It’s Veteran’s Day and it may surprise you to learn that some of the biggest stars in Hollywood today served our country proudly in the Marine Corps. From a Stars Wars star to a Golden Girl, here are five celebrities to whom we say “Semper Fi.”
Adam Driver’s fitness regime has become legendary in Hollywood, and while he may not like to see himself on the big screen, movies fans certainly do. It was his time in the Marines that gives him his workout drive today.
Driver spent almost three years in the Corps after enlisting shortly after 9/11. He was medically discharged after a mountain bike accident in which he broke his sternum. The Marine’s loss was the world’s gain when the young soldier and actor immediately started his drama career. Of course, Driver first rose to fame in Girls, but it was his role as Kylo Ren in the most recent Star Wars trilogy that launched his career into the stratosphere.
Price Is Right host Drew Carey probably isn’t the first person you’d think of as a Marine, but the comedian served six years in the Marine Reserves in his native Ohio as a radio operator — fitting for a man who would come to rely on communication first as a stand-up comedian and later as the host of one of the most iconic game shows of all time.
Carey retired as a sergeant in 1987 and hit the comedy circuit, starting in Cleveland and eventually making it all over the country. He was lucky enough to be invited to perform on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and, as was every young comedian’s dream at the time, tickled the host so much that Carson invited him to the couch. Legendarily, Carson didn’t always do this, so if he did, it meant he thought you really had “it.”
Funnyman Rob Riggle also served in the Marine Corps Reserves. While he intended to become a full-time Marine pilot, he ended up getting into show business instead, ending that goal. Riggle has never been shy about using his military experience as part of his comedic persona, including a stint as the “Military Analyst” for the Daily Show.
He has also continued his relationship with the armed forces, doing USO shows in Iraq as a member of the reserves. Throughout his military career, he served overseas and saw action in Afghanistan and Kosovo. Riggle received numerous accolades before retiring as a lieutenant colonel after 23 years of service in 2013.
Before retiring from acting in 2004, Gene Hackman’s career was the stuff of legends. The screen icon won two Academy Awards and was nominated for another three. His film career spanned four decades, and he often played roles that allowed him to draw on his experience in the Marines.
Hackman joined the Marines at 16 after lying about his age. Like Drew Carey, he served as a radio operator, mostly around the Pacific, including post-war Japan and China. Using his G.I. Bill money, he went to college at the University of Illinois and after struggling throughout the ’50s, his career took off in the ’60s. Not long after, he became one of the biggest stars in the world in the ’70s and beyond, starring in classics like A Bridge Too Far, Behind Enemy Lines, and Crimson Tide. There is no doubt his experiences in the Marines helped make his roles in those movies iconic.
We promised a golden girl and here she is. Bea Arthur rose to fame in some of the most popular sitcoms of all time, including the aforementioned Golden Girls, as well as Maude, which was a spinoff of All in The Family.
Bea Arthur was also one of the first women to enlist in the Marines ever, when she joined the U.S. Marines Women’s Reserve in 1943. The branch of the corps was less than a year old when Arthur signed up. While the Women’s Reserve was mostly relegated to clerical-type positions and certainly saw no combat, the very fact that Arthur enlisted in a wartime military tells you all you need to know about her duty and patriotism. On this Veteran’s Day, be sure to toast all these stars that served their country proudly.