Celebrities Who Served

Lt Tom Ewell, US Navy (1942-1945)

Lt Tom Ewell, US Navy (1942-1945)

Tom Ewell, of the United States Navy between 1942 and 1945, interrupted a successful career as a stage actor in order to protect the merchant shipping vital to the country’s war effort as part of the US Navy Armed Guard. Born Samuel Yewell Tompkins in Kentucky during the year 1909, he was expected to join the family professions (either law or tobacco and whiskey dealing) but instead pursued acting. In 1928, he began acting in summer stock while attending the University of Wisconsin. Determined...

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SSgt John (Johnny) R. Cash, U.S. Air Force (1950-1954)

SSgt John (Johnny) R. Cash, U.S. Air Force (1950-1954)

The legend who would become Johnny Cash was born in 1932 into the Cash family of poor cotton farmers in Kingsland, Arkansas. Known simply as J.R. growing up, Cash graduated high school in 1950 and joined the US Air Force with the Korean War raging. Unable to sign up under an initial, he gave his name as ‘John R. Cash’. He completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, which is the same time he met the young woman that would become his first wife, Vivian Liberto, at a roller rink....

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LCdr John (Jackie) Cooper, U.S. Navy (1943-1982)

LCdr John (Jackie) Cooper, U.S. Navy (1943-1982)

Born in Los Angeles in 1922, Cooper was born into a family of entertainers and became a child actor while very young, accompanying his grandmother to her auditions. His first actual credit was in 1929, in the short film Boxing Gloves, part of the Our Gang series of comedic films directed by Hal Roach. Jackie’s stock rose and he took larger and larger roles in these shorts, leading in The First Seven Years (1930) and When The Wind Blows (1930). In 1931 Cooper’s uncle, director Norman Taurog,...

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Col Frank Capra, U.S. Army (1918-1945)

Col Frank Capra, U.S. Army (1918-1945)

Frank Capra, who served in the US Army between 1918 and 1945, is perhaps most well-known for his direction of classic Americana films It’s A Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. However, his greatest contribution to American culture may be the documentary series he produced during World War II for the Allied forces: Why We Fight. Born in Bisacquino, Sicily, in 1897, Francesco Rosario Capra was the youngest of seven children born to the Capra household: humble fruit growers. In...

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Sgt Drew Carey, U.S. Marine Corps (1980-1986)

Sgt Drew Carey, U.S. Marine Corps (1980-1986)

Drew Carey, who served in the US Marine Corps between 1980 and 1986, may be better recognized as the host of the game show The Price is Right, or for his previous work as host of improv comedy show Whose Line is it Anyway? It might surprise some to learn, however, that his distinctive haircut and glasses are artifacts from his years of service as a Marine.Born the youngest of three sons to the Carey family of Old Brooklyn in Cleveland, Ohio, at the age of eight Carey lost his father Lewis to a...

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Cpl William (Bill) Ralph Blass, U.S. Army (1943-1945)

Cpl William (Bill) Ralph Blass, U.S. Army (1943-1945)

William (or Bill) Ralph Blass who served in the US Army between 1943 and 1945 is better known for his contributions to the fashion industry. However, his efforts during World War II are as remarkable as they are unusual. William Ralph Blass was born on June 22 1922, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His father was a traveling salesman, his mother a dressmaker. Sadly, Blass’ father committed suicide when Bill was 5. Bill took after his mother, sketching Hollywood-inspired fashions in the margins of his...

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LCpl Orville Richard Burrell (aka Shaggy), U.S. Marine Corps (1988-1992)

LCpl Orville Richard Burrell (aka Shaggy), U.S. Marine Corps (1988-1992)

Orville Richard Burrell, also known as Shaggy, who served on the US Marine Corps between 1988 and 1992, came to live in Brooklyn as a teenager after leaving his home of Jamaica. While he showed early musical promise, he was in need of steady income, and the Marines were happy to take him. Born on October 22 1968 in Kingston, Jamaica, Orville took singing lessons as a teen and discovered a natural talent. He earned the nickname ‘Shaggy’ because of his untamed hair, after the Scooby-Doo...

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Cpl Charles Dennis Buchinsky (Bronson), U.S. Army Air Force (1943-1946)

Cpl Charles Dennis Buchinsky (Bronson), U.S. Army Air Force (1943-1946)

Charles Dennis Buchinsky (or Bronson) who served in the US Army Air Force between 1943 and 1945, went on to be one of Hollywood’s pre-eminent tough guys, the face of the Death Wish film franchise. However, his time as the silver screen’s top draw was preceded by a very humble childhood. Charles Bronson Went to War to Escape the Coal Mine The 11th of 15 children, Charles was born in 1922. He grew up speaking three languages at home, but none of them English. The Buchinsky family lived in...

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LTJG Robert (Bob) William Barker, U.S. Navy (1943-1945)

LTJG Robert (Bob) William Barker, U.S. Navy (1943-1945)

Robert or ‘Bob’ William Barker who served in the US Navy Reserves between 1943 and 1945, is best known for hosting the iconic game show The Price Is Right between 1972 and 2007. His stint on the program made him a record-breaker, the longest-running daytime game show host in North American television history. Prior to his 35-year stay with the show, he was host of Truth or Consequences, another game show, for 18 years between 1956 and 1974. However, before his career in broadcasting, Barker...

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EM2 Nick Adams, U.S. Coast Guard (1952-1954)

EM2 Nick Adams, U.S. Coast Guard (1952-1954)

Nick Adams, who served in the US Coast Guard between 1952 and 1954, came from humble beginnings to try and make a Hollywood star of himself. Cohort of James Dean and Elvis Presley, Adams also came to an unfortunate end chasing their caliber of fame. Nevertheless, he was a dutiful member of the Coast Guard during the Korean War and following. Nick Adams’ Early Life Nick Adams was born Nicholas Aloysius Adamshock in 1931 in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, a company town for coal mining. Abjectly poor...

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SSgt Desi Arnaz, U.S. Army (1942-1945)

SSgt Desi Arnaz, U.S. Army (1942-1945)

Desi Arnaz who served in the US Army between 1942 and 1945 is perhaps most famous for his starring role as Ricky Ricardo opposite his real-life spouse Lucille Ball in the foundational modern TV sitcom I Love Lucy. Desi was already on his way to becoming a star when he was drafted into the US Army, but his time as a soldier gave him plenty of opportunities to hone his skills not only as a performer, but as a producer. Desi Arnaz’ Military Service Born Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III in...

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Sgt Paul Arizin, U.S. Marine Corps (1952-1954)

Sgt Paul Arizin, U.S. Marine Corps (1952-1954)

Paul Arizin, who served in the US Marine Corps between 1952 and 1954, is more commonly known as ‘Pitchin’ Paul’, NBA Hall of Fame member and star player of the Philadelphia Warriors during the 50s. There are no shortage of basketball stars who have built an athletic career after a stint in the military: David Robinson and Mike Silliman are two such men. However, Arizin is notable for not only being one of the first, after the NBA was established in the aftermath of World War II, but also for...

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