|Col Frank Kurtz
United States Army Air Corps
United States Army Air Forces
United States Air Force
|Birth name||Frank Allen Kurtz, Jr.|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Air Force|
|Olympic medal record|
|Bronze||1932 Los Angeles||10 metre platform|
Col. Frank Allen Kurtz, Jr. (September 9, 1911 – October 31, 1996) is known as an Olympic diver, as an aviator in the United States Army Air Forces, and having been awarded the Croix de Guerre, 3 Silver Stars, 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 3 Air Medals, and 5 Presidential Citations. He is also known as the father of actress Swoosie Kurtz.
Life and career
Kurtz was born in Davenport, Iowa, the son of Dora Lee (née Fenton) and Frank Allen Kurtz, Sr., an insurance salesman. Kurtz became interested in flying at age 16, and in 1935 flew an open cockpit plane, setting a speed record flight from Los Angeles to Mexico City to Washington, D.C. and back to Los Angeles.
Kurtz's swimming abilities impressed Olympic champion swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, who encouraged him to train with famous diving coach Clyde Swendsen. Kurtz graduated from Hollywood High School and went on to the University of Southern California especially to join the diving team. Kurtz won a Bronze medal in 10 meter platform diving at the 1932 Summer Olympics and was ranked 5th in this event at the 1936 Summer Olympics.
He was Commander of the 463rd Bombardment Group (Heavy), 15th Air Force, Celone Airfield, Foggia, Italy (1944–45) and a survivor of the air attack at Clark Field in the Philippines, two days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. In Australia, he salvaged and helped to rebuild a B-17D Flying Fortress bomber using a combination of parts from other wrecked B-17s. At that time, the repaired B-17D was nicknamed "The Swoose" by 19th Bomb Group pilot, Captain Weldon Smith. The tail of a Boeing B-17D, AAF Ser. No. 40-3091 was grafted onto 40-3097, resulting in a hybrid B-17D. The bomber became "half swan and half goose" just like the lyrics in the then-popular novelty song "Alexander, The Swoose." Before the end of the war, "The Swoose" was scheduled to be scrapped and smelted down for its aluminium content. Kurtz then convinced the City of Los Angeles to retrieve his by-then famous bomber for use as a World War II memorial: It was the only B-17 that flew from the beginning of World War II until the end. Today, "The Swoose" is the oldest surviving B-17 and the only early "D" model still in existence. It is being restored at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Fairborn, Ohio.
After 24 years in the service of the United States Armed Forces (U.S. Army Air Corps, U.S. Army Air Forces, and the U.S. Air Force), Kurtz retired and became a top executive at the William May Garland development firm.
Kurtz was the third child of Frank Kurtz, Sr. and wife Dora and was born in Davenport, Iowa, USA. The actress Swoosie Kurtz (b. 1944) is the only child of Kurtz and his wife, author Margo Kurtz. His daughter's unique first name "Swoosie" (rhymes with Lucy, rather than woozy) is derived from his two B-17s named "The Swoose" and "Swoose II", which he piloted with the 19th and 463rd Bomb Groups.
Kurtz died in 1996 from complications following a fall.