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100 actors who served in the military

  • 100 actors who served in the military

    Actors have long tried to give audiences a taste of the realities of war and military service since the earliest days of the motion picture industry. But if called upon to portray a member of the Armed Forces on screen, many actors could draw from their own life experience. Some of history's biggest stars served their countries in times of war and peace. Some experienced combat, while others were stationed in friendly countries or at home.

    From comedians and action stars to dramatic actors and television icons, here's a look at the stars who moved on from careers as servicemen to lives of fame. All branches of the military, including the Coast Guard, are represented on the list along with some actors from foreign countries. Most of the actors who served will be remembered not for their service in a foreign theater overseas, but for their films that filled seats in movie theaters back home. Some celebrities, such as Elvis Presley and Clint Eastwood, are well-known as having served in the military; others, like Adam Driver and Ice-T, are not as widely known for their service. Rather than shining a light on the hundreds of films depicting the military or war, today we're recognizing movie stars who served their country in real life. Keep reading to learn about 100 actors who served in the military.

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  • Clint Eastwood

    You know him from movies like "Dirty Harry," "Unforgiven," and "The Bridges of Madison County." But did you know actor and director extraordinaire Clint Eastwood was drafted into the Army during the Korean War? Eastwood lucked out and was assigned to a job as a swimming instructor at a base in California during the deadly conflict.

  • Chuck Norris

    Martial arts legend and star of the big and small screens Chuck Norris is known for TV series like "Walker, Texas Ranger" and movies like the "Missing in Action" franchise. He was introduced to martial arts while serving in Korea with the Air Force and went on to become the first Westerner ever to be awarded an eighth-degree black belt in Korean fighting style taekwondo.

  • Mr. T

    Mr. T will forever be remembered for portraying on-screen tough guys in movies like "Rocky III" and TV series like "The A-Team." After being expelled from high school, the man born Laurence Tureaud served in the Army as a military policeman. He was selected among 6,000 trainees for promotion to squad leader.

  • Tom Selleck

    After being served draft papers during the Vietnam War, "Magnum P.I." actor Tom Selleck joined the California National Guard and served from 1967 to 1973. He later became the face of recruiting posters for the Guard.

  • Steve McQueen

    Steve McQueen of "Bullitt" and "The Great Escape" fame was also a Marine. He got off to a rocky start in the Corps, making trouble and spending time in the brig, where he was punished with rations of bread and water. But after heroically rescuing several men during a disastrous training exercise in the Arctic, he was given the honor of guarding President Harry Truman's yacht.

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  • Paul Newman

    With films like "Cool Hand Luke" and "The Color of Money" on his resume, the late Paul Newman is one of Hollywood's most celebrated actors. Although he joined the Navy's V-12 program in the hopes of becoming a pilot, his color blindness kept him out of the cockpit. He served on torpedo bombers and on the USS Bunker Hill in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 and left the service a decorated veteran.

  • Bob Hope

    Few entertainers achieved greater success across more types of entertainment media than Bob Hope, the man NPR called "the most popular entertainer of the 20th century." But the film actor, TV star, stage performer, and comedian is probably best known for the decades he spent entertaining troops stationed overseas. Hope never actually served himself, but his long list of contributions and seemingly endless USO tours led Congress to enact H.J. Res. 75, which named Bob Hope an honorary veteran "for his lifetime of accomplishments and service on behalf of our men and women in uniform."

  • Jack Palance

    The late Jack Palance frequently played tough guys on the big screen in movies like "City Slickers," and he lived up to the Hollywood image in real life. A Palance was a boxer who later served in the Air Force as a bomber pilot and went on to Stanford on the G.I. Bill.

  • Charles Bronson

    The world knows Charles Bronson as an unshakeable vigilante from the "Death Wish" series. But before the legendary macho man went on the attack on the big screen, he was on the attack in the skies over Europe. The first-generation American enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1943 and served as an aircraft gunner and Superfortress crewman. He flew dozens of missions and earned a Purple Heart after being wounded in action.

  • Kris Kristofferson

    Kris Kristofferson is an Oscar nominee, former Golden Gloves boxer, and military man from a military family. Also an accomplished academic and musician, Kristofferson joined the Army in 1960, became a helicopter pilot, and achieved the rank of captain.

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