As America celebrates the nation’s independence and heroes, we take a look at how Hollywood played a role in the U.S. military. Whether they served on the frontline or behind-the-scenes, meet some of the world’s famous patriots:
When the King of Rock ‘n Roll was called to serve in the U.S. Army in 1958, the chart-topping singer answered. Presley’s signature tousled hair was shaved down to regulation length. And when it was time for his induction ceremony, he caused such frenzy, drawing in hundreds of fans and media outlets all trying to get a glimpse of the “Love Me Tender” singer in uniform.
Presley’s military career began at Ft. Hood where he was stationed for basic training. He later became a member of the 3rd Armored Division of the U.S. Army in Freidberg, Germany, where he met his future wife, Priscilla Beaulieu. While rising to the rank of sergeant in the army, Presley also enjoyed
The King rose to the rank of sergeant. In 1960, he was honorably discharged from active duty.
Before magically parting the Red Sea onscreen in the “Ten Commandments,” Charlton Heston was a soldier in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. The actor was stationed in the Alaskan Aleutian Islands with the 77th Bombardment Squadron and served as a radio operator / aerial gunner. Heston ended his military career as Staff Sergeant but continued behind the scenes, lending his voice to narrate instructional films for the Department of Energy.
It was actually quite challenging at first for the “It’s A Wonderful Life” star. Drafted in 1940, James Stewart was originally rejected for being too thin. But after making weight, he was then allowed to enlist in the U.S. Army Corps and became the first major American movie star to wear a military uniform in World War II. Stewart proved to be quite successful in the military and rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
Devastated over the loss of his third wife in a tragic plane crash, Clark Gable decided to enlist in the Army Air Force as a private in 1942. The “Gone with the Wind” star completed Officers’ Candidate School and went on to aerial gunnery school. He was then assigned to the 351st Bomb Group at Polebrook. During his several missions over Europe in B-17s, Gable captured footage to produce the movie, “Combat America.”
Before he became a legendary Hollywood film star, Humphrey Bogart was a student at Yale University. But, the classic Hollywood film star lost interest in school, dropped out and decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy instead.
For the most part, Bogart was regarded as a model sailor, spending most of naval career ferrying troops between the United States and Europe. But, when he missed a departure bound for Europe, Bogart turned himself in and was sentenced to three days of solitary confinement with only bread and water.
He was honorably discharged in 1919 at the rank of seamen second class. The naval veteran then worked his way into show business and went on to win an Oscar for his leading role in “The African Queen.”
In 1950, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” actor Clint Eastwood was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He served as a swim instructor at Ft. Ord in California. His skills were put to the test when a Navy torpedo bomber experienced engine trouble in San Francisco Bay, forcing the legendary actor to swim over a mile to shore.
Eastwood was discharged in 1953 and decided to study drama at L.A. City College, later rising to fame in “spaghetti” westerns and directing Oscar-winning films.
Like Humphrey Bogart, actor Paul Newman also attended Yale University. He enrolled in the Navy’s V-12 program in the hopes of becoming a U.S. Navy pilot. But after discovering he was colorblind, Newman was transferred to basic training and was eligible as a rear-seat radioman and gunner for torpedo bombers.
The “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” star was assigned to torpedo squadrons, which trained replacement combat pilots and air crewmen on carrier landings. Newman received orders to serve aboard the USS Bunker Hill during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. However, his pilot’s ear infection caused their plane to be grounded, which actually saved his life.
Newman was discharged in 1946. He studied at the Actors Studio in New York, beginning his career on Broadway, then television and film. The Academy Award-winning and Emmy-winning actor also enjoyed success in the food industry, selling salad dressing, cookies, iced tea and other foods.