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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

ABC Television, via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

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. 

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By Napoleon Sarony - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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25 of Oscar Wilde's Wittiest Quotes
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By Napoleon Sarony - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

On October 16, 1854, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland. He would go on to become one of the world's most prolific writers, dabbling in everything from plays and poetry to essays and fiction. Whatever the medium, his wit shone through.

1. ON GOD

"I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability."

2. ON THE WORLD AS A STAGE

"The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast."

3. ON FORGIVENESS

"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much."

4. ON GOOD VERSUS BAD

"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."

5. ON GETTING ADVICE

"The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself."

6. ON HAPPINESS

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go."

7. ON CYNICISM

"What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."

8. ON SINCERITY

"A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."

9. ON MONEY

"When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is."

10. ON LIFE'S GREATEST TRAGEDIES

"There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."

11. ON HARD WORK

"Work is the curse of the drinking classes."

12. ON LIVING WITHIN ONE'S MEANS

"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination."

13. ON TRUE FRIENDS

"True friends stab you in the front."

14. ON MOTHERS

"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his."

15. ON FASHION

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."

16. ON BEING TALKED ABOUT

"There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

17. ON GENIUS

"Genius is born—not paid."

18. ON MORALITY

"Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike."

19. ON RELATIONSHIPS

"How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being?"

20. ON THE DEFINITION OF A "GENTLEMAN"

"A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally."

21. ON BOREDOM

"My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s."

22. ON AGING

"The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything."

23. ON MEN AND WOMEN

"I like men who have a future and women who have a past."

24. ON POETRY

"There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope."

25. ON WIT

"Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit."

And one bonus quote about Oscar Wilde! Dorothy Parker said it best in a 1927 issue of Life:

If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.

1. ON SCIENCE

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.

2. ON NASA FUNDING

"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles

3. ON GOD AND HURRICANES

"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole

4. ON THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY INVENTED FOR USE IN SPACE

"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles

5. ON THE DEMOTION OF PLUTO FROM PLANET STATUS 

PBS

"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

6. ON JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC

"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole

7. ON DEATH BY ASTEROID

"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles

8. ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND AMERICA'S MOONSHOT

"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

9. ON INTELLIGENT LIFE (OR THE LACK THEREOF)

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

10. PRACTICAL ADVICE IN THE EVENT OF ALIEN CONTACT 

A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole

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