Late actress Betty White was one of the most respected and loved actresses in Hollywood. She has been an inspiration to many in the TV industry as she was the first woman to produce and star in her own sitcom. She had starring roles in the TV shows The Golden Girls and Hot in Cleveland, and featured in the Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock starrer The Proposal. However, acting was not the first job White ever had.
The US Military is one of the largest industries to provide jobs in the country. Hollywood too has quite a few veterans who then came to the industry. Here are eight military veterans, including Betty White, who ventured into the entertainment industry after their service.
While many start out in the military and then venture into their preferred industry, actress Betty White started out as a performer before joining the American Women’s Voluntary Services. The Golden Girls actress volunteered during World War 2 after the USA joined the war. She was put on truck duty, where she had to deliver military supplies.
The actress has mentioned that her military career was strange and out of balance with everything. When the late actor passed away in 2021, the US Army’s X (formerly Twitter) account tweeted a eulogy for her, which read, “We are saddened by the passing of Betty White. Not only was she an amazing actress, but she also served during WWII as a member of the American Women’s Voluntary Services. A true legend on and off the screen.”
Actor Tom Selleck, who is known for his appearances in the TV shows Magnum, PI, and F.R.I.E.N.D.S is not just a veteran in acting, but one of the military as well. Selleck was studying acting at the Beverley Hills Playhouse when he was drafted during the Vietnam War. He served in the California National Guard, in its 160th Infantry Regiment. The actor served seven years in the National Guard, from 1967 to 1973, two years before the war ended. He still made appearances as a model during his tenure.
Tom Selleck also was proficient in sports and played basketball and baseball for the teams at the University of Southern California. He later switched to acting and went into it completely after his tenure with the California National Guard.
Late actress Betty White was not the only Golden Girl to have a career in the military before making it in the entertainment industry. Actress Bea Arthur also started her career in the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. Much like Betty White, she too enlisted during World War 2 and was stationed as a typist first in the Marine headquarters in Washington DC. She was later transferred upon her request and worked as a truck driver in North Carolina. She was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant.
Bea Arthur started acting on stage and then appeared on TV after her years in the Marine Corps. After he breakthrough role in the show All in the Family, she got her own show Maude, which earned her an Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
Another US Marine Corps alumni is stand-up comic and TV show host Drew Carey. The comedian enlisted in the services after he was expelled from his college twice in 1980. He served for six years in the Marine Corps as a field radio operator.
Carey later gained fame as a stand-up comedian, appearing in talk shows such as The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Late Night With David Letterman. He then starred in his own show called The Drew Carey Show, which was a sitcom. He gained more notoriety for hosting the improv comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Hollywood’s deep-voiced narrator Morgan Freeman was also a military veteran. Freeman enlisted in the United States Air Force. He served for four years in the Air Force, starting as an Automatic Tracking Radar repairman, and even rose up to an airman first-class rank. He refused a drama scholarship from Jackson State University to serve in the Air Force.
He then started his acting career after being discharged in 1959. He had his breakthrough with the war film Glory, where he starred along with Denzel Washington.
Before leading the dark side as Kylo Ren in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, actor Adam Driver was a warrior in real life too. He enlisted in the US Marine Corps after the September 11 attacks and was assigned to the Weapons Company. He served for over two and a half years as a Marine and rose to the rank of Lance Corporal. He was medically discharged after a mountain biking accident.
Driver has since transitioned to a successful acting career, starring in acclaimed indie dramas such as Frances Ha, While We’re Young, and This is Where I Leave You. He also starred in high-profile films such as Lincoln, J. Edgar, and Silence.
Late jazz singer Tony Benette was a war hero who fought in the Second World War. The singer was drafted to the US Army during the final stages of the War and fought as an infantryman. After serving in France, he moved to Germany for the next leg of the battle and joined the front lines. He has mentioned that he had escaped death many times during combat and the experience turned him into a pacifist. He was discharged in 1946.
Johnny Cash had enlisted in the US Air Force before selling out shows as a singer. He worked as a Morse code operator in the forces and was part of the US Air Force Security Service stationed in Germany. He was apparently the first man in the USA to receive information about Joseph Stalin’s death which he got while being a Morse code operator. The ‘Folson Prison Blues’ singer was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant after serving four years.
Source: X (formerly Twitter)