Days in May (1964), the latter opposite Burt Lancaster, with whom he made seven films. In 1963, he starred in the Broadway play One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a story that he purchased and later gave to his son Michael Douglas, who turned it into an Oscar-winning film. Douglas continued acting into the 1980s, appearing in such films as Saturn 3 (1980), The Man from Snowy River (1980), Tough Guys (1986), a reunion with Lancaster, and in the television version of Inherit the Wind (1988) plus in an episode of Touched by an Angel in 2002, for which he received his third nomination for an Emmy Award.

As an actor and philanthropist, Douglas received an Academy Honorary Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As an author, he wrote ten novels and memoirs. After barely surviving a helicopter crash in 1991 and then suffering a stroke in 1996, he focused on renewing his spiritual and religious life. He lived with his second wife (of 65 years), producer Anne Buydens, until his death in 2020. A centenarian, Douglas was one of the last surviving stars of the film industry’s Golden Age.

Beau Bridges

Lloyd Vernet “Beau” Bridges III (born 09 December 1941) is an American actor and director. He is a three-time Emmy, two-time Golden Globe and one-time Grammy Award winner, as well as a two-time Screen Actors Guild Award nominee. Bridges was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on 07 April 2003, at 7065 Hollywood Boulevard for his contributions to the television industry. He is the son of actor Lloyd Bridges and elder brother of fellow actor Jeff Bridges.

In 1959, he enlisted in the United States Coast Guard Reserve and served for eight years.

In January 2005, he was cast as Major General Hank Landry, the new commander of Stargate Command in Stargate SG-1. He also played the character in five episodes of the spin-off series Stargate Atlantis as well as the two direct to DVD films Stargate: The Ark of Truth (2008) and Stargate: Continuum (2008).

Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn (born 09 December 1952) is an American actor best known for his role as the Klingon Worf in the Star Trek franchise. He has appeared more times as a regular cast member than any other Star Trek actor in the franchise’s history, spanning five films and 277 television episodes.

Gene Barry

Gene Barry (born Eugene Klass, 14 June 1919 to 09 December 2009) was an American stage, screen, and television actor and singer. Barry is best remembered for his leading roles in the films The Atomic City (1952) and The War of The Worlds (1953) and for his portrayal of the title characters in the TV series Bat Masterson and Burke’s Law, among many roles.

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