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6 Celebrities Rejected for Military Service

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For every actor or entertainer who interrupted a lucrative career to serve their country during wartime—Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable among them—several others were denied the opportunity. Here are a few notable personalities who never got the chance to suit up.

1. Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock was known for his pear-shaped appearance and droll delivery he used to great comedic effect in interviews and in segments for his television anthology series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. (His famous sketched silhouette originated with that program.) But that well-fed physique didn’t always work to his benefit: During World War I, the young filmmaker tried to enlist in the British service, but his weight prevented him from being called up. 

Hitchcock would later do his part during World War II, supervising a documentary that highlighted the atrocities of wartime concentration camps. Never completed, the lost footage was assembled into a film, Night Will Fall, which premiered on HBO in January 2015. 

2. Bruce Springsteen

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Springsteen’s landmark “Born in the USA” was the singer’s reflection on the plight of American veterans returning home from Vietnam. He would have been among their number, save for the fact that he failed his Army physical. At 19, Springsteen, who was already working as a musician, was called up but given a status of 4-F (unfit for duty) owing to a concussion from a motorcycle accident. In 1984, he told Rolling Stone that he had also tried to give “crazy” answers on the induction forms to further ensure he wouldn’t be drafted. 

3. Orson Welles

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Following his career-defining work in Citizen Kane, director/actor Welles became a regular presence in the Hollywood trade papers—and in Hearst publications, which had allegedly been incensed by Kane’s loose portrayal of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Increasingly, Hearst’s pages questioned why the 28-year-old wasn’t following other performers into service during World War II. Exasperated, Welles showed up for a physical in Los Angeles that he subsequently failed for undisclosed reasons. (It was later rumored skeletal inflammation and asthma were among the complications.) Exiting the exam room, Welles was so agitated by the presence of reporters that he threatened to throw one out of a window. 

4. Bruce Lee

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By all accounts, the influential Lee was a physical specimen who was far from being a glorified stuntman: He trained rigorously in several different martial arts and was rumored to have several real altercations in Hong Kong. In 1963, prior to the 22-year-old Lee finding fame on The Green Hornet series, he was called in by the U.S. Army for a physical. Doctors refused him entry based on poor eyesight, a sinus disorder, and the fact that one of his testicles was un-descended.      

5. Julia Child

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At 6-foot 2-inches, the celebrated chef found her height to be an obstacle when she attempted to enlist in both the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) and Women’s Army Corps during World War II; both rejected her owing to her height. Child eventually found a home with the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA, and even helped develop shark repellent to keep underwater bombs from going off prematurely.     

6. Paul Newman

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Renowned for his philanthropic efforts, it comes as little surprise that Newman was itching to defend his country during the second World War. But his hopes of being put to work as a pilot were dashed when a physical revealed he was colorblind. Not wanting to throw in the towel, he accepted a position as a radio man and later as a turret gunner. Despite the early obstacle, Newman returned home to Ohio with several military honors to his credit.     

BONUS: Clark Kent

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While comics enjoyed unprecedented levels of popularity in the 1940s, creators often struggled with how best to acknowledge that any one of their super-powered characters could end World War II in a matter of moments. To explore that theme would be to minimize the role of real, active soldiers. To help alleviate reader curiosity, a comic strip published by the McClure Syndicate had Superman’s alter ego, Clark Kent, attempt to enlist. He was rejected when his x-ray vision mistakenly forced him to read an eye chart in another exam room. 

Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
10 Pats Born on St. Patrick's Day
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Need some St. Patrick's Day conversation fodder that doesn't involve leprechauns or four-leaf clovers? Ask your friends to name a "Pat" born on St. Patrick's Day. If they can't, they owe you a drink—then you can wow them with this list of 10.


Princess Patricia was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, who gave up all of her royal titles when she married a commoner. She was born at Buckingham Palace on March 17, 1886.


The Dallas star was born on March 17, 1949. And here's a totally random fact about Duffy: His nephew is Barry Zito, former MLB pitcher for the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants.


Pattie Boyd
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Pattie Boyd is well-known to lovers of classic rock: She has been married three times, including once to George Harrison and once to Eric Clapton, who both wrote a couple of the most romantic songs in rock history in her honor (including The Beatles's "Something" and Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight"). Boyd was a model when she met Harrison on the set of A Hard Day's Night in 1964; the pair were married two years later. They divorced in 1977 and she married Clapton, Harrison's close friend, in 1979. She also had an affair with Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones toward the end of her marriage to The Quiet Beatle.


Belfast-born Pat Rice is a former footballer and coach who spent the bulk of his career with Arsenal F.C. (that's "football club," a.k.a. soccer to us Americans). He joined the Gunners in 1964 as a mere apprentice, turning pro a couple of years later. He became captain in 1977 and left the club for a few years in the early 1980s to go to Watford, but returned after he retired from playing in 1984. In 2012, after nearly 30 years with the organization, he announced his retirement.


Patty Maloney is an actress with dwarfism who stands just three feet, 11 inches tall. She has appeared in many movies and T.V. shows over the years, including operating the Crypt Keeper puppet in Tales from the Crypt. She also played Chewbacca's son Lumpy in The Star Wars Holiday Special.


Michael C. Hall and Mathew St. Patrick in 'Six Feet Under'

Ok, so Mathew St. Patrick is the stage name of the actor, but he was born Patrick Matthews in Philadelphia on March 17, 1968. You probably know him best as David's boyfriend Keith on Six Feet Under.


He may not be a household name, but the recording artists Patrick Adams writes for and helps produce certainly are. Adams has been involved in the careers of Salt-N-Pepa, Sister Sledge, Gladys Knight, Rick James, and Coolio, among others.


It's possible you look at Patrick McDonnell's work every day, depending on which comics your newspaper carries. McDonnell draws a strip called Mutts featuring a dog and a cat named Earl and Mooch, respectively. Charles Schulz called it one of the best comic strips of all time.


 Singer/Guitarist Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins performs onstage during Live Earth New York at Giants Stadium on July 7, 2007 in East Rutherford, New Jersey
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Yes, you know him better as just plain old Billy Corgan: he's the face of the Smashing Pumpkins, engages in public feuds with Courtney Love, and maybe once dated Jessica Simpson. He made his debut on March 17, 1967.


Patricia Ford is a retired model probably best known for her Playboy photoshoots in the 1990s.

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11 Incredible Stephen Hawking Quotes
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When Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at age 21, doctors thought he'd only survive a few more years. But the theoretical physicist defied the odds: Hawking, who passed away yesterday, lived to be 76. Here are 11 quotes from the director of research and founder of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge and author of A Brief History of Time


"At school, I was never more than about halfway up the class. It was a very bright class. My classwork was very untidy, and my handwriting was the despair of my teachers. But my classmates gave me the nickname Einstein, so presumably they saw signs of something better. When I was twelve, one of my friends bet another friend a bag of sweets that I would never come to anything. I don't know if this bet was ever settled, and if so, which way it was decided."

— From the lecture "My Brief History," 2010


"If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans. We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet."

— From Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, 2010


“I wouldn’t compare it to sex, but it lasts longer.”

— From a lecture at Arizona State University, April 2011


"If you are disabled, it is probably not your fault, but it is no good blaming the world or expecting it to take pity on you. One has to have a positive attitude and must make the best of the situation that one finds oneself in; if one is physically disabled, one cannot afford to be psychologically disabled as well. In my opinion, one should concentrate on activities in which one's physical disability will not present a serious handicap. I am afraid that Olympic Games for the disabled do not appeal to me, but it is easy for me to say that because I never liked athletics anyway. On the other hand, science is a very good area for disabled people because it goes on mainly in the mind. Of course, most kinds of experimental work are probably ruled out for most such people, but theoretical work is almost ideal. My disabilities have not been a significant handicap in my field, which is theoretical physics. Indeed, they have helped me in a way by shielding me from lecturing and administrative work that I would otherwise have been involved in. I have managed, however, only because of the large amount of help I have received from my wife, children, colleagues and students. I find that people in general are very ready to help, but you should encourage them to feel that their efforts to aid you are worthwhile by doing as well as you possibly can."

— From "Handicapped People and Science," Science Digest 92, No. 9, September 1984


"I would go back to 1967, and the birth of my first child, Robert. My three children have brought me great joy."

— To The New York Times, May 2011


"I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road."

— From Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays


"There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win, because it works."

— To Diane Sawyer/ABC News, June 2010


"Next time someone complains that you have made a mistake, tell him that may be a good thing. Because without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist."

— From Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, 2010

9. On HIS I.Q.

"I have no idea. People who boast about their I.Q. are losers."

— To The New York Times, December 2004


“They are a complete mystery.”

— To New Scientist, January 2012


"One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away."

— To Diane Sawyer/ABC News, June 2010


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