We at NATAS want to take a moment to recognize some of our Daytime colleagues who served in the Armed Forces. While it’s not possible to mention them all, here are a few that might surprise you.
Character actor and TV icon, Don Knotts, served in the US Army when World War II engulfed America. The 19-year-old soldier was assigned to the Special Services Branch, where he entertained the troops. It was while in the Army that Don ditched ventriloquism for straight comedy, before becoming Wilbur Peterson on ”Search for Tomorrow”. In addition, Morgan Freeman served several years in the US Air Force as a mechanic, before one of his earliest roles as Cicero Murphy on “Ryan’s Hope.” The voice of Darth Vader, James Earl Jones, who appeared on “Guiding Light” and “As The World Turns” served in the Korean War, while America’s favorite Vulcan, Leonard Nimoy, who played Bernie on ”General Hospital” served in the US Army. Tom Selleck, who played Jed Andrews on “The Young and the Restless,” was a member of the California National Guard, attended the California Military Academy and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. Later, he appeared on recruitment posters for the California National Guard and the California Military Academy. His First TV appearance was as a college senior on ”The Dating Game,” and then a second time a few years later. The heartthrob lost both times.
Recognizable individuals of the game show genre who were in the armed forces include Pat Sajack of “Wheel of Fortune,” who served in the US Army during the Vietnam War. The legendary Bob Barker, host of the ”Price is Right,” served as a fighter pilot in the US Navy during World War II, while the show’s current host, comedian Drew Carey, served in the US Marine Corps Reserve. Another comic genius, Bill Cosby, who became a children’s favorite during his years on “The Electric Company,” and creator and voice actor on “Fat Albert,” joined the navy after leaving school in the 10th grade. He served as a hospital corpsman on various ships at Quantico. He was also sent to Bethesda Naval Hospital during the time of the Korean War to take care of patients.
Montel Williams, best known as host of the long-running ”The Montel Williams Show,” joined the US Marine Corps, paving the way for him to become the first black Marine to attend the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, Rhode Island. Williams enlisted in the U.S. Marines Corps in 1974. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, he was appointed as a midshipman in the Navy. Williams served as a cryptologic officer for naval intelligence in Guam.
William Sanderson, who lent his voice to “Batman: The Animated Series” as Dr. Karl Rossum served in the US Army and Baseball star Bob Feller served in the US Navy during World War II.
Perhaps two of our most current daytime celebrity veterans are Jose Rene “J. R.” Martinez, who as a former U.S. Army soldier was severely burned on over 34 percent of his body, before beginning his acting career, which included a role on “All My Children” and Vincent Pastor (best known for his work on “The Sopranos”) who served in the US Navy and portrayed Maximus Giambetti on “General Hospital” and Arthur ‘Rack ‘em up’ Ross on ”One Life to Live.”
1st Row: Pat Sajak w/fellow soldiers / Pat Sajak / Bill Cosby
2nd Row: Don Knotts / James Earl Jones / Leonard Nimoy / Bob Barker
3rd Row: Montel Williams (2 images) / Jose Rene “J.R” Martinez (2 images)
4th Row: William Sanderson / Bob Feller (2 images) / Vincent Pastor