Hugh Hefner got his start in publishing while in the U.S. Army.
Before Playboy existed, Hefner had a successful career in the military.
In 1944, after graduating high school, Hefner enlisted in the Army as an infantry clerk.
He frequently contributed cartoons for various military newspapers before he was discharged in 1946.
Bea Arthur was a typist and truck driver in the Marines.
Before she landed a lead role in “Golden Girls,” Bea Arthur served in the Marine Corps.
Though she once flat out denied it, The Smoking Gun dug up files proving the actress had served 30 months in the Marines as a typist and truck driver.
According a personal account detailing her reasons for joining, a then 21-year-old Arthur said she “heard last week that enlistments for women in the Marines were open, so decided the only thing to do was to join.”
On an obtained personality appraisal sheet, Arthur was described as both argumentative and frank.
She was initially a typist in Washington D.C., and was then stationed at air stations in Virgina and North Carolina. Arthur was honorably discharged in 1945 with the title of staff sergeant.
Chuck Norris was introduced to martial arts during his military stint in South Korea.
Johnny Carson entertained fellow troops with his magic acts during World War II.
The future television host and comedian joined the U.S. Navy in 1943, starting as an apprentice shipman and eventually a midshipman assigned to the USS Pennsylvania in the Pacific Ocean.
The then 20-year-old entertained his fellow Navymen with magic and comedy while aboard the ship.
Carson briefly continued his military career as communications officer in charge of decoding encrypted messages.
Bill Cosby worked with seriously injured Korean War soldiers while in the Navy.
Elvis Presley was already a huge rock star when he was deployed to Germany.
After being expelled from college, Mr. T excelled while serving in the US Army.
Mr. T (Laurence Tureaud) became a military policeman in the Army after being expelled from college.
In 1975, a drill sergeant awarded Tureaud a letter of recommendation.
The future “The A-Team” actor was also elected “Top Trainee of the Cycle” and later promoted to squad leader
Montel Williams served in the US Navy Reserve for 22 years.
Sidney Poitier acted insane to find a way out of the Army.
After moving from the Bahamas to the United States as a teenager, Poitier had a hard time finding work and New York City’s bitter winter temperatures were a drastic change of environment for the now Academy Award-winning actor.
So, in November 1943, at the ripe age of 16, he lied about his age and entered the Army.
According to the Los Angeles Sentinel, “The U.S. Army literally took him in out of the cold.”
Poitier served as a medical attendant at a mental hospital in New York, but eventually grew tired of Army life. Instead of admitting his real age, he faked insanity, though he eventually came clean upon threat of shock treatments.
After talking to a psychiatrist for several weeks, Poitier was eventually granted release from the Army.
Clint Eastwood escaped from a sinking aircraft while serving in the Army.
Jimi Hendrix’s guitar playing often distracted him from his Army duties.
When authorities caught Hendrix riding in stolen cars in Seattle, they gave him two options — go to jail, or join the Army.
So, in 1961, Hendrix enlisted and was assigned the 101st Airborne Dibision in Kentucky.
Though Hendrix had some success — he was awarded the Screaming Eagles patch after completing paratrooper training — his constant guitar playing often kept him from his duties and drew criticism from fellow soldiers.
Hendrix was later discharged from the Army due to a ankle injury sustained in a parachute jump.
…And the rest is Rock ‘n’ Roll history.
Mel Brooks defused land mines while serving in World War II.
Pat Sajak was a disc jockey for armed forces radio.
The “Wheel of Fortune” host joined the U.S. Army in 1968, first working as a finance clerk in Vietnam and then as a disc jockey for 18 months on armed forces radio.
On The Military Channel’s “An Officer and a Movie,” Sajak later admitted to accidentally botching President Nixon’s 1969 Christmas broadcast to the troops, cutting it off too early.
Tom Selleck’s National Guard unit was activated during Los Angeles’ Watts Riots.
Alan Alda served in the military years before he got the lead part in a Korean War-set “M*A*S*H.”
Long before Alan Alda had the fictional role as Hawkeye Pierce in “M*A*S*H,” a CBS series about a team of medical staff stationed at a surgical hospital in South Korea during the Korean War, he had his own personal military experience.
After serving in Fordham University’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, he found his way into the Army Reserve, where he was deployed for six months.
Alda later spoke to Southern Connecticut State University about his stint in the military, saying, “They had designs of making me into an officer but, uh … it didn’t go so well. I was in charge of a mess tent. Some of that made it into the show [M*A*S*H].”
Sean Connery was discharged from the Royal Navy because of health concerns.
The future James Bond enlisted in the Royal Navy at the age of 16.
After three years of service, Connery was discharged because a stomach ulcer was threatening his health.
He returned to work as a bricklayer and lifeguard in Edinburgh, Scotland, eventually moving onto bodybuilding, which paved the way for a career in modeling and film.