About Rex Harrison, cont'd.

At the outbreak of World War II, Rex's attempts to join up for active service were denied because of his damaged eyesight (from the childhood case of measles).  He was determined, however, and by 1942 was able to get into the RAF (Royal Air Force) where his job was guiding flight crews returning to England from bombing missions, discerning how and where they were to land safely.  "I had different means of getting our aircraft down when they were in distress or coming back shot-up, guiding them into different aerodromes. It was done mostly on radio-telephone, from underground War Rooms, control rooms for the coast.  I was in the Service for most of the War, 1942-45, and became so absorbed in what I was doing that I never missed acting once."

Rex's marriage to Collette had not been in good shape for some time, and they were divorced in 1942.  Two years earlier, Rex had met a young German actress by the name of Lilli Palmer.  "Lilli was an echantingly pretty and unusual girl, uncompromisingly honest and straightforward, who had already, at twenty-one, known great hardship when she had to leave her devoted family and promising acting career in Berlin and start again in England, because she was Jewish."  They were married in 1943, and in 1944 their son Carey was born - during one of the worst London air raids of the war.

Rex and Lilli Palmer in their first film together, The Rake's Progress (U.S. title, Notorious Gentleman), 1945

Following the end of the War, both Rex and Lilli received offers from Hollywood, U.S.A.  Rex accepted 20th Century Fox's offer, and Lilli said Yes to Warner Brothers.  They left England for America in November of 1945.


Rex and Lilli with their son, Carey

The Harrisons depart for Hollywood, 1945

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