70+ Celebrities Who Were in the Military

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The many celebrities who were in the military are those who signed up to make the ultimate sacrifice for their countries. Through the years, many famous people have served in the military. While some were drafted, others enlisted voluntarily, and some even joined up multiple times. Many actors from the golden era of Hollywood served during World War II. The Vietnam War was also a popular era for actors who were in the military.

Many famous American military veterans went on to have illustrious careers in the entertainment industry. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly actor Clint Eastwood served in the US Army during the Korean War and almost died when he was involved in a plane crash. The plane landed in the ocean near Fort Ord, CA, and Eastwood was able to swim to safety. Some 40 years later, he won his first Oscar for directing Unforgiven. Other prolific actors who have served in the military include Paul Newman, Morgan Freeman, and Chuck Norris. 

Some surprising celebs also served in the military, including musicians and rocks stars. Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia joined the US Army, but left the military 9 months later to study at the Art Institute of San Francisco. Other surprising military men include Tool front man Maynard James Keenan, comedian Drew Carey, and rapper Ice-T.

Do you think that serving in the military gave these famous people the discipline they needed to succeed in their careers? Share your thoughts in the comments section.


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  1. "Million Dollar Baby" director Clint Eastwood was drafted by the US Army during the Korean War.

    Clinton "Clint" Eastwood, Jr. is an American actor, film director, producer, musician, and politician. He rose to international fame with his role as the Man with No Name in Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy of spaghetti Westerns during the 1960s, and as antihero cop Harry Callahan in the five Dirty Harry ...more

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    • Age: age 85
    • Birthplace: USA, California, San Francisco
    • Profession: Film Score Composer, Businessperson, Politician, Pianist, Television producer, + more
    • Credits: Good, Unforgiven, Dirty Harry, Million Dollar Baby, Back to the Future Part II, + more
  2. Elvis Presley joined the US Army in 1958.

    Elvis Aaron Presley was an American singer and actor. Regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century, he is often referred to as "the King of Rock and Roll", or simply, "the King". Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and when he was 13 years old, he and his family ...more

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    • Age: Died at 42 (1935-1977)
    • Birthplace: USA, Mississippi, Tupelo
    • Profession: Soldier, Musician, Actor, Singer
    • Credits: Jailhouse Rock, Clambake, King Creole, Viva Las Vegas, Cadillac Records, + more
  3. "Bucket List" Morgan Freeman served in the US Air Force.

    Morgan Freeman is an American actor, film director, and narrator. Freeman has received Academy Award nominations for his performances in Street Smart, Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption and Invictus, and won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2005 for Million Dollar Baby. He has also won a ...more

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    • Age: age 78
    • Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States of America
    • Profession: Businessperson, Television producer, Film Producer, Actor, Voice acting, + more
    • Credits: The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins, The Shawshank Redemption, Seven, + more
  4. Chuck Norris served in the US Airforce.

    Carlos Ray "Chuck" Norris is an American martial artist, actor, film producer and screenwriter. After serving in the United States Air Force, he began his rise to fame as a martial artist, and has since founded his own school, Chun Kuk Do. Norris appeared in a number of action films, such as Way of the ...more

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    • Age: age 75
    • Birthplace: Ryan, Oklahoma, United States of America
    • Profession: Television producer, Film Producer, Screenwriter, Author, Actor, + more
    • Credits: The Expendables 2, DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, Walker, Texas Ranger, The Delta Force, + more
  5. "Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak served in the US Army during the Vietnam War.

    Pat Sajak is an American television personality, former weatherman, actor and talk show host, best known as the host of the American television game show Wheel of Fortune.more

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    • Age: age 69
    • Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
    • Profession: Talk show host, Television producer, Game Show Host, Film Producer, Radio personality, + more
    • Credits: The Price Is Right, Airplane II: The Sequel, Wheel of Fortune, Wheel of Fortune's daytime version, Pat Sajak Weekend, + more
  6. Jimi Hendrix joined the Army after being caught stealing cars.  He was given the choice of Army or prison.

    James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix was an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century.more

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    • Age: Died at 28 (1942-1970)
    • Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, United States of America
    • Profession: Record producer, Guitarist, Songwriter, Entrepreneur, Musician, + more
    • Credits: Woodstock, Monterey Pop, All My Loving, Jimi Hendrix, The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live at Monterey, + more
  7. Musician Marvin Gaye enlisted in the US Air Force, but was discharged after he faked a mental illness.

    Marvin Gaye was an American singer, songwriter and musician. Gaye helped to shape the sound of Motown Records, first as an in house session player in the 1960s and later as a solo artist with a string of hits, including How Sweet It Is and I Heard It Through the Grapevine, and duet recordings with Mary ...more

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    • Age: Died at 45 (1939-1984)
    • Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States of America
    • Profession: Film Score Composer, Record producer, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, + more
    • Credits: The Ballad of Andy Crocker, T.A.M.I. Show, Chrome and Hot Leather, Marvin Gaye: Live in Belgium 1981, Marvin Gaye: Greatest Hits Live in '76, + more
  8. "Playboy" creator Hugh Hefner served as a military newspaper writer in the US Army.

    Hugh Marston Hefner is an American adult magazine publisher, businessman, and a well-known playboy. This Chicago, Illinois native is a former journalist for Esquire and World War II veteran but is best known for being the founder and chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises. A self-made ...more

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    • Age: age 89
    • Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
    • Profession: Editor, Publisher, Businessperson, Journalist, Entrepreneur, + more
    • Credits: History of the World, Part I, Hop, Miss March, The Girls Next Door, + more
  9. Bill Cosby joined the Navy and worked as a hospital corpsman.

    William Henry "Bill" Cosby Jr. is an American stand-up comedian, actor, author, and activist. Cosby's start in stand-up began at the hungry i in San Francisco which was followed by landing a starring role in the 1960s show I Spy. During its first two seasons, he was a regular on the children's ...more

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    • Age: age 78
    • Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America
    • Profession: Activist, Film Score Composer, Television director, Television producer, Musician, + more
    • Credits: The Cosby Show, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, A Different World, Jack, Let's Do It Again, + more
  10. "Tonight Show" host Johnny Carson served in the Navy.

    John William "Johnny" Carson was an American television host, comedian, writer, producer, actor, and musician known for thirty years as host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Carson received six Emmy Awards, the Governor's Award, and a 1985 Peabody Award. He was inducted into the Television ...more

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    • Age: Died at 80 (1925-2005)
    • Birthplace: Quincy Township, Corning, Iowa, USA
    • Profession: Comedian, Screenwriter, Actor, Presenter
    • Credits: The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Space Ghost, The Tonight Show, The Johnny Carson Show, Mr. President, + more
  11. Mr. T served in the US Army.

    Mr. T is an American actor known for his roles as B. A. Baracus in the 1980s television series The A-Team, as boxer Clubber Lang in the 1982 film Rocky III, and for his appearances as a professional wrestler. Mr. T is known for his trademark African Mandinka warrior hairstyle, his gold jewelry, and his ...more

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    • Age: age 63
    • Birthplace: USA, Chicago, Illinois
    • Profession: Wrestler, Bodyguard, Actor, Voice acting, Motivational speaker, + more
    • Credits: The Blues Brothers, Rocky III, Rocky IV, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Not Another Teen Movie, + more
  12. Comedy director Mel Brooks served in the US Army during World War II.

    Melvin James "Mel" Brooks is an American film director, screenwriter, comedian, actor, producer, composer, and songwriter. He is best known as a creator of broad film farces and comic parodies. He began his career as a comic and a writer for the early TV variety show Your Show of Shows. He became well ...more

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    • Age: age 89
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America
    • Profession: Television producer, Theatrical producer, Film Producer, Actor, Voice Actor, + more
    • Credits: Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, The Fly, The Muppet Movie, + more
  13. Jazz musician John Coltrane enlisted in the Navy and played in their jazz band.

    John William Coltrane, also known as "Trane", was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes in jazz and was later at the forefront of free jazz. He organized at least fifty recording sessions as a ...more

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    • Age: Died at 41 (1926-1967)
    • Birthplace: Hamlet, North Carolina, United States of America
    • Profession: Songwriter, Saxophonist, Musician, Bandleader, Composer
    • Credits: Jazz Casual: John Coltrane, Jazz Icons: John Coltrane: Live in '60, '61 & '65, Jazz Casual
  14. "Price is Right" host Bob Barker served as a fighter pilot in the US Navy during World War II.

    Robert William "Bob" Barker is an American former television game show host. He is best known for hosting CBS's The Price Is Right from 1972 to 2007, making it the longest-running daytime game show in North American television history, and for hosting Truth or Consequences from 1956 to 1974. Born in ...more

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    • Age: age 92
    • Birthplace: Darrington, Washington, United States of America
    • Profession: Television producer, Game Show Host, Actor, Presenter, Fighter pilot
    • Credits: Happy Gilmore, The Price Is Right, Truth or Consequences, The Family Game, That's My Line
  15. Musician Johnny Cash enlisted in the US Air Force.

    John R. "Johnny" Cash was a singer-songwriter, actor, and author, widely considered one of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century. Although primarily remembered as a country music icon, his genre-spanning songs and sound embraced rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk, and gospel.more

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    • Age: Died at 71 (1932-2003)
    • Birthplace: Kingsland, Arkansas, United States of America
    • Profession: Songwriter, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Author, Actor, + more
    • Credits: Walk the Line, North and South, The Hunted, A Gunfight, A Tribute to Johnny Cash, + more
  16. Musician Shaggy served in the US Marine Corps during the Gulf War.

    Orville Richard Burrell CD, best known by his stage name Shaggy, is a Jamaican-born American reggae fusion singer and deejay. He is best known for his hit singles "Boombastic", "It Wasn't Me" and "Angel". He is said to have taken his stage name from his shaggy hair.more

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    • Age: age 47
    • Birthplace: Kingston, Jamaica
    • Profession: Songwriter, Rapper, Musician, Actor, Singer, + more
    • Credits: Blast, Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special, I Love the New Millennium, Unite the People: 11th Anniversary: Vol. 3, Shaggy: Live at Chiemsee Reggae Summer
  17. Tom Selleck served in California's National Guard.

    Thomas William "Tom" Selleck is an American actor and film producer. He is best known for his starring role as the private investigator Thomas Magnum in the television series Magnum, P.I., based in Hawaii. He also plays Police Chief Jesse Stone in a series of made-for-TV movies based on Robert B. Parker ...more

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    • Age: age 70
    • Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States of America
    • Profession: Television producer, Film Producer, Screenwriter, Actor
    • Credits: Meet the Robinsons, Blue Bloods, Magnum, P.I., Midway, + more
  18. Rapper Ice-T served in the US Army.

    Tracy Lauren Marrow, better known by his stage name Ice-T, is an American rapper, singer, and actor. He began his career as a rapper in the 1980s and was signed to Sire Records in 1987, when he released his debut album Rhyme Pays, the first hip-hop album to carry an explicit content sticker. The next ...more

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    • Age: age 57
    • Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States of America
    • Profession: Film Score Composer, Record producer, Rapper, Entrepreneur, Musician, + more
    • Credits: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Other Guys, New Jack City, Leprechaun In the Hood, Colors, + more
  19. Sammy Davis Jr. served in the Army during World War II.

    Samuel George "Sammy" Davis Jr., was an American entertainer. Primarily a dancer and singer, he was also an actor of stage and screen, musician, and impressionist, noted for his impersonations of actors, musicians and other celebrities. At the age of three Davis began his career in vaudeville with his ...more

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    • Age: Died at 65 (1925-1990)
    • Birthplace: Harlem, New York City, New York, United States of America
    • Profession: Television producer, Musician, Film Producer, Actor, Singer, + more
    • Credits: Diamonds Are Forever, The Cannonball Run, Cannonball Run II, Robin and the Seven Hoods, Porgy and Bess, + more
  20. Actor Steve McQueen served in the US Marine Corps.

    Terence Steven "Steve" McQueen was an American actor. Called "The King of Cool", his "anti-hero" persona, developed at the height of the Vietnam War-era counterculture, made him a top box-office draw of the 1960s and 1970s. McQueen received an Academy Award nomination for his role in The Sand Pebbles.more

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    • Age: Died at 50 (1930-1980)
    • Birthplace: USA, Beech Grove, Indiana
    • Profession: Film Producer, Actor
    • Credits: The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, Bullitt, The Towering Inferno, The Blob, + more
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