Celebrity Veterans

Staff Writer

There is nothing more patriotic than serving your country and many of our most beloved celebrities were part of our military. Here’s a look at a few who you could imagine in uniform and few who seem like an odd fit.

Let’s start with some golden age actors who seemed to fit in well with the military life. Humphrey Bogart who is famous for his work in Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, The African Queen and The Caine Mutiny, enlisted in the US Navy in 1918. He made a living out of playing the hard boiled, soulful eyed outsiders and even in the military, that’s who he was. Despite having a few problems while serving, Bogart rose to the rank of seaman second class and was dishonorably discharged.

Another golden age actor who served was Jimmy Stewart. Despite already being a well-known actor, Stewart joined the Army Air Corp in 1942. He flew at least 20 combat missions and received multiple metals and citations. The actor, probably most famously known for playing George Bailey in Its A Wonderful Life, stayed active in the US Air Force reserve after World War II and retired as a Brigadier General in 1968.

An actor, who made a living out of playing a silver screen tough guy, was also a tough guy in real life. Lee Marvin was a US Marine and served as a Scout Sniper. He saw combat in the South Pacific and received the Purple Heart. The actor, famous for The Dirty Dozen and Cat Ballou, for which he won an Oscar, died in 1987 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Another movie tough guy and world champion martial artist also served his country. Chuck Norris joined the US Air Force and became a security police officer. It was during his time in the military when he discovered and began studying martial arts. Norris won several martial arts world championships and also became a major movie and TV star.

Before Clint Eastwood got his day made as Dirty Harry, he served in the US Army. Eastwood was drafted during the Korean War and due to his athletic ability was assigned the job of a swimming instructor.

A few celebrities who had a little trouble adjusting to the military life are pretty easy to imagine in the brig. Outspoken funny man George Carlin served in the US Air Force as a radar technician. Carlin was court martialed 3 times, but somehow received a general discharge at the end of his service.

Another celebrity who had trouble adjusting to military life was “The King of Cool” Steve McQueen. McQueen joined the US Marines in 1947 and rose to the rank of private first class. However, he was demoted back to private seven times. McQueen once went AWOL, with his girlfriend and later served over a month in the brig. This seemed to be the wakeup call he needed as McQueen was later credited with saving several shipmates during a training exercise in the Artic. Steve McQueen is famous for his roles in The Magnificent Seven, Bullet, Papillon and Great Escape.

Arguably the most famous veteran of all is the King himself, Elvis Presley. Presley, already a national phenomenon was drafted by the US Army in 1958. This caused teenaged girls throughout the country to lose their minds. Elvis’ entry into the Army was national news and everything from his Army hair cut to his new set of fatigues was covered by the media. Presley served in Germany where he met his soon-to-be wife Priscilla. He was discharged from service in 1960 and went on to become a global superstar and music legend.

Just because they are famous doesn’t mean that they were always pampered. Many of our most famous celebrities and entertainers wore fatigues and served our nation. They deserve thanks for not only entertaining us, but for protecting our freedom.