We all think we know Chuck Norris. He’s one of the world’s most famous action film actors, and star of his very own viral meme. But is there more we can learn about the martial arts machine that’s been churning out awesome movies for four decades?
Absolutely. Here are 11 interesting facts to take your Chuck Norris trivia to the next level.
Chuck Norris: 11 Interesting Facts about the Action Movie Legend.
1. His name isn’t even Chuck Norris.
Born on March 10, 1940, this martial artist, A-list actor, movie producer, and screenwriter is legally named Carlos Ray Norris. Carlos comes from Carlos Berry, who was a minister Norris’ father respected. Ray comes from Norris’ own father.
Unfortunately, Chuck Norris’ father was an alcoholic. Norris’ childhood was unstable, and money was tight, but both these points have inspired Norris later in life.
2. The Air Force changed his life.
He served in the U.S. Air Force and competed in martial arts championships throughout his Air Force career. This was a pivotal time for Norris. He was given the nickname Chuck by his Air Force brothers, and he discovered Tang Soo Do. Tang Soo Do—a Korean form of martial arts—was one of his inspirations throughout his career, an interesting Chuck Norris fact.
3. He has his own martial art.
Chuck Norris might be a black belt in Tang Soo Do, Jiu Jitsu, and Judo, but he also founded his own discipline—Chun Kuk Do. As if that wasn’t enough, there are only five Americans who have achieved an eight-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Norris is one of them.
4. He has legendary friends, too.
Norris won his first minor movie role in The Wrecking Crew, which made its debut in 1969. Bruce Lee, Norris’ close friend, was an advisor on the movie, an interesting Chuck Norris fact. It would also be the last movie featuring Sharon Tate, who was killed that same year by Charles Manson’s cult.
After he caught the acting bug, his friend and fellow actor—and martial arts icon—Bruce Lee asked him to play the part of a villain in Way of the Dragon. Years later, Norris would serve as pallbearer at his good friend’s funeral.
Another friend—Steve McQueen—suggested that he start taking acting seriously, and take some acting classes. He agreed, and went on to star in several more movies throughout the 70s. By 1979, Chuck Norris was becoming a household name.
5. The 80s and 90s were good to Chuck Norris.
Cannon Films signed Norris to a major acting deal in 1983, making him one of the biggest stars of that decade, an interesting Chuck Norris fact. He was a bona fide A-lister at that point, making hits like The Delta Force, Firewalker, and Code of Silence.
In 1993, Chuck Norris took up the title role in one of the most successful action TV series’ of all time—Walker, Texas Ranger. Norris played Walker from 1993 until 2001, and this would become one of his most recognized characters of all time.
Throughout the late 90s and into the 2000s, Norris continued to take high-profile roles, including The Hitman, Sidekicks, and finally The Expendables 2. When asked why he had such a long hiatus between the 2002 action movie, The President’s Man 2 and The Expendables 2, Norris explained that he had been in retirement until his good friend, Sylvester Stallone, got in touch to ask him to join the Expendables sequel cast.
6. There’s a story behind Walker, Texas Ranger.
The Texas Ranger’s full name was Cordell Firewalker. As part of the character’s origin story, he was teased for not looking Native American, and changed his surname. This backstory is a nod to Norris’ claims that he has Native American heritage, and also references one of his earlier films—Firewalker.
7. He’s not just a movie and TV star.
Chuck Norris is a New York Times bestselling author—once for The Secret of Inner Strength: My Story, and again for Black Belt Patriotism: How to Reawaken America. He’s also written about martial arts, philosophy, and Christianity.
Throughout the early 2000s, Norris appeared alongside supermodel, Christy Brinkley, in a series of Total Gym infomercials, spawning the sale of hundreds of thousands of products.
8. He’s the face of a viral meme.
Since 2005, Chuck Norris Facts have been everywhere. The memes use hilarious and unrealistic strong-man inspirational quotes, which are—falsely—attributed to Norris. Despite him not being in on the original process, he has been part of the phenomenon and is hired to endorse Chuck Norris Facts products and promotions.
9. The Karate Kid rumor is untrue.
The original Karate Kid movie generated a lot of gossip at the time, way before social media was around. Rumor had it that Norris had refused to play the evil karate instructor in the hit film, when it was offered to him.
Oddly, even though Chuck Norris was an A-list martial arts actor at the time, and a six-time World Karate Champion, the movie’s producers never actually offered him a role at all.
Bonus fact: Norris actually owned a chain of karate schools at one point. He also trained Bob Barker, Donny Osmond, Steve McQueen, and Priscilla Presley in martial arts.
10. He can laugh at himself.
When Sly Stallone convinced Norris to come out of movie retirement, he had one other request. He asked Norris to choose one of the many Chuck Norris Facts memes in his movie lines. Norris’ wife, who helped him choose the line, chose:
“Chuck Norris was bitten by a cobra. After five days of excruciating pain… the cobra died.”
11. He doesn’t use his powers for evil.
A popular story claims that Norris was harassed in a bar by someone who wanted his seat. Norris gave up his seat to the man. A waitress pointed out to the man that he had just confronted Chuck Norris, at which point the man apologized and asked why Norris didn’t “knock him out.” The action icon replied, “What would that have accomplished?”
In March 2020, the martial arts acting icon will turn 80. The father of five might have given up acting for a life of family, golfing, and being an “Honorary Texan”—thanks to an accolade he received from the state in 2017—but millions of hopeful fans are waiting for his return to the big screen in 2020.
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