Here are 10 stars you might be surprised to learn are military veterans.

Famous people who were in the military

1. Drew Carey

LOS ANGELES - AUG 10:  Drew Carey at the CBS, CW, Showtime Summer 2016 TCA Party at the Pacific Design Center on August 10, 2016 in West Hollywood, CA
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock
Drew Carey served in the Marine Reserve.

Drew Carey is known to give a warm greeting to contestants on “The Price is Right” who are in the Marine Corps. He still feels a strong bond with that branch of the military, decades after his service in the Marine Reserve.

It was during his time in the reserves, from 1980 to 1986, that Carey first began to explore the idea of delving into comedy.

He took on his now familiar crew-cut-and-glasses look and performed a stand-up routine that paid him $10 per joke.

2. Robin Quivers

Robin Quivers at Comedy Central's Roast of Joan Rivers. CBS Studios, Los Angeles, CA. 07-26-09
s_bukley / Shutterstock
Robin Quivers was in the Air Force.

You recognize her raucous, trademark laugh if you listen to "The Howard Stern Show." What you may not have heard is that Robin Quivers — Stern's longtime sidekick — originally wanted to become a nurse, and later served in the U.S. Air Force.

She earned a degree in nursing from the University of Maryland and decided to put her education and skills to work in the Air Force, where she rose to the rank of captain.

Quivers continued to serve in the reserves until 1990. Following her discharge from full-time service in 1978, she attended broadcaster school, and she got her first job with Stern a few years later.

3. Ice-T

New York, NY, USA - April 19, 2014: Rapper Ice-T attends Tribeca Talks: After the Movie: 'Champs' during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival at the SVA Theater, Manhattan
Sam Aronov / Shutterstock
Ice-T served in the Army.

Known for “playing it cool,” Tracy Lauren Marrow faced challenges as he entered adulthood in rough and tumble South Central Los Angeles. The birth of his daughter made him realize he needed to provide support or risk going to jail.

He joined the Army — and that didn't go smoothly at first either. But he was able to resolve a minor theft incident, save money and learn how to rap.

Marrow took Ice-T as his stage name after he left the Army in 1979. He won a Grammy Award in 1991, and his performances in rap movies would lead to other acting roles including his long run on TV's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

4. Adam Driver

Adam Driver in a scene from 'Girls' Season 5
Craig Blankenhorn / Courtesy of HBO
Adam Driver joined the Marines after 9/11.

Inspired by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, future Star Wars bad guy Adam Driver signed up for a tour with the U.S. Marines in early 2002. He served two years and eight months until a mountain biking injury got him discharged before he had a chance to deploy.

Driver then studied drama at the legendary Juilliard School in New York and would go on to have a spectacular acting career.

He was one of the stars of the HBO series Girls and has played villain Kylo Ren in the most recent Star Wars films. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman.

5. Montel Williams

NEW YORK - NOV 25 2015: Television personality and former USMC Lt Commander Montel Williams smiles to the crowd during a New York Veterans Day parade
Glynnis Jones / Shutterstock
Montel Williams started in the Marines and later transitioned to the Navy.

TV talk show host Montel Williams went right from high school into the U.S. Marine Corps. After proving the depth of his interest in the service, he was given the chance to attend the elite U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Williams graduated into the Navy, where he cracked codes for naval intelligence, did top-secret work for the National Security Agency and spent three years working aboard submarines.

He also discovered his talent for public speaking, which would lead to his 17-season run hosting "The Montel Williams Show."

6. Kirk Douglas

07MAR99: Actor KIRK DOUGLAS at the Screen Actors Guild Awards where he received the Lifetime Achievement Award.                      Paul Smith / Featureflash
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock
Kirk Douglas was in the Navy during World War II.

A young would-be actor named Izzy Demsky became Kirk Douglas before he joined the Navy shortly after the U.S. entered the fighting in World War II.

He served as a gunnery and communications officer, including a stint on board a ship engaged in anti-submarine warfare. It was a perilous assignment that left Douglas injured when a depth charge accidentally exploded.

He received a medical discharge and would enjoy a long life and a long career in the movies. He was nominated for three Academy Awards and was given an honorary lifetime Oscar in 1996.

7. Morgan Freeman

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 18: Actor Morgan Freeman attends the screening of 'Sin City' at the Grand Theatre during the 58th International Cannes Film Festival May 18, 2005 in Cannes, France
Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock
Morgan Freeman trained to be an Air Force fighter pilot.

Morgan Freeman watched war movies as a kid in the 1940s and dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot. He signed up for the U.S. Air Force in 1955 but was disappointed to land an assignment as a radar technician.

But when he was finally given the opportunity to train as a fighter pilot, it felt like he was "sitting in the nose of a bomb." He told AARP Magazine he had a "very clear epiphany" that he didn't really want to fly a fighter plane.

He left the Air Force, took up acting — and would go on to win an Academy Award for his supporting role as the chauffeur in Driving Miss Daisy in 1989.

8. Chuck Norris

DORTMUND, GERMANY - December 1st 2018: Chuck Norris (1940, American martial artist, actor, film producer and screenwriter) at German Comic Con Dortmund, a two day fan convention
Markus Wissmann / Shutterstock
Chuck Norris learned martial arts while he was in the Air Force.

Chuck Norris is known for his phenomenal martial arts skills — and he has the U.S. Air Force to thank for it.

He enlisted with the goal of eventually going into law enforcement, but he became acquainted with martial arts during service in Korea. Norris was a security officer and was fascinated to learn that he could handle a rowdy drunk without having to pull his weapon.

He was discharged in 1962 and got work as a karate instructor training celebrities including actor Steve McQueen. It was McQueen who encouraged Norris to take up acting himself.

9. Clint Eastwood

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 19, 2012: Clint Eastwood at the premiere of his movie
Jaguar PS / Shutterstock
Clint Eastwood was drafted into the Army during the Korean War.

The tough-guy actor best known for his taunt to "Make my day" had misgivings about serving in the military as an Army draftee during the Korean War.

His duty as a swim instructor at Fort Ord on California's Monterey Bay gave him the skills to swim a mile to shore on a day when he flew aboard a Navy torpedo bomber — and it ran out of gas and crashed in the Pacific.

That experience would later help prepare him for his role in the 1979 movie Escape From Alcatraz. Eastwood played an inmate who swam from the notorious prison in San Francisco Bay.

10. Tom Selleck

Tom Selleck - star of
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock
Tom Selleck served in the California National Guard.

Handsome and durable leading man Tom Selleck — known for his starring TV roles and that bushy mustache — served his country at home as a member of the California National Guard during the Vietnam War.

Selleck became a sergeant and even appeared on recruiting posters for the Guard. He has said he's proud of his six years of service.

He had made a few commercials before entering the National Guard and resumed his acting career upon returning to civilian life in 1973. Seven years later, he landed his iconic role as TV's Magnum, P.I.

About the Author

Neve Gotshalk

Neve Gotshalk

Freelance Contributor

Neve is a freelance contributor to MoneyWise.

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