Celebrating some of MeTV's Purple Heart recipients

These household names had more than one decorated career.

Sunday, August 7 is Purple Heart Day, a holiday created to recognize and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice or were wounded while serving in the United States Armed Forces. 

You may not know it, but several Hollywood names have also served their country, whether they were drafted into service or put their career aspirations on hold for a bigger cause. 

For Purple Heart Day, we wanted to celebrate some of MeTV's recipients of the distinguished award, and say thank you to all who have served. 

Though every Purple Heart recipient deserves recognition, below are some well-known names in the entertainment realm that have served, along with a quick rundown of what their time in the service looked like.

Did you know these stars, both in front of the camera and behind it, had decorated military careers?

1. Dan Blocker - Bonanza

Eight years before he cemented himself as one of the most recognizable characters in Western history as Hoss Cartwright, Dan Blocker was drafted into the Korean War. He was drafted into the 45th Infantry Division and was in active combat by 1951. During his 209 days with the Division, Blocker was injured while "coming to the rescue of other soldiers," according to military.com. His infantry Regiment, the 179th, was taken off front lines in 1952. Blocker was able to get the treatment he needed for his injuries, going home with a Purple Heart.

Image Credit: The Everett Collection

2. James Arness - Gunsmoke

Before appearing in all 635 episodes of Gunsmoke, one of the longest-running prime time television series of all-time, James Arness left World War II with a Purple Heart Award. Prior to becoming Marshall Matt Dillon, Arness was severely injured in the Battle of Anzio according to Medals of America. The Purple Heart Award wasn't the only military honor Arness received prior to Western stardom, as he collected a Bronze Star Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Image Credit: The Everett Collection

3. James Garner - Maverick

James Garner was no stranger to service. Before becoming Bret Maverick in Maverick, Garner served in the National Guard for seven months. After joining the Army, Garner was in the Korean War for 14 months, serving with the 5th Regimental Combat Team according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Facebook page. After being wounded on multiple occasions, Garner was awarded the Purple Heart twice. After the war, his successful acting career was born. 

4. Rod Serling - The Twilight Zone

Rod Serling served in World War II before he created one of the top sci-fi shows of the 1950s, The Twilight Zone.  According to Military.com, Serling enlisted after graduating high school. His unit, the 11th Airborne Division, entered the front lines in 1944. He was transferred after his squad leader said "Serling didn't have the wits or aggressiveness required for combat" the article states. Despite the harsh words, Serling received a Purple Heart with his discharge in 1946 after being wounded twice. After his injuries and prior to his discharge, Serling "ran into the shellfire to rescue a performer," with his new unit. Next to his Purple Heart Award was a Bronze Star and Philippine Liberation Medal. 

5. Russell Johnson - Gilligan's Island

Before using his resourcefulness to create gadgets for the castaways as The Professor on Gilligan's Island, Russell Johnson earned a Purple Heart Award for his time served in World War II. During his service, "Johnson flew 44 combat missions as a bombardier," according to Parade. He was no stranger to combat in the skies, as his plane was shot down in 1945, resulting in broken ankles and a discharge with a Purple Heart Award. His highly-decorated Military career included the Air Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon and the World War II Victory Medal. He was discharged with a First Lieutenant rank.

Image Credit: The Everett Collection

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hyppymom 2 hours ago
Thanks to all those men and so many more we are free today. Thank you !
My granddad served in WWII, step-dad in Korea, my brother in Kuwait, cousins, uncles and friends have served.
They are my heroes.
JeffPaul76 18 hours ago
Well, That's very nice that they all got Purple Heart Medals, some got two of them. What MeTV didn't tell you, is that Rod Serling was originally From Binghamton, NY, and went to & graduated from, as it was called then, Binghamton Central High School, now just Binghamton High School.
wanderer2575 JeffPaul76 12 hours ago
Serling set several of his war stories (such as the Twilight Zone episodes "The Purple Testament" and "A Quality of Mercy") in the Philippines during World War II because that's where and when he served in real life.
Dave62 23 hours ago
Guys thank you for your service
Michael 2 days ago
It's interesting reading wikipedia entries for WWII movies, and often it's mentioned which actors had been in WWII.

I found my grandfather's cousins on a memorial to Metis veterans last year. Since my grandfather, his brothers, and another set of cousins all went over during WWI, they too can fit on the memorial. My grandfather was the first born in Canada
JeffPaul76 Michael 18 hours ago
What is Metis? I think you misspelled a word. I don't know which one though.
WinterNoir JeffPaul76 17 hours ago
From wiki

The Métis (/meɪˈtiː(s)/; French: [metis]) refers to a group of Indigenous peoples who inhabit Canada's three Prairie Provinces, as well as parts of Quebec, Maritime provinces, Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the Northern United States.[1][2][3] They have a shared history and culture and are of mixed European (primarily French) and Indigenous ancestry which became a distinct group through ethnogenesis by the mid-18th century,[4] during the fur trade era.[5]
CaptainDunsel 3 days ago
While he was a guest star rather than a regular on many MeTV series (Bonanza, Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Rawhide) Neville Brand deserves a mention as a highly decorate veteran of WWII.
Aside from a Purple Heart, his decorations included the Silver Star for gallantry in combat, the Good Conduct Medal, the American Defense Service Ribbon, the European/African/Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with three Battle Stars, one Overseas Service Bar, one Service Stripe, and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.
daDoctah 3 days ago
I assume James Doohan of Star Trek isn't included because he was Canadian, but he lost a finger in the assault on Juno Beach on D-Day.
LoveMETV22 daDoctah 3 days ago
I think the Canadian equivalent is a Sacrifice Medal.
JeffPaul76 daDoctah 18 hours ago
William Shatner is also Canadian.
WinterNoir JeffPaul76 17 hours ago
Yes but he never served in tge military.
Sway 3 days ago
Brave men. Thankful for their service, and all veterans. Glad they were able to make successful careers for themselves after serving our country.
Robertp 4 days ago
What happened to us? Theirs was a great generation. We have lost our soul. It greatly saddens me to watch Modern TV. Are there no more hero’s? Our nation needs God back!
harlow1313 Robertp 4 days ago
>"Our nation needs God back!"< I support the separation of church and state.
Which part of the Constitution is that in?
NorthRidge Robertp 2 days ago
Yes, we need more heroes for sure.
It is codified in the first amendment. I am grateful not to live in a theocracy.
WinterNoir Robertp 17 hours ago
And their parents and grandparents thought they were a bunch of slackers just like every older generation thinks of the younger.

O tempora, o mores!
BrittReid 4 days ago
Great article and thanks to ALL of our brave Vets.
justjeff 4 days ago
This is an article worthy of applause for the MeTV staff... Thanks to all of those Purple Heart recipients
who served, as well as the thousands of others not as famous who also served...🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Mike 4 days ago
Gunsmoke fans may remember that James Arness sometimes waked with a slight limp; it was most noticeable when he was tired.
That was from the war; Arness wound up with one leg a few inches shorter than other.
Arness developed a way of walking that covered it up most of the time.
Jim Arness downplayed his war service, for the most part; he was known to joke about his walk sometimes, to put people at ease.
Runeshaper 4 days ago
God Bless all of these brave men and all who were wounded and/or who gave their lives for their country.
harlow1313 4 days ago
Well, had I been drafted, I expect I would have received a Purple Heart, though it likely would have been from an accidental self-inflicted wound. Sigh. They probably would have allowed me just the one bullet, requiring I keep it in my pocket.
BrittReid harlow1313 4 days ago
You would not be issued a Purple Heart for a self inflicted gunshot wound. The one round in your pocket would be taken, and you would be given six rounds and a blindfold.
JeffPaul76 harlow1313 18 hours ago
Hello Barney Fife! Ha-Ha!
WinterNoir BrittReid 17 hours ago
Missed the joke did we?
BrittReid WinterNoir 12 hours ago
What Joke?
texasluva BrittReid 8 hours ago
That he is an accident waiting to happen. Stumbles over his own two left feet. So that he does not accidently injure himself. Bumblestiltskin they called him. It was a joke. Plus he's harlow1313 and well known Jokester in these here parts.
texasluva texasluva 8 hours ago
Plus who would Draft him? The Salvation Army 🙄------
LoveMETV22 4 days ago
Thank You MeTV for acknowledging those MeTV actors who received The Purple Heart Award. 💜💜
Acknowledgement and appreciation to all (not just actors) for their service and sacrifices for our country.
Deleted 4 days ago
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eddiecantorfan 4 days ago
I am proud of Russell Johnson Rod SERLING
Dan Blocker James Garner and James Arness for their military service to the United States and I am happy that they received
The Purple Heart!!
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