America's First Female Casualty of WWII?

That's the claim for actress Carole Lombard, the blonde, wise-cracking wife of Clark Gable. She died the night of January 16, 1942 in an airplane crash near Las Vegas as she returned to LA from a War Bond rally, thus earning the title "first female casualty" of a war scarcely one month old. That may be disputed, but what's not is how well-liked Lombard was by her peers in Hollywood and her fans. People still make their way to Goodsprings, Nevada, to see the site where Lombard met her death. "Every single day of the week somebody will walk in from some part of the world and ask about the Carole Lombard story," said one resident. For more about this fascinating actress visit her excellent fan site and hear her thoughts on everything from sexism to Gable to paying taxes.


Pluto Goes to War

Like the other studios, Walt Disney was front and center in their war effort making training films for the military while continuing to entertain moviegoers. The cartoon Private Pluto released in 1943 is noteworthy for the first appearance of two beloved Disney characters: the chipmunks Chip and Dale.


Somewhere I'll Find You

This 1942 MGM film was Clark Gable's last before his enlistment. A standard-issue Hollywood love drama with the War as backdrop, Somewhere I'll Find You is notable for pairing Gable again with rising star Lana Turner. During the filming Gable's wife comic actress Carole Lombard died in an airplane crash. Gable was distraught. That August, still unhappy, he enlisted as an Air Force private. The cameras clicked as Gable shaved off his trademark mustache with the observation "I'll probably be cooler anyway." Gable's next picture would be after the War was over.

Saturday Morning Serial

Fiendish enemy plotters vs. Uncle Sam's heroes. During WWII Saturday morning matinees served up serials pitting Axis spies against our own good guys. This trailer was for 1942's Secret Code, a 15-part serial that featured a masked crusader known as the Black Commando. Action was key, but each Secret Code episode featured a segment showing kids how to encrypt a message. With the Web things are easier now. The new educational site from the National World War II Museum will code and send your own top secret messages to anyone you chose.


Play it Again Sam?

The Daily Mail's reporting that Madonna wants to remake the Bergman-Bogart 1942 classic Casablanca, setting the famous romance in modern-day Iraq. Should she tamper with a classic? Vote on it. We're running a poll at right.

Got Oomph?

Responding to a request, we researched the actress Ann Sheridan (1915-1967). The Texas-born Sheridan was celebrated in WWII as the "Oomph Girl" for her sizzling sex appeal. She's pretty, and a competent singer, as this clip from 1943's war fundraiser Thank Your Lucky Stars shows. But her huge allure remains a mystery, unlike Rita Hayworth who looks very modern. If anyone cares to elaborate on the Sheridan mystique, be our guest.


Confessions of a Nazi Spy

In 1939, two years before Pearl Harbor, Warner Brothers released Confessions of a Nazi Spy, which marked its first attempt to deal with the growing menace posed by Hitler. Previously, the studios had been reluctant to anger the lucrative German export market. Edward G. Robinson plays the an FBI agent tasked with breaking up a secret ring of German-American fascists. The film was received well in the U.S. but banned in Germany and Japan.