There are tons of famous celebrities that served their country before coming famous. These 12 celebrities who served in the military will surprise you! If you’ve ever looked into being an actor, it takes a lot of money to make your big Hollywood debut. There are acting classes, going to audition after audition, and if you’re musician, paying for your equipment. Even if you can pay to get started, actually getting your big break is hard.
You’ll receive a ton of rejection calls. This is why there are many celebrities who served in the military. It’s a good way to save up money and support yourself before you begin selling out stadiums and working in the big summer blockbusters. There are a lot of these celebrities whose military background is well known and others who aren’t so well known. Check out this guide to learn more about these famous people and how they served your country.
- Jackie Robinson
Before he played major league baseball, Jackie Robinson served in the segregated Army cavalry unit. Later he applied to Officer Candidate School. His application was sadly not taken into consideration due to the color of his skin.
That is until heavyweight boxer Joe Louis protested his application denial. In 1943 Jackie Robinson moved up to the second lieutenant. His military career later came to an end due to medical reasons.
- James Doohan
Before he became Scotty in Star Trek, James Doohan entered the Canadian Artillery. During the invasion of Normandy, he had a tragic accident.
A Canadian gunman saw him moving around during the night and thought he was an enemy. Doohan took six bullets that would have killed him. The thing that saved him was a metal cigarette case.
- Laurence Tureaud
Before Mr. T found his place in Hollywood, he served as a military policeman. This became his path after his grades forced him to leave the University he was attending.
In 1975, he earned the “top trainee” award along with a letter of recommendation from a drill sergeant. These credentials were all he needed to become a squad leader.
- Bea Arthur
Before she became a Golden Girl, Bea Arthur worked for the military. She’s one of the very few women celebrities to have joined the Women’s Military Reserve.
For three years Bea drove trucks for the Marine Corps. When she wasn’t driving trucks, she was typing up memos. In 1945 she was given an honorable discharge and later would marry Robert Aurthur who she served in the Marine Corp with her.
Ice-T served four years in the military. Musical instruments are pretty expensive and the military gave him the steady paycheck he needed to buy them and begin his life as a rapper.
For a short time in Hawaii, he worked as a squad leader. Soon after his first child came along he got discharged from his service. From there, he went headlong into his musical career.
- Willie Nelson
Before he was a musician, Willie Nelson served in the Air Force. He enlisted when he was only 17 years old.
His time in the military was short-lived. He was only there for 9 months before sustaining a back injury. Once that happened he had to resign.
- Bob Ross
Would you believe that the soft-spoken, peace-loving Bob Ross was once a drill instructor? It’s true. He served in the Air Force for 20 years.
During his service, he made his way up to drill instructor. He also saw a bunch of beautiful landscapes that inspired him to become a painter.
After leaving the Air Force he began his Joy of Painting program. It allowed him to develop the friendlier persona that he wanted and leave his drill instructor life in the past.
- Clint Eastwood
During the Korean War, Clint Eastwood was drafted into the military. Even so, he was never in any combat.
He got stationed at Fort Ord as a swim instructor and lifeguard. He held this position until he left the military in 1953.
Unlike all the other celebrity veterans on this list, Elvis joined the military while his career was in full swing. In fact, many of his songs were at the top of the charts when he joined in 1957.
He was first stationed in Texas and was later moved to Germany. It was during his time there that he met his future wife Priscilla Beaulieu.
- Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman could read the dictionary and make it sound interesting but that’s not the only talent he possesses. He turned down a drama scholarship in order to join the united states, Air Force.
Freeman was in the Air Force for four years working on radar repair. He ended his career as Airman 1st Class.
- Leonard Nimoy
James Doohan wasn’t the only Star Trek star to join the military. Leonard Nimoy was in the United States Army Reserve.
He finished his time the Army Reserve in 1955 but not before jumping the ranks up to Sargent.
- Tony Bennett
Before he was a singer, Tony Bennett was a part of the military during the end of World War II. His regiment played a big part in saving the prisoners located in the Landsburg concentration camp.
His singing career was actually launched while he was still in service. He was part of a military band.
Major Celebrities Who Served in the Military at Some Point
Many people have been drawn to joining the military. Not only the average everyday person. Celebrities as well.
The ones on this list are only a few of the major celebrities who served in the military. Others such as Don Rickles, Bob Barker, Mel Brooks, Adam Driver, and Drew Carey served at some point.
If you want to learn more about these amazing famous people, check out our pop culture blog for even more celebrity news.