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15 Famous People You Won’t Believe Are WWII Veterans

15. Jimmy Stewart

Image: The Ned Scott Archive

Actor Jimmy Stewart had already won an Academy Award by the time he enlisted in the Army in 1941. He was 32 at the time and the first American actor to wear a uniform during World War II, inspiring other Hollywood celebrities to follow suit.


14. Bob Barker

Image: Westside Today

Before he was a legendary game show host, Bob Barker was in college on a basketball scholarship when World War II broke out. He left college and joined the U.S. Navy as a fighter pilot and returned to college after the war to finish his degree before going on to become a Hollywood celebrity.

13. Audrey Hepburn

Image: Huffington Post

Before she was having “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” Hepburn assisted the fight against German invaders by acting as a courier for the resistance fighters in the Netherlands. It was rough on her as a child but she helped fight for the cause regardless.

12. Joe DiMaggio

Image: Yanks Go Yard

Considered to be one of the most famous baseball players of all time, Joe DiMaggio enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1943. Due to his status and popularity, DiMaggio was awarded many special privileges and he was denied combat duty.

11. Jackie Coogan

Image: Disney Wiki

Known for his role as Uncle Fester on “The Addams Family,” Coogan put his acting career on hiatus to help shuttle troops behind enemy lines in Burma during WWII. Talk about honorable. He would then return to the small screen in a variety of different roles until his death.

10. Henry Fonda

Image: Movie Actors

Father of Jane Fonda and one of the more popular actors in Hollywood, Henry chose to join the U.S. Navy after being inspired by fellow actor and friend Jimmy Stewart. According to those close to Fonda, he didn’t want to film fake war in a studio when a real one was going on.

9. Bea Arthur

Image: Closer Weekly

Before she became known for her role as Dorothy in “The Golden Girls,” Bea Arthur enlisted at the age of 21 in the United States Marine Corps. She served as a typist and truck driver during World War II long before she was spending her nights dishing with the girls while eating cheesecake.

8. James Doohan

Image: Red Shirts Always Die

Best known for his role as Scotty in the “Star Trek” original series and films, James Doohan served in the Royal Canadian Artillery during the beginning of World War II. In fact, his first experience of war was the invasion of Juno Beach on D-Day. During the battle, Doohan was shot six times. Thankfully, he survived and went on to charm a legion of Trek fans for years to come.

7. Johnny Carson

Image: CBS News

Known for his role as the talk show host for the “Tonight Show,” Carson joined the U.S. Navy serving on the USS Pennsylvania. His ship was on its way to engage enemies in the Japan region when the bombing of Hiroshima ended the war, effectively ending Carson’s already short military career.

6. Roald Dahl

Image: Heart Radio

Popular children’s author of favorites such as “James and the Giant Peach” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” Dahl was a fighter pilot with the British Royale Air Force during World War II. After the war, he used the mighty pen and paper as a therapeutic way to overcome the horrors he had seen.

5. Sam Walton

Image: LeaderShip Geeks

Before building his retail empire with Wal-Mart, Walton was a Captain in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps in WWII. Not only did he supervise aircraft plant security, but he monitored prison of war camps. Eventually, he would go on to develop his retail chain which would skyrocket him to success. It’s amazing to know how humble beginnings could eventually grow to such a legacy.

4. Hugh Hefner

Image: She Amazing

Best known for his Playboy fortunes, Hugh Hefner actually served as a writer for a military newspaper in the U.S. army during the end of World War II. We wonder if this is why Playboy has such great articles besides pictures?

3. Mel Brooks

Image: Men’s Journal

One of Hollywood’s beloved comedians, Mel Brooks was actually studying psychology in college when he was drafted into the army. He served during WWII, defusing land mines as a member of the 1104 Engineer Combat Battalion.

2. Julia Child

Image: Leite’s Culinaria

Known for her iconic French cuisine, Julia Child actually served during World War II as a top secret researcher working for the Office of Strategic Services. One fun fact: she was actually considered to be too tall to join the Women’s Army Corps or the U.S. Navy’s WAVES program. Therefore, she worked in D.C. as a typist before moving on to research.

1. Charlton Heston

Image: Time

Before he wowed audiences as Moses and skyrocketed to stardom, Heston actually served as a radio operator during World War II. He also spent time as an aerial gunner, aboard a B-25 bomber. No wonder he was able to fight on the planet of apes so well.