Famous Veterans of the Military

Celebrity Veterans

There are never enough ways to thank the men and women who have served and continue to serve in our armed forces.  

Each person who serves is a superstar in our book and a hero in every sense of the word. But did you know these celebrities also served in the US military—most before they hit it big.  

1. Elvis Presley 

Elvis entered the US Army in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 24, 1958, and left active duty at Fort Dix, NJ on March 5, 1960. He received his discharge from the Army Reserve on March 23, 1964.

Elvis Presely in the Military

Photo Credit: Commercial Appeal

2. Clint Eastwood  

Drafted into the Army during the war in Korea in 1958, Eastwood was sent to Fort Ord in California for basic training. He got lucky to get a job as a lifeguard and swimming instructor. He was discharged in 1953 and was able to attend acting school during his tenure thanks to the G.I. Bill.

Clint Eastwood in the Military

Photo Credit: Deep Finds

3. Johnny Cash 

Cash joined the Air Force right out of high school at the onset of the Korean War. He spent much of his four-year enlistment stationed in Germany. He served as an intercept operator with the USAF Security Service.

Johnny Cash in the Military

Photo Credit: Saving Country Music

4. Humphrey Bogart 

Bogart enlisted in the US Navy at the end of World War I and served as a signalman aboard the USS Leviathan, a transport ship for troops. Much of his service was spent ferrying soldiers back and forth between Europe and North America.

Photo Credit: The Biography Channel

5. Jimi Hendrix  

Hendrix enlisted in the Army in 1961 and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, where he was stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. He served until 1962 when he was discharged due to an injury. 

Jimi Hendrix

Photo Credit: AP Photo File

6. Morgan Freeman  

Freeman served from 1955 to 1959 in the Air Force. Initially, he worked as a radar technician before training as a pilot. He left the military with an honorable discharge as an airman first class in 1959.

Morgan Freeman in the Military

Photo Credit: Vantage Point

7. Bea Arthur  

Arthur, then known as Beatrice Frankel enlisted as one of the first members of the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve in 1943. She worked as a typist at Headquarters in Washington DC, as well as a driver and dispatcher at the Motor Transport School at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Arthur had reached the rank of Staff Sergeant by the time she was honorably discharged in 1945.

Bea Arthur in the Military

Photo Credit: Imjur

8. Hugh Hefner  

Hefner enlisted in the Army in 1944, right out of high school. He served as an infantry clerk and worked on various military newspapers at Camp Adair in Salem, Oregon, and Camp Pickett in Virginia until he was discharged in 1946. 

Hugh Hefner in the Military

Photo Credit: Hugh Hefner Instagram

9. Johnny Carson  

Carson joined the United States Navy in 1943 and was an instructor at the V-12 Navy College Training Program at Columbia University and Millsaos College. Commissioned an Ensign late in the war, Carson was assigned to the USS Pennsylvania in the Pacific. 

Johnny Carson

Photo Credit: Washington Times

10. Sidney Poitier  

In 1943, Poitier enlisted in the Army without revealing his age. He was just 16 at the time. He served as a medical attendant at a psychiatric hospital on Long Island, in New York for a time but feigned mental illness to obtain a discharge. Poitier met with a psychiatrist for several weeks and ultimately was granted a discharge in 1944.

Sidney Poitier in the Military

Photo Credit: Military Wiki

Other notable celebrities who served in the military include the following:  

  • Chuck Norris
  • Tony Bennett
  • Ice-T
  • Steve McQueen
  • Kirk Douglas
  • Adam Driver
  • Kris Kristofferson
  • Drew Carey
  • Paul Newman
  • Alan Alda
  • Bob Ross
  • Mel Brooks
  • Bob Barker
  • Ed McMahon
  • Bob Sajak
  • Montel Williams
  • Tom Selleck 

The veterans on this list were all influenced in some way by their service. And we’d like to think they became better human beings because of their time in the military.

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