While Steven Spielberg recently touched down in Toronto to debut his deeply personal film, The Fabelmans, CNN entertainment correspondent Chloe Melas is also eagerly anticipating his other upcoming project, Masters of the Air, because that one hits close to home for her.
The Apple TV+ series, executive produced by Spielberg with Playtone’s Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, is based on Donald L. Miller’s book Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany. It tells the story of the tens of thousands of American bombers who took to the skies in World War II only to be shot down, killed or held captive in Nazi Germany. One of those men, a navigator in a B-17, was Melas’ grandfather, Frank Murphy, who appears as a character in the Apple TV+ series and whose own memoir served to complement the historical record and series foundation.
Murphy, one of the few survivors from the 100th Bombardment Group (aka 100th Bomb Group), stayed alive for months in a German POW camp after being shot out of his B-17. He went on to receive a Purple Heart, Air Medal and the POW Medal before passing away in 2007 at age 85. He told his tale in Luck of the Draw: My Story of the Air War in Europe.
Originally published more than 20 years ago, Melas teamed with her mother, Elizabeth Murphy, to reintroduce the book with a new foreword and publication date of Jan. 10, 2023, from St. Martin’s Press. Though no premiere date has been announced for the series, it’s expected to also debut in 2023. Masters of the Air stars Austin Butler, Callum Turner, Barry Keoghan, Rafferty Law and many more. Newcomer Jonas Moore plays Murphy.
“My grandfather once told me he spent the rest of his life walking with ghosts but looking back with pride,” Melas writes in the foreword she co-wrote with her mom. (Together as a family, they also visited the set of Masters of the Air.) “Our family’s goal is to keep Frank’s memory and that of his fellow men alive and pass on the greatness to the next generation.”
As for Hanks, he also contributed a blurb for the re-release of Murphy’s memoir: “In the pursuit of authenticity, of accurate history and undeniable courage, no words matter more than ‘I was there.’ Read Luck of the Draw and the life of Frank Murphy and ponder this: How did those boys do such things?”
This story first appeared in the Sept. 28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.