7. Morgan Freeman: Air Force
Here’s a surprising fact: Acting great Morgan Freeman turned down a partial drama scholarship from Jackson State University in favor of working as a mechanic in the US Air Force. Talk about multitalented!
8. Julia Child: Office of Strategic Services
That’s right: Julia Child was a spy. During the Second World War, future culinary goddess Julia Child joined the Office of Strategic Services after finding out that she was too tall to enlist in the Women’s Army Corps or in the WAVES division of the Navy. She began as a mere typist at the OSS headquarters in Washington, but quickly became a top secret researcher working for the head of the OSS in the Secret Intelligence division. She was later posted to Kandy, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), then to China, during which time she secured classified information that eventually led to the fall of Nazi Germany. Oh, and she developed a shark repellent to keep sharks from setting off underwater explosives. Who knew?
9. James Earl Jones: Army Rangers
Just because he voiced Darth Vader doesn’t mean he’s a real-life bad guy! James Earl Jones joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps during his pre-med years at the University of Michigan and found that the structure of the military environment suited him. In fact, it suited him so much that he left U Mich so as to be available to fight in the Korean War if needed. Instead of being shipped off immediately, though, he spent headed off to For Benning to attend Basic Infantry Officers School. He went through Ranger School while he was there; after he graduated and received his Ranger Tab, he was sent to establish a cold weather training command in Colorado. He made it up to the rank of First Lieutenant.
10. Jeff Bridges: Coast Guard
Jeff Bridges may not have gone off to fight in Vietnam, but he did serve in the US Coast Guard Reserves for eight years, from when he was 18 until he was 26.
11. Clint Eastwood: Army
Clint Eastwood was drafted during the Korean War; he was stationed at Ford Ord in California, where he became a lifeguard and a life saving and swimming instructor. His skills got him promoted to corporal. Scary story: While on leave in 1951, Clint was a passenger aboard a Douglas AD bomber when the ship ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean near Point Reyes. He and the pilot escaped from the sinking craft, after which they swam three miles to safety. Looks like the lifeguard training paid off!
12. Elvis: Army
You all already know this story: Elvis was drafted in 1957, and he served for three years. In fact, that whole episode in his life inspired the musical Bye Bye Birdie.
Happy Veteran’s Day!
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s associate editor.