“Darling, we’ve all got to pack up some time or other. It isn’t when we pack up that matters; it’s what we do while we’re here.”*
Today is the 73rd anniversary of the sad day in 1943 when the plane in which Leslie Howard was riding was shot down by Nazis. He died along with the other sixteen people on the flight from Lisbon to Bristol when the camouflaged airliner came under attack by a schwarm of eight V/KG40 Ju 88C6 maritime fighters.
The son of a Hungarian Jew and an English mother, Leslie Howard was a shell-shocked British veteran of WWI when he took up acting after the war. In America he came to embody the perfect Englishman on stage and on screen. He was a good polo player as well.
A great patriot, he worked feverishly as a British propagandist and, some say, spy during WWII.
So you see, he died as heroically in real life as he did in many of his films and on stage. Here he is as Hamlet (onstage in New York, 1936). I bet he was pretty great.
Of course, it goes without saying that tonight we will toast LH and watch The Petrified Forest (1936).
But you could watch Pygmalion (1938)
or The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934)
or Outward Bound (1930)
or even Gone With the Wind (1939), a movie he kind of hated.
Whatever movie you choose, Leslie Howard will be terrific in it. I’m not biased or anything.
*R.J. Mitchell in Spitfire (1942)
Photos all from Google.