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The Few, The Proud…Bea Arthur? 15 Celebrity Marines

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When you think “amphibious warfare,” is the first person that comes to mind Ed McMahon? Can you picture Bozo the Clown with a buzz cut? Say hello to these (mostly) fine men and women you might not have known were Marines.

1. Agent Maxwell Smart

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Don Adams was best known for his portrayal of the bumbling Agent 86 in the classic sitcom Get Smart. However, his stint as a Marine wasn’t quite as fun: After being shot during WWII’s Battle of Guadalcanal, Adams contracted a case of blackwater fever (a severe strain of malaria with a 90 percent mortality rate). He made a full recovery, and spent the rest of his military career rectifying the bumbling of others … as a drill instructor.

2. Shaggy

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The dance-hall superstar also known as Orville Burrell joined the Marines because it was “the one job I could get.” He served in Desert Storm, and it was his stint in the Corps that gave him the inspiration for his breakout hit, 1991’s “Boom-bastic.” Which makes sense, considering his role as a Field Artillery Cannon Crewman.

3. Bea Arthur

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She may have been one of the few, but she was not so proud: Toward the end of her life, Bea actually denied having any experience in the military. The whole truth didn’t come out until 2010, a year after she passed away, when it was revealed that Private Frankel worked as a truck driver and later married a fellow private, Richard Arthur.

4. Bozo the Clown

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One of them, anyway. Bob Bell enlisted with the Marines in the early days of WWII, despite lacking vision in one eye (he’d skirted this by memorizing the eye chart). Bell was given a medical discharge within a year and never saw action. Bell had a bit more success being in a clown outfit than a military one: He portrayed Bozo on Chicago’s WGN from 1960 to 1984.

5 and 6. Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans

While better known for his persona as a Captain, Bob Keeshan only made it as far as Sergeant while in the Corps. As for his future co-star Mr. Green Jeans, Hugh “Lumpy” Brannum distinguished himself as an upright bassist in a Marine Corps band.

The two children’s show legends didn’t meet until after WWII.

7. Ed McMahon

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The world’s most famous sidekick grew up with a different ambition in mind: He had long dreamed of being a fighter pilot. He enlisted in the Marines during WWII, serving for 23 years, primarily as a reservist, before retiring as a Colonel in 1966.

8. Don Imus

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Before embarking on a long and occasionally controversial career in radio, the I-Man joined the Marines at the behest of his mother, who hoped it would keep him out of jail. He served from 1957-60, most notably as a bugler in the Marine Corps band.

9 and 10. The Everly Brothers

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The legendary rock duo enlisted in the Marines reserves in 1961 (they even went to basic training together). During their two-year stint with the Corps, two of their songs—“Crying in the Rain” and “That’s Old Fashioned”—cracked the Top 10, but they were unable to tour or otherwise capitalize on their success, due to their military commitments. They never cracked the Top 10 again.

11. Lee Harvey Oswald

The Smoking Gun

The Kennedy assassin joined the Corps in 1956, reportedly to follow in his brother’s footsteps, and to escape his overbearing mother. While there, he received lackluster grades in marksmanship, and was once court-martialed for accidentally shooting himself. Unfortunately, his aim improved by the time he got to Dallas.

12. C.J. Ramone

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When forced to replace founding bassist and legendary drug addict Dee Dee Ramone, The Ramones turned to an unlikely source: Christopher James Ward, a 22-year old Long Islander who was AWOL from the Marines at the time. Seeking a discharge from the Corps, he was first imprisoned for five weeks before serving a 7-year tour of duty with the seminal punk band.

13. Nate Dogg

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Best known for his guest appearances on pretty much every G-funk track known to man, the singer otherwise known as Nathaniel Hale had one life to give to his country. Which he did, dropping out of high school at age 16 for a three-year stint in the Corps.

14. Ed Wood Jr.

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The cross dresser and B-movie legend signed up for the Marines in 1942, two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He participated in the Battle of Guadalcanal, and later claimed he was terrified not of death, but of being injured … because he didn’t want anyone to know he was wearing a bra and panties underneath his military fatigues.

15. Drew Carey

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The comedian and Price Is Right host was a reservist in the 1980s.

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History
Civilian Researchers Discover Wreckage of the USS Indianapolis
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On July 30, 1945, the cruiser USS Indianapolis sank in the Pacific Ocean after it was torpedoed by the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-58. More than 70 years after the historic naval tragedy— which claimed the lives of nearly 900 crew—The New York Times reports that the ship’s mysterious final resting place has been found.

The discovery came courtesy of a team of civilian researchers, led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. His state-of-the-art research vessel, Petrel, located the wreck 18,000 feet below the Pacific’s surface, the team announced on Saturday, August 19.

"To be able to honor the brave men of the USS Indianapolis and their families through the discovery of a ship that played such a significant role in ending World War II is truly humbling,” Allen said in a statement. “As Americans, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the crew for their courage, persistence, and sacrifice in the face of horrendous circumstances."

Before it sank, the USS Indianapolis had just completed a top-secret mission to a naval base on the Northern Mariana island of Tinian. After delivering enriched uranium and components for Little Boy— the atomic bomb that the U.S. would drop on the Japanese city of Hiroshima about a week later—the cruiser forged ahead to Guam, and then to the Philippines. It was supposed to meet the battleship USS Idaho at Leyte Gulf in the Philippines to prepare to attack Japan.

The USS Indianapolis never made it to Leyte Gulf. Shortly after midnight on July 30, the Japanese submarine I-58 spotted the cruiser and fired six torpedoes. The USS Indianapolis—which was hit twice—sank within 12 minutes. Around 300 to 400 sailors and Marines were killed in the attack; the rest were stranded in the Pacific Ocean for several days.

Many of these survivors would ultimately lose their lives to sharks, a grisly scene that would be famously (albeit semi-accurately) recounted in the 1975 movie Jaws. Others died from drowning, heat stroke, thirst, burns and injuries, swallowing salt water or fuel oil, and suicide. More than 300 crew members were rescued after a bomber pilot accidently sighted the imperiled men while on a routine antisubmarine patrol.

The mass tragedy—which wouldn’t be announced to the public until August 15, 1945—sparked controversy: Charles B. McVay III, captain of the USS Indianapolis, was found guilty in a court martial of failing to steer the ship on a “zigzag” course to elude Japanese submarines. A Japanese submarine captain testified that this precautionary measure wouldn’t have thwarted the enemy, but McVay was charged nonetheless. The captain died by suicide in 1968, and wouldn’t be officially exonerated by the Navy until 2001.

For decades, the remains of the USS Indianapolis were lost to the ravages of time and nature. But in 2016, naval historian Richard Hulver found a historic ship log that mentioned a sighting of the USS Indianapolis. Allen’s search team used this information to locate the ship, which was west of where experts assumed it had gone down.

Allen’s crew took pictures of the wreckage, including a piece of its hull, and will search for more of the ship. They plan to keep the exact location of the USS Indianapolis a secret, however, to honor the sunken ship as a war grave.

"While our search for the rest of the wreckage will continue, I hope everyone connected to this historic ship will feel some measure of closure at this discovery so long in coming,” Allen said.

[h/t The New York Times]

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entertainment
The Time That Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Opened Competing Restaurants on the Sunset Strip
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From 1946 to 1956, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were show business supernovas. With an act that combined singing, slapstick, and spontaneous hijinks, the duo sold out nightclubs coast to coast, then went on to conquer radio, television, and film. Long before Elvis and The Beatles came along, Dean and Jerry  were rock stars of comedy.

Offstage, there was a cordial but cool friendship between the laidback Martin and the more neurotic Lewis. But as the pressures of their success increased, so did the tensions between them. Martin grew tired of playing the bland romantic straight man to Lewis’s manic monkey boy. And when Lewis started to grab more headlines and write himself bigger parts in their movies, Martin decided to quit the act. In an angry moment, he told Lewis that he was “nothing to me but a f**king dollar sign.”

After the split, both men went on with their individual careers, though it took Martin a few years before he regained his footing. One of his ventures during that transitional period was a Hollywood eatery called Dino’s Lodge.

DINO'S LODGE

In the summer of 1958, Martin and his business partner, Maury Samuels, bought a controlling interest in a restaurant called The Alpine Lodge, at 8524 Sunset Boulevard. They hired Dean’s brother Bill to manage the place, and renamed it Dino’s Lodge.

Outside they put up a large neon sign, a likeness of Dean’s face. The sign turned into a national symbol of hip and cool, thanks to appearances on TV shows like Dragnet, The Andy Griffith Show, and most prominently, in the opening credits of 77 Sunset Strip.

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Dino’s Lodge was popular from the get-go, serving home-style Italian food and steaks in an intimate, candlelit, wood-paneled room meant to replicate Martin’s own den. In the first year, Dean himself frequented the place, signing autographs and posing for photos with starstruck diners. He also occasionally brought along famous friends like Frank Sinatra and Shirley MacLaine. To promote the idea of the swingin’ lifestyle that Martin often sang about, Dino’s served “an early morning breakfast from 1 to 5 a.m.” The restaurant also had a lounge that featured singers, though only females. Dean apparently didn’t want any male vocalists encroaching on his turf.

But as with many a celebrity venture into the food business, this one soon turned sour. And most of that was due to the jealousy of Jerry Lewis.

JERRY'S

In late 1961, Lewis wooed Martin’s business partner Maury Samuels away, ponied up some $350,000, and opened his own copycat restaurant three blocks down Sunset. It was called Jerry’s. To make it clear he was out for top billing, Lewis had his own likeness rendered in neon, then mounted it on a revolving pole 100 feet above his restaurant. In contrast to Dino’s Italian-based menu, Jerry’s would serve “American and Hebrew viands.” Lewis didn’t stop there. Within a few months, he’d hired away Dino’s top two chefs, his maître d', and half his waitstaff.

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When Lewis was in Los Angeles, he made of point of table-hopping and schmoozing with his guests at his restaurant, and he occasionally brought in a few of his celebrity friends, like Peggy Lee and Steve McQueen.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

By the following year, a disgusted Dean Martin was fed up with the restaurant business and cut ties with Dino’s Lodge. Much to his aggravation, he lost a motion in court to have his likeness and name removed from the sign. So the new owners carried on as Dino’s Lodge, with the big neon head staring down on Sunset for another decade before the place finally went bust.

Jerry’s lost steam long before that, folding in the mid-1960s.

For the rest of the 1960s and the early 1970s, Martin and Lewis avoided each other. “Jerry’s trying hard to be a director,” Dean once told a reporter. “He couldn’t even direct traffic.”

In 1976, Frank Sinatra famously engineered an onstage reunion of the pair during The Jerry Lewis Telethon. While the audience roared their approval, Sinatra said, “I think it’s about time, don’t you?” And to Sinatra, Lewis said under his breath, “You son of a bitch.”

What followed was an awkward few moments of shtick between the former partners. Reportedly, Martin was drunk and Lewis was doped up on painkillers. There was a quick embrace, Martin sang with Sinatra, then blew Lewis a kiss and disappeared from his life for good. Martin died in 1995. Lewis passed away today, at the age of 91.

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