Fake celebrity military rumors

There have been several celebrities that have false rumors about their military service.

Mister Rogers was not a sniper or a SEAL.
Captain Kangaroo was a Marine but was too young to get into WWII so was not a war hero.
Jerry Mathers did not die in Viet Nam.
Brian Dennehy claimed to be a Viet Nam vet but only got as far as Okinawa.
Neville Brand was awarded the Silver Star but for some reason it was said he was the second most decorated soldier of WWII. He was not.

I know I am forgetting some. Any one knows any others?

Dr. Ruth Westheimer was a Hagganah sniper in the Israeli War of Independence.

Wait - that one’s true.

Walt Disney was dishonorably discharged from the military.

I’m not picky, the truth is fine too. I do want to hear about the false ones though. I remember my father telling me the Neville Brand one before the internet. I had findagrave.com change his page when I saw they had the wrong information.

**Charles Durning **was a Silver Star awardee in WWII. I have seen some speculation about it being unlikely that he could have done everything he was supposed to have done but I have seen no proof.

**Eddie Albert **was a landing craft pilot and rescued many wounded Marines of the reef of Tarawa under heavy fire.

Julia Childs was a military spy.

John Denver was another non-sniper.

Baseball catcher Moe Berg was an important spy prior to WWII, gathering important data for the military when he toured Japan for exhibition.

Audie Murphy was one of the most decorated soldiers of WWII (some claims were that he was the most decorated, but that may have been a slight exaggeration) before he became a movie star.

Don Knotts was in the Army as a comedian, not in the Marines as a drill instructor.

Jamie Farr and Alan Alda both served in the Army in Korea, but not until 1956.

Sometimes there’s a grain of truth in the celebrity rumors, but they evolve into something totally false.

For example, Lee Marvin really WAS a decorated Marine who was wounded in action during WW2. But somehow, that genuine fact evolved into a legend that he fought at Okinawa alongside Bob “Captain Kangaroo” Keeshan (this is often accompanied by what’s supposed to a be a transcript of Lee Marvin singing Keehsan’s praises on “The Tonight Show”).

As for Brian Dennehy, that’s not an urban legend that sprung up out of nowhere. Dennehy admitted years ago “I lied about serving in Viet Nam, and I’m sorry. I was young and stupid, shooting my mouth off in bars to impress people.”

I’ve read sources that say Mel Brooks fought in the Battle of the Bulge. But the reality is that while Brooks is a genuine veteran, he missed the battle because he was still in training at the time. The battle was fought in December and January and Brooks arrived in Europe in February. One of his first duties was clearing landmines from the battle site which is probably where the rumor got started.

Col. Harlan Sanders never served in the military, but was an honorary member of the Order of Kentucky Colonels.

That I knew. I think he got out of the Marine Corps before Viet Nam heated up. Same with Chuck Norris. He was in the Air Force until 62. His brother was killed in Viet Nam.

Former Blue Jays manager Time Johnson.

"This success was partly attributed to the stories Johnson would tell his players about his battle experiences in the Vietnam War. For example, he told Hentgen a story about his war experiences to get him to accept a different place in the pitching rotation.[1]

However, in late November, Johnson told several Toronto newspapers that all of these stories were completely made up."


Chuck Norris was reservist, you’re saying?

Chuck Norris was an active duty Air Force policeman. He was stationed in Korea in the late 50s or early 60s where he was exposed to Tae Kwon Do. I thought Brian Dennehy was also active duty but got out prior to major US involvement in Viet Nam. Maybe he was in the reserves but I haven’t read that.

I ran into this one at the flea market just the other day. Except that it was Mr. Rogers, not Captain Kangaroo, and he was Lee Marvin’s Sargent and once saved his life and is now buried “in the part of Arlington where they mostly only bury generals, because Lee Marvin paid a lot of cash to get him in there.” I just nodded and smiled and sold the guy 25 used videos at a buck a pop.

Chuck Barris, of ‘The Gong Show’ fame was a hit man for the CIA.:stuck_out_tongue:


I thought you meant he was in the Air Force until age 62. You meant 1962.

He did, but the Indians released him, anyway. Berg was also assigned to determine if Heisenberg was on the path to making an A-bomb and, if so, to kill him. He was no “dumb jock,” being required to not only understand Heisenberg’s speech, which was on the cutting edge of atomic physics, but to also determine its possibilities.

Okay, because of that I assume the story is apocryphal, but it keeps showing up as factual. But Moe was no dummy. I mean, the kid went to law school off-season.

Well Lee Marvin is buried in one of the high traffic areas, right off the path they let tourists walk. I don’t remember a bunch of generals around. I can see how someone may jump to conclusions since it is a prime spot in a crowded area. He has a standard military headstone, not one of the big fancy ones.