We have seen them in the big screen and on the red carpets of Hollywood. We have seen them dedicate most of their lives to the entertainment of the motion picture fans and movie universe. Not many know, however, that these talented stars once served America, serving in the armed forces to help fight the enemies that threatened world safety. The following is a short 5-man list of some of the actors that served in the military prior to becoming Hollywood stars.
1. Clint Eastwood
The Million Dollar Baby star is known for being an active actor since the late 1950's, making it to stardom with the Rawhide series that ran from 1959-1965. Drafted into the Army during the war in Korea, Eastwood was sent to Ft. Ord in California for basic training. He lucked into a job as a swimming instructor and remained at Ft. Ord. He worked nights and weekends as a bouncer at the NCO club.On a trip home to Seattle to visit his parents and girlfriend, Eastwood caught a ride aboard a Navy plane at Moffett Field. On the ride back aboard a Navy torpedo bomber, the plane developed engine trouble and was forced to make a water landing off San Francisco. Eastwood was forced to swim over a mile through the tide to shore. He left the military in 1953.
2. Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman is one of the most famous actors in Hollywood, having starred in over 80 films. He has earned many awards throughout his career, and has been praised for his attention-grabbing, heart-capturing, bass-toned voice. Freeman was always entranced by war films, particularly pieces about fighter pilots. In love with the idea of flying, he joined the U.S. Air Force in 1955 but was relegated to being a radar technician. His interest in flight was so strong that he turned down a scholarship for drama from Jackson State University to enlist.Eventually, Freeman got the chance to train as a fighter pilot. Despite years of anticipation for that very job, as soon as he sat in the cockpit he had a "distinct feeling he was sitting in the nose of a bomb." "I had this very clear epiphany," he told AARP Magazine. "You are not in love with this; you are in love with the idea of this." Freeman didn't hesitate to act, and left the Air Force in 1959.
Ice-T, the gangster actor is known today for his movies and music, however, this was not the way his life was in the past. Right out of high school, Ice-T struggled to support his girlfriend and daughter. He decided to join the Army for the financial benefits, and served four years in the 25th Infantry Division. Early in his career, he was part of a small group that stole an infantry rug and subsequently deserted. After a month, once the rug had been recovered, Ice-T returned and received a non-judicial punishment which allowed him to complete Advanced Infantry Training. During his deployment in Hawaii, Ice-T served as a squad leader at Schofield Barracks. After leaving the army, Ice-T lived in Hollywood, where he eventually got his stardom shot.
4. James Earl Jones
A beloved and renowned actor, James Earl Jones has earned acclaim for his versatility, resonant voice, and eloquence. After graduating from college, Jones was recruited into the Army. The Korean War was gaining momentum so he fully expected to see combat. He was commissioned in 1953 and attended Officers Basic Course and became a second lieutenant. Afterwards, he attended Ranger School which he claims to have washed out of. Despite the intensity of the military action in Korea, Jones and his unit were sent to construct a cold-weather training command in Colorado near Leadville. His battalion focused on training full-time, and Jones was promoted to first lieutenant before being discharged. Though Jones planned to return to the military, his success in acting shifted his plans.
5. Chuck Norris
The badass! The Cobra-killer! The man with no fear! Chuck Norris is Chuck Norris. If you don't know him for any or his movies, you're as good as dead. As a matter of fact, if you don;t know this man, stop reading this and go evacuate yourself. Run. Never mind, it would be useless. It was in the Air Force, while stationed in Korea, that Chuck was introduced to martial arts. One night on duty, Norris realized that he couldn't arrest a rowdy drunk without pulling his weapon. He studied Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwan Do, both Korean martial arts, and became the first Westerner to be awarded an eighth-degree Black Belt in Tae Kwan Do. He held the world middleweight karate champion title for six years, and was named Black Belt magazine's "Fighter of the Year" in 1969. He founded 32 martial arts schools, and was actor Steve McQueen's karate teacher. AND... He ended the Korean war by scaring the entire Korean army to death.
Disclaimer: That last sentence is not true, but then again, it's Chuck Norris.
Well, there you have it, 5 actors who served in the military before becoming Hollywood stars. Who is your favorite? Let us know.