Of the 29 American presidents who served in the military, there have been precisely zero with Marine Corps experience. On the other hand, no branch of the United States military has the Corps’ track record when it pertains to turning out movie stars.
Some of the best tough-guy stars in Hollywood history got their start in the Militaries. Marines love to help other Marines and, as we make our method through the list, observe just how many actors and directors served together in the Corps and the number of these Militaries appeared together in films.
Here are 10 of the best motion picture actors to serve in the USMC.
1. Gene Hackman
Gene Hackman left of high school at age 16 and lied to the recruiter about his age to join the Marines, part of a tradition now lost in the contemporary military with all its birth certificate requirements and modern databases. Hackman served in China up until the Communist revolution and finished his service in Japan and Hawaii prior to his discharge in 1951.
The Marine’s acting career left to an extremely sluggish start with just a handful of small film roles and television visitor appearances until he lastly had an advancement at age 37 as Buck Barrow in 1967’s “Bonnie and Clyde” alongside Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. Hackman was chosen for Finest Supporting Star, and the influential gangster was a sign that big changes were concerning Hollywood films.
Hackman won a Best Actor Oscar for playing NYPD Det. Popeye Doyle in the 1971 film “The French Connection,” which won 5 total Oscars, consisting of Best Picture. That kicked off an amazing years with lead functions in the weird 1972 gangster flick “Prime Cut” together with fellow Marine Lee Marvin, 1972’s catastrophe movie blockbuster “The Poseidon Adventure,” Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 Best Picture Oscar candidate “The Discussion,” the 1975 noir timeless “Night Moves,” a repeat performance as Doyle in 1975’s “French Connection II” and 1977’s The second world war timeless “A Bridge Too Far.”
He played Lex Luthor in 3 Christopher Reeve Superman motion pictures, a Marine veteran searching for his POW boy in 1983’s “Unusual Valor,” an inspirational high school basketball coach in 1986’s “Hoosiers,” a corrupt defense secretary in the 1987 spy thriller “No other way Out,” a USAF colonel in the 1988 Vietnam War movie “Bat * 21,” a Green Beret in 1989’s “The Package,” a corrupt legal representative in 1993’s “The Company” and a Navy submarine leader in 1995’s “Crimson Tide.”
That’s an extraordinary run, however it excludes his Best Star Oscar-nominated function as an FBI agent in the 1988 civil liberties drama “Mississippi Burning” and his Finest Supporting Star Oscar win in Clint Eastwood’s hit 1992 western and Finest Image “Unforgiven.”
Hackman retired from acting in 2004 after a famous late-career performance in the 2001 Wes Anderson timeless “The Royal Tenenbaums,” providing a moving performance in a role that would have been farce in lower hands. Hackman is still with us at age 92 and, if he reads this, we ‘d enjoy to have a discussion about his days in the Corps.
2. Adam Motorist
Adam Chauffeur is the youngest star on this list and one of the few modern Hollywood stars with military experience. He graduated from high school in 2001 and employed in the Marine Corps after the Sept. 11 attacks, training as an 81mm mortar guy and serving with the Defense Business, 1st Battalion, 1st Militaries. His career was interrupted right before his unit shipped out to Iraq when he fractured his sternum in a mountain cycling mishap. He was medically released as a lance corporal.
He finished from Julliard in 2009, and his career removed not long after when he was cast as Adam Sackler in the HBO series “Women” in 2012. High-profile functions in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” and the Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” quickly followed.
Motorist is best understood for playing Ben Solo, aka Kylo Ren, in the 3 “Star Wars” sequels launched beginning in 2015. That made him one of the most well-known stars worldwide, however he has actually chosen to concentrate on unique and indie movies rather than make a career in Marvel films or action thrillers.
He was nominated for a Best Star Oscar for the 2019 divorce drama “Marriage Story” and a Best Supporting Star Oscar for Spike Lee’s 2018 drama “BlacKkKlansman.” Other career highlights consist of Jim Jarmusch’s 2016 drama “Paterson,” Martin Scorsese’s 2016 historic drama “Silence,” Steven Soderbergh’s 2017 NASCAR break-in comedy “Logan Lucky,” Jarmusch’s 2019 zombie comedy “The Dead Do Not Pass Away,” the 2019 9/11 investigation drama “The Report,” and a pair of 2021 Ridley Scott dramas, “The Last Battle” and “Gucci.”
Motorist is currently filming “Ferrari” for Michael Mann, in which he plays the famous vehicle designer and will follow that with Francis Ford Coppola’s planned epic, “Megalopolis.”
3. Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen joined the Marine Corps in 1947 at age 17 after his mom signed the documents that let him make a minor enlistment. He had a hard time in the beginning with military discipline and did a stint in the brig after some unapproved leave. McQueen got the message and turned things around, conserving the lives of 5 Marines when he rescued them from a tank about to break through the ice on an Arctic mission.
McQueen utilized his GI Bill to study acting in New York City and ended up being a successful motorcycle racer as a way to generate income while he waited for the acting career to take off. He got an early break in the 1958 teen sci-fi film “The Blob,” but his career really kicked into equipment when he was cast in the lead function in the 1958 CBS tv series, “Desired: Dead or Alive.”
Then came a breakout film role in WWII Army Air Corps veteran John Sturges’ 1960 western, “The Spectacular Seven;” Don Siegel’s 1962 WWII drama, “Hell Is for Heroes;” and another 1962 WWII drama, “The War Fan.”
McQueen became a superstar as “The Cooler King” in Sturges’ 1963 WWII POW drama, “The Fantastic Escape.” The Marine was magnetic as Army Air Force Capt. Virgil Hilts, and McQueen is the embodiment of ’60s cool. There’s a reason Quentin Tarantino made this the role that avoided imaginary hero Rick Dalton in “As Soon As Upon a Time … In Hollywood.”
Simply when you believe a star couldn’t be more magnetic in a film, McQueen shows up in 1968’s “Bullitt,” a film that may be both the best car-chase film and the best badass cops investigator film ever made. The movie’s green 1968 Mustang GT might be the most renowned car in movie history, but the automobile’s cool factor fades when compared to the icy efficiency by McQueen as Lt. Frank Bullitt.
McQueen got his only Oscar election for playing a Navy engineer in the war drama, “The Sand Pebbles.” He co-starred with Dustin Hoffman in the hit 1973 jail drama “Papillon” and played a lead function in the 1974 catastrophe film hit “The Towering Inferno.”
That list of functions is much shorter than it should be, since McQueen died at age 50 from mesothelioma cancer, a cancer he blamed on asbestos exposure he got when eliminating insulation from a troop ship while in the Marines.
4. Lee Marvin
Nicknamed for his remote cousin, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Lee Marvin left school in 1942 to get in the Militaries. Throughout WWII, Marvin was injured in fight on Saipan in June 1944 and was discharged from the Corps a year later after medical treatment. Fans of the star will not be amazed to discover that he left the Corps as a private, having been demoted from corporal since of his attitude problems.
After studying acting on the GI Costs, Marvin had a huge breakout year in 1953 with functions as bad guy Vince Stone opposite fellow Marine Glenn Ford in Fritz Lang’s noir “The Big Heat” and Chino opposite Marlon Brando in “The Wild One.” Marvin is definitely electrical in both movies, bringing a feral energy almost never formerly seen in Hollywood films.
He appeared in classic films like Edward Dmytryk’s “The Caine Mutiny” (1954) and John Sturges’ “Bad Day at Black Rock” (1955) before taking the lead function in the NBC crime series “M Team” in 1957.
The motion picture profession got back on track when Marvin starred as the title character opposite WWII Army Air Force veteran James Stewart and John Wayne in WWII Navy veteran John Ford’s towering western, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” Once again, he brings a stunning intensity that contrasts with the old-school Hollywood acting from Stewart and Wayne.
Marvin starred as a hit man alongside fellow Marine Clu Gulager in Don Siegel’s 1964 noir “The Killers” and won a Best Actor Oscar for the 1965 western comedy “Feline Ballou” prior to taking on his most renowned function, OSS Maj. John Reisman in Robert Aldrich’s timeless WWII action motion picture “The Dirty Dozen.”
The star went on to make some daring choices, including John Boorman’s incredibly arty movie noir “Point Blank” in 1967, the previously mentioned 1972 weirdo gangster motion picture “Prime Cut” opposite fellow Marine Gene Hackman, and a four-hour 1973 movie version of Eugene O’Neill’s play “The Iceman Cometh” opposite fellow Marine Robert Ryan and directed by Flying force veteran John Frankenheimer.
Marvin starred in WWII Army veterinarian Samuel Fuller’s semi-autobiographical 1980 WWII drama “The Big Red One” and the 1983 spy thriller “Gorky Park” before making his last look opposite Air Force veteran Chuck Norris in the 1986 spec ops thriller “The Delta Force.” The Marine veteran died at the age of 63 from complications related to a fungal infection called coccidioidomycosis.
5. George C. Scott
Upon graduation from high school, George C. Scott employed in the Marine Corps and served from 1945-1949. He was an honor guard for military funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery and associated his drinking routine to that experience.
Scott studied journalism and theater at the University of Missouri on the GI Costs. He carried out in New York City theater prior to making a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination out of eviction in the 1959 courtroom drama “Anatomy of a Murder,” opposite WWII Army Flying force veteran James Stewart, WWII Army veteran Arthur O’Connell, Army veteran Orson Bean and WWII Army Force veteran Howard McNear.
Scott became an icon with a humorous efficiency as Gen. Buck Turgidson in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 military satire “Dr. Strangelove: or How I Discovered to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” opposite fellow Marine Sterling Hayden.
He later on showed that it takes a Marine to depict a real-life Army icon like Gen. George S. Patton, as evidenced by the famous opening scene where Scott addresses the soldiers in front of a huge American flag. Scott won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in the 1970 motion picture “Patton,” which won an overall of 7 Oscars, consisting of Finest Image.
6. Sterling Hayden
Sterling Hayden dropped out of high school and went to sea and worked as a fisherman. Scouts from Paramount Pictures saw an image of Hayden taken at an annual Angler’s Race in Gloucester, Massachusetts. They brought him to Hollywood for a screen test, and the sailor-turned-actor made a couple of motion picture appearances before World War II broke out. He signed up with the Army, quickly broke an ankle and was clinically released.
Hayden wasn’t done with the armed force. He then enlisted in the Marine Corps under the phony name John Hamilton and was suggested for Officer Prospect School after boot camp at Parris Island. After graduation from OCS, Marine officer Hamilton was designated to the OSS and performed missions behind firing line. He was granted the Silver Star and left the service as a captain.
He got his first huge motion picture break as the lead in WWII Army veteran John Huston’s break-in thriller “The Asphalt Jungle” opposite fellow Marine WWII veteran James Whitmore and WWI Army veteran Louis Calhern.
Hayden ended up being a big star after another heist picture, this time Stanley Kubrick’s 1956 motion picture “The Killing” in which he played opposite WWII Army vet Elisha Cook Jr. and Joe Turkel. The film was a success and resulted in a reunion with Kubrick for 1964’s “Dr. Strangelove: or How I Discovered to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” in which he played Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper, one of the most remarkable characters in military film history. And, obviously, he played along with fellow Marine George C. Scott.
Hayden played two more renowned functions in his later career, most memorably the corrupt NYPD Capt. McCluskey in “The Godfather” (1972) and later Roger Pitch in Robert Altman’s noir traditional “The Long Goodbye” (1973 ). Hayden died of prostate cancer at age 70 in 1986.
7. Glenn Ford
Born in Canada in 1916 and raised in Southern California, Glenn Ford was simply beginning his career in Hollywood when The second world war loomed. Ford joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary in 1941 prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Throughout the first year of the war, Ford traveled the nation to sell war bonds but didn’t believe he was doing enough, so he signed up with the Marine Corps Reserve in December 1942. Ford and fellow star Tyrone Power hosted a weekly Marines radio program called “Halls of Montezuma” while he waited to be shipped out for fight.
Unfortunately, Ford established ulcers and was hospitalized prior to a medical discharge in December 1944. He continued to serve in the Naval Reserve for more than 20 years, well into the Vietnam War period.
Back at the movies, Ford became a substantial star alongside Rita Hayworth in the prominent film noir “Gilda” in 1946. Highlights include the lead role in another prominent noir, “The Huge Heat” (1953 ), which featured fellow Marine Lee Marvin as a villain.
Ford dealt with writer/director and WWII Marine veteran Richard Brooks on “Blackboard Jungle” (1955 ), a prominent drama about juvenile delinquency in which Ford was the instructor attempting to connect with a class of harmful inner-city youth. Ford became a staple in westerns like “3:10 to Yuma” (1957) and “Cimarron” (1960) and war films like “Torpedo Run” (1958 ), ”
Is Paris Burning?” (1966) and “Midway” (1976 ). Ford likewise played Pa Kent in “Superman” (1978 ).
The star retired from the screen in 1991 and passed away in 2006 at age 90 in Beverly Hills, California.
8. Robert Ryan
Robert Ryan matured in Chicago, finished from Dartmouth College in 1932 and kicked around as a cattle ranch hand and seaman before ending up being an actor. He was just getting started in Hollywood when WWII began.
Initially, he was acting upon the home front, however after making the war motion picture “Marine Raiders,” Ryan enlisted in the Militaries and functioned as a drill instructor at Camp Pendleton, where he became good friends with the future film director Richard Brooks. If you’re keeping track, you’ll bear in mind that’s the very same man who would later direct Glenn Ford in “Chalkboard Jungle.”
After finishing his service, Ryan played an anti-Semitic soldier in the influential noir “Crossfire” (1947 ), which was based on an unique by his fellow Marine Brooks. The film was an experience and the very first B movie to receive a Best Image election. Ryan was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
He went on to star in “Clash by Night” (1952) with Barbara Stanwyck, “Bad Day at Black Rock” (1955) with WWI Navy vet Spencer Tracy, the D-Day legendary “The Longest Day” (1962) and “Battle of the Bulge” (1965) before playing what might be his most iconic function.
Ryan is extraordinary as Col. Everett Dasher Type in 1967’s “The Dirty Lots.” Ryan’s Breed is the by-the-book officer who dislikes whatever that Maj. John Reisman (fellow Marine Lee Marvin) and his ragtag system represent.
Ryan signed up with a group of fellow veterans to make the revisionist and extremely violent western “The Wild Bunch” in 1969. Director Sam Peckinpah was a WWII Marine veteran, and the movie also starred WWII Army Air Force veteran William Holden, WWII Navy veteran Ernest Borgnine, WWII Army Flying force veteran Edmond O’Brien, Marine veteran Warren Oates, WWII Navy veteran Strother Martin, Navy veteran L.Q. Jones and Army veteran Bo Hopkins. That’s decades of service on the screen.
9. Warren Oates
Warren Oates was born and raised in Depoy, Kentucky, and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1946. He acted as an airplane mechanic and left the service in 1948 as a corporal. After studying acting at the University of Louisville, he migrated to Hollywood and spent the 1950s and early 1960s playing visitor functions on lots of television episodes, typically westerns.
Fellow Marine Sam Peckinpah directed Oates on “The Rifleman,” they struck up a relationship and the director later cast Oates in his movies “Trip the High Country” (1962 ), “Major Dundee” (1965 ), “The Wild Lot” (1969) and “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia” (1974 ).
Oates might be finest kept in mind as Sgt. Hulka, the Army drill trainer in “Stripes.” Of course, they had to employ a genuine Marine to play the function of the sergeant determined to break Costs Murray’s slacker recruit.
Oates died of a heart attack in 1982 at age 53. He was the type of ageless actor who could’ve probably worked for a minimum of another 25 years without seeming to grow any older.
10. Tim Matheson
Tim Matheson was at least a little well-known as a child star when he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1968, the exact same year he starred alongside WWII Navy vet Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball in the combined household funny “Yours, Mine and Ours.” His film character likewise signed up with the Corps at the end of the film.
His first remarkable adult role was as Officer Phil Sweet, one of the vigilante polices that Det. Harry Callahan (Army veterinarian Clint Eastwood) removes in “Magnum Force” (1973 ).
Matheson was both skilled and fortunate adequate to land a function in one of the most renowned comedies of perpetuity, 1978’s “National Lampoon’s Animal Home.” He’s extraordinary as Eric “Otter” Stratton, the crafty leader of the castaways in the Delta Tau Chi fraternity.
He’s gone on to an effective profession in television, playing Vice President John Hoynes on “The West Wing” (1999-2006), Larry Sizemore on “Burn Notification” (2008-2013) and Dr. Brick Breeland on “Hart of Dixie” (2011-2015). He’s presently starring as Dr. Vernon Mullins in the Netflix series “Virgin River.”
Related: ‘Animal Home’ Star Tim Matheson Talks Marine Corps Service
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