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There are many celebrities who have served in the armed forces

Whether they were drafted or chose to enlist, celebrities such as Pat Sajak, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Clint Eastwood have all served in the military.

Here is a look at a few stars who have served. 

Elvis Presley, Clint Eastwood, Johnny Cash split

Many stars have served in the military. (Getty Images)

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Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley served in the military from 1958 to 1960.

Elvis Presley served in the military from 1958 to 1960. (Apic/Getty Images)

Elvis Presley was already a famous musician when he was drafted into the Army in March 1958, and he spent most of his time in the military serving overseas in Germany as a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 133.60, Armor Intelligence Specialist.

One of Presley’s biggest concerns after being drafted was losing the fame he had worked so hard to achieve.

“I have no way of telling if my fame is fading,” he said while in Germany. “You just don’t know. I hope the folks back home haven’t forgotten me.”

Pat Sajak

Pat Sajak 1988 headshot

Sajak was a disc jockey in the Army during the Vietnam War. (CBS via Getty Images)

Pat Sajak served in the Army as a disc jockey during the Vietnam War after initially being sent overseas as a finance clerk.

“I used to feel a bit guilty about my relatively ‘soft’ duty,” Sajak wrote for the USO website in June 2014. “But I always felt a little better when I met guys who came into town from the field and thanked us for bringing them a little bit of home. I always thought it was strange that they should be thanking me, given what so many of them were going through on a daily basis. But they reminded me of the importance of providing entertainment to those who serve.”

In the essay, he also discussed an embarrassing incident in which he cut off President Nixon’s first holiday speech to the nation early because he thought it was over. What made it worse was that he cut off the statements meant directly to the troops themselves. He confessed “with pain and embarrassment” that his “comrades in Vietnam never heard the president’s words to them back in 1969.”

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Bea Arthur

Bea Arthur on the set of Maude in the 1970s.

Arthur joined the Marines in 1943, just a few days after the Marine Corps began recruiting women. (CBS via Getty Images)

“Be a Marine … Free a Man to Fight” is the slogan Bea Arthur saw on Feb. 13, 1943, announcing the creation of the Women’s Reservists, which prompted her to enlist as a Marine just five days later on Feb. 18.

“I was supposed to start work yesterday, but I heard last week that enlistment for women in the Marines was open, so [I] decided the only thing to do was to join,” Arthur wrote in her enlistment paperwork.

Arthur kept her status as a veteran a secret, even denying it once during an interview.

Sidney Poitier

Sidney Pointier at the 36th Academy Awards

Poitier lied about his age to join the Army during World War II. (Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Sidney Poitier opened up about his time in the military in his 1980 memoir, “This Life.” In the memoir, he recalled leaving the Bahamas when he was 15 to live in Miami, later finding his way to New York City.

According to the Washington Post, the legendary actor wrote in his memoir that he found himself in trouble with the law at 16, managing to get out of it by lying to the police officer and saying he was planning to enlist in the Army. Soon enough, the fib began to sound like an exciting plan, and Poitier lied about his age, passed a physical exam and enlisted in the Army. He was later sent to a New York hospital to assist while medical staff treated patients.

Poitier grew tired of the horrific scenes he was exposed to while working in the hospital, and after faking mental insanity, he was sent to a psychiatric ward in the hospital. The Washington Post reported that he wrote in his memoir he later came clean to a psychiatrist, and after five weeks of daily sessions, he was discharged from the Army at 17 years old.

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Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett in a black and white photo, in 1970

Bennett took part in freeing the Dachau concentration camp in Germany during World War II. (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Legendary singer Tony Bennett was drafted into the Army in 1944 at 18 years old and was sent to the front lines during World War II. He wrote about his experience fighting in the war in his 1998 memoir, “The Good Life,” writing that “life can never be the same once you’ve been through combat,” per Military.com.

Bennett’s final mission was to liberate the Dachau concentration camp in Germany, writing in his autobiography, “I’ll never forget the desperate faces and empty stares of the prisoners as they wandered aimlessly around the campgrounds.” 

While the war in Europe ended in May 1945, Bennett had not fulfilled his mandatory time in the Army and had to stay back. He was placed in a Special Services unit, created to entertain the remaining Allied forces, going on to sing with the 314th Army Special Services Band under the name Joe Bari. After the end of the war, Bennett continued performing under the name Joe Bari until he encountered Bob Hope, who gave him the name Tony Bennett.

Adam Driver

Adam Driver in a white suit at the Cannes Film Festival

Driver was inspired to enlist in the Marines after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Laurent Koffel/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, actor Adam Driver was motivated to enlist in the Marines in 2002. Driver went to boot camp in San Diego for two months and then trained as a mortarman at Camp Pendleton.

Driver was in the Marines for two years, calling his decision to enlist “one of the things I’m most proud of having done in my life” in his 2015 Ted Talk. He was honorably discharged in 2004 after two years of serving due to an injury to his sternum sustained after a bike accident.

“I found I loved the Marine Corps the most for the thing I was looking for the least when I joined, which was the people, a weird motley crew of characters from a cross-section of the United States that on the surface I had nothing in common with,” he said in his Ted Talk.

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Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood at the AFI Awards in 2020

Eastwood was drafted into the Army in 1951 to fight in the Korean War. (Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AFI)

Clint Eastwood was drafted into the Army in 1951 and worked as a swimming instructor at Fort Ord.

“While everybody else was getting up at 5 in the morning in the cold air, I was sleeping,” Eastwood told the Monterey Harold in February 2022. “I didn’t have classes until about 10 or 11 o’clock or whatever they were that day. It was a good life for me.”

The actor was honorably discharged in 1953, the same year the Korean War ended.

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix posing for the camera

Hendrix enlisted in the Army to avoid jail time. (Avalon/Getty Images)

Facing up to 10 years in jail for riding in a stolen car in 1961, Jimi Hendrix struck a deal with the New York district attorney in which he would receive a two-year suspended prison sentence if he would enlist in the Army. He enlisted for three years as a supply clerk shortly after and was sent to Fort Ord, California, for basic training.

Despite having enlisted for three years, Hendrix served for 13 months and was honorably discharged early due to an ankle injury he sustained during his 26th jump while training as a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division.

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Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash sitting with an acoustic guitar

Cash served in the Air Force during the Korean War. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In 1950, when Johnny Cash was 18 years old, he enlisted in the Air Force. While serving four years in Germany, Cash wrote many of his classic songs, including “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Hey Porter.”

During his time in the military, he worked as a Morse code intercept operator.

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Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman at the Classic Film Festival in 2024

Freeman enlisted in the Air Force in 1955 when he was 18. (Presley Ann/Getty Images for TCM)

Morgan Freeman joined the Air Force at age 18 after his high school graduation in 1955. He spent four years in the Air Force, eventually going on to become an airman first class before leaving the military in 1959. 

“When I was getting close to being accepted for pilot training, I was allowed to get in a jet airplane,” he told AARP Magazine. “I sat there looking at all those switches and dials, and I got the distinct feeling that I was sitting in the nose of a bomb. You are not in love with this; you are in love with the idea of this.”

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