Charles “Jerry” Juroe is not the type to drop names of the hundreds of celebrities with whom he either worked with or simply rubbed elbows with for a few minutes.
The heck he’s not. He is a self-confessed, equal opportunity name-dropper.
If he had the yen, he could share a multitude of memories about business and pleasure connected to such luminaries as Bob Hope, the Beatles, Princess Diana, Muhammad Ali, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Gregory Peck, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Alfred Hitchcock, Marlon Brando, Bing Crosby, Ginger Rogers, Alan Ladd, Ronald Reagan, Sophia Loren, Peter Sellers, Paul Newman, Lee Marvin, Christopher Lee, Al Pacino and Patrick Swayze.
You get the picture.
This past weekend, however, was not an occasion to talk about the rich and famous, as Juroe, 96, reunited with fellow alumni on the former Castle Heights Military Academy campus.
Saturday morning, he stood before the names etched in the Castle Heights Memorial and silently contemplated the roll of those who made the supreme sacrifice for their nation.
After a minute or two he shared, “There’s quite a few names here that I know.”
Four months back, on June 6, the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the operation that helped bring World War II to an end, Juroe and four other U.S, veterans were bestowed the Legion d’Honneur (Legion of Honor), France’s highest award for merit, by French President Emmanuel Macron during a ceremony held near Omaha Beach at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.
“It was very emotional,” recalled Juroe. “For those of us who were there, it was our ‘longest day’ because we were up at 4 o’clock in the morning because where we were at Normandy, we all had to be seated before Macron and Trump arrived.”
This past weekend marked the third occasion he had returned to his alma mater since his June 1941 graduation ceremony.
“I thought the last time might be the last time, but I think this is the last hurrah. I’m only here because of the Legion medal because I wanted to give it to the school, and my daughter understood that. It was more important here than sitting in a drawer or hanging on a wall,” said Juroe, one of three survivors of the class of ’41.
In his memoir “Bond, the Beatles and My Year With Marilyn: 50 years as a Movie Marketing Man.”, Juroe reminisces briefly about his time at Heights from 1935 to 1941 as well as his military service in WWII.
The book centers on his lengthy career as a publicist and executive in the film industry for Fox, Paramount, United Artists and Universal. He served as personal publicist for Marilyn Monroe, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, among others, and promoted the Beatles’ first two films. He is best known for his fruitful relationship with legendary producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli as he ran publicity on 14 James Bond movies, starting with “Dr. No” in 1962.
No film fiction on D-Day
Before his magical entertainment moments, the San Francisco, Calif., native was a member of the 90th Division in the 2nd Battalion of the 359th Infantry and hit the beach at Normandy on D-Day.
“The 357th and the 358th landed on Utah Red Beach along with the 4th Division, and we were to come in on D-Day plus-one,” Juroe recalled of the Allied invasion. “But because the whole thing was a bit of a mess, we, the 2nd Battalion, were coming in as the reserves. Our ship, the ‘Susan B. Anthony,’ left England about 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning from Plymouth Harbor on D-Day. We were off the coast of Normandy around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. You never saw so many ships in all your life.
“Of course, I didn’t know where we were. I could see France in front of me, but we weren’t aware then of something called Omaha Beach, of something called Utah Beach. All we knew was that we were landing. Because of all that’s happening on Omaha, there was a chance that our battalion was going to land on Utah.
“The next morning at 8 o’clock, the ship was right off Pointe du Hoc, sailing back and forth, and we hit a mine. So, we landed on Utah like we were supposed to land. It was late in the afternoon, and the assistant division commander and Brigadier Gen. William Weaver asked for volunteers.
“There was only a few of us who were in position to volunteer, myself, one other officer and three enlisted men. So, we came in on D-Day, and we came back to the ship after only two hours because there were LCIs (Landing Crafts, Infantry) like taxis, that were going back and forth.”
(Historical note: The “Susan B. Anthony” sank about one mile from the French coast. All 2,689 aboard the ship were rescued. The “Guinness Book of World Records” lists the event as the largest rescue of people without loss of life. Juroe reports that one sailor in the engine room was killed, a victim of the mine explosion.)
“Once I landed, I was in France all the way. I didn’t get wounded until the Battle of the Bulge. I was in Luxembourg. I went from the sixth of June ’til the tenth of January (1945) without a scratch,” said Juroe.
Later, when finding out the Nazis had surrendered, Juroe recalled, “The emotions of the war ending (in Europe) was one of excitement, but then it was ‘now when do we leave for Japan?’ Thank God for President Truman in going with the bomb.”
Going to the movies
Mustered out of the Army in in October 1945, he returned to San Francisco and got a job with Fox Theaters and soon was with Paramount Studios in the publicity department. In 1950, he found himself with an office on the Paramount lot in Los Angeles where he experienced the last few years of the Golden Age of Hollywood.
In 1956 while with the public relations firm of Arthur Jacobs, he handled publicity for Marilyn Monroe and her film “The Prince and the Showgirl” in London.
Asked to describe the superstar, Juroe, said, “I’m not a psychiatrist, and I’m not a psychologist, but Marilyn was about as much an enigma you could possibly be around. She would change right in front of you, and the biggest problem with her is that people would be her favorite, and you’d never really know when you were no longer. I went through a period of time where I could do no wrong, and I went through a period of time where I could do no right, and there was nothing in the world that you could do to make it any different. … It was quite a situation. It was impossible.”
As head of distribution and production for United Artists in Europe, he spent a bit of time with the Beatles promoting “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!”
Of that fling he writes in his memoir, “They were always cooperative as far as I was concerned, but I never felt one really knew them. … Paul was the key to getting things done. John thought a while and eventually agreed, while George and Ringo would always agree if the other two felt whatever had to be done was worthwhile.”
The James Bond experience
His stint with United Artists introduced him to producer Cubby Broccoli and Juroe began helping on the James Bond flicks, which led to him working full time for Broccoli and his EON Productions.
Juroe recollects of his initial impression of the first Bond, Sean Connery,” saying, “Horrible accent and nothing would ever happen to him as an actor in American movies because his accent as a Scot was unbelievable. You couldn’t understand the man. I’m not talking when he did ‘Dr. No.’ I’m talking about earlier After all, he was really a very good actor.”
He shares his reflections on the four major actors to play Bond:
Sean Connery: “Connery over the years was different and changed because in that time he became one of the big international movie stars in the business. After he became self-important, I was around long enough that I treated him as he was when I first knew him. That was the secret of our getting along because actors, as they become bigger stars and become more important, change and treat people they’ve known from earlier days with less respect, and in their opinion, you’ve got to change with them.
“That is something, thanks to Castle Heights, that I never did. I treated Sean and Lee Marvin exactly as I treated them from the first step. I said to them, ‘I worked with people like Humphrey Bogart and Marlon Brando, and I’m going to be with you like I was with them. I respect what you’ve accomplished, but in the relationship with you and me, we’re the same people when we first met.’ And that was the secret. Treat them like when you first met them.”
Roger Moore: “Roger was a dilettante. As long as things were going well, and things were not a problem to him, he was very, very easy and very, very nice, but if things were going wrong, which tends to happen in the film business, he became difficult. I liked Roger.”
Timothy Dalton: “Timothy was fantastic. I really respected him as an actor, and I always liked him.”
Pierce Brosnan: “Pierce is great because I just liked him and he liked me.”
Juroe’s career in film distribution and production carried him to practically every country in Europe, South America and Southeast Asia. He has lived more than half of his life in Europe. Retired since 1990, today he hangs his hat near Valencia, Spain.
As for how he survived for decades in a universe of exalted egos, he believes he was successful because he felt equal to the people he worked with. He credits much of that to his education at Castle Heights.
“It gave me a self-assurance that served me well in dealing with famous people like the studio founders that I write about, like (Adolph) Zukor and Cecile B. DeMille, but during the time that I was in the studio system from 1950 to 1956, I accepted everybody as an equal and hoped they accepted me as an equal,” he said. “That came from going to a place like Castle Heights. No question about that.”
To purchase “Bond, the Beatles and My Year With Marilyn: 50 Years as a Movie Marketing Man,” go to mcfarlandbooks.com. Cost is $30, plus shipping.
HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD
Castle Heights Military Academy graduate Charles ‘Jerry’ Juroe had lengthy career as a publicist and executive in the film industry. Among his favorite Hollywood memories are:
- Being pecked on the cheek by Marilyn Monroe
- Dancing with Princess Margaret
- Playing golf with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby
- Being kissed on the lips by a boozy Peter O’Toole
- Taking publicity tours with the ‘Bond girls’
- Riding in the passenger seat beside Sean Connery in the actual Aston-Martin DB5 to the Paris premiere of ‘Goldfinger’
- Playing table tennis with basketball star Wilt Chamberlain
- Dancing with Ginger Rogers