Most of us cannot imagine our favourite celebrities doing anything except delivering us classic movie lines or number one hits. However a lot of famous faces actually have quite a different past. Many have served in the military and proudly defended their nations. For some it was actually their time in the armed forces that eventually lead to them finding their way into careers that would make them household names. Here is a list of a few A-listers who have spent some time wearing those khaki and camouflage outfits.
See also: Top 10 Celebrity Career Changes
1. Michael Caine
Not only is he a great actor, he is also an avid supporter of military forces. Michael Caine played his part in protecting his nation after serving in the British Army as a rifle infantryman. During his time in the army he fought in the Korean War. Caine has since openly expressed that he believes everyone should serve at least six months in the armed forces during their life.
2. Clint Eastwood
He has stolen the show in pretty much all of his on screen appearances and has also nailed the art of directing with films like ‘Million Dollar Baby’. However Clint Eastwood hasn’t always been a big shot in Hollywood. Before he made a name for himself under the sparkling lights, Eastwood was in the army. Drafted into the US Army he also served during the Korean War just like Michael Caine. During his time though, he did not have to see much front line fighting as he worked as a swimming instructor at Ft. Ord. Funnily enough these swimming skills came in real handy later on. As he rode on a Navy torpedo bomber the plane experienced engine troubles and Eastwood was forced to abandon the aircraft in San Francisco Bay. He then swam over a mile against the tide to get to shore. He would later reflect on this challenge during his acting career when he starred in the film ‘Escape from Alcatraz’.
Ice-T’s main motivation for joining the armed forces was to make his family some money. With a hard start to life in Los Angeles the actor and musician found himself struggling to provide financial support to his girlfriend and daughter. So he decided to join the army. He spent four years serving in the 25th Infantry Division. Ice-T was a part of the group who decided to steal an infantry rug and abandon their positions. However a month later the rug was recovered and Ice-T only received non-judicial punishment. This meant he was still able to go on and complete his Advanced Infantry Training. During his time in the military Ice-T served in Hawaii as a squad leader at Schofield Barracks. It was during this time he discovered and fell in love with music. Purchasing himself some stereo equipment, a turntable and a mixer while at this post Ice-T honed his skills in music. By the time Ice-T left the forces he had found himself financial stability and a bunch of skills that would launch his subsequent career.
4. Hugh Hefner
Before he was running the Playboy mansion and surrounding himself with half-naked girls, Hugh Hefner had a bit of a different career. After he graduated from high school in 1944 Hefner enlisted himself in the Army where he served as an infantry clerk. During his time in the force he regularly contributed cartoons to numerous military newspapers. He was discharged in 1946.
5. Sean Connery
Sean Connery was one of the many who enlisted in the army at a very young age. When he was only 16 years old Connery joined the Royal Navy. He served for three years, but was eventually discharged when it was found he had a stomach ulcer.
6. Elvis Presley
While most were in the military before their careers took off, the same can’t be said for Elvis Presley. Joining the army as a regular GI at Fort Chaffee on March 24, 1958 it was a time when Presley had already made quite a name for himself. With stardom that had never been seen in the entertainment industry at that time, his enlistment was closely watched over by the media and fans. His induction into the forces was a media event as hundreds of press and fans went to watch. Presley swapped his leather jacket for combat attire and his famous hair was shaved away. He was stationed at Ft. Hood where he underwent basic training and was later assigned to the Second Armoured Division’s unit which was also known as ‘Hell on Wheels’. He later moved to the Third Armoured ’Spearhead’ Division and served in Friedberg, Germany. It was during this time that he actually met his future wife, Priscilla Beaulieu. Presley was eventually honourably discharged on March 5, 1960 at Fort Dix by which time he had worked his way up the ranks to sergeant.
7. Morgan Freeman
Before his perfect voice was gracing our screens, Morgan Freeman had a major love for flying. So much so he decided to join the military where he became a part of the US Air Force in 1955. He chose this over taking a scholarship from Jackson State University for drama. Little did Freeman know he would one day follow this path again. Training as a fighter pilot it did not take Freeman long to realise that flying was not his passion after all. Once he actually got to sit inside the cockpit of a plane, Freeman was once quoted as saying he felt like he was ‘sitting in the nose of a bomb’. Freeman trusted his feelings and eventually left the military in 1959.
8. Chuck Norris
It is said that before the President of the United States can declare war, Congress must have permission from Chuck Norris. While we may laugh at this you might be surprised to know Chuck Norris has actually served his time in the army. The television star, martial arts professional and overall winner at life joined the military after high school. He joined the United States Air Force in 1958 and served his time as an Air Policeman in South Korea. During his time there he realised he was having trouble simply arresting rowdy drunk people. When he saw some locals performing powerful spinning heel kicks and other martial moves he was inspired to start learning the local Korean martial arts for himself. This included Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwan Do. He became so good that he was the first Westerner to ever receive an eighth-degree Black Belt in Tae Kwan Do. Proof you should never mess with Chuck Norris.
Serving time in the armed forces is a very honourable thing. This doesn’t change whether the choice to join is the individual’s own or made for them. While it can be easy to forget when the lights and cameras are on, many famous faces have dedicated their time to their country long before their country knew their name.