Name at birth: Carlos Ray Norris
Chuck Norris was a world karate champion who became an action-adventure star in the movies and on TV. Raised in Oklahoma and California, Norris discovered martial arts while he was in the U.S. Air Force (1958-62). In the early 1960s he taught karate in southern California, where celebrity connections led to roles in the Dean Martin movie The Wrecking Crew (1968) and the Bruce Lee movie Return of the Dragon (1973). A six-time world champion, Norris retired from karate competition in 1974 and pursued a film career. He starred in a series of low-budget action films, including Game of Death (1979) and A Force of One (1979), before achieving mainstream success with 1984's Missing in Action. Norris the actor, like Norris the karate champion, is known for his kicking and punching. Nonetheless, he's made two dozen movies and he spent eight seasons on TV as Walker, Texas Ranger (1993-2001). A Republican and a Christian, he writes a column for the online news site World Net Daily and is the founder of the Kick Drugs Out of America Foundation (now known as KICKSTART), a youth program that uses martial arts to build "strong moral character." Norris's other feature films include Lone Wolf McQuade (1983), Delta Force (1986) and The Hitman (1991).
In his early days, Norris taught karate to Bob Barker and Donny and Marie Osmond? Norris is of Irish and Cherokee descent? His brother, Aaron Norris, directed several of his films, including Braddock: Missing in Action III (1988) and Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection (1990)? Like model Christie Brinkley, Norris is a pitchman for Total Gym exercise machines? Norris endorsed Republican Mike Huckabee for the 2008 presidential election, appearing in a series of funny ads that got wide play on the Internet.
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