celebrities and the draft

whitehall

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There was a time when every able bodied male could count on being drafted whether it was peace time or during one of the many conflicts of the 20th century. It's interesting to see how popular icons of the 20th century served in the Military or avoided the draft. Everyone knows about John "Duke" Wayne I guess. Although he played war heroes he avoided the draft as the "sole supporter of his family" which he abandoned soon after his deferment. Frank Sinatra was a talented singer even though he was 4-F because of a perforated ear drum. Elvis was drafted and served honorably. Cassius Clay aka Mohamed Ali refused induction on religious grounds although he made a living beating men unconscious with his fists.
 

DGS49

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The times when "every able bodied male could count on being drafted" were quite rare, and at those times it was generally possible for most well-connected people (not just entertainers) to find a substitute for going out and being shot at. For example, during the height of the Vietnam draft, professional baseball players could get into relatively safe and cushy reserve units - somewhat like Bush43 did when he was of that age.

Counter-examples are also plentiful: Ted Williams, Warren Spahn, and many other standout major leaguers willingly gave up years of their careers to serve proudly during WWII and Korea. Jimmy Stewart. And on and on.

The Cassius Clay case is one that could fill a couple of interesting books. He claimed, in fact, to be a "Muslim minister," and a pacifist - both of which were preposterous, but he got away with it, didn't he? He was led around by the nose by a couple of Nation of Islam hacks, but he was both a dimbulb and amazingly gullible.

Little known was the change in the draft that allowed him to shift from 4-F (unsuitable) to 1-A.

The military service had an aptitude test that was scored on a percentile basis (the "AFQT"). For a long time, they would not draft anyone whose score was below 15%. At the height of the fighting in Vietnam, they lowered it to 6%. Cassius Clay's score was 7%, thus he became eligible. Draftees under this program got a unique service number starting with "US67..." They were the dumbest collection of misfits imaginable, and invariably were given jobs as security guards and mess hall workers. Clay's supporters claimed that he intentionally screwed up the test so that he wouldn't be drafted. Decide for yourself whether this is true or not. I think it was his "real" score.
 

Nosmo King

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This thread reminds me of a story I once heard about Bing Crosby. During WW II, the Hollywood studios were justifiably concerned about potential air raids from the Japanese Imperial navy.

Bing was a star at Paramount Studios. One reporter asked Bing about civil defense and the studio. Bing answered, "I plan to run over to RKO! They haven't had a hit in years!"
 

martybegan

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There was a time when every able bodied male could count on being drafted whether it was peace time or during one of the many conflicts of the 20th century. It's interesting to see how popular icons of the 20th century served in the Military or avoided the draft. Everyone knows about John "Duke" Wayne I guess. Although he played war heroes he avoided the draft as the "sole supporter of his family" which he abandoned soon after his deferment. Frank Sinatra was a talented singer even though he was 4-F because of a perforated ear drum. Elvis was drafted and served honorably. Cassius Clay aka Mohamed Ali refused induction on religious grounds although he made a living beating men unconscious with his fists.
John Wayne was 34 in 1941. My grandfather was drafted when he was 24 and was considered one of the "older" draftees.

America's entry into World War II resulted in a deluge of support for the war effort from all sectors of society, and Hollywood was no exception. Wayne was exempted from service due to his age (34 at the time of Pearl Harbor) and family status, classified as 3-A (family deferment). He repeatedly wrote John Ford saying he wanted to enlist, on one occasion enquiring whether he could get into Ford's military unit, but consistently kept postponing it until after "he finished just one or two pictures".[28] Wayne did not attempt to prevent his reclassification as 1-A (draft eligible), but Republic Studios was emphatically resistant to losing him; Herbert J. Yates, President of Republic, threatened Wayne with a lawsuit if he walked away from his contract[29] and Republic Pictures intervened in the Selective Service process, requesting Wayne's further deferment.[30]

Wayne toured U.S. bases and hospitals in the South Pacific for three months in 1943 and 1944.[31] By many accounts, Wayne's failure to serve in the military was the most painful experience of his life.[32] His widow later suggested that his patriotism in later decades sprang from guilt, writing: "He would become a 'superpatriot' for the rest of his life trying to atone for staying home."[33]
by 1945 he would be near 40, the deferrment being dropped had more to do with his age than anything.
 

martybegan

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The times when "every able bodied male could count on being drafted" were quite rare, and at those times it was generally possible for most well-connected people (not just entertainers) to find a substitute for going out and being shot at. For example, during the height of the Vietnam draft, professional baseball players could get into relatively safe and cushy reserve units - somewhat like Bush43 did when he was of that age.
Counter-examples are also plentiful: Ted Williams, Warren Spahn, and many other standout major leaguers willingly gave up years of their careers to serve proudly during WWII and Korea. Jimmy Stewart. And on and on.

The Cassius Clay case is one that could fill a couple of interesting books. He claimed, in fact, to be a "Muslim minister," and a pacifist - both of which were preposterous, but he got away with it, didn't he? He was led around by the nose by a couple of Nation of Islam hacks, but he was both a dimbulb and amazingly gullible.

Little known was the change in the draft that allowed him to shift from 4-F (unsuitable) to 1-A.

The military service had an aptitude test that was scored on a percentile basis (the "AFQT"). For a long time, they would not draft anyone whose score was below 15%. At the height of the fighting in Vietnam, they lowered it to 6%. Cassius Clay's score was 7%, thus he became eligible. Draftees under this program got a unique service number starting with "US67..." They were the dumbest collection of misfits imaginable, and invariably were given jobs as security guards and mess hall workers. Clay's supporters claimed that he intentionally screwed up the test so that he wouldn't be drafted. Decide for yourself whether this is true or not. I think it was his "real" score.
He still had to pilot a fighter plane, which even in peacetime isnt what I would call "safe".

Safer than combat? Yes, but there were plenty of reserve slots far safer than fighter pilot.
 

JakeStarkey

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Jimmy Stewart was but one year younger than Wayne and he had to fight the weight requirement to get into the Army Air Corps. He served more than honorably, flying dozens of official and unofficial missions over Germany in B24s.

Compare his movies pre and after the war, and you will see a darkness in character in his post war movies.
 

LTCArmyRet

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Hey, newsflash.......the draft for military service ended in 1973......40 years ago....and our military has been better off with out it........so, who gives a shit?
 

aplcr0331

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Hey, newsflash.......the draft for military service ended in 1973......40 years ago....and our military has been better off with out it........so, who gives a shit?
No kidding. We don't want/need a draft. We want 12 hard angry pipe-hitting motherfuckers (that want to serve). Not 50 fruit fed momma's-boys (forced to serve).

The draft goes against the very freedom's we fought for.
 

JakeStarkey

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The absence of a draft creates a volunteer force answerable to the President with almost no emotional, personal connection to the population at large. When 17,000 body bags came home in 1968, America got involved. The elimination of the draft also breaks the connection of the population at large to the sacrifices of the volunteers. A wonderful tool for neo-cons.
 
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martybegan

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The absence of a draft creates a volunteer force answerable to the President with almost no emotional, personal connection to the population at large. When 17,000 body bags came home in 1968, America got involved. The elimination of the draft also breaks the connection of the population at large to the sacrifices of the volunteers. A wonderful tool for neo-cons.
The draft is the exception to the rule when it comes to american military service, not the norm. We have had only a few draft periods, the civil war, WWI, WWII and the early cold war.

The rest of our history is full of volunteer service, either in the standing army or the state militas.
 

Meathead

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George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Stewart, Ted Williams, JFK,...

They were of the great generation. I doubt many celebrities would willingly enlist now, even in a similar situation.
 

LTCArmyRet

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The absence of a draft creates a volunteer force answerable to the President with almost no emotional, personal connection to the population at large. When 17,000 body bags came home in 1968, America got involved. The elimination of the draft also breaks the connection of the population at large to the sacrifices of the volunteers. A wonderful tool for neo-cons.
Geez....so where do you think these people serving come from if not the population at large? And just exactly what are calling a wonderful tool? the draft or all volunteer force?
 
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Two Thumbs

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The Marines made a habit out of "drafting" Hollywood producers and directors. They offered them these choices;

Front line with a rifle
or
State side making movies about how great Marines are

It worked
 

HenryBHough

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Next time around the draft must be for women only until a sufficient number have been conscripted to balance out all the generations of men who served before any attempt at equality. Hey, it works for CEO and Board-of-Directors quotas, doesn't it?
 

Politico

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George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Stewart, Ted Williams, JFK,...

They were of the great generation. I doubt many celebrities would willingly enlist now, even in a similar situation.
Well some don't need too. Example Tom Cruise. It's like being on deployment every time he makes a movie.
 

martybegan

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The Marines made a habit out of "drafting" Hollywood producers and directors. They offered them these choices;

Front line with a rifle
or
State side making movies about how great Marines are

It worked
Using talent where it will do the most good. One has to remember that a large number of people drafted never saw combat. They were stateside doing logistics, or guarding POW's, or even non drafted and working in the factories.

WWII was the last true great national effort, everyone (except for a small minority) pitched in.
 
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whitehall

whitehall

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The times when "every able bodied male could count on being drafted" were quite rare, and at those times it was generally possible for most well-connected people (not just entertainers) to find a substitute for going out and being shot at. For example, during the height of the Vietnam draft, professional baseball players could get into relatively safe and cushy reserve units - somewhat like Bush43 did when he was of that age.

Counter-examples are also plentiful: Ted Williams, Warren Spahn, and many other standout major leaguers willingly gave up years of their careers to serve proudly during WWII and Korea. Jimmy Stewart. And on and on.

The Cassius Clay case is one that could fill a couple of interesting books. He claimed, in fact, to be a "Muslim minister," and a pacifist - both of which were preposterous, but he got away with it, didn't he? He was led around by the nose by a couple of Nation of Islam hacks, but he was both a dimbulb and amazingly gullible.

Little known was the change in the draft that allowed him to shift from 4-F (unsuitable) to 1-A.

The military service had an aptitude test that was scored on a percentile basis (the "AFQT"). For a long time, they would not draft anyone whose score was below 15%. At the height of the fighting in Vietnam, they lowered it to 6%. Cassius Clay's score was 7%, thus he became eligible. Draftees under this program got a unique service number starting with "US67..." They were the dumbest collection of misfits imaginable, and invariably were given jobs as security guards and mess hall workers. Clay's supporters claimed that he intentionally screwed up the test so that he wouldn't be drafted. Decide for yourself whether this is true or not. I think it was his "real" score.
I never intended to diminish the legacy of the many, many examples of celebrities (mainly during WW2) who did their duty in the Military..
 
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whitehall

whitehall

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Elvis was drafted and Johnny Cash served in the Air Force but there isn't much information about the rock stars who made a lot of money protesting the Vietnam War. Arlo Guthrie, son of legendary communist Woodie Guthrie, apparently dodged the draft the same way as his father did.
 

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