In honor of Memorial Day, The Hollywood Reporter highlights five veterans-turned-actors that starred in projects including Million Dollar Baby, Unforgiven and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU).
In 1955, Morgan enlisted in the United States Air Force after turning down a scholarship to Jackson State University. The actor rose the ranks to Airman 1st Class after nearly four years in the service before he left the military to pursue an acting career. He appeared on-screen for the first time in the 1964 TV series Another World and took home the best supporting actor Oscar in 2005 for Million Dollar Baby.
The Unforgiven Oscar winner joined the Marines at the age of 16 and served for four and a half years. Ten years after leaving the military, the former radio field operator vet began to pursue an acting career. In 1961, he first appeared on-camera in Mad Dog Coll. Hackman won the best supporting actor Oscar in 1993 for Unforgiven.
Widely known for his role as officer Fin Tutuola on Law & Order: SVU, Ice-T (born Tracy Lauren Marrow) joined the U.S. Army and served four years in the 25th Infantry before leaving on honorable discharge. He started off a career in performance as a DJ before pursuing acting in 1991 and landing on SVU in 2000.
Martial artist and actor Norris joined the U.S. Air Force in 1958 as a police airman. He served in South Korea, where he first learned martial arts, and returned to the U.S. to serve at March Air Force Base before he was discharged in 1962. His on-camera debut came six years later when he appeared in The Wrecking Crew in 1968.
Eastwood was drafted into the army in 1951 for the Korean War and served at California’s Fort Ord as a swim instructor. During his time in service, Eastwood was on a plane that crashed in Northern California’s Point Reyes, forcing the lifeguard serviceman to swim to shore. His on-screen debut came four years later when he appeared in Revenge of the Creature. Eastwood has won four Oscars for his work.