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Robert Pirosh on location for the filming of the Combat pilotRobert Pirosh

From Bastogne to the MGM backlot

Combat! was developed by World War II veteran Robert Pirosh, who wrote and produced the pilot episode. Before serving in World War II, Pirosh co-wrote many popular comedy films, including A Day at the Races, starring the Marx Brother, and Danny Kaye's Up In Arms.

During the war, Pirosh rose to the rank of Master Sergeant serving with the 320th Regiment, 35th Division. He saw action during both the Ardennes and Rhineland campaigns and was awarded the Bronze Star. During the Battle of the Bulge, Pirosh led a patrol into Bastogne to lend support to the beleaguered defenders. Profoundly affected by these experiences, Pirosh spent much of his later career paying tribute to the frontline infantry soldier.

Pirosh won an Academy Award for his original story and screenplay to Battleground (1949), starring Van Johnson. Battleground chronicled the siege of Bastogne, telling the story from the point of view of the ordinary G.I. It became the biggest box office hit of 1949. Two years later, Pirosh was again nominated by the Academy for best story and screen play for Go for Broke, which he also directed. Go For Broke is the true story of the American-born Japanese who served heroically as U.S. infantrymen in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II.

Pirosh again paid tribute to the infantry in the feature film Hell Is for Heroes, which he wrote, produced, and directed. But conflicts arose between Pirosh and his star, Steve McQueen. Pirosh walked away from the film before it was finished. Later that year, he approached Selmur Productions with the idea for a series about frontline infantry soldiers.

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File last updated August 15, 2011

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