Kauai and ‘Victory at Sea’

During World War II, thousands of American military personnel were stationed on Kauai, while hundreds of Kauai’s men and women served overseas in the armed forces and in the Merchant Marine of the United States, and as civilian volunteers both home and abroad.

The war service of Kauai’s citizens, and the service of millions of their fellow Americans was represented in the television series “Victory at Sea,” which documented World War II in general and naval warfare in particular.

“Victory at Sea,” originally broadcast by NBC during 1952-1953 in 26 half-hour shows, was conceived by Henry Salomon, who as a naval officer during the war discovered that large amounts of film had been compiled by the warring navies.

NBC approved Salomon’s proposal for “Victory at Sea” with Salomon as its producer in 1951, and Salomon and his team of newsreel veterans, with the full cooperation of the U. S. Navy, set to work collecting 60 million feet of war film that was edited to around 61,000 feet for broadcast.

Richard Rogers, of Rodgers and Hammerstein, composed the musical score for “Victory at Sea,” while Russell Bennett orchestrated Rodgers’ work and created additional music himself.

Actor and singer Leonard Graves was hired to narrate the series.

Born in Tennessee, Graves (1927-2008?) started off in radio during his early twenties, and in 1951 landed the role of the interpreter in the Broadway musical “The King and I,” starring Yul Brynner.

Graves also served as Brynner’s understudy and became the show’s star when Brynner left the production.

It was while performing in “The King and I” that he gained fame as the narrator of “Victory at Sea.”

He also appeared in a number of Hollywood movies and TV shows and continued with narrations, dubbing and voice-overs for other television shows and commercials.

Other information about Graves remains sketchy.

In the mid- to late-1950s, he married a Jewish ballerina, converted to Judaism, moved to Israel, and sang in and managed Israel’s fledgling opera.

Actress Joy Jamison, a friend of his, was informed that he died in 2008.
Hank Soboleski has been a resident of Kauai since the 1960s. Hank’s love of the island and its history has inspired him, in conjunction with The Garden Island Newspaper, to share the island’s history weekly. The collection of these articles can be found here: https://bit.ly/2IfbxL9 and here https://bit.ly/2STw9gi Hank can be reached at hssgms@gmail.com


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