Danish WW2 Pilots

Lt Col Frederick Brisson

(1913 - 1984)

Lt Col Frederick Brisson was born in Denmark, but naturalied in the US in 1942. He headed the AAF Office of Radio Production during the war and was awarded the Legio of Merit medal. Brisson was the son of one of the most famous Danish actors of the time and married to the actress Rosalind Russel. Cary Grant was the best man at his wedding.

Frederick Brisson (originally Carl Frederik Ejner Pedersen) was born on 17 March 1913 in Copenhagen, Denmark, the son of actor Carl Brisson[1] and music hall singer Cleo Brisson[2] (née Jørgensen).[3]

Carl Brisson had different jobs in the early 1910s, but was also a prizefighter. He became the European middleweight champion in 1912. In 1915, he married his childhood sweetheart. Cleo Brisson had succes as an actress-singer from 1916, singing the songs of the First World War. A manager suggested that Carl joined the acting scene. Although alien to performing at first, his career soon took off.[4]

The path to Hollywood

In 1923, Brisson’s father brought the family to England as Carl Brisson appeared as as Count Danilo in a London production of Franz Lehar's operetta, The Merry Widow. This was the beginning of a splendid career in London, which included playing in the two Hitchcock movies: The Ring (1927) and The Manxman (1929).

Ten years later, his father’s success brought the family to Hollywood, when Carl Brisson played in his first movie for Paramount Pictures (Mitchell Leisen's Murder at the Vanities).[5]

While his father succeeded on stage in London, Brisson was educated at the Emscote Lawn School in Warwickshire, and later continued his education at the Rossall School in Lancashire in 1928-1929. Rossall was a traditional public boarding school that prepared hum for the tough negotiaon he would have to do as an agent later in life.[6]

Frederick entered the entertainment world, but as an agent, not as a performer himself. When Carl Brisson moved to Hollywood in 1933, he urged Frederick to come along. He arrived in New York onboard the SS Aquitatia on 9 January 1934.[7]

Carl Brisson made a couple of films for Paramount Pictures, but he never got the breakthrough he had hoped for. For Frederick Brisson the move to Hollywood became the beginning of a brilliant career as film agent and producer. He got to know two men, who were especially important for his career to take off: the actor Cary Grant and the producer Frank W. Vincent.

The Brissons returned to London, and Frederick moved with them to gain experience for a future career in Hollywood.[8] Brisson returned to the United States in February 1939 onboard the SS Champlain, with the intention of staying in the country permanently. Cary Grant was listed as his contact in the United Status.[9]

Frederick Brisson next to his wife, actress Rosalind Russell a charity event in March 1958.
Frederick Brisson next to his wife, actress Rosalind Russell a charity event in March 1958.

War Service

Frederick Brisson declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States shortly after his arrival, and he became so on 10 April 1942, only a few months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.[10] His ties with Hollywood and the stars became even closer as he married the actress Rosalind Russell, who he had met through Cary Grant, on 24 October 1941. They were married in the Danish Lutheran Church in Solvang, Santa Barbara.[11]

Brisson joined the United States Army Air Force on 27 June 1942.[12] He received a commission and was made the producer of The Fighting AAF radio series. This show reported the technological advances of the USAAF in the war to the home front for propaganda purposes. It was produced the AAF Office of Radio Production and played over the ABC.[13]

Brisson was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel during the war and was awarded the Legion of Merit medal for “exceptionally meritorious service” throughout his service, especially for his work with The Fighting AAF.[14] He was discharged on 20 March 1946 and returned to California.[15]


[1] Carl Brisson (1893-1958) was born Carl Frederik Ejner Pedersen, but took the stages names of Carl Villard and later Carl Brisson.

[2] Cleo Brisson (1894-1978) was born Maria Laurentse Jørgensen, but took the stages names of Cleo Villard and later Cleo Brisson.

[3] Ancestry: U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947.

[4] Bernard F. Dick. Forever Mame: The Life of Rosalind Russell.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ancestry: New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957.

[8] Bernard F. Dick. op.cit.

[9] Ancestry: New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957.

[10] Ancestry: California, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1843-1999.

[11] Rosalind Russell, The Pasadena Post, 25 October 1941.

[12] Ancestry: U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010.

[13] World War Two on the Radio, https://www.otrcat.com/world-war-ii-on-the-radio (accessed on 3 December 2022).

[14] People, Broadcasting, 12 November 1945, p. 102.

[15] Ancestry: U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010.