Chuck Norris in 2007
Carlos Ray "Chuck" Norris (born March 10, 1940 in Ryan, Oklahoma) is the eldest of three children to a father Ray Norris, who is a Cherokee Indian and to a mother Wilma Scarberry, an Irish-English.
Norris is an American martial artist, international film and television star, who has starred in motion pictures such as Code of Silence, Delta Force, Missing in Action, Lone Wolf McQuade, Way of the Dragon and The Expendables 2, just to name a few (the full filmography list). He is a star of the highly rated CBS television series "Walker, Texas Ranger", which run for almost 9 years. With 203 episodes, is the most successful Saturday night series on CBS since "Gunsmoke".
His younger brother Wieland was born in 1943 (was killed while serving in Vietnam in 1970) and the youngest brother Aaron was born in 1951. When Chuck Norris was 12, his parents divorced and he moved to Torrance, California, with mother and brothers. Though the early years were tough, his mother, a devout Baptist, held the family together financially and emotionally, while Chuck took care of his two younger brothers. "She is still an inspiration to me," he says. "We didn't have much money, but there was always plenty of love."
In 1958 after graduating from high school, Norris married his high school sweetheart Dianne Holechek. They had been together for 30 years until 1988, when they divorced. In the same 1958 year, Norris joined the United States Air Force as an Air Policeman and was sent to Osan Air Base in South Korea, where he acquired the nickname Chuck. There he was for 4 years and held the rank of Airman First Class. He was first introduced to the Asian martial art of Tang Soo Do during a stint in Korea. "These studies changed my entire outlook on life," Norris recalls.
In 1962, Norris was sent back to the United States and honorably discharged from the military in August that same year. Then he started teaching karate besides working full time for Northrop Aviation. Two years later Norris had his own karate school that later successfully expanded nation wide and had many big name students including Steve McQueen, Priscilla Presley & Michael Landon.
During Chuck Norris' career (1964 to 1974) as a competitive martial artist, he won many of the most prestigious events including the triple crown after winning the All American Open Championships for a second time ('67, '68), and the North American Championships with a win over his close friend Skipper Mullins, another great during that era. On November 24, 1968, Norris won the World Professional Middleweight Karate Champion title and held that title until he retired, a six-time undefeated, in 1974. Norris retired with a karate record of 183–10–2.
By the time he was 34 (1974), Norris had achieved his early goals - he had 32 Karate schools, and had been Champion for the past six years. He was up to a new challenge. On the advice of his friend, Steve McQueen, he turned to acting. Norris gradually established his original film style by incorporating all his karate skills and martial arts knowledge.
"The hardest part of acting for me was to relax totally in front of the camera," he admits. "After many years of learning to control my emotions in karate, I found it very difficult to reverse that process and fully express them. But I try to learn from my mistakes and, hopefully, have developed more as an actor with each role."
Chuck Norris kick
While a large part Norris' appeal stems from his physical prowess, he stresses that his work features action, and violence. "I try to keep my fighting scenes artistic, using techniques as the show, rather than violence and its aftermath," he points out. "Most of all, the characters I portray use their skills only as a last resort, and that's what I want people to take with them."
Norris' intense drive and determination extended beyond his martial arts and acting career. He was an offshore powerboat racer with speeds of 140 miles per hour. In 1990, he and his team, with sponsor "Popeye's Chicken", won the World Offshore Powerboat Championships. Norris went on to set a new world record by racing a 38 foot Scarab boat 605 miles across the Great Lakes, from Chicago to Detroit, in 12 hours and 8 minutes.
Norris is a devout Christian and politically conservative. He is also a New York Times bestselling author of three books. They include "Black Belt Patriotism: How to Reawaken America", and the 2004 autobiographical "Against All Odds: My Story". Norris has also penned two works of fiction, "The Justice Riders" and "A Threat to Justice". In 2006, he added "columnist" to his list of credits with the launch of his popular internet column on the independent news site WorldNetDaily.com. His weekly column is now widely syndicated and carried by Human Events and Townhall, among other outlets.
Modeling a life of health and fitness for more than 5 decades, Norris has promoted the importance of exercise by his endorsement of the Total Gym, a popular exercise machine that is sold internationally in more than 80 countries. Most recently he launched a syndicated weekly health and fitness column called C-Force to help inspire and improve the health and fitness of his readers by taking a holistic view of health-that wellness is obtained and maintained by treating ourselves as an integrated whole, in mind, body and spirit.
A genuine internet phenomenon, Norris has become the subject of countless Paul Bunyan-type fictional "facts" of his exploits, submitted by fans. There are currently more than a million such "facts" floating around the internet. In November of 2009, he came out with "The Official Chuck Norris Fact Book", focusing on 101 of his favorite facts and stories.
A very popular public speaker, Norris is a strong supporter of the NRA, supporting our 2nd amendment rights and was named Honorary Chairman of the NRA’s, "Trigger the Vote" campaign and has served as spokesperson for agencies such as The United Way and The Veterans Administration. Norris, an Air Force veteran, was named an Honorary Marine in 2007, which was an incredible honor demonstrating the appreciation the Corps felt for his two "hand shake" tours of Iraq within a one year period.
Chuck was asked how he would like to be remembered. Chuck's answer was as a Humanitarian. He has gotten a good start by:
Chuck Norris with his wife Gena and twins Dakota and Danilee at KICK-IT-UP for KickStart Kids event - Rodeo
Saturday, October 23, 2010
A man of deep religious convictions and a giving spirit, Chuck will say that next to his family, his most rewarding accomplishment is the creation in 1992 of his KICKSTART KIDS (formerly "Kick Drugs Out of America") Foundation. His wife, Gena, is also a leading force in this endeavor as the Foundations Co-Chairman. With the purpose of building strong moral character in our youth through martial arts training, the Foundation has become the most important mission of Chuck and Gena's lives, following the development and well-being of their family. KICKSTART KIDS now works with over 6,500 at-risk youth on a daily basis as part of the daily school curriculum in middle schools and since its inception; the program has graduated almost 70,000 youngsters. Their goal is to expand the program all over Texas and eventually nationwide.
The Norris' live on their "Lone Wolf" ranch near Houston in Navasota, Texas, where they are raising their eleven–year old twins, Dakota and Danilee.
Martial arts expert, action man, family man, religious man, movie star, television producer, humanitarian and internet super-hero, Norris wears many hats, all of which seem to fit rather well. He certainly doesn't lack energy, drive and good will. Perhaps it can all be traced back to his childhood, which he described as downbeat, and when he was abandoned by his father and bullied by his fellow pupils. It may have been his bleak beginnings in life, which provided him with the determination to succeed, and to continue doing whatever he does with determination and integrity.