He once described himself as the “shy kid who never excelled at anything in school.” Who could’ve predicted that Carlos Ray Norris, Jr. would become actor Chuck Norris, a captivating hero on both the small and big screens? Norris was born in 1940 in Oklahoma, and later moved to California with his mother and two older brothers after his parents’ divorce. Norris would marry his high school sweetheart in 1958 and in that same year he joined the U.S. Air Force. Norris was stationed at the Osan Air Base in South Korea, and it was there he started to study martial arts. When he left the Air Force in 1962, Norris became a karate instructor, later winning several World Middleweight Karate Championship titles. In time, he started his own businesses, opening more than 30 karate studios. One of his clients was actor Steve McQueen, who encouraged Norris to consider acting. Norris’ first successful film was 1973’s Return of the Dragon, starring opposite martial arts star, Bruce Lee, and his first leading role was in the 1977 film Breaker! Breaker! More “bring swift justice to bad guy” movies followed, including Good Guys Wear Black, Forced Vengeance, and 1984’s Missing in Action and its sequels. He continued his legendary action-filled, good-guy roles throughout the ‘80s, and in the 90s he focused on the smaller screen. Norris landed his own show, playing the legendary crime fighter, Cordell Walker in Walker, Texas Ranger. The show brought in strong ratings and was still a bona fide hit when the series went off the air in 2001. Since then, Norris fans can find him on widely-seen infomercials, promoting charitable causes such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation and United Way, or campaigning for Republican political candidates.