11 Celebrities Who Served In The Military Before They Got Famous

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You’ve seen them on TV and at the movies, playing roles where they make you laugh, fight bad guys and sometimes even show off their bare behinds.

But did you know they were veterans?

These are 11 celebrities you might not have known served in the military.

This story was originally published by Bankrate.

Ice-T was in the Army's 25th Infantry Division

While most know him now as Detective Odafin 'Fin' Tutuola on 'Law and Order: SVU,' it wasn't the only time Ice-T was fighting bad guys.

Before his rap days, Tracy Marrow (Ice-T is his stage name) joined the Army's 25th Infantry Division. He served for four years before returning home, where he eventually started a successful music and acting career.

Harvey Keitel joined the Marine Corps at age 17

He's played plenty of bad guys on the big screen, but who knew the devil/dad from 'Little Nicky' was a good U.S. Marine? Harvey Keitel joined the Marine Corps back when he was just 17, and he served in Lebanon during Operation Blue Bat in 1958.

Mel Brooks served as a corporal in the Army during World War II

'It's good to be the king,' and for Americans during World War II, it was good we had this 'king' on our side. Mel Brooks served as a corporal in the Army during World War II, where he was assigned to the Battle of the Bulge. Following the war, he went on to earn an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony -- becoming an 'EGOT-er' -- and write and direct 'The Producers,' about producers trying to make the musical flop 'Springtime for Hitler.'

Gene Hackman spent time in the Marines as a field radio operator and as a DJ for the Armed Forces Network

Before he was 'Behind Enemy Lines,' on the big screen, Gene Hackman spent time in the Marines as a field radio operator and as a DJ for the Armed Forces Network. He went from the service to showbiz, earning Oscars for 'The French Connection' and 'Unforgiven.'

Chuck Norris was in the United States Air Force

Fact: Chuck Norris was in the United States Air Force. Fact: While stationed in Korea, he trained in Tang Soo Do and later created his own form of martial arts called Chun Kuk Do. Fact: When the bogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris. Oh, also, he's an actor who starred in the 'Missing in Action' series of movies as well as 'Walker, Texas Ranger.'

Dennis Franz served for 11 months in Vietnam

Dennis Franz wasn't always wearing his NYPD blues. Drafted after college into the Army, he served for 11 months in Vietnam. We are guessing people liked him in uniform because Franz went on to play at least a dozen police officers before getting the role of Detective Andy Sipowicz on 'NYPD Blue,' earning him four Emmy Awards.

Montel Williams served as a lieutenant in the Navy for 22 years

The motivational speaker and former talk show host, Montel Williams, enlisted in the Marines after high school, but later found his gift for public speaking while serving as a lieutenant for the Navy. He served for 22 years, leaving with the rank of lieutenant, after which he went on to win a Daytime Emmy Award and two Genesis Awards for 'The Montel Williams Show.'

J.R. Martinez was a corporal in the Army

J.R. Martinez is probably the one star on the list well-known for his military service. A corporal in the Army, a roadside-bomb blast burned more than 40 per cent of his body while he was serving in Iraq. Even with his injuries, he was positive about his recovery and used his optimism to help other victims. He starred as an Army veteran on 'All My Children' and later let his feet do the talking when he rumba'ed his way to the win on season 13 of 'Dancing with the Stars.'

Bill Cosby was in the Navy for four years

The famous TV dad played a doctor on 'The Cosby Show,' but Bill Cosby also worked in medicine before his days of comedy, assigned to work with those injured in the Korean War while in the Navy. He served for four years as a hospital corpsman before going to college at Temple University and eventually pursuing a career in comedy.

Tom Selleck was a soldier in the California Army National Guard

Everyone's favourite mustachio played a private investigator in Hawaii and Vietnam veteran on TV, but in real life Tom Selleck was a soldier in the California Army National Guard. He was called to duty in 1965 during the Watts Riots.

Rob Riggle was a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps

Rob Riggle's joke as a correspondent on 'The Daily Show' that he could 'kill any other member of the show' based on his military experience isn't too far from the truth. He was a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps and served in Kosovo and Afghanistan before moving into full-time comedy, where his characters have ranged from a man-child with a pituitary problem in 'The Goods' to a man who laughed when a kid used a Taser 'in the face' in 'The Hangover.'

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