Fame interrupted: celebrities in the military
The list of well-known people who performed military service--before or after acquiring fame--is astonishing. Some served with distinction during wartime. Some hid out in easy stateside duty. Others had less-than-illustrious careers. You're sure to raise an eyebrow at some of the details.
Did you know that America's most-celebrated chef served in the nation's first centralized intelligence organization, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)? Child was a spy in Ceylon and China during World War II. She posed as an office worker while gathering information critical to the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Before the days of the Spaghetti Westerns and Dirty Harry, Eastwood reported to Fort Ord after he was drafted into the Army during the Korean War. An avid swimmer and athlete, Eastwood parlayed his talents into an assignment as base swimming instructor. It served him well. He was flying in a Navy torpedo bomber when it crash landed in the Pacific and Eastwood had to swim more than a mile to shore.
The gangsta rapper born as Tracy Marrow served a four-year hitch in the Army after graduating from Crenshaw High School in 1979. Who knew?
Images of The King flooded the entertainment magazines after he joined the Army on March 24, 1958, in native Tennessee. He served in Company A, 2d Medium Tank Battalion, 37th Armor, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. He later cashed in, starring in G.I. Blues.
Any list of musicians in the military would be incomplete without the mention of the brief stint the guitarist served with the 101st Airborne. An unpopular soldier who was frequently discovered missing on base, Hendrix was drummed out of Fort Campbell after building infamy as a slacker. He fared better than comedian George Carlin, who was drummed out of the Army following three court marshals.
The recent co-star of England's greatest reality show: the Royal Wedding, William served with distinction as a Royal Air Force Search and Rescue pilot of a Sea King Mk3 helicopter in Wales.
Arguably baseball's greatest hitter, Teddy Ballgame played 21 years for the Boston Red Sox, where he hit a career average of .344 with 521 home runs. When called up for service, interrupting his Hall of Fame career, he became a decorated pilot in World War II and the Korean War. In basic training, Williams set all-time military gunnery records.
Lee Harvey Oswald
Reviled by many for notoriety rather than celebrity, Oswald was charged with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. He had left home at age 16 to join the Marine Corps as an Aviation Electronics Operator. A marksman, Oswald served in Japan, Korea and the Philippines.
Long before the stand-up comic created a celebrated television and motion picture career, Cosby had enlisted in the Navy in 1956. Trained as a corpsman, he treated Korean War wounded at Bethesda Naval Hospital.
Football star at the University of Arizona and with the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL, Tillman left his professional career in 2001, trading in his shoulder pads for a patriotic cause. He was killed in action in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004.
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