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Bandleader Glenn Miller inspired the World War II generation and boosted morale with many popular songs.
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Born in 1904 in Iowa, bandleader and musician Glenn Miller inspired the World War II generation. He was one of the most popular bandleaders in the late 1930s and early 1940s with such songs as "Moonlight Serenade" and "Tuxedo Junction." In 1942, Miller enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to lead the Army Air Force Band. He boosted the morale of the troops with his many popular songs before mysteriously disappearing on a flight from England to Paris,
France. Miller's original recordings continue to sell millions of copies. He died on December 15, 1944.
Born in Clarinda, Iowa, on March 1, 1904, bandleader and musician Glenn Miller started out playing the mandolin as a child, but quickly switched to the horn. His family moved several times in his youth—to Missouri, then to Nebraska, and finally to Colorado in 1918. In high school in Fort Morgan, Colorado, Miller played in the school band. He turned professional after graduating in 1921, becoming a member of Boyd Senter's orchestra.
In 1923, Miller quit the orchestra to go to college. He spent a year at the University of Colorado before dropping out to return to the music business. Moving to Los Angeles, California, Miller worked with Ben Pollack's band for a time. He then headed to New York City, where he freelanced as a trombonist and an arranger. In 1934, Miller became the musical director for Tommy Dorsey's band with brother Jimmy Dorsey. He then formed an American orchestra for British bandleader Ray Noble.
While he first recorded under his own name in 1935, Glenn Miller struggled for several years before establishing himself as a musician and bandleader. He formed his own orchestra and then reconfigured it several times until he found the winning combination. It was his band's gig at the famed Glen Island Casino in New Rochelle, New York, in 1939 that helped put Miller on the map. Their performances there were broadcast on the radio, giving them great public exposure.
Miller scored his first hit with "Wishing (Will Make It So)" that same year. He penned his even bigger successful single, "Moonlight Serenade," which climbed the charts in 1939 as well. With their distinctive swing jazz style, Miller and his orchestra became the country's top dance band. They dominated the music charts with such tracks as "In the Mood," "Tuxedo Junction" and "Pennsylvania 6-5000" in 1940.
In 1941, Miller made his first film, Sun Valley Serenade, with Sonja Henie. The film featured another one of his signature songs "Chattanooga Choo Choo." The following year, he appeared in Orchestra Wives (1942). That same year, Miller had to put his successful music career aside to serve his country. He was inducted into the U.S. Army, later transferring to the Army Air Force.
Miller headed up the U.S. Army Air Force Band, which gave numerous performances to entertain the troops during World War II. He was stationed in England in 1944 when he learned that his band was to go to Paris.
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Hollywood stars often get flack for their extravagant lifestyles, and sometimes they seem to be far removed from the rest of us. Not so for all celebrities, though—a surprising number of stars have taken on the big responsibility of serving in the United States Armed Forces. We know them as actors, athletes, musicians, and comedians, but these brave individuals have actually put their lives on the line for their country. Here's a look at celebrity enlistees.
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