In honor of Military Appreciation month and Memorial Day, we want to take a moment to celebrate all the men and women who devote their time to serving their country. It might surprise you that many of our favorite stars today have family ties to the armed forces. Whilst some of these celebs have military spouses, others grew up with a parent who served in the military.
Interestingly, some of the most famous faces in Hollywood were born or grew up on military bases. From Jessica Alba and Reese Witherspoon to Bruce Willis, it’s amazing just how many of these stars have parents who served in the Navy, Army or Air Force. For some of these superstars, it meant they spent their childhood moving around from city to city, and it helped shape who they became today. So let’s show some appreciation for our favorite actors, singers and politicians who have a special military connection.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Ruth Bader Ginsberg has carved a trailblazing career as a US lawyer, jurist and is now the Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court. She even starred in her own documentary film, RGB. Still, before she even became a lawyer, she married Martin Ginsberg, who was drafted into the Army in 1954.
Ruth married Martin shortly after graduating from college, and he served in the army for two years before continuing his law education. Amazingly, the first time she argued before the Supreme Court was in 1973. She represented a female service member who was trying to obtain military spouse protection for her husband, which was groundbreaking at that time.
John Oliver started out as a British comedian, before crossing over to mainstream TV in the US as a guest host in the mid-2000s. After frequent guest appearances on The Daily Show, John now headlines his own HBO comedy/news show, titled Last Week Tonight. Interestingly, John Oliver first encountered his wife Kate Norley on the Daily Show, who is also an OIF veteran.
Kate Norley had served as a medic in the military, before leaving in 2008 and is now an advocate for veterans. Oliver explained in an interview “When you’ve married someone who’s been at war…nothing…compares to that level of selflessness and bravery… I feel humbled daily.”
Nicky Hayley made history by becoming the first woman in South Carolina to become a governor. She’s was also the second Indian-America to become a governor, before she moved onto become a US Ambassador. Nicky is also the wife of an officer, and her sister is also a military veteran.
In 2001 Nicki’s husband signed up for the South Carolina National Guard. In 2013, he was deployed to Afghanistan. She explained in an interview how “I am unbelievably proud of him and yes, we went through the deployment and single mom stuff…I wouldn’t trade it, because of the pride he has, the pride we all have for him.”
Brianna Keilar has made a name for herself as a leading journalist and is currently a Senior Washington Correspondent on CNN news. This means Brianna is constantly at the forefront of US politics. Interestingly, she married her husband Fernando Lujan in 2017 in Las Vegas, and he is an Army Special Forces Officer.
Fernando wore his uniform in the wedding ceremony and Brianna noted in an interview how “One of the reasons my husband and I connect is our shared value of service. It’s why he went off to West Point at age 17 and never looked back. It’s why I got into journalism in college.”
Rosalynn Carter became the First Lady after her husband Jimmy Carter became a US President in the late 1970s. Still, their love story started years before. The couple first started dating when Jimmy Carter was serving as a midshipman in the Naval Academy. After marrying, Rosalynn spent the initial seven years of their marriage living as a military spouse.
Jimmy Carter left his post in the military in 1953 and the power couple went on to achieve great things. Since the Carters are philanthropists, they have dedicated their time to various causes, such as vaccines, clean water, sanitary conditions, Habit for Humanity and Caregiving. Rosalynn helped found a signature military program, Operation Family Caregiver.
Anna Chlumsky shot to fame as a child star on the movie My Girl, before landing the role on the TV show Veep. She has since carved a successful acting career. Anna first met her husband at college in the University of Chicago, and while they started dating he enlisted in the Army Reserves.
Anna’s husband was later deployed to Afghanistan. She explained in an interview in Glamor magazine how, “Frightening as it was when Shaun’s Humvee was hit by an IED, and when he was ambushed, he was able to call me straight away. I believed he could stay…happy if he knew without a doubt that I’d be… waiting for him with open arms.”
Gloria Allred is a leading attorney and has a long history of high profile cases, which mainly focused on gender and sexual inequality. She is currently working as an attorney for the Bill Cosby Case. Still, even before Gloria became a lawyer, she was once married to Peyton Brey, who also served in the military.
In a recent Netflix documentary, titled Seeing Allred, she explains more deeply about her husband’s service. In fact, while he served in the military, he was diagnosed with some mental health issues, which lead to some issues in their marriage. Eventually, they divorced, and Gloria continued with her career.
Pink is an international superstar and is best known for her sassy attitude, punky hair and dress sense and catchy song lyrics. While she spends most of her time releasing hit albums and filling out arenas on tour, fans may not realize that she also comes from a military family.
In the 1970s, Pink’s father, named Jim Moore once served in the US army in the Vietnam War. Evidently, the singer’s brother was inspired to follow in his father’s footsteps and he went on enlist in the US Air Force.
Amy Adams has forged a successful career as an award-winning actress, winning a Golden Globe in 2018. Some of her memorable acting credits include Enchanted, The Office and Sharp Objects. Interestingly, Amy Adams’ father is another military serviceman.
In fact, Amy was actually born in Vincenza in Italy, because Amy’s father, Richard Kent Adams was serving in the US army. At the time her father was stationed at Caserma Ederle military base.
Lionel Richie is a legendary soul singer and is well known for his power ballads, soulful lyrics, and funky Motown beats. He jumped into the limelight as a member of the band the Commodores, before breaking out as a solo artist, actor and record producer.
While Lionel may have been born into a musical family, he also comes from a military family. Interestingly, his father, aptly named Lionel Brockman Richie used to serve in the US army as a systems analyst.
Heather Locklear shot to stardom as a model and actress, featuring on hit shows such as Dynasty, Melrose Place and Hot in Cleveland. She also crossed over the silver screen, appearing in movies like Money Talks and The Perfect Man.
While Heather Locklear is a familiar face in Hollywood, she also has some military connections in her family. Evidently her father, William Locklear also served in the military. He was a Colonel in the US Marine Corps.
Shaquille O’Neal or Shaq is generally considered around the world as one of the greatest professional basketball players in NBA History. He is known for his trademark height and played for six teams throughout his successful career. Now he has retired, he is now a leading sports analyst on TNT.
While his pro basketball career is well publicized, a little known fact about Shaq is that he actually grew up on a few military bases. Since his stepfather was serving in the US army, he grew up in Texas, New Jersey, Georgia, and Germany.
Vanessa Minnillo is a successful American-Filipino TV personality. After starting out as a beauty queen and fashion model, she broke out as a TV host and actress. You might have spotted her as a correspondent on Entertainment Tonight. While Vanessa is famously married to the US actor Nick Lachey, she also has some family ties with the military.
Believe it or not, this beauty queen was actually born on a military base, back in the Philippines. At the time, her father, Vince Minnillo was serving in the US Airforce as a crew member. So Vanessa moved around to live in Nevada, California, Florida, Germany, and Japan before her family settled in South Carolina.
Michael J Fox
Michael J Fox really made it as an actor after starring the iconic Back to the Future trilogy. He has since enjoyed a career spanning decades, scoring four Golden Globes for movies and shows like Family Ties, Spin City and The Good Wife. He has some health issues but continued to do voiceovers for movies like Stuart Little.
Michael is a Canadian-American, and in 2010, he even made it into the Canadian Walk of Fame. His father also is well respected in Canada, since he served in the Canadian Armed Forces for around 25 years. This meant his family moved around a great deal when he was younger too.
Julianne Moore is a prolific American actress and children’s author has many accolades to her name. She even received an Academy Award for the Best Actress category. She is one of Hollywood’s leading ladies and some of her movie credits include Jurassic Park, The Hunger Games and Still Alice.
A little known feat about Julianne is that her father, Peter Moore Smith served in the US Army as a paratrooper, a colonel and later became a military judge. This meant Julianne was actually another star to be born on a military base, named Fort Bragg Army Base in North Carolina.
Peter Sarsgaard is a seasoned American actor who achieved worldwide recognition after starring in movies like Dead Man Walking, The Man in the Iron Mask, Boys Don’t Cry and Shattered Glass. His list of acting credits is extensive, and his most memorable recent roles include The Green Lantern, The Magnificent Seven and Black Mass.
Amazingly, Peter is another Hollywood actor to be born on a military base. His father is John Dale Sarsgaard who was serving as an Air Force engineer at the time. So Peter started his days as a military baby at the Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.
Michelle Rodriguez is probably best known as one of the leading Latino actresses in Hollywood. She had her breakout role in an independent movie Girlfight, before cementing her fame in the Fast and The Furious movie franchise.
While Michelle is renowned for her action-packed roles, she is also from action-packed family background. Michelle was actually born in Puerto Rico, but her father, Rafael Rodriguez once completed his military service in the US army. He also met her mother Carmen during his service.
Tamara and Tia Mowry
Tamara and Tia Mowry shot to fame as child stars in the hit 90s TV sitcom Sister Sister. The premise of the show was is that they were both separated at birth, before being reunited a few years later. Both sisters also started a singing group called Voices and went on to carve successful acting careers.
The identical sisters became big stars in the US, but they were actually born in Germany. At the time, their father, named Timothy John Mowry was completing his service in the US Army, so was stationed Germany for their birth.
Tiger Woods made his mark as a professional golfer and is generally viewed as one of the greatest golfers in history. He is credited with helping to popularize the sport for the younger generation. He also broke some golfing records and won major championships and PGA Tours.
Tiger clearly had sporting discipline instilled in him from a young age and played in his first championship at just 13 years old. He must have got this discipline from his father, Earl Woods who served in the US Army as a lieutenant colonel. Earl also served his country during the Vietnam war.
Ciara is internationally renowned as a successful R&B singer, dancer, and model. She shot to the limelight in 2004 after releasing her debut album, Goodies and is known for her signature dance moves and unique singing style. Now she is still releasing albums and traveling around the world to promote her music and different brands.
Ciara is actually no stranger to moving around and traveling. She was actually born in Austin Texas while her father Carlton Harris was serving in the US army. So she grew up as another military brat and moved around to different army bases in her childhood, including Germany, NYC, California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada.
Jessica Alba is now one of Hollywood’s leading actresses. She started out as a child actor on shows like Dark Angel and had her breakthrough role in the movie Honey. From there, her movie career went from strength to strength, starring in box office hits like the Fantastic Four, the Sin City franchise and Mechanic: Resurrection.
While Jessica now enjoys a glamorous Hollywood lifestyle, she was also had a military childhood. As her father was serving in the US Air Force, Jessica moved around a lot when she was younger to Biloxi, TX, MS and Del Rio before her family settled in California.
Tilda Swinton is internationally renowned as one of the top British actresses in the industry. She is known for her roles in numerous independent and arty productions as well as blockbusting hits. Tilda has scooped three Golden Globe nominations for her work. Some of her most notable acting credits include The Deep End and Avengers: EndGame.
Tilda Swinton had a good start in life and was born into an accomplished military family. Her father, Sir John Swinton was a major general in the British army. In 1989, he was also appointed as Lord Lieutenant of Berwickshire.
Mary-Louise Parker is another award-winning actress with military ties. Since Mary-Louise’s father, John Morgan Parker was serving in the US army, she also moved around in her childhood, to Texas, Tennessee, Germany, and Thailand.
We’re beginning to suspect there’s something in the water in these military bases, as so many stars started out there. Mary-Louise went on to carve a successful acting career, starring in movies like Fried Green Tomatoes, the Client and Red. She really rose to prominence on the TV show Weeds and even scored a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her efforts.
Martin Lawrence rose to fame in the 1990s and has now established himself as a top Hollywood actor. He also doubles as a successful stand-up comedian, producer, talk show host, and writer. He famously starred in movies like Bad Boys, Big Momma’s House and Boomerang.
Amazingly, this actor also had humble beginnings and was born in Frankfurt, Germany, while his father was serving in the military. When he turned seven, his father left his post and the family moved back to the US, which allowed him to follow his path to Hollywood stardom.
Christina Aguilera has become one of the best-selling artists on the planet and has earned her title as a pop princess, actress, and TV personality. After rising to fame on the Mickey Mouse Club, she went onto win 5 Grammy Awards, sell over 75 million records and even has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
As you may have guessed, Christina also started out as a military baby. She was originally born in Staten Island in New York City. Her father is Ecuadorian, but was serving in the US military at the time. This also meant that Christina moved around frequently, from New Jersey to Texas, NYC, and Japan.
Reese Witherspoon is an internationally renowned, award-winning actress, producer, and entrepreneur. She won over fans with her southern charm and unique talents in movies like Cruel Intentions and Election. Then she really cemented her fame in hits like Legally Blonde and Walk the Line. Interestingly, Reese also comes from a military family.
Reese Witherspoon was originally born in New Orleans, Louisiana. At that time, her father, John Witherspoon was studying medicine at Tulane University and later became a Doctor. When he wasn’t studying to be a top doctor, he also served in the US Army Reserve as a lieutenant.
Natalie Morales first shot to the limelight as a TV star in the ABC Family series, The Middleman. She later landed roles in shows and sitcoms like White Collar, The Grinder and Parks, and Recreation. You can also spot her in feature films like Going The Distance and Battle of the Sexes.
While Natalie has made a name for herself in the US as an actress, she was actually born in Taipei in Taiwan. Her father, named Lt. Col. Mario Morales Jr was actually serving at the time in the US Air Force before she later moved to the US.
Bruce Willis is probably best known for his portrayal of the action-hero John Mclane in the Die Hard Franchise. Amazingly, the actor has also managed to star in over 70 movies, from Armageddon to Pulp Fiction. Willis has also dabbled as a producer and a singer and even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Bruce is another Hollywood star who has a military connection. In fact, he was originally born in Germany to a German mother and American father. His father, David Willis was serving as an American soldier and stationed in Germany at the time. In 1957, he was later discharged from service and the family moved to New Jersey.
Kathie Lee Gifford
Kathie Lee Gifford has carved a successful career in America as a TV host, singer, songwriter, and author. She famously co-hosted the talk show Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee, which lasted for 15 seasons. Kathie also featured on NBC’s Today Show over the span 11 years and continues to feature on other shows and on NBC news as a correspondent.
Incidentally, Kathie was born in Paris France to American parents. Her father, Aaron Epstein was a musician and also a Chief Petty Officer in the US Navy. So at the time of her birth, Aaron was stationed in France. Kathie and her family later moved to Maryland, which allowed her to pursue her star-studded TV career.
Marcia Gay Harden
Marcia Gay Harden is now a familiar face in the industry. She had her breakthrough role in Miller’s Crossing, before moving onto classic hits like The First Wives Club, Flubber, The Mist and Into the Wild. Marcia even scooped an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Pollock.
While Marcia was born in California to Texas native parents, she also had a similar military childhood to most of the stars on this list. Her father, Thad Harold Harden served in the US Navy as an officer, which meant her family also moved around a great deal to Japan, Greece, Germany, Maryland, and California.
Martha Washington is famously known as the very first, First Lady of America. After being widowed at the young age of 25, she later met George Washington. The pair eventually she got married two years later. After the Revolutionary War, her husband became the first President of the United States. He was also a well-known and respected military man.
George Washington’s military career spanned over 40 years and he eventually served in three different armed forces. Because of his significant status in American history, over 175 years after his death, he was also awarded the prestigious title of General of the Armies of the United States, the highest possible US army rank.
June Carter Cash
June Carter Cash made a name for herself as a leading country singer and actress in the 1960s. She then became infamous for marrying another iconic star, Jonny Cash. The power couple would often perform together and became one of the most influential musical duos in the country and western genre.
June married Johnny Cash in 1968. Still, before they had met, Johnny Cash had also served in the US Air Force and was stationed in Germany for a while. Interestingly, he used his military pay to buy his first guitar while he was still serving and formed his first band there.
Taya Kyle is a well-known American author, political commentator and is also the widow of a US Navy Seal, named Chris Kyle. Taya was so touched by her husband’s death that she went onto become a military veteran family activist.
Taya later wrote a memoir about life with her husband. In 2014, Taya was portrayed by Sienna Miller in a movie was released called the American Sniper, which recounted the story of her husband’s death. In the same year, Taya founded the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation to connect military families and military veterans.
Priscilla Presley was infamously married to the heartthrob and King of Rock himself, Elvis Presley. She was also the step-daughter of a US Airforce officer. When she was younger, her family moved to a military base in Germany for two years. Incidentally, this led her to meet her future husband.
While she was still living in Germany, Priscilla was invited to a party at Elvis Presley’s home. Even though she was young at the time, she left an impression on Elvis. The pair kept in contact via phone and three years later, Priscilla visited Elvis in the US. They later married and had a daughter, Lisa Marie. Even though they later divorced, Priscilla co-founded the company Elvis Presley Enterprises and continued to carve a successful career for herself.
Wiz Khalifa has established himself as an internationally respected, best-selling artist, and has carved a hit career as a singer, rapper and actor. He shot to international stardom after the release of singles like ‘Black and Yellow’ and his career has gone from strength to strength.
While most American rappers might say they started out in the ‘hood’, Wiz actually started out as a military brat. He was born in North Dakota and both his parents served in the military. This meant he constantly moved around to places like Germany, the UK, and Japan before settling in Pittsburg. It was there that he started writing lyrics and performing.
Ray Allen is a professional basketball player and enjoyed a successful NBA career, which spanned over 18 years. He is so respected as a professional sportsman that he has scored numerous accolades and was even inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018.
Although Ray Allen was originally born in California, he actually spent his childhood moving around. This is because he is another military child and was also born on a base. When he was younger, Ray moved to the UK, Oklahoma, California, and Germany before settling in South Carolina.
Christopher Walton Cooper
Christopher Walton Cooper is one of Hollywood’s leading actors. Some of his most memorable roles include movies like American Beauty, Capote, and Bourne Identity. Christopher has even scored an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his leading role in Adaptation in 2002.
Like some other Hollywood stars on this list, Chris also spent his younger days on military bases. He was born in Kansas City, and Chris’s father was a doctor and cattleman in the US Airforce. This meant he was also raised in a few different places, like Houston, Las Vegas and Phoenix.
John McCain carved a successful career as an American politician and famously served as United States senator for many years. He eventually served two terms in the US House of Representatives. John was also a military officer and was born into a military family.
John’s father was a naval officer, so he was originally born in Panama at Coco Solo Naval Air Station. During his childhood, John ended up moving around and attended 20 schools before settling in North Virginia. John went on to become a naval aviator before moving into politics.
Robert Duvall established himself as a top American actor and filmmaker. Amazingly, he has been nominated for seven Academy Awards and his acting career spanned over six decades. Some of his memorable movies include To Kill a Mockingbird, The Handmaid’s Tale and Days of Thunder.
Robert’s father was also a US Navy admiral, named William Howard Duvall, so he also started out as a Navy brat. Robert grew up in Maryland, where his father was based on a US Naval Academy. He went onto follow in his father’s footsteps and also served in the US army after the Korean War for a short period.
During the 1960s, Sharon Tate made a name for herself as an actress, fashion model and cover girl. After starring in some TV shows, she made her cinematic debut with movies like Barabbas and Valley of the Dolls. Sharon even earned a Golden Globe nomination and was also hailed as one of Hollywood’s promising new actresses.
Sharon was another military child. Her father, Colonel Paul James was serving as a United States Army Officer at the time she was born. So Sharon followed the same path as other military children and lived in six different cities before she was even 16, including Washington, Texas, and Italy.