Before Serving The Entertainment Industry, These Celebrities Served Their Country
When people think of celebrities – cargo pants, combat boots, and intense military training aren’t typically what comes to mind. Usually, red carpets appearances, glitzy award ceremonies, and expensive designer outfits fit closer to the bill.
In the case of these A-list stars, they spent some of their time doing a very selfless act, serving their country. From Tom Selleck to Adam Driver, when you see some actors and actresses playing military personnel on screen, just know there is a sliver of truth to their performance. Keep reading; you’ll be surprised to learn which Hollywood A-listers traded in boot camp for life in front of the camera.
Morgan Freeman: United States Air Force, 1955
Actor Morgan Freeman is best known for his self-assured, melodic voice. The singular trait, along with his acting skills, has landed him in many critically acclaimed comedies, dramas, and even thrillers. And while he began acting at the young age of nine through his high school career, Freeman turned down a partial drama scholarship to Jackson State in favor of enlisting in the United States Air Force.
Starting as an ATR Repairman, the ever-so-diligent Freeman quickly rose in the ranks, achieving the rank of Airman 1st Class by the end of his time in the air force. He served in the military for four years before moving to Los Angeles, California.
Chuck Norris: United States Air Force, 1958
Former actor Chuck Norris broke the internet a while back with his tough-guy “I’m invincible” reputation. The reputation was well-earned, as Norris is a professional martial artist, a skill that landed him quite a few action roles throughout his acting career. But before his acting career took off, Norris was enlisted in the United States Air Force.
Norris enlisted in the air force back in 1958 as an air policeman. Shortly after, he was sent overseas to the Osan Air Base in South Korea. There, he received multiple awards and found the martial art of Chun Kuk Do. Norris was discharged in 1962, making his first film debut in 1968.
Shaggy: United States Marine Corps, 1988
Shaggy is a Jamaican reggae singer, DJ, and musician. He is probably best known for his song “It Wasn’t Me,” and his very distinct vocals. But a lot of people don’t realize that the seven-time Grammy Award nominee served in the United States Marine Corps for 11 years.
Enlisting in 1988, Shaggy obtained the MOS of Field Artillery Cannon Crewman and served in the 10th Marine Regiment during the Persian War. The highest rank the singer achieved was lance corporal but was demoted a few times for unknown reasons. The good news is he was able to perfect his singing voice while serving!
His time in the military probably got the next actor ready to play the role of the hard-headed want-to-be Darth Vadar, Kylo Ren.
Adam Driver: United States Marine Corps, 2002
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, actor Adam Driver enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He was stationed at Camp Pendleton with the Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, as an 81mm mortarman. There, he was training for deployment but fractured his sternum, resulting in a medical discharge.
After leaving the corps, Driver audition for Julliard, and was accepted. Unfortunately, he found it hard to fit in with his artsy classmates, as they were a world apart from the marines. Nevertheless, he found success in acting, becoming the villain Kylo Ren, and receiving many esteemed nominations and awards.
Bob Ross: United States Air Force, 1961
In 1961, at the age of 18, friendly painter Bob Ross enlisted in the United States Air Force. While stationed at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, Ross became a Drill Instructor. On his position, Ross said, “The job requires you to be a mean, tough person. I promised myself that if I ever got away from it, it wasn’t going to be that way anymore.”
He kept true to that promise. After serving 20 years in the military, Ross stepped away to focus on his painting. Taking inspiration from the Alaskan landscapes, Ross developed The Joy of Painting.
James Earl Jones: The United States Army, 1953
James Earl Jones is known to have “one of the best-known voices in show business, a stirring basso profondo that has lent gravel and gravitas.” His career spans over 70 years, including stage, film, and voiceover work. But, before he used his iconic voice to entertain folks, he served in the United States Army.
With the war growing in Korea, Jones was drafted into the army after college. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant, promoted to first lieutenant, and was training fellow soldiers. Jones was on his way to having a military career but decided to leave that life behind him, opting for a career in entertainment.
Kris Kristofferson: United States Army, 1960
One could say singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson had the military in his blood. Growing up, he is what people would call a “military brat,” traveling and living in various places due to his father’s career in the military. Then, when he was old enough, his family kind of forced him to enlist.
Joining the United States Army in 1960, Kristofferson was commissioned as a second lieutenant before obtaining the rank of captain. But instead of making a career out of the army, Kristofferson decided to try his hand at songwriting. He moved to Nashville in 1965 after his time in the military.
Tony Bennett: United States Army, 1944
Grammy Award-winning singer Tony Bennett is best known for his song “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.” His sultry, big band voice is still highly recognizable today, with many fans still attending his concerts. But a lot of people tend to forget that Bennett spent a few years of his life in the United States Army.
Drafted by the army in 1944, during the final stages of World War II, Bennett trained as an infantry rifleman. He then entered the frontlines in 1945 before the war came to an end. At that time, he decided to stay in Europe and study music before returning to the States.
Sinbad: United States Air Force, 1979
Born in Michigan, David Adkins grew up to be the famous comedian Sinbad. his popularity grew in the 90s when he landed a few of his own HBO specials, parts in television series, and even roles in films such as Good Burger and First Kid. Before hitting the big time, though, Sinbad was part of the United States Air Force.
Starting off in the comedy troupe Tops in Blue, Sinbad’s military career went downhill fast. When the comedian didn’t make the Air Force basketball team and went AWOL, he thought he’d be dishonorably discharged. He wasn’t. Instead, he was discharged for parking his car in the wrong position.
Ice-T: United States Army, 1977
Starting as an underground rapper in New Jersey during the 80s, Ice-T quickly became a huge name in the music industry. In 1987, the rapper released his debut album, Rhyme Pays, becoming the second artist to have an “explicit content” sticker. The very next year, he founded the label Rhyme $yndicate and released a second album, Power, which eventually went Platinum.
What a lot of people don’t know about Ice-T is that he is a United States Army veteran. He served in the 25th Infantry Division, and, while in Hawaii, Ice-T taught himself the art of turntablism and rapping. He was released with an honorable discharge in 1979.