Way before Steven Seagal ever killed anyone on screen with a judo chop, Nancy Wake had been there, done that - in real life.
2. Nancy Wake - The White Mouse
Born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1912, Wake moved to Sydney as a child, but ran away from home at 16. She initially worked as a nurse, but trained herself as a journalist as she traveled through New York and London. By the time World War II broke out, Wake was working for Hearst newspapers as a European correspondent.
Wake saw some of the horrors of the Nazi movement firsthand in her role as a journalist. In Vienna, she witnessed gangs of Nazis beating Jewish men and women at random. She leaped at the opportunity to join the French Resistance. She worked as a courier, using a bit of flirtatious charm to throw off Gestapo members, and joined an escape network, helping Allied military personnel flee Marseille. Wake became the Gestapo's most wanted person, known as the "White Mouse" for her ability to evade capture. A five million-franc price was placed on her head. Wake eventually fled France herself, crossing into Spain and eventually reaching Britain.
Her military career was only just beginning, though. Wake joined the SOE, where she turned out to be a crack shot in training, and was assigned to work in Auvergne. She parachuted into the province and became responsible for organizing weapons and supply drops, and even engaged in combat, leading guerrilla attacks and sabotage missions. From April 1944 until the liberation of France, her 7,000+ maquisards fought 22,000 German soldiers, causing 1,400 casualties, while suffering only 100 themselves.
Seasons 1 and 2 of the 1980s British television series Wish Me Luck were based on her exploits and much of the dialogue was copied from her autobiography.
An Australian television mini-series released in 1987 titled Nancy Wake (True Colors in the US) was based on the 1956 biography by Russell Braddon. While Wake was played by Australian actress Noni Hazlehurst she made an appearance herself in the role of Madame Fouret.
Wake died in 2011 at the age of 98.