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Some of America’s most celebrated entertainers and personalities rose to fame after completing another highly celebrated task, serving their country. Be it two years or twenty-two, here are nine of Hollywood’s brightest military stars — some of which may surprise you!


 

HUGH HEFNER

Before Hefner was best known for his taste in busty blondes and smoking jackets, the man behind the silk pajamas served as an infantry clerk for the U.S. Army (1944-1946). A mere seven years later, Playboy was born.

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BEA ARTHUR

Celebrated comedian and former Golden Girl, Arthur did more than provide her country with a steady laugh-track. Though a fact she’d later deny, for two-and-a-half years (1943-1945) Arthur served in the Marine Corps. The truth behind Arthur’s military service was revealed in 2010, a year after her death.

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ELVIS PRESLEY

Unlike most military-serving celebs, Presley began his stint with the U.S. Army in the midst of overwhelming fame. Although he was offered considerable benefits in exchange for his service, Presley refused most special treatment in an effort to bolster his reputation.

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MR. T

“Mr. T” was simply Laurence Tureaud from Chicago, Illinois when he served in the U.S. Military Police Corps. The tough demeanor he cultivated in the force gave him his start as a nightclub bouncer, which eventually allowed him to cross paths with Sylvester Stallone and earn a role in Rocky III.

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MONTEL WILLIAMS

Williams served for 22 years, rising to the rank of Lieutenant. It was during his time in the Navy that he began counseling crew members and their families, an unexpected skill that inspired Williams’ later work as the host of long-running talk show The Montel Williams Show.

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CHUCK NORRIS

Norris’s time in the Air Force (1958) played a crucial role in his later success. It was when stationed in South Korea that he ultimately discovered and honed his skill as a martial artist.

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PAT SAJAK

Before Sajak was best known for selling vowels,  he served as a disc jockey for the Armed Forces Radio in Vietnam.


BOB ROSS

After 20 years in the U.S. Air Force — he eventually graduated to the rank of Master Sergeant — Ross discovered firsthand TheJoy of Painting. While serving in Alaska, Florida-born Ross was first introduced to snow and mountains, elements that would later inspire his painting.


ADAM DRIVER

September 11, 2001 inspired Driver to join the U.S. Marine Corps. However, a mountain bike riding injury left the Girls star medically discharged before he was able to deploy. Disappointed, Driver went on to pursue his passion for acting, a practice he compares to his time in the military. In an interview with NPR, Driver said, “The discipline, the self-maintenance, the camaraderie — they’re so similar… I don’t view acting as such a radical departure from the military.”

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