Americans are keenly aware of Hollywood greats who not only entertained us but served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Jimmy Stewart. Paul Newman. Charles Bronson. Humphrey Bogart. Charlton Heston.
Some became American institutions. Others portrayed tough-guy heroes for decades.
The following stars aren’t necessarily known for their on-screen bravado. Others routinely make us laugh for a living.
They served, too, and on Veterans Day it’s worth noting their contributions.
The veteran SNL funnyman has become a constant comedy presence on shows like “Modern Family,” and movies like “Step Brothers,” and “The Hangover.” He’s constantly working, but before diving into that breakneck pace he served 23 years, in total, with the U.S. Marines.
Riggle’s service included nine active-duty years in Liberia, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Albania. The retired Lieutenant Colonel told People magazine how invaluable his time in the military was to his personal improvement.
“They pushed me beyond my perceived limits… so whatever I thought I was capable of, the Marines said, ‘Actually, you can do a whole lot more when pushed.’ And they were right.”
Han Solo’s on-screen son is one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, including his work in the upcoming Michael Mann drama “Ferrari.”
Driver’s intensity is a calling card, which helps explain why he signed up to defend his country shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
He said during a 2015 TED Talk that his military time was “one of the things I’m most proud of having done in my life.”
He served nearly three years before a mountain bike injury forced him to accept a medical discharge. The future star tried to work through the injury, but his body wouldn’t have it. That prevented him from serving overseas in Iraq, he told NPR’s “Fresh Air.”
“I wanted to go so much. I mean, you were training to do this job for two years with these people. The idea of not going, someone else going in your place or not being there, is not really an easy thing to sit with.”
The “Price Is Right” wisecracker routinely supports the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. He’s deployed his wit to make soldiers smile during multiple USO outings.
He knew exactly how they felt.
Carey signed up with the U.S. Marines in 1980 where he served his country for six years as a field radio operator with the 25th Marine Regiment in Ohio. He eventually attained the rank of sergeant, exploring his gift for gab along the way.
He began penning jokes for military stand-up performances, paving the way for his post-Marine life.
Joining the military had a profound effect on the future funnyman.
“I went from not being able to afford to eat or clothe myself to getting three meals a day. I had an instant family. I had something to be proud of every day.”
The veteran rapper was once best known for his incendiary songs targeting crooked cops. Today, he’s a long-standing member of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” the literal face of hard-working police officers.
As a young man, he joined the Army to get his life in order.
Then-Tracy Marrow had a wife and daughter, so the move gave him structure along with financial security. He briefly misbehaved during his four-year stint in the 25th Infantry Division, but was able to bounce back and complete his service.
He also used that time to plot his future. Marrow picked up music equipment he’d later use in the early stages of his rap career during his military service.
The future game show host shouted, “Good Morning, Vietnam,” into a mic long before Robin Williams made the phrase famous. Sajak didn’t come up with the catchphrase – Williams’ real-life inspiration for the 1987 film of the same name came courtesy of DJ Adrian Cronauer.
Sajak kept that irreverent spirit alive during his days in the U.S. Military.
The future “Wheel of Fortune” star initially trained as a finance clerk but later found his calling as a DJ for the American Forces Vietnam Network.
Sajak lamented that his service didn’t include life on the battlefield. He called his service “soft,” and felt some shame attached to it. He took solace in the reaction to his broadcasts from fellow soldiers who cheered him for making them feel closer to home with every show.
One of the funniest men alive lived through the Battle of the Bulge.
Brooks was drafted into the Army in 1944 and brushed up on combat engineering at Virginia Military Institute. By November he was in France and later Belgium as part of the 78th Infantry Division.
He helped clear the battlefield of land mines to allow Allied soldiers to push forward in the Battle of the Bulge. He even saw combat during his service.
The future legend could find something funny about anything, even the horrors of war. He would go on to savage the Third Reich in his 1967 comedy classic, “The Producers,” featuring the loopy tune “Springtime for Hitler.”
Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, movie critic and editor of HollywoodInToto.com. He previously served as associate editor with Breitbart News’ Big Hollywood. Follow him at @HollywoodInToto.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.