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Turner Classic Movies
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Reel Heroes to Real Heroes & Real Heroes to Reel Heroes
Written by Richard and S. Joy Williams   

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Book Review By Diana Saenger  

Authors Richard and S. Joy Williams have certainly done their homework in their self-published book Reel Heroes to Real Heroes & Real Heroes to Reel Heroes, the story of movie stars who became war heroes and war heroes who became movie stars. Pages are well-written are each star/hero including Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope, Audie Murphy, James Arness and Lee Marvin.

INTRODUCTION  

Authors Richard and S. Joy Williams have certainly done their homework in their self-published book Reel Heroes to Real Heroes & Real Heroes to Reel Heroes, the story of movie stars who became war heroes and war heroes who became movie stars. Page after page is well-written about each star/hero including Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope, Audie Murphy, James Arness and Lee Marvin.

Although many classic fans have heard the stories of some of these brave men, the Williams' break the subjects down into the two groups. Among the "Reel Heroes to Real Heroes" section are autobiographies, tidbits about the star's dealings with particular studios, credible quotes, facts and mentions about the stars' films. This section includes features on Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, Wayne Morris, David Niven, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Eddie Albert, Louis Hayward, Sabu, Robert Montgomery, Bob Hope, Sterling Hayden and John Howard.

CONTENT

What I really found interesting and what assumingly took a great deal of research by the authors, are morsels about the stars that I've rarely read in other books. Talking about Clark Gable a mention is made that Andy Rooney once said Clark was the most resplendent officer he had ever seen while he was in the Air Force. There's a mention that David Niven had a twisted sense of humor whose jokes could be profoundly unfunny and not practical at all.

The second part of the book, Real Heroes to Reel Heroes, includes sections on Audie Murphy, Charles Durning, Ernest Borgnine, Russell Johnson, Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, James Arness, Richard Todd, Lee Marvin, Anthony Quayle and John Russell. Did you know Ernest Borgnine had more than movie experience on the TV series McHale's Navy? He served on the U-Boat the USS Sylph in the Navy and was hailed for his action there. Did you know that James Arness almost lost a leg due to an injury he suffered in the war? Did you know that Charles Durning barely escaped death when he broke free from the American POWs meant for slaughter by the Japanese after the Battle of the Bulge? These and other interesting details can be found in the pages of this book.

In their introduction the authors give a brief overview of what the war years were like and the differences between the Hollywood stars who went into the service and those war heroes who served and later entered the Hollywood lifestyle.

The only disappointing part of the book are the photos, which the publisher obviously never made sure were right the resolution or properly adjusted for color and clarity. Many appear to be taken from the Internet and used as is. They appear with stretched faces, blurred images, either so dark or so light you can't see them. Still, they offer mental glimpses that go with the fascinating features.

DATA ABOUT THE BOOK

  • Reel Heroes to Real Heroes  
  • Trafford Books
  • ISBN 141208647-7
  • 239 pages
  • $24.99
 



                       

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