Yogi Berra and J.D. Salinger among famous heroes of D-Day
By Billy Heller
June 6, 2014 | 2:58pm
Yogi Berra and J.D. Salinger are among the most notable names who served during D-Day. Photo: Getty Images (left); AP (right)
Looking back at D-Day on Friday’s 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion, many of us know the event that changed the course of WWII only through such great films as “The Longest Day.” But a number of Hollywood stars — as well as stars in other fields — were actually part of the forces that stormed the beaches of Normandy.
Here are a few of the heroes:
Pfc. Charles Durning, US Army
Though Durning played a Nazi in “To Be or Not to Be” (left), he served his country proud on D-Day.Photo: 20th Century Fox/Everett Collection (left); Getty Images (right)
Character actor Charles Durning — Jessica Lange’s besotted father in “Tootsie” — enlisted in the Army and was among the first wave of American soldiers to land on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He was the only member of his unit to survive a machine gun ambush. Later on, in Belgium, he was stabbed by a German soldier whom he killed with a rock.
Durning then fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was captured with his company — he was among the few to escape the German massacre of the prisoners. He earned three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star for his service. Ironically, he netted an Oscar nomination for playing a Nazi officer in the 1983 remake of “To Be or Not to Be,” with Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft.