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!
Piloting his helicopter for free, he had joined several search and rescue operations, humanitarian efforts and more.
He rejoined his old New York Fire Department company to help during the 9/11 debris cleanup drive.
Buscemi, Steve Bennet, Pete Metzger, Paul Acciarito, Rocco Battista
Photo courtesy of HBO
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.
She’s the perfect new Wonder Woman of this generation
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.
A bad ass known for performing his own movie stunts.
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.
He grew up in a tough neighborhood in Boston and became literally tough from the experience.
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.”
“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.”
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.
Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images
She was a courier for the Dutch Resistance when she was a teenager, transporting messages through her ballet shoes.
This is probably the most bad ass female entry in this list
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.
Both Lamarr and Antheil were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.
Another bad ass woman from the old Hollywood
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.
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.
from the 1955 movie To Hell and Back
Before the movies, Hamilton was an Office of Strategic Services (OSS) agent.
The OSS was a predecessor of the current Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Another World War II veteran before he was part of the original Star Trek series
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.
Like Doohan, Niven took part in D-Day, although not the actual landing.
Niven left the army before WW2 to join Hollywood but returned to the British Army in 1939.
Salinger also took part during D-Day
He was also present during the Battle of the Bulge before being reassigned to Military Intelligence.
Another author who wrote based on experience
Most of James Bond’s escapades were based on Fleming’s personal experience as a military intelligence officer during World War II.
Dahl was an ace fighter pilot who flew for the Royal Air Force in Africa, Greece and Israel during World War II.
He later became a British diplomat and spy when he was no longer able to fly due to ill health.
The playwright and film writer is definitely not a “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.
Also from the league of spies-turned-writers
While not officially an MI6 member, he was asked to act as asset while fulfilling a journalistic assignment in Biafra (now in Nigeria).
He was probably the most experienced writer in terms of bad ass war experience – from WWI, the Spanish Civil War, and WWII.
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
The director was part of an infantry in Vietnam and earned various medals of valor.
The 1986 epic war movie, Platoon, was based on his experiences during service.
Photo was his actual snapshot from Vietnam
The writer, producer, director, actor and songwriter was the same war hero, Corp. Melvin Kaminsky.
Like Salinger, Brooks was also deployed for the Battle of the Bulge.
The puppeteer chose to be assigned into field battle instead of performing for the troops since he was already known before WWII.
He led an engineering platoon, defusing anti-tank mines during his service.
The chef worked with the the OSS as a researcher and eventually as a field agent.
Since the OSS was like an older version of the CIA, you can consider her a spy agent.
#1 seed Women’s tennis player of the world in 1939
She was a US spy during the Nazi regime.
You’ll probably not know him unless you’re a cycling enthusiast. He was Benito Mussolini’s favorite during the time of Fascist Italy.
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.
MARIO FIORE / ANSA
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).
He also flies fighter planes and is a Judo martial artist.
The country music star and actor was a member of U.S. special forces.
He served as a captain in the U.S. Army Rangers and as an Army helicopter pilot.
The singer was a cavalry officer in Kosovo (former Yugoslavia) in 1999 for the US army.
He served the military for six years.