An impressive list of Hollywood legends have served in the United States Flying force, although the service branch is the youngest of the big 4 and didn’t come into existence up until Sept. 18, 1947.
Obviously, the USAF counts the The second world war heroics of the Army Air Forces as part of its own history, but this list concentrates on the performers who served in the USAF after its official starting. That cutoff leaves us with plenty of terrific stories to inform.
Here are 10 of the absolute best film stars to serve in the USAF.
1. Chuck Norris
Before Chuck Norris influenced a variety of jokes and memes, and before he starred as “Walker, Texas Ranger” on tv, this Air Force veteran was a huge film star in the 1980s
Norris signed up with the Flying force upon graduation from high school in 1958 and was stationed at Osan Air Base in South Korea. That’s where he started studying the Tang Soo Do martial art, earning a black belt. Upon his discharge in 1962, Norris opened a martial arts studio in Torrance, California, and established his own Chun Kuk Do (” Universal Way”) discipline.
Norris competed in martial arts events throughout the years, eventually ending up being world champion at the International Karate Championships. Throughout this time, he fulfilled Bruce Lee and began his Hollywood profession with a bit part in the Dean Martin/Sharon Tate movie, “The Wrecking Crew,” in 1968.
He played Lee’s nemesis in “The Method of the Dragon” (1972) and after that invested most of the years trying to establish himself in movies. His breakthrough came with “Good Guys Wear Black” in 1978.
Norris struck the huge time in 1984 with “Missing out on in Action,” in which he led a strike group into the jungle to totally free Vietnam War POWs. The prequel “Missing out on in Action 2: The Beginning” followed in 1985, and things peaked for Norris when he starred along with Marine veteran Lee Marvin in “The Delta Force” in 1986.
Despite the fact that he was still kicking ass at package workplace, Norris moved to television in 1993 with “Walker, Texas Ranger.” The program ran for 8 seasons on CBS, and reruns have played in syndication ever since.
2. Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman joined the Air Force upon graduation from high school in 1955 and served as an automatic tracking radar repairman. Upon his discharge in 1959, he relocated to Los Angeles and began taking acting classes.
His very first big break remained in 1971 as a cast member on the PBS kids’s program, “The Electric Company.” He appeared primarily on phase for the next 20 years, however had a small role in the Robert Redford film “Brubaker” in 1980.
His film profession took off in 1989 with 4 memorable functions. Freeman was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his efficiencies as driver Hoke Colburn in the Best Picture-winning “Driving Miss Daisy.” He likewise played Sgt. Maj. John Rawlins in the Civil War drama “Magnificence,” starred as hero high school principal Joe Louis Clark in the drama “Lean on Me” and Lt. A.Z. Drones in the Walter Hill crime drama “Johnny Handsome.”
He starred as Ned Logan in Army veteran Clint Eastwood’s Best Picture Oscar-winning western “Unforgiven” in 1992 prior to making motion picture immortality as Red in the prison drama “The Shawshank Redemption.” Freeman earned a second Best Star nomination for his efficiency, and the motion picture was up for Best Picture.
Freeman has actually made dozens of films considering that. He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his function in Eastwood’s 2nd Best Picture-winning movie “Million Dollar Baby.” He also starred as DCI William Cabot in the Tom Clancy film “The Amount of All Fears,” Lucius Fox in the Christopher Nolan “Batman” motion pictures, and Allan Trumbull in the Gerard Butler “Has Fallen” series.
3. Roy Scheider
After high school, Scheider pursued an amateur boxing career and studied at both Rutgers University and Franklin & & Marshall College, a personal institution in Pennsylvania, before signing up with the Flying force in 1955. He worked as a first lieutenant in air operations up until his discharge in 1958. He continued to serve in the Air Force Reserve Command until 1964.
Performing is a tough gig, and Scheider didn’t get traction up until he played recurring functions on the daytime drama “The Secret Storm” and “Love of Life.” Things lastly took off for him when he appeared together with Marine veteran Gene Hackman in “The French Connection” in 1971. Scheider was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, Hackman won Finest Actor and the film won Finest Photo. That very same year, he appeared in the crime drama “Klute,” which won Jane Fonda a Best Actress Oscar at the exact same ceremony.
After starring in the authorities drama “The Seven-Ups” in 1973, Scheider achieved famous status when he played Chief Martin Brody in Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws,” the movie whose runaway success produced the idea of the summertime hit.
He appeared again as Brody in “Jaws 2,” got a Best Star election for his efficiency in the Bob Fosse motion picture “All That Jazz” and continued to work steadily till his death from multiple myeloma in 2008.
4. Tom Skerritt
After graduating from high school in 1951, Tom Skerritt employed in the Air Force and served a four-year trip of responsibility as a categories professional, primarily at Bergstrom Field in Austin, Texas.
He made significant appearances in motion pictures like “M * A * S * H” (1970 ), Cheech & & Chong’s “Up in Smoke” (1978) and “Alien” (1979) before his memorable appearance as Maverick’s coach, Cmdr. Mike “Viper” Metcalf, in “Top Gun” (1986 ).
Skerritt has actually gone on to star in “Steel Magnolias” (1989 ), “A River Runs Through It” (1992 ), the television series “Picket Fences” (1992-1996) and “Tears of the Sun” (2003 ). He continues to work, recently acting along with Tom Hanks in “A Hologram for the King” (2016 ).
5. George Carlin
George Carlin was a nuisance in high school, and someone needs to’ve believed the Flying force could straighten him out. The USAF trained him as a radar specialist, but he used his time at Barksdale Flying force Base in Bossier City, Louisiana, to get a side gig as a disc jockey at KJOE across the river in Shreveport.
His superiors quickly had their fill of Carlin, and he was offered a basic discharge in 1957 after being identified an “unproductive airman.” He was only 20 years old.
Carlin quickly discovered his way as a standup comic, first acquiring stardom as a clean-cut observational comedian and after that superstardom as a long-haired hero of the ’60s counterculture.
His very first big movie look was as the clean-cut Herbie Fleck in the 1968 motion picture “With 6 You Get Eggroll,” starring Doris Day and World War II Marine veterinarian Brian Keith and directed by WWII Army vet and comedy legend Howard Morris. He later made a brief appearance in the hit funny “Car Wash” (1976) and played a supporting function in the Shelley Long and Bette Midler comedy “Outrageous Fortune.”
Carlin attained motion picture immortality as Rufus, the time-traveling coach to Costs S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan in the 1989 comedy traditional “Expense & & Ted’s Exceptional Adventure,” starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. He did the voice of Rufus in the animated series based on the movie and repeated the function in the follow up “Bill & & Ted’s Bogus Journey” in 1991.
He also ended up being known to a generation of kids as the American narrator for the Thomas the Tank Engine shows and had a two-season run with “The George Carlin Show” on Fox. Standup comedy stayed his puppy love and he continued to perform until his death in 2008.
6. Johnny Cash
J.R. Money signed up with the Air Force in 1950 out of high school. He revealed genuine talent with Morse code and was designated to an intelligence system. He invested most of his Air Force crew intercepting Soviet transmissions at Landsberg, Germany. In addition to offering the small-town Arkansas boy a sense that there was a huge world out there for an enthusiastic young man, the USAF gifted him his first name. The recruiter told him that he had to have a first name to get, so young J.R. chose John on the spot.
Johnny Money returned house, became the most significant artist on Sun Records and later on the best-selling nation vocalist on the planet after launching his “Live at Folsom Jail” and “Live at San Quentin” albums.
Money frantically wanted to follow his Sun Records predecessor and Army veteran Elvis Presley into the motion pictures, but Hollywood didn’t see the rough-and-tumble Cash as a romantic leading guy like Elvis.
Out of desperation to make it in Hollywood, Money agreed to appear as the heavy in the 1961 low-budget crime movie “5 Minutes to Live.” Money teamed with Navy veteran Vic Tayback (in his first huge role) to play a pair of bank robbers. Money’s Johnny Cabot was set to take the bank supervisor’s better half hostage at home while Tayback’s Fred Dorella did the filthy organization of getting the cash at the bank branch.
The producers lacked money, and Cash, who was making $750 a week on the film, wound up loaning the production $20,000 to finish the movie. It was a flop, and producers tried reissuing the picture with the embarrassing title “Door-to-Door Maniac.” Cash’s menacing efficiency has made the movie a cult classic that frequently airs on Turner Classic Movies.
Cash went on to star opposite WWII Navy veteran Kirk Douglas in the fascinating 1971 western “A Gunfight” and as corrupt country vocalist Tommy Brown in what may be the very best episode ever of “Columbo.” That caused a series of tv movies in the late ’70s and all through the ’80s.
The music career went off the rails for a long while, but Cash delighted in a major comeback when he hooked up with producer Rick Rubin and began a run of cherished and effective albums in 1994 with “American Recordings.” Money died at age 71 in 2003.
7. Melvin van Peebles
Melvin Peebles enlisted in the Air Force upon graduation from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1953. He invested three years serving as a navigator and bombardier in the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command. After adding the “van” to his name while living in the Netherlands after he left the service, Van Peebles went on to turn into one of the most questionable and fascinating figures in Hollywood history.
Associated: How Flying Force Vet Melvin Van Peebles Changed Hollywood Forever
Van Peebles wrote and tape-recorded his own music while residing in Europe, composed an unique, taught himself filmmaking and got the movie theater community’s attention with “The Story of a 3 Day Pass.”
That movie made him a task directing the comedy “Watermelon Man” for Columbia Pictures. “Watermelon Guy” made money, and the studio tried to give Van Peebles a three-picture contract.
The abandoner actor/director turned them down, raised his own money and made the Black gangster motion picture “Sugary food Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.” The motion picture’s success made Van Peebles a rich guy and kicked off a run of so-called “Blaxploitation” movies that included “Shaft” and “Superfly.”
Van Peebles directed more movies, did some acting, made some albums with atrioventricular bundle and pursued a career in visual arts prior to his death at age 89 in September 2021. He might have never ever again attained the industrial heights of “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song,” however he completely rocked the market with that one substantial success.
8. Fred Ward
Fred Ward enlisted in the Air Force after graduation from high school and acted as an airman very first class at Lackland Flying force Base in San Antonio and as a radar technician in Labrador, Canada.
He worked a series of blue-collar jobs after his service and didn’t see his career take off until he was nearly 40. He starred in Walter Hill’s traditional National Guard action picture “Southern Convenience” in 1981 and followed that with a renowned role as astronaut Gus Grissom in the 1983 motion picture “The Right Stuff.”
Related: Flying Force Veterinarian Fred Ward Had One of the best Faces in the Movies
He’s extraordinary as a Vietnam veterinarian and previous tunnel rat experiencing PTSD along with Marine veteran Gene Hackman in “Uncommon Valor” (1983 ). He had a shot at an action picture franchise when he starred in “Remo Williams: The Experience Begins” in 1985, but the adventure also ended with that motion picture and there was never ever a sequel.
Ward produced a funny team with Kevin Bacon in the sci-fi cult traditional “Tremors.” He worked gradually until his death at age 79 in May 2022.
9. David Huddleston
David Huddleston graduated from Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia in 1949. Anybody who grew up reading “Kids’ Life” magazine keeps in mind the school’s small advertisements in the back of each concern, so it’s excellent to lastly experience somebody who really finished from FUMA.
Huddleston employed in the Air Force and was trained as an aircraft engine mechanic. Upon his discharge in 1955, he utilized the GI Bill to participate in the American Academy of Remarkable Arts in New York City.
As soon as he began getting tv guest functions in 1960, Huddleston worked steadily as a character actor, appearing on programs like “Cannon,” “Bewitched,” “McMillan & & Other half” and “Gunsmoke.”
He crossed over to films and appeared in the sci-fi conspiracy thriller “Capricorn One” (1977 ), “Smokey and the Bandit II” (1980 ). He starred in the television series “Hizzonner” in 1979 and continued to make television guest appearances prior to motion picture immortality called.
Huddleston played Jeffrey Lebowksi in the 1998 cult classic directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. That’s Jeffrey “The Big” Lebowski, not Jeffrey “The Man” Lebowski played by Coast Guard Reserve veteran Jeff Bridges. The film has a complicated plot that begins when hooligans working for a porn kingpin urinate on the wrong Jeffrey Lebowski’s carpet.
” The Big Lebowski” baffled audiences and critics in 1998 however has gone on to turn into one of the most increasingly beloved movies of all time, inspiring annual Lebowski Fests around the nation where the film’s fans dress up as characters from the motion picture. It’s not a film for everybody, but individuals who enjoy it can price estimate practically every line.
Huddleston returned to his television profession and worked up until his death in 2016, understanding that he’ll always be kept in mind as the Big Lebowski.
10. Jimmy Dean
Flying force veteran Jimmy Dean may live forever as the male who brought you Jimmy Dean sausage. Although the performer passed away in 2010, the company is currently using voiceovers recorded throughout his lifetime in its tv commercials.
Dean dropped out of high school in Plainview, Texas, and gotten in the Air Force in the late 1940s. He became a successful country music artist in the 1950s however actually struck the huge time with his No. 1 country and pop struck “Big Bad John” in 1961.
The vocalist was a canny performer and used that popularity to cross over to television. He guest-hosted “The Tonight Show” in the 1960s and starred in his own range show that operated on ABC for 3 seasons in the early ’60s and continued in syndication up until 1975. He gave Jim Henson a huge break when he introduced the Muppet Rowlf the Pet dog as his sidekick on the show.
He founded the Jimmy Dean Sausage Business in 1969 and actually ran it up until selling to Consolidated Foods in 1984.
Dean made exactly one Hollywood movie, but his function was truly iconic. He played casino owner Willard Whyte in the 1971 James Bond film “Diamonds Are Permanently.” As a sort of southern-fried Howard Hughes, Dean had a relatively brief supporting role, but he created among the most memorable characters in the Bond universe.
11. Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson signed up with the Flying force after graduation from high school and served at Lackland Air Base in San Antonio, however his service was interrupted after 9 months when he developed back problems.
After receiving a medical discharge, Nelson kicked around trying to develop his career as a vocalist and songwriter. After moving to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1960, he managed to get Billy Walker to tape-record “Amusing How Time Slips Away” and Patsy Cline to tape-record “Crazy.” Both were enormous hits, but Nashville executives were never convinced that Nelson had the makings of an effective recording artist.
He ultimately quit after combined success and relocated to Austin, Texas, in 1972. That’s when the world found Willie and Waylon Jennings and chose they were the leaders of a criminal c and w. Both men topped the charts in the 1970s with albums that were much more personal and more honky tonk than what was coming from their Nashville contemporaries.
Nelson ended up being an icon and transitioned to movies when he starred along with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in the 1979 hit “The Electric Horseman.” Hollywood fell for Nelson, and he ended up being a full-time movie actor for a couple of years, starring in “Honeysuckle Rose” (1980) with WWII Army Air Forces vet Slim Pickens, “Thief” (1981) with James Caan, “Barbarosa” (1982) with Gary Busey, and “Songwriter” (1984) with Army veteran Kris Kristofferson.
That was rather a run, but Nelson’s first love has actually always been music and the vocalist soon returned to the stage and the recording studio. He’s made primarily little guest appearances, but he did an amusing turn as Uncle Jesse in the 2005 movie variation of “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
Nelson is still composing, recording and exploring at age 89.
Stay up to date with the Best in Armed Force Home Entertainment
Whether you’re trying to find news and home entertainment, thinking about signing up with the military or staying up to date with military life and advantages, Military.com has you covered. Register for the Military.com newsletter to have military news, updates and resources provided straight to your inbox.
Show Complete Short Article
© Copyright 2022 Military.com. All rights reserved. This material might not be published, broadcast, reworded or redistributed.