In Honor of Veterans Day: 12 Celebs Who Have Served in the Military
Friday is Veterans Day, so we’ve assembled some of our favorite celebs who have served in the military over the years. Did you know that Julia Child was a spy? True story!
You know what today is? Yep: It’s Veterans Day, the official day that the United States honors any and all military vets. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Reserves: They’re all worthy of honoring. As a salute to all everyone who has served their country over the years, we’ve assembled a gallery of our favorite celebs who have also done just that. Happy Veterans Day, Bettys!
1. Drew Carey: Marine Corps
Funnyman Drew Carey wasn’t always the success he is today. He went to Kent State University, but was expelled not once, but twice for poor academic performance—after which he enrolled in the US Marine Corps Reserve. He served primarily on weekend duty for six years between 1981 and 1987. After he finished, he made his comedic debut on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, and the rest, as they say…
2. Hugh Hefner: Army
Long before he became the smoking-jacket-wearing Playboy mogul we know him as, Hef was actually a writer first and foremost. After he graduated high school in 1944, he went right into the Army as a writer for a military newspaper. He stayed there for two years, after which he went to the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, graduating with a B.A. in psychology and a double minor in art and creative writing. Talk about ambition!
3. Paul Newman: Navy
Paul Newman and his stunning baby blues served in the Navy in the Pacific theatre during World War II. His color blindness prevented him from being accepted for pilot training, but he made an excellent radioman and gunman, eventually serving aboard the USS Bunker Hill during the Battle of Okinawa in the spring of 1945. He also narrowly escaped death: After being ordered to the ship with a draft of replacements shortly before the Okinawa campaign, his pilot developed an ear infection, causing him to be held back. The men who remained in his detail were killed in action.
4. Bea Arthur: Marine Corps
Golden Girl Bea Arthur had the honor of being one of the first members of the Women’s Reserve branch of the Marine Corps during the Second World War. Though for years she denied any military service, it recently came out that during her 30 months with the Marine Corps, she spent time as both a typist and a truck driver. Her recruitment officer described her as “argumentative” and “over-aggressive,” but also concluded that she was “probably a good worker—if she has her own way!” Sounds like the Bea we all know and love!
5. Gene Kelly: Navy
Gene Kelly has the Navy to thank for developing his interest in the production end of filmmaking. He was already an established star in Hollywood in 1944, but that didn’t stop him from enlisting in the US Naval Air Services, where he became a lieutenant junior grade. He spent his time in the Photographic Section in Washington, where he wrote and directed a whole range of documentaries about such subjects as war-wounded veterans. He put his newfound skills to work when he returned to Hollywood after the war, directing and starring in such hits as On the Town.
6. Chuck Norris: Air Force
It should surprise no one that professional badass Chuck Norris spent time in the military. In fact, the military is probably where Chuck learned to be a badass in the first place: He joined the US Air Force as an Air Policeman in 1958 and shipped off to South Korea. There, he began training in the martial art Tang Soo Do, which in turn led to a bunch of black belts and the founding of the Chun Kuk Do (“Universal Way”) form. When he came back to the States, he continued to work as an AP at the March Air Force Base in California. He was discharged in 1962, after which he kicked off his career in martial arts. And from there, there was only one way to go: Up!
More celebs who served, including Morgan Freeman and Jeff Bridges, up next!