Service Before Stardom: Photos Of 28 Icons Who Served In The Military

By | July 7, 2017

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Left: Willie Nelson playing a show in South Carolina in 1996. Right: Nelson during his time in the air force, circa 1950. Sources: (Paul Natkin/WireImage; Wikimedia Commons)

There's no one type of person who serves in the military -- tough guys like Clint Eastwood and Chuck Norris might seem to fit the mold, but nonconformists like Willie Nelson and Jimi Hendrix served too. Leonard "Mr. Spock" Nimoy, Wheel of Fortune's Pat Sajak, and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner all served. These fascinating photos show future stars and celebrities when they were just kids, really, unaware of the fame that lay in store and doing their duty in the meantime. For vintage photos of celebrities in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard -- as well as a couple from the Austrian army and British Navy -- read on.

Hugh Hefner's Typing Skills Kept Him Out Of Combat

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Hugh Hefner with his future first wife Millie, circa 1944.

Serving in the Army during World War II, Hugh Hefner was said to be a decent soldier. He earned his Sharpshooter badge in training at Fort Hood, Texas, and was well trained in combat. He probably would have seen battlefield action. But the Army noticed another skill that was in demand -- Hefner could type unusually well for a man. He was assigned to a desk job in Washington, DC, which was just fine with him -- he enjoyed the Washington social scene and, let's face it, the women. During his Washington years (he was actually stationed at Fort Meade, in Maryland), Hefner created cartoons for military newspapers, went to the movies habitually, and nurtured his urban-sophisticate persona, which would a decade later become the persona of the magazine he founded -- Playboy.