11 famous women you had no idea served in the military

Bea Arthur of ‘Golden Girls’ served. Lennox McLendon/AP Photo
  • Women have been serving in the military in some capacity, officially or unofficially, since the Revolutionary War.
  • Just as there are famous men who are veterans, there are famous women vets as well.
  • Gal Gadot served in the Israel Defence Forces, as is compulsory in Israel.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

While there are many notable male celebrities who served, less focus seems to be on the women — of both today and throughout history — who have fought for their countries.

“Golden Girl” Bea Arthur was a staff sergeant for the Marines, and Gal Gadot was in the Israel Defence Forces for two years, which actually led to her big break in Hollywood.

Keep scrolling to see other famous females who have served — and learn how it helped them succeed in the long run.

Melina Glusac contributed to a previous version of this article.

“Wonder Woman” Gal Gadot served in the Israeli Defence Forces for two years.

Gal Gadot. Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

After Gal Gadot was crowned Miss Israel in 2004, and before she became Wonder Woman in 2017, she served her mandatory two years in the Israeli Defence Forces. During Gadot’s assignment, she worked as a “physical fitness specialist,” teaching things like gymnastics and calisthenics to the soldiers.

Gadot actually credits her big break in the acting world to her military service, claiming that Justin Lin, the director of “Fast Five” and “Fast & Furious 6,” cast her in the role of Gisele because he was impressed with her military background, and her “knowledge of weapons.”

Ruth Westheimer, better known as the sex therapist Dr. Ruth, trained as a sniper in the IDF.

Dr. Ruth. Donna Svennevik/Walt Disney Television/Getty Images

Dr. Ruth is a Holocaust survivor, and after World War II ended, she moved as a teenager to what would become Israel. During her time there, she trained as a sniper due to her small size.She told the New Yorker in 2013, “I have no idea what the experience would be, if I had to show it. But I was a very good sniper.”

“Golden Girl” Bea Arthur was one of the first members of the Marine Corps’ Women’s Reserve.

Bea Arthur. Lennox McLendon/AP Photo

Before she was Dorothy Zbornak on “The Golden Girls,” Emmy Award-winning actress Bea Arthur was a Marine.

Arthur enlisted into the Women’s Reserve when she was just 21 years old, first serving as a typist and truck driver. She worked her way up to staff sergeant and was honorably discharged in 1945.

According to The Daily Beast, official documents show that Arthur’s supervisors thought she was “argumentative” – which is not a far cry from the feisty persona she became known for on both “The Golden Girls” and “Maude.”

Food Network star Sunny Anderson was in the Air Force.

Sunny Anderson. Jim Spellman/Getty Images

Anderson, who hosts, “The Kitchen,” “Cooking for Real,” and “Home Made in America,” grew up around the military because of her parents. As an adult, she enlisted in the US Air Force as a radio broadcaster and journalist, and travelled the world.

Harriet Tubman was a military leader and Union spy during the Civil War.

Harriet Tubman. MPI/Getty Images

Most know Harriet Tubman for her groundbreaking work with the Underground Railroad and, later, as an abolitionist – but according to National Geographic, Tubman was also an integral part of the Civil War.

In 1863, Tubman and Colonel James Montgomery led a group of soldiers in freeing slaves from plantations in South Carolina, making Tubman the first woman in US history to lead a military expedition.

Her work continued as a spy and recruiter for the Union Army. This operation was so covert that only President Lincoln knew about it.

Tubman received compensation for her military contributions decades later, in 1899. Thomas B. Allen, the author of “Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent,” calls Tubman “one of the great heroines of the Civil War.”

Queen Elizabeth was a military truck driver during World War II.

Queen Elizabeth outside a first aid truck during World War II. Keystone/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth was only 18 years old when she begged her father, King George VI, to take part in helping out during World War II.

She joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service in England that same year, and was known as “Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor.” While serving, the young queen drove military trucks and trained as a mechanic – making her, to this day, the only female member of the Royal Family to enter the armed forces.

NASA’s Eileen Collins was one of the first female pilots in the Air Force — and in space.

Eileen Collins. NASA

Eileen Collins broke several barriers during her career: Not only was she NASA’s first female shuttle commander, at 23 she became the Air Force’s first female flight instructor.

She joined the Air Force in 1978, becoming one of the first four women to go through pilot training at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma.

She wrote in Time, “The Air Force was testing whether women could succeed as military pilots. We obviously were living in a fishbowl – everyone knew who we were, our personal business, our test scores and our flight performance. My philosophy was to be the best pilot I could be.”

Her military training directly led her to test-pilot school, where she “knew” she would go on be the first female space shuttle pilot – and succeeded in doing so.

Actress Zulay Henao served in the US Army for three years.

Zulay Henao. JB Lacroix/ Getty Images

Colombian-American actress Zulay Henao has appeared on the show “Army Wives,” but few know that she herself served in the US Army before becoming an actress.

Henao enlisted after completing high school, and, after three years serving, went on to enroll at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. She recently spoke to the paparazzi about her time in the military, saying: “I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing, and I wouldn’t have the perspective I have of the world, if it weren’t for the Army.”

“Stranger Things” actress Jennifer Marshall served in the US Navy for five years.

Jennifer Marshall as Susan Hargrove on ‘Stranger Things.’ Netflix

Before Jennifer Marshall scored the role of Susan Hargrove on Netflix’s hit show “Stranger Things,” she served in the United States Navy from ages 17 to 22.

According to Marshall’s website, during her time in the service she was a forklift operator, aircraft handler, and logistics specialist, and also worked for the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s Sexual Assault Victim Intervention (SAVI) program.

Marshall was awarded many honours and medals for her time in the Navy. Now, in addition to acting, she works with Pin-Ups For Vets – a non profit organisation that aids hospitalized veterans and deployed troops.

Olympic medalist Shauna Rohbock was in the National Guard.

Shauna Rohbock. Harry How/Getty Images

Rohbock is an Olympic bobsledder, and won the silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. But before that, Rohbock joined the Utah Army National Guard, and was part of the National Guard Outstanding Athlete Program.

Radio talk show host Robin Quivers was a captain in the Air Force.

Robin Quivers. Walter McBride/WireImage via Getty Images

Robin Quivers has co-hosted “The Howard Stern Show” for over 30 years, but before that she served as a captain in the US Air Force.

Quivers got her degree in nursing from The University of Maryland and put it to use by joining the military as a “Second Lieutenant” after college. She quickly climbed the ranks, and when she was discharged in 1978, her official title was “captain.”

According to Biography.com, she served as a reserve in the Air Force until 1990, after which she fully pivoted to her career in radio. But Howard Stern hired her for his show in 1981, which means that Quivers – though she was “inactive” – was still technically serving while she was on air.