By Brett Gillin
Celebrities: Our modern day royalty. Often worshiped for their ability to entertain us, it might be surprising to find out that some of the biggest celebrities ever actually served their country before serving us countless hours of entertainment.
Ice-T, once famous for writing a song called “Cop Killer,” now playing a Cop on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, spent four years in the Army. He told NPR in an interview that he spent time in the Army right after high school in order to try to turn his life around, then once he left, he got right back into trouble.
2: Mr. T
Before he beat up Rocky, and before he was B.A. Baracus, Mr. T was in the Military Police Corps. Just like you’d expect out of someone like Mr. T, he excelled in the Army, earning “Top Trainee of the Cycle” in November of 1975.
3: Hugh Hefner
Hugh Hefner is probably better known for helping put together memorable USO shows than actually serving in the military, but serve he did! In fact, after enlisting in 1944, Hefner actually got his start in the publishing world by contributing cartoons to various military publications before leaving to build the Playboy empire.
4: Chuck Norris
Rather than try to rehash one of the 47 billion “Chuck Norris Facts,” here’s one that’s literally true: Chuck Norris was introduced to martial arts thanks to the United States Air Force! It was during his time training in South Korea that he was, in his own words “mesmerized by their incredible ability. I wanted to ask them what they were doing, but they looked very intense.”
5: Montel Williams
He might be shilling loans nowadays, and spent more than a few years as the head of a scandalous talk show, but Montel Williams should be applauded for his 22 years of service in the US Navy Reserves. That’s right, Williams served as a cryptologic officer for naval intelligence before starting up “The Montel Williams Show.”
6: JD Salinger
He’s most famous for writing one of the most iconic and powerful novels of all time, The Catcher in the Rye, but that might not be the most significant thing JD Salinger did in his life! According to his official biography, while he was writing the novel, he also did this little thing on the side: Landing on Utah Beach during the Normandy Invasion, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, and liberating Nazi concentration camps in Dachau.
7: Leonard Nimoy
The recently passed actor, most famous for playing Spock in the Star Trek franchise, also spent some time in the military. In 1953, he enlisted in the US Army Reserve at Fort McPherson Georgia and rose to the rank of Sergeant before leaving to pursue his acting career!
8: Clint Eastwood
One of the manliest-men of all time, the ultra-famous actor turned director served in the armed forces during the Korean War. He started off as a lifeguard and swimming instructor at Fort Ord, but had quite a harrowing story to tell. In October of 1951, he was aboard a Douglas AD-1 military aircraft when it went down in the Pacific Ocean!
9: Jimi Hendrix
Before becoming one of music’s all time legendary icons, Jimi Hendrix used the guitar to help him through his training in the military. Hendrix was a part of the 101st Airborne Division, but not exactly as his first choice. He was actually given the choice between jail and the military after getting caught riding in stolen cars when he was 19.
10: Bea Arthur
Years before becoming our favorite Golden Girl, Bea Arthur was a registered badass U.S. Marine! Arthur spent 30 months in the Marines as both a typist and a truck driver according to reports!