While we all know that many American celebrities have shown their support and respect for the U.S. troops by performing for them in combat zones, there are actually numerous famous actors and musicians who were themselves prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country by serving in the military.
Some of the most exceptional men in the United States, including Humphrey Bogart and Elvis Presley, answered the call to join the military, and their sacrifice is definitely worthy of recognition. Here are some of the bravest celebrities who risked their lives serving in the military.
The star of Behind Enemy Lines and the man who portrayed Captain Frank Ramsey in Crimson Tide spent his teenage years serving his country. The legendary Oscar-winning actor dropped out of high school and joined the Marines when he was only 16 years old, lying about his age so he could enlist.
After basic training, he was stationed in China and later in Hawaii, serving for nearly five years as a radio operator. Leaving the Marines meant that the young man had to work several jobs to support himself, and it took him about 10 years before he began his acting career.
Elvis Presley took a break from his reign as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll to became America’s most famous draftee, joining the military on March 24, 1958.
The iconic singer and actor spent six months of basic training at Fort Hood in Texas and then sailed to Europe where he spent the following 18 months of his military career as part of the Third Armored “Spearhead” Division in Friedberg, Germany. While there, he met Priscilla Beaulieu, whom he married in 1967.
The King was promoted to sergeant in February 1960, and about a month later he was honorably discharged from active duty.
The famed martial artist and actor joined the Air Force after graduating from high school in 1958. Before he starred in countless action movies, including Way of the Dragon alongside Bruce Lee, and became the star of the television series Walker, Texas Ranger, Chuck Norris joined the USAF security police, hoping to make a career in law enforcement.
He served in South Korea, where he was introduced to Korean martial arts, including Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwan Do, which would eventually help him become one of the greatest action movie stars in the world. Upon returning to the United States, he served at March Air Force Base and in 1962 was discharged from the army.
We are all aware that the world still hasn’t seen a guitar virtuoso that could match the skills of Jimi Hendrix, arguably the greatest guitarist of all time. But what most people don’t know about him is the fact that Jimi Hendrix had been a soldier in the U.S. Army.
It was 1961 when the 19-year-old Jimi Hendrix had to choose between jail or joining the Army after he was accused of stealing cars. Joining the Army looked like the right decision for the future legend and on May 31, 1961, that’s what he did.
After he completed basic training in California he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, but becoming a soldier wasn’t actually what the young man hoped for, and about a year later, he was out.
Best known for his portrayal of Judah Ben-Hur in William Wyler’s epic film, Ben-Hur, Charlton Heston spent two years in the military, serving as a radio operator and aerial gunner on a B-25 Mitchell.
The Oscar-winning actor joined the military in 1944 at the age of 21, but never saw combat due to the fact that he was stationed in the Alaskan Aleutian Islands. Nonetheless, his role in the military didn’t end with his discharge in March 1946 and after he rose to stardom as an actor, the military asked him to narrate some highly classified military films about nuclear weapons.
Humphrey Bogart, one of Hollywood’s greatest stars and a movie icon of classical Hollywood cinema is also among the celebrities who enlisted in the U.S. Army. The sea had always been his passion, and Bogart made a decision to join the Navy in 1918 when he was 18 years old.
There are rumors that the star of Casablanca, The African Queen, The Maltese Falcon, and numerous other classics actually got his trademark scar when Germans attacked his ship, the USS Leviathan. Bogart spent most of his military career serving on the USS Leviathan transporting troops from Europe to the United States.
Bogart was honorably discharged in the summer of 1919, but when World War II broke out, he again tried to enlist in the Army but was turned down because of his age.
Lawrence Tureaud, the man who portrayed Clubber Lang, the antagonist in Stallone’s Rocky III, proved that he was a tough guy in real life as well, serving in the Military Police Corps back in the 1970s.
Few of his comrades could match his physical prowess and he was soon elected “Top Trainee of the Cycle,” which brought him the promotion to Squad Leader. Once his career in the military was over, he tried making a career in the NLF, but a knee injury proved to be too serious for him to join the Green Bay Packers.
He worked as a bouncer across Chicago, creating the tough persona of Mr. T, but his life changed completely after he met Stallone, who gave him the role in Rocky III.
What we’ve learned so far is that some of Hollywood’s biggest stars served in the U.S. military, and the next to join them on the list is actor Tom Selleck.
The man who appeared as Thomas Magnum in Magnum P.I. joined the California National Guard in the 160th infantry regiment during the Vietnam War and spent nearly six years of his life serving in the military. By the time of his discharge, he’d received the rank of sergeant.
When one mentions the name Hugh Hefner, the first thing that comes to mind is that he is the man who created the Playboy franchise, but what most people don’t know is that before dedicating himself to centerfolds, Hugh Hefner served in the Army during World War II.
Soon after Hefner graduated from high school, he enlisted in the Army as an infantry clerk and also left his mark as a cartoonist for several army newspapers. His military career lasted for two years and upon his discharge in 1946 he continued drawing cartoons and eventually became the founder of Playboy Enterprises.
The archetypal screen tough guy who left his mark in the movie industry as one of the greatest actors and directors is the last one on our list of real-life tough guys who served in the Army.
Clint Eastwood joined the Army during the Korean War, serving as a swim instructor at Fort Ord, California.
What marks his days in the military is the fact that he survived a plane crash and had to swim over a mile just to get to the shore. He remained at Fort Ord until his release in 1953 and soon after he would begin his remarkable acting career.