43 Photos of 31 Secret Celebrity Badasses in the Military and More

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Secret Celebrity Badasses

Don’t be fooled by all the glitz and glamour of fame and fortune. Popular people aren’t always as shallow as many of us perceive them to be. There are actually secret celebrity badasses that are worth the applause beyond the TV screen.

Here are some bad ass celebs from movies, TV, music, sports, and even politics that you’d be surprised to learn about!

Harrison Ford

Piloting his helicopter for free, he had joined several search and rescue operations, humanitarian efforts and more.

harrison ford helicopter

Steve Buscemi

He rejoined his old New York Fire Department company to help during the 9/11 debris cleanup drive.

Steve Buscemi 9/11

Buscemi, Steve Bennet, Pete Metzger, Paul Acciarito, Rocco Battista

Photo courtesy of HBO

Gal Gadot

The former Miss Israel 2004 served in the military for two years when she was 20 years old. During that time, she went through boot camp for three months to become a combat trainer.

Gal Gadot
She’s the perfect new Wonder Woman of this generation

wonder woman gal gadot

Bruce Lee

An all-around jack of all trades – movie star, martial arts instructor, philosopher, poet, author, screenwriter, film director/producer, and founder of Jeet Kune Do.

Bruce Lee

Jackie Chan

A bad ass known for performing his own movie stunts.

Jackie Chan

Jason Statham

Like Jackie, he does all the stunt himself. Other than that, he was an Olympic diver and even ranked 12th in the World Diving Championship in 1992.

Jason Statham

Mark Walhberg

He grew up in a tough neighborhood in Boston and became literally tough from the experience.

Mark Walhberg

This included assaults which led to an attempted murder case with the victim left blind.

In 2006, he was interviewed about his troubled past.

“I did a lot of things that I regret, and I have certainly paid for my mistakes.”

Mark Walhberg HD

 “You have to go and ask for forgiveness and it wasn’t until I really started doing good and doing right by other people, as well as myself, that I really started to feel that guilt go away. So I don’t have a problem going to sleep at night. I feel good when I wake up in the morning.”

Christopher Lee

Lee was a military officer during WW2. His service included deployment towards the cold Finnish forest and the hot Sahara Desert, retaking Sicily, de-crypting Nazis communications, concentration camp visits and more.

Christopher Lee

Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn

She was a courier for the Dutch Resistance when she was a teenager, transporting messages through her ballet shoes.

Audrey Hepburn teenager

Hedy Lamarr

This is probably the most bad ass female entry in this list

Hedy Lamarr

Lamarr developed a radio guidance system (along with composer George Antheil) which utilized Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) to prevent Axis powers from jamming signals.

The technology wasn’t fully adapted until the 1960s but when it was recognized, it had been applied into GPS, Wi-Fi, CDMA and Bluetooth.

hedy lamarr george antheil

Both Lamarr and Antheil were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

Greta Garbo

Another bad ass woman from the old Hollywood

Greta Garbo

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

She was an MI6 asset during World War II, even after she was already a star at that time. It wasn’t a major role but her tasks interconnected the British Intelligence and the Swedish royal family along with rescuing Danish Jews.

Audie Murphy

Audie Murphy LIFE magazine's July 16, 1945 issue, "Most Decorated Soldier" cover photo

LIFE magazine’s July 16, 1945 issue, “Most Decorated Soldier” cover photo

He became a movie star after the war and even worked as a music composer.

Audie Murphy To Hell and Back

from the 1955 movie To Hell and Back

John Hamilton

Before the movies, Hamilton was an Office of Strategic Services (OSS) agent.

John Hamilton

The OSS was a predecessor of the current Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

James Doohan

Another World War II veteran before he was part of the original Star Trek series

James Doohan

James Doohan Scotty V by Dave-Daring/Deviantart

Doohan was part of the D-Day invasion. He survived six shots while on a mission and was an elite paratrooper and pilot of the Canadian Airforce.

James Doohan military service

David Niven

Like Doohan, Niven took part in D-Day, although not the actual landing.

David Niven

Niven left the army before WW2 to join Hollywood but returned to the British Army in 1939.

J.D. Salinger

Salinger also took part during D-Day

J.D. Salinger

He was also present during the Battle of the Bulge before being reassigned to Military Intelligence.

Ian Fleming

Another author who wrote based on experience

Ian Fleming

Most of James Bond’s escapades were based on Fleming’s personal experience as a military intelligence officer during World War II.

Roald Dahl

Dahl was an ace fighter pilot who flew for the Royal Air Force in Africa, Greece and Israel during World War II.

Roald Dahl

He later became a British diplomat and spy when he was no longer able to fly due to ill health. 

Noel Coward

The playwright and film writer is definitely not a “coward.”

Noel Coward

He was also once a spy for the British Intelligence during World War II, although not as detailed as Fleming or Dahl’s roles.

Frederick Forsyth

Also from the league of spies-turned-writers

Frederick Forsyth

While not officially an MI6 member, he was asked to act as asset while fulfilling a journalistic assignment in Biafra (now in Nigeria).

Ernest Hemingway

He was probably the most experienced writer in terms of bad ass war experience – from WWI, the Spanish Civil War, and WWII.

Ernest Hemingway

Retouched version of his 1918 photo during World War 1 as a American Red Cross volunteer.

Portrait by Ermeni Studios, Milan, Italy

Credit “Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.”

Hemingway in his later years

Ernest Hemingway

Oliver Stone

The director was part of an infantry in Vietnam and earned various medals of valor.

Oliver Stone

The 1986 epic war movie, Platoon, was based on his experiences during service.

Oliver Stone military service

Photo was his actual snapshot from Vietnam

Mel Brooks

The writer, producer, director, actor and songwriter was the same war hero, Corp. Melvin Kaminsky.

Mel Brooks

Like Salinger, Brooks was also deployed for the Battle of the Bulge.

Mel Brooks ww2

Zinovy Gerdt

The puppeteer chose to be assigned into field battle instead of performing for the troops since he was already known before WWII.

Zinovy Gerdt

He led an engineering platoon, defusing anti-tank mines during his service. 

Julia Child

The chef worked with the the OSS as a researcher and eventually as a field agent.

Julia Child

Since the OSS was like an older version of  the CIA, you can consider her a spy agent.

Alice Marble

#1 seed Women’s tennis player of the world in 1939

Alice Marble

She was a US spy during the Nazi regime.

Gino Bartali

You’ll probably not know him unless you’re a cycling enthusiast. He was Benito Mussolini’s favorite during the time of Fascist Italy.

Gino Bartali WWII

During WWII, he used his rides to help Jews but never spoke about it. When he died, his kids found documents showing how he worked with several organizations to save Jewish people.

Gino BartaliMARIO FIORE / ANSA

Vladimir Putin

Russia’s head served as an officer of the KGB (the Soviet Union security service from 1954 to 1991) and a director of FSB (Federal Security Service).

Vladimir Putin

He also flies fighter planes and is a Judo martial artist.

Kris Kristofferson

The country music star and actor was a member of U.S. special forces.

Kris Kristofferson

He served as a captain in the U.S. Army Rangers and as an Army helicopter pilot.

Kris Kristofferson military service

James Blunt

The singer was a cavalry officer in Kosovo (former Yugoslavia) in 1999 for the US army.

James Blunt

He served the military for six years.

James Blunt military service