George Brent, one of the many Irishmen who fought in the Easter Rising of 1916 and later rose to fame in Hollywood, was once known as the Michael Collins look-alike.
*In 2016, on the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, Dermot McEvoy revisited Brent's life, as well as other surprising actors in the fight for Irish independence, better known for other reasons. On Brent's birthday, we remember these extraordinary people:
One of the strange coincidences in Ireland's fight for freedom is that several key figures rose to prominence in Hollywood in the midst of a revolution.
arturo schilde, the younger brother of Academy Award winner Barry Fitzgerald ("Going My Way"), was a member of the Irish Volunteers. On Easter Monday, he took his rifle from under the stage at the Abbey Theater and went to fight in the GPO. He acted on O'Connell Street and Westmoreland Street through the Easter week, eventually surrendering with the rest of the GPO rebels on Moore Street.
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As an actor, he is best remembered as the mild-mannered Protestant minister the Reverend Mister Playfair in "The quiet man."
And not everyone who went to Hollywood sided with the rebels. In this famous photo ofpatrick pearseOn Easter Saturday, when he surrendered to General Lowe at Parnell Street, on the General's right is his son John Muir Lowe.
Ten years after the riots, Lowe, now known as John Loder, was plying his new trade in Hollywood. Perhaps his greatest Hollywood achievement is his marriage to mermaid Hedy Lamarr.
Hedy Lamarr e John Loder (Getty Images)
Ironically, Shields and Loder, who were just a stone's throw away on Moore Street on that historic Easter Saturday, appeared together 25 years later in John Ford's How Green Was My Valley.
Although never spoken about, an Irish rebel has had a remarkable career as both a revolutionary and a Hollywood matinee star. As George Brendan Nolan, he worked as a courier and stuntman onthe legendary michael collins. In Hollywood, renamed George Brent, he starred in several feature films and partnered with Bette Davis an incredible 11 times, including classics like Dark Victory and Jezebel, which earned Davis the Best Actress award.oscar.
George Brent and Bette Davis in The Big Lie (Getty Images)
She also had a hot off-screen affair with Davis that lasted over two years. And you could say Brent definitely "went to Hollywood," fitting the stereotype, marrying five times, including a brief relationship with Ann Sheridan, Warner Brothers' legendary "Oomph Girl" in the 1930s and 1940s.
Brent is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Professor Warren, the mild-mannered but cold-blooded killer, in the classic film The Spiral Staircase, opposite Dorothy McGuire as a terrified mute.
Several of Brent's biographies mention that he was part of one of the IRA's Active Duty Units (ASU). The ASU were squadrons made up ofIRAguide for a specific purpose. These were full-time positions for which members were paid a salary. For example,Michael Collins' famous squadron"The Twelve Apostles" was an ASU unit tasked with carrying out assassinations against British intelligence. Most ASUs were accused of harassing the British or doing things like stealing ammunition or cars.
I checked Irish army pensions and witness statements and found Gerald Nolan who was a member of an ASU. But he is not the same Nolan, as he was older than Brent and a veteran of the riots. Born in 1904, Brent was just 16 when he worked for Collins. He would have been too young to participate in 1916.
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But I came across an interesting piece written by Helena Mulkerns, granddaughter of Jimmy Mulkerns, the legendary "Rajah de Frongoch.' Published in the Irish Echo in 1997 'So what did you do in the war, Grandpa?' Helena recalls her grandfather's colorful life and his connection to Collins and Brent.
Mulkerns fought in Church Street/North King Street, one of the bloodiest places, during Easter week and ended up like many of the rebels in Frongoch POW camp in Wales, along with prominent future rebel leaders such as Richard Mulcahy. , Dick McKee and Collins. . Mulkerns became the frongoch "Rajah" for all the entertainment he put on in the camp to keep the spirits of the trapped rebels up.
Mulkern's work is recalled by Lyn Ebenezer in Fron-goch: And the Birth of the IRA: "At 8, 'Mahony' appeared 'in the flowing robes of an Oriental' and was described by Peadar O'Brien as 'The Rajah of Front -goch'. goch", a nickname that stuck. Prior to his arrest and internment, Mulkerns had led a group of traveling artists called Palmer and Rimlock. He was also a singer and comedian and wrote songs and poetry." (One of the songs he recorded under the pseudonym "The Rajah of Frongoch" is "Come Along and Join the British Army", a satirical ditty calling out Irish MPs John Redmond and John Dillon for their support of British efforts in the Great War).
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According to Jimmy Mulkern's application for an Irish Army pension in 1935, after leaving Frongoch in December 1916 he "received direct orders from M. Collins to work for National Aid". [The National Dependents' Relief and Volunteer Fund was the charity that Collins ran for needy families who had contributed to the organizationincreasing.] He also kept his job with the General Electric Company at 13 Trinity Street, off Dame Street. Here he kept several bicycles for Collins, as well as a change of clothes. This was one of Collins' favorite neighborhoods, within walking distance of several of his offices and the Wicklow Hotel where he stayed. Soon Mulkerns, the artist, would become a mentor to Hollywood actor Brent.
Helena Mulkerns wrote about Brent as Collins' courier, but also about his second job as Collins' stunt double. "In Dublin," he wrote, "his most convincing stunt double was the young actor George Brendan Nolan. Nolan was a tall, well-built young man who fitted Collins's official description of Fianna Éireann. For many months he played the Dangerous but successful role as Deputy for Ireland's Most Wanted Man He would go to a meeting or public event conspicuously as the "Big Fella" in expensive suits, and as the authorities were never quite sure how Collins looked, they followed him , leaving the true leader free to go about his business."
Then, suddenly, in 1920, Brent disappeared. "...Dublin Castle has issued a warrant for Nolan's arrest," Helena wrote, "charging him of treason, a crime punishable by execution in County Cork." When the Black and Tans invaded the sleepy town of Watergrasshill, just 12 miles away, to arrest Nolan, he was already on his way to New York and a new life. They lost their prey by just a few hours.
Jimmy Mulkerns was arrested shortly after Bloody Sunday in November 1920 and spent the rest of the Revolutionary War in prison. He lived a full life and is the father of Val Mulkerns, an acclaimed writer and RTE commentator, and the late Jim Mulkerns, a prominent Irish filmmaker. According to his granddaughter Helena, the next time Jimmy Mulkerns saw George was Brendan Nolan, it was at the movies, although he was no longer a 16-year-old boy running errands for Michael Collins. Now he was George Brent, Hollywood star.
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* Dermot McEvoy is the author of The 13th Apostle: A Romance of a Dublin Family by Michael Collins (Skyhorse Publishing). He can be reached at email@example.com. keepswww.dermotmcevoy.com. Follow Apostle 13not Facebook here.
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