These Celebrities Served Their Country In the Military

There are many celebrities who were in the military who signed up to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Many well-known faces have served — some were drafted, while others listed voluntarily.

When you see the likes of Elvis Presley or rapper-actor Ice-T going through basic training, it really illustrates how much heart it takes to serve your country. Here are just some of those heroic soldiers who would go on to become a famous face.

Jimmy Stewart

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Stewart was considered to be the first Hollywood star to join the Army during WWII. His first attempt to enlist came in 1940, but his weight wouldn’t allow him to join. So, Stewart went ahead and joined the Air Corps where he was promoted to squadron commander in the 445th Bombardment Group.

In 1968, the actor left the Air Force, with the United States awarding him with a Distinguished Flying Cross for his service.

Josephine Baker Had A Breakthrough

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The French-American entertainer was one of the women who served her country for the greater good. During World War II, Baker was known for being a part of the French Resistance as a secret agent. The French military even awarded her the Croix de Guerre once the war was done.

She was 68 years old when she passed away at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital back in 1975 due to a cerebral hemorrhage.

Humphrey Bogart Suffered A Infamous Injury In The Navy

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He was a member of the United States Navy when WWI broke out. He enlisted as a teenager and the famous scar he had on his upper lip was believed to have been from one of his experiences during his time with the Navy.

An alternative version has Bogart getting struck in the mouth by a handcuff that was loosened while freeing his charge while the other was still around the prisoner’s wrist. By the time Bogart was treated by a doctor, a scar had already formed.

Read ahead to see why the star of Slapshot had to drop out of the Navy.

Clifton James

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The Bad News Bears actor was in a handful of movies, but long before he even got into acting, he enjoyed a stint in the U.S. Army. A big reason why he enjoyed his time is because he was a well-decorated infantry platoon sergeant during the Second World War.

He served for forty-two months in the South Pacific from 1942 until 1945. His decorations include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts.

Ernest Hemingway Was Able To Witness A Lot During World War I

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The author of The Old Man and the Sea had quite the experience during his time in the military. Interestingly enough, his time in the war would serve as an inspiration for many of his published novels.

Hemingway was part of the Italian Red Cross where he served as an ambulance driver. There was also a point where he operated a mobile canteen which provided chocolates and cigarettes for soldiers nearby.

Paul Newman Had To Drop Out Of The Navy

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The Slapshot actor enrolled in the Navy V-12 pilot training program at Yale University. However, he had to drop out due to being colorblind. Boot camp followed, where he trained as a radioman and rear gunner.

He was subsequently assigned to Pacific-based replacement torpedo squadrons VT-98, VT-99, and VT-100, where he was responsible primarily for training replacement combat pilots and aircrewmen, with particular emphasis on carrier landings. After the war, Newman completed his Bachelor of Arts in drama and economics at Kenyon College.

A Yankee great took part in D-Day. Read ahead to see who it is!

Johnny Cash Enlisted In The United States Air Force But Still Had His Passion Of Music

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After basic training at Lackland Air Force Base and technical training at Brooks Air Force, Cash was assigned to the 12th Radio Squadron Mobile in Germany. It was there that he created his first band, named “The Landsberg Barbarians.”

In 1954, he was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant and returned home to Texas. During his military service, he acquired a distinctive scar on the right side of his jaw as a result of surgery to remove a cyst.

Gene Hackman Didn’t Enjoy His Time In The US Marines

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The original Lex Luthor actor wasn’t too happy joining the US Marines. His father had left home while his mother battled with alcohol addiction. Hackman was insistent on leaving home, which is why he lied about his age to get into the Marines.

In 1947, the Bonnie and Clyde star was sent to China. He mostly served as a radio operator but was later sent to Hawaii. He had issues compromising with authority and discipline.

Yogi Berra Took Part In D-Day

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Not every baseball Hall of Famer can say they fought in D-Day. Yankee great Yogi Berra served in the US Navy as he was aboard the USS Bayfield. He was also deployed at Utah Beach as well.

Luckily for the baseball catcher, he returned home to the United States and was reunited with his family. Following his service, Berra made his major league debut in 1946, winning 13 World Series titles as an 18-time All-Star.

Up next, one of the actors from Maverick is a coveted war veteran!

Harry Kissinger Was In Two Security Roles

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He used to be the National Security Adviser and Secretary of State in the United States. In the thirties, Kissinger escaped the Nazi Persecution after his family left Germany and went to London.

Eventually, all of them settled down in Manhattan and this is where he managed to get drafted into the U.S. Army when he was 20 years old. In 1973, he received the Nobel Peace Prize under controversial circumstances.

Charleton Heston Worked As A Radio Operator

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The Ten Commandments actor had a career which lasted for about six decades. In the forties, Heston had been with the U.S. Air Force. He started out as a radio operator but he would transition into an aerial gunner. Heston would eventually reach the rank of staff sergeant.

After his rise to fame in acting, Heston narrated for highly classified military and Department Energy Instructional films, particularly topics relating to nuclear weapons.

James Garner Is An Acclaimed US Veteran

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In 1944, the Maverick star joined the US Merchant in order to make some money. However, he would suffer from severe seasickness, which didn’t help at all. He would enlist in the California Army National Guard before joining the 5th Regimental Combat Team.

Garner served as a rifleman and spent 14 months in Korea. The actor would be wounded twice during his time in the Korean War. He would receive the Purple Heart in Korea for the first wound.

Coming up, the actor who was credited for being the first ever Bahamian-American black actor to win the Best Actor Award.

Alec Guinness Was One Of Three British Actors To Pull Off An Incredible Feat

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During the Second World War, he served in the Royal Navy. At first, he started out as a seaman, but would be promoted to sub-lieutenant, and finally, lieutenant. He already had acting experience before going into the war, but he did ask for a temporary leave so he could appear in Flare Path, a play.

The Obi-Wan Kenobi actor was one of three British actors who made the transition from Shakespearean theatre to blockbuster films immediately after WWII.

Hugh Hefner Went Right Into The Military After School

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The Playboy legend finished studying at Steinmetz High School when he joined the US Army in 1944. However, he wasn’t deployed into the battlefield. Instead, he would serve as an infantry clerk. This position was nothing more than a form of exercise for his drawing and publishing skills.

In 1946, Hefner would be discharged. In 1953, the first issue of Playboy magazine would be published, which sold over 50,000 copies with Marilyn Monroe on the cover.

Sidney Poitier Lied About His Age

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When he was younger, he joined the U.S. Army during the Second World War. He even lied about his age too, something most people did at the time. However, he was only an attendant for the mental hospital.

Afterward, he found success in the acting world. Thanks to his superb performance in the movie Lilies of the Field, more doors would open for him. He is credited for being the first ever Bahamian-American black actor to win the Best Actor Award.

The star of Terminator had to serve in the Austrian military for one specific reason.

Alan Alda Was In The United States Army Reserve

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It’s not much of a surprise to see a cast member of M*A*S*H on this list. After graduating from college, the actor would serve for a year at Fort Benning. Then, six months later, he was on duty in Korea with the United States Army Reserve.

Soon after, became one of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Alda began his acting career in the 1950s as a member of the Compass Players, an inspirational comedy revue.

Sam Elliott Was A Military Man Before Being A Cowboy

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Before Elliott was a beloved cowboy of the Wild West, he had a stint in the California Army National Guard. He served in the 163rd Airlift Wing and was based on the Channel Islands.

Eventually, he would return to California in an attempt to become an actor. However, to keep his financial stability afloat, he did work in construction, then joined the military. Soon after, his first role came in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Was In The Austrian Army For A Specific Reason

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The former Governor of California has embarked on a number of dangerous ventures in life. Aside from weightlifting, politics, and being an actor, Arnold can also proudly say that he has experience in the military.

He was a member of the Austrian Army for a year because there’s a rule in Austria that requires all men who are 18 years old to join the Army. After that, well, he starred in some movie called The Terminator.

Read ahead to see the actor who saw more than 20 missions while on duty.

Sean Connery Was In The Navy Before He Was James Bond

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He might be known as the first James Bond actor, but he also served in the British Royal Navy. That’s probably where he learned his spy-moves from, and he joined when he was only 16 years old, without even having injury insurance.

For three years, the Scottish legend stayed in the military. However, he would face numerous health issues that made his discharge obligatory. After leaving the Navy, he found himself a career as an actor.

Carl Reiner Was Drafted Into The Air Force

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He would serve in WWII and achieving the rank of corporal. He initially trained to be a radio operator, but wound up spending three months in the hospital recovering from pneumonia. During language training, he had his first experience as a director, putting on a Moliere play entirely in French.

After completing his language training, he was sent to Hawaii to work as a teleprinter operator. The night before he was to ship out for an unknown assignment, he attended a production of Hamlet.

Charles Bronson Did More Than 20 Missions In The Army

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Before building an impressive acting record, Bronson was actually serving the US in the Second World War. He served in the 760th Flexible Gunnery Training Squadron, and in 1945 as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress aerial gunner.

He flew in over 20 missions and would earn a Purple Heart for wounds he received while in battle. After the end of the war, Bronson worked many odd jobs for money until he joined a theatrical group in Philadelphia.

Up next, this actor was already a child star before he served in the military.

Robert Duvall Was In The Army For A Year

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Duvall’s family had many members who served in the Army, while his father was a Rear Admiral. Duvall thought about taking his shot at military service, so he joined the US Army in 1953.

He took part in the Korean war, though his fighting experience was fairly minimal. In 1954, Duvall would leave as a Private First Class. Interestingly enough, Duvall was another actor who had some film experience before serving.

Mel Brooks Was Drafted In 1944

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He was placed in the Army Specialized Training Program and was sent to the Virginia Military Institute. He served in the United States Army as a corporal in the 1104 Engineer Combat Battalion.

He was sent to Germany, where his main task was to diffuse land mines in order for the troops to advance towards Nazi targets. As soon as WWII ended, Brooks took part in organizing shows for Germans and American Soldiers.

Mickey Rooney Was Already An Actor When He Served In The Military

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He was a part of the Special Services who were entertaining the American troops. Rooney spent part of the time as a radio personality on the American Forces Network. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for entertaining troops in combat zones.

After his military career, Rooney’s career slumped after his return to civilian life. He could no longer play the role of a teenager, but he also lacked the stature of most leading men.

The actor from Wedding Crashers is up next, and his role might makeyou say ‘wow’.

Ernest Borgnine Joined The Navy After His High School Graduation

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Borgnine served aboard the destroyer/minesweeper USS Lamberton. He was enlisted in the Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor. During WWII, he patrolled the Atlantic Coast on an antisubmarine warfare ship. In September 1945, he was honorably discharged from the Navy.

He served a total of almost ten years in the Navy and obtained the grade of gunner’s mate 1st class. His military awards include the Good Conduct Medal and the American Defensive Service Medal.

Drew Carey Actually Served In The Marines

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Carey joined in 1980 and served until 1986, and his decision to join was probably made to improve his financial situation, which still needed help when he left the Army. Afterward, he worked every odd job he could find, serving as a waiter before finally transitioning into a celebrity.

He would go on to create The Drew Carey Show, and host Whose Line Is It Anyways? Since 2007, he has been the host of the Price is Right.

Owen Wilson Did Not Last Long In The New Mexico Military Institute

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The college roommate of Wes Anderson once joined the New Mexico Military Institute. Unfortunately, his time in the military was short-lived. Not only did he not complete his studies, but he also didn’t even finish his training.

After leaving the institute, the renowned actor attended the University of Texas,where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree of Arts in English. Not long after college, Wilson co-wrote Rushmore with his roommate, who would direct The Royal Tenenbaums.

The director of JFK is coming up next.

Montel Williams Joined The Marines After His High School Graduation

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The TV talk show host joined the US Marines in 1974. Williams went through extensive training, and he was the first African American to complete his training, both in the Naval Academy Prep School and in Annapolis.

Williams left the Marines as a Lieutenant Commander rank, and his decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal. His efforts as a counselor for young troops led to the Montell Williams Show.

Clint Eastwood Was Supposed To Go To University But Got Drafted Instead

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Eastwood held plenty of jobs when he was a teenager. The Dirty Harry actor was supposed to enroll at Seattle University in 1951. However, he was drafted into the United States Army during the Korean War.

While returning from a prearranged tryst, Eastwood was a passenger on a Douglas AD bomber that ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean near Point Reyes. Using a life raft, he and the pilot swam two miles to safety.

Oliver Stone’s Vietnam Experience Inspired One Of His Movies


The JFK director served in the Vietnam War. Essentially, his experience was the main focus of his movie Platoon. The story was written so well since Stone actually served, which helped the movie be more realistic.

Before Vietnam, the Scarface writer joined the U.S. Army in 1967, then went on combat duty. He garnered a ton of awards during his time in the military. He’s showing no signs of slowing down when it comes to making movies these days.