It may come as a surprise to many that actor and funny-man Drew Carey served in the military at one point during his life. Carey actually served in the US Marine Corps for six whole years. He was once asked why he doesn’t talk about his time as a Marine more often and he stated that he didn’t want to hurt his image as a comedian.
Carey adopted his iconic crewcut while he was in the military and has kept it ever since. Also interesting, for much of his life, he didn’t need to wear corrected lenses. The black-rimmed glasses were a fashion choice but later in life, he did develop a need for bifocals.
That’s right, Willy Wonka was a veteran! Gene Wilder was drafted into the Army when he was 23-years-old but even then, he knew he was going to be an actor!
When he finished his recruiting training, Wilder was assigned to the medical corps and got to choose where he wanted to go. He ended up picking the Valley Forge Army Hospital, in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, where he was a paramedic, because it was close to New York City where he was taking acting classes. Wilder was discharged after two years and went on to become a full-time acting student!
Celebrity musician Willie Nelson enlisted in the US Air Force straight after high school in 1950. His military career didn’t last long though, he was medically discharged after about nine months of service due to back problems.
After his service and a number of odd jobs, he began to pursue a career in music. It took him nearly two decades to achieve success but he stuck with it and now he is world famous for his work, as well as for his advocacy for the legalization of marijuana.
It wasn’t just male celebrities who served in the military. Actress and comedian Beatrice “Bea” Arthur was another famous face who joined the marine corps during World War II!
The Golden Girls‘ actress was a truck driver and typist for the Marines 30 months, although she did deny it at one point. 21-year-old Arthur stated back then, “heard last week that enlistments for women in the Marines were open, so decided the only thing to do was to join.” When she was honorably discharged in 1945, she had the title of staff sergeant.
Hollywood tough-guy Charles Bronson is known for his roles portraying police officers, gunfighters and vigilantes. Before all that, he served in WWII as an aerial gunner. He enlisted in 1943 and was based in Guam carrying out missions against the Japanese home islands. He received the Purple Heart and directly participated in 25 missions.
Bronson was born to a poor immigrant family and had 14 siblings. He actually didn’t even learn English until he was a teenager, he grew up speaking Russian and Lithuanian. And if that weren’t enough, Bronson also started working in a coal-mine to help out his family at the young age of ten.
Dan Blocker, the American TV actor who starred in Bonanza also happened to serve in the military. Also known as a Korean War veteran, Blocker drafted into the U.S. Army during the war in 1951. He served in several battalions and infantries after he became an infantry sergeant upon completing his training at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Blocker was wounded during the war and received a Purple Heart for his dedication and perseverance. The actor was also awarded a National Defense Service Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Korean War Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Republic of Korea Presidential Unity Citation, and Korean Service Medal with two 3/16 bronze campaign stars. Pretty impressive, don’t you agree?