These famous actors have portrayed everyone from police officers to prison inmates. But in real life, they played even more important roles – as members of the United States military. Here is a list of 10 actors who have served our country.
1. Bill Cosby – Before playing one of America’s most beloved TV dads, comedian, actor, and television producer Bill Cosby served as a hospital corpsman in the United States Navy. He enlisted in 1956 and was assigned to work with Korean War casualties at Bethesda Naval Hospital. During his time in the Navy he also won numerous awards as a member of the Navy track team. After being honorably discharged, he used his G.I. Bill benefits to attend Temple University.
2. Clint Eastwood – Academy Award-winner Clint Eastwood is a Hollywood icon but did you know that Dirty Harry was also a U.S. soldier? Eastwood was drafted into the Army during the Korean War and went to basic training at Fort Ord in California. During his time at Fort Ord he met several other soldiers and actors including David Janssen (The Fugitive), Martin Milner (Route 66), and Richard Long (The Big Valley). He was discharged in 1953 and used his G.I. Bill benefits to study drama at L.A. City College.
3. J.R. Martinez – All My Children actor and Dancing With the Stars winner J.R. Martinez enlisted in the Army after high school and served as a U.S. Army infantryman in Iraq. In 2003 he sustained burns on 40% of his body when his humvee hit a landmine. Despite his injuries, he was able to pursue his dream to become an actor and is currently starring in the show Saf3. He is also a motivational speaker and a supporter of many organizations dedicated to helping the military and burn victims, including Operation Finally Home, Rebuilding America’s Warriors, IAVA, and Phoenix Society.
4. Drew Carey – Actor, comedian, and TV host Drew Carey served six years in the U.S. Marine Corps. Carey attributes his start in comedy to his time in the Marines when he began to perform stand-up as a way to make some extra money. Carey continues to be a strong supporter of the troops and tours overseas with the USO.
5. Morgan Freeman – From a young age, Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman had dreams of being a fighter pilot. So much so that after graduating high school he turned down a drama scholarship and enlisted in the United States Air Force. But instead of flying, he spent most of his time on the ground as a radar technician and mechanic. After serving for four years, he left the Air Force to move the Hollywood.
6. Alan Alda – He may be best known for playing Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce on the television series M*A*S*H, but Emmy Award-winner Alan Alda was also a real-life soldier. After graduating Fordham University he joined the Army Reserve and served a six month tour of duty during the Korean War.
7. Chuck Norris – Actor and martial arts champion, Chuck Norris joined the Air Force after he got married and was sent to South Korea. It was actually during his time in the service that he began to study martial arts. He returned to the U.S. to serve as a Military Policeman at March Air Force Base in California. Norris was discharged in 1962 and is actively involved in several charities including the Veterans Administration National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans.
8. Sinbad – Comedian and actor Sinbad, born David Adkins, is a former Air Force KC-135 boom operator. While in the Air Force, he started to perform comedy as a member of Tops In Blue, an all active-duty U.S. Air Force special entertainment unit made of amateur performers. He left the Air Force in 1983.
9. Dennis Franz – Emmy- and Golden Globe Award-winner Dennis Franz, best known for his role in NYPD Blue, enlisted in the Army (Vietnam, 82nd and 101st Airborne) after college. He served for 11 months during the Vietnam War.
10. Leonard Nimoy – Before serving on the starship Enterprise as Mr. Spock, Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy served in the United States Army Reserve. He served for two years primarily at Fort McPherson in Georgia. Nimoy earned the rank of Sergeant and received an honorable discharge in 1955.