After Wonder Woman’s box office success, a number of stories surfaced about the movie’s lead actress who, despite expertly carrying her own blockbuster feature film, was a relative unknown to American audiences before she first donned the bullet-proof bracelets.  Gal Gadot, many soon learned, isn’t just a badass on screen – like all Israeli citizens, she also spent time serving in the military.

Aside from serving as Miss Israel in the 2004 Miss Universe pageant, Gadot also represented her country as a combat trainer for two years is the Israeli Defense Force.  According to Gadot herself, the soldiers she trained were fans of hers well before she started her career on the big screen.

“The soldiers loved me because I made them fit,” Gadot explained to Maxim in an interview about her service.  While I’m sure Gadot took her role as a gymnastics and calisthenics instructor as seriously as anyone else, it seems likely that some of the male soldiers may have loved her for more than just her ability to carry out her duties as a coach…

Gadot, class act that she is, says that her time in uniform helped better prepare her for the fast paced life of being a Hollywood actress, and even credited the familiarity she gained with firearms in service with landing her a role in the Fast and Furious franchise.  Of course, in today’s complex sociopolitical world, military service can be polarizing for an actress, and Gadot’s nationality and military service even resulted in some nations banning the release of Wonder Woman all together.  When asked about what Gadot gained from her time in uniform, she responded with a measured and practiced response that I’ve heard echoed across uncomfortably politically charged Thanksgiving dinner tables every year since I first stepped foot on the yellow footprints of Parris Island.

“Let me start by saying, I wish no country had the need for an army,” she told Glamour Magazine. “But in Israel serving is part of being an Israeli. You’ve got to give back to the state. You give two or three years, and it’s not about you. You give your freedom away. You learn discipline and respect.”

This got me wondering… what other celebrities can credit their success (at least in part) to their time serving their country?  Leading up to my father’s generation, the list of celebrities that have spent time in uniform is rather extensive, due in large part to somewhat regular drafts starting in 1940 and continuing into the early seventies to support a number of wars and conflicts ranging from World War II to Vietnam.  Bob Barker, Clark Gable, Henry Fonda, and Johnny Carson all represented the U.S. of A. in one of the four branches of the military.  As did Chuck Norris, Morgan Freeman, Jimi Hendrix and Clint Eastwood.  Heck, before (and while) Hugh Hefner and Elvis Presley were young and strapping enough to break hearts, they broke hearts for Uncle Sam.