Chuck Norris Biography
Chuck Norris (real name - Carlos Ray Norris) is a Hollywood actor who received the "Honorary Texan" star in 2017 for his brilliantly performed roles in the films "Walker, Texas Ranger" and "Lone Wolf McQuade". He is a producer, screenwriter, and master of martial arts. Based on his own philosophy, he wrote the bestseller "The Secret of Inner Strength: My Story" in 1988. He is the creator of many television programs, owner and publisher of his own magazine. He is an honorary Marine of the USA.
Childhood and Youth
In the early spring of 1940, Ray Norris, an auto mechanic from Oklahoma, welcomed his firstborn son. Out of respect for his close friend and spiritual mentor, Carlos Berry, he named him Carlos. The full name of the boy was Carlos Ray Norris Jr. He inherited Irish roots from his maternal grandfather, and Native American ones from his father's side.
In the provincial town of Wilson, the boy grew up with his two younger brothers, Clyde and Aaron, in near poverty, as their father spent his earnings not on his family, but on alcohol. For a long time, they lived in a trailer, without even a proper house.
'My father, a Cherokee Indian, abandoned our family when my brothers and I were still very young. We were raised by two amazing women – our grandmother and mother, both very religious women,' Norris later said in one of his numerous interviews.
In 1956, their mother filed for divorce from their absent husband and father, in order to marry widower George Knight. The man already had three children of his own, but, as Carlos would later recount, he cared for his stepsons and did his best to encourage them to participate in sports.
During his school years, Carlos was not particularly noted for his physical or intellectual abilities: "Academically, I was average, you know, one of those shy kids who don't excel in anything." Because of his Native American-Irish heritage, his peers taunted him, causing him to become even more introverted. However, in high school, he grew stronger and started playing football.
Remembering his early fears of going hungry, the young man worked part-time whenever he could. When he grew older, he took a job as a loader to earn money after school, part of which he gave to his grandmother and mother for his younger brothers.
He saved a portion of his earnings and when he had enough, he bought a used car because he had always dreamed of driving. The first person he proudly took for a ride was his classmate, Dianne Holechek, who the shy and modest teenager was in love with. It was with her that he shared his youthful dreams, telling her about his aspirations to become a police officer after serving in the Air Force.
Service in the U.S. Air Force
At the age of 18, Carlos joined the United States Air Force and ended up at a military base in South Korea. In the early days of service, the young man broke his shoulder. From the hospital, where he was terribly bored, he ran away and arranged a tour of the surrounding areas. In one of the Korean villages, he saw a fight between two guys, using their hands and feet. He was amazed by the pace of the fight, the unseen precision of the strikes. Norris fondly remembered the fighters' athleticism, their extraordinary flexibility.
When he returned to the base, he asked the judo coach to introduce him to the guys he had seen. And this meeting turned his life upside down. For two years he honed the techniques and strikes of a new type of fighting, tangsudo, and participated in matches.
It was during these years that, for his ability to instantly turn an opponent into a beat-up, he got the nickname Chuck from his colleagues (full version - Ground Chuck).
He returned to America with a black belt in taekwondo and a brown belt in judo. The shy and self-doubting boy had turned into a man confident in his abilities.
Sports, Marriage, First Steps in Cinema
Returning to the States, Norris began working at the Northrop Aircraft factory, continued studying martial arts, and married his high school friend Dianne Holechek, whom he drove in his first car.
In 1963, the young family welcomed their first child: a son, Mike. To ensure the family lacked for nothing, Chuck began teaching martial arts to anyone interested, first in his parents' backyard, then in his first karate school. Soon, he became a popular trainer, and by 1965, he had several gyms in Los Angeles. Dianne gave birth to two more children – a son, Eric, and a daughter, Dina.
Chuck won the All-Star Championship in the City of Angels, which solidified his athletic status. His schools and philosophy gained popularity, and it became prestigious to train with Norris, attracting celebrities to his classes. Among his students were Priscilla Presley, Bob Barker, Donny Osmond, and the famous Hollywood actor Steve McQueen, who admired the world champion in the middleweight category, which Chuck Norris had become by that time. For seven years, he held this title and also became the only American awarded a black belt and eighth dan in Taekwondo.
Deciding to retire undefeated, Chuck left his sports career and opened a chain of karate schools across America. He passionately threw himself into the venture, but... a few years later, as Norris said, his endeavour "crashed". Then his friend Steve McQueen suggested Chuck try his hand at cinema.
Despite the lack of acting education, having only taken acting courses from Estelle Harmon, Norris began his acting career in 1972 with a role in the action film "The Way of the Dragon", invited by another friend – the legendary Bruce Lee. They had met four years earlier at the world karate championship.
The preparation of the fight scene between the protagonist and the antagonist took Bruce and Chuck forty-five hours, the majority of which was spent on choreographic rehearsals. Norris later admitted that had it come to a real fight, he would have stood no chance against Lee.
After debuting in Bruce Lee's first Hollywood film, Norris was invited to play the main villain, Chuck Slaughter, in the Hong Kong action film "Huang mian lao hu" directed by Wei Lo. He then landed the leading role of J.D. in Don Hulette's crime thriller "Breaker! Breaker!".
After these roles, Norris gained popularity. In 1977, he was recognized as the Man of the Year by "Black Belt" magazine. Several films followed in which he played leading roles. He starred alongside Anne Archer in "Good Guys Wear Black", Jennifer O’Neill in "A Force of One", Lee Van Cleef in "The Octagon", Christopher Lee in "An Eye for An Eye", and Ron Silver in "Silent Rage".
Norris's films were not known for their complex plots, but they were popular with moviegoers. His character J.J. McQuade from "Lone Wolf McQuade", in which Norris starred alongside David Carradine, was particularly well-received. Norris's first major earnings (one million dollars per film) came from a contract with Cannon Films for him to appear in five films. The most famous of these were the action film "Missing in Action" and its sequel, directed by the actor's brother, Aaron Norris. Norris played Colonel James Braddock in three "Missing in Action" films.
Norris's memorable roles in the 1980s also include Eddie Cusack in "Code of Silence", Major Scott McCoy in "The Delta Force", and Max Donigan in "Firewalker".
But Norris truly became famous after his role as Texas Ranger Walker in the TV series "Walker, Texas Ranger" created by Paul Haggis and Leslie Greif. The filming lasted almost ten years, and other films in which Norris was concurrently involved did not garner as much attention. For a long time, the role of John Shepherd in the action film "The Cutter", directed by William Tannen in 2005, was considered the final role in the main Texas Ranger's film career.
Norris reappeared on screen in 2012 when Sylvester Stallone decided to show Hollywood that the old guard still had some fight left and launched his project "The Expendables 2". The adventure action film, directed by Simon West, brought together a unique group of famous actors parodying... themselves. Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Terry Crews, and Jason Statham all starred in the film.
In addition, Chuck Norris is a star of internet memes, such as the fictional "Facts about Chuck Norris": users came up with jokes like "A cobra bit Chuck Norris and died", "Chuck Norris counted to infinity. Twice", "Chuck Norris doesn’t wear a watch, he decides what time it is", and so on.
Chuck Norris's Personal Life
After living more than thirty years with his classmate Dianne Holechek and raising three children together, Norris got divorced. He maintained good relationships with both Dianne and their grown children.
A few years later, Norris found new love in model and designer Gina O'Kelley, whom he met by chance in Dallas. Chuck was 58, and Gina was 25. The actor confessed it was love at first sight. Both had previous marriage experiences, but their desire to be together was so strong that they soon married. In 2001, they welcomed twins through artificial insemination – a boy Dakota and a girl Danilee. Norris was happy.
Gina inspired Chuck to write books, and together they joined the board of the National Council for Bible Study in American Schools. Norris founded and led the Kick Start Foundation for troubled teens, aiming to use their interest in karate to prevent the destruction of their future lives. Some of his students went on to universities, with one being admitted to Harvard.
As their own children grew, Norris tried to be a role model in everything. He created his own martial arts style – Chun Kuk Do, combining elements of Tang Soo Do, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, and Sito-Ryu Karate.
In 2017, Chuck made a shocking revelation: he quit his acting career due to Gina's life-threatening illness. It all started with Gina wanting to have an MRI, after which she quickly deteriorated. Severe heart palpitations, pain, and burning in her body worsened over time. Doctors were baffled, unable to understand what was happening to the active, young, and recently healthy woman.
I saw death in her eyes. I saw her dying and I said you know I've got to do something.
Norris turned to independent experts who believed Gina had been poisoned by a contrast agent used in MRIs. Particularly sensitive patients suffer seriously from gadolinium, a fact allegedly known to pharmaceutical companies but kept secret due to potential billion-dollar losses.
Chuck quit his job, took Gina to China, and found alternative medicine specialists who managed to alleviate her condition. However, her health was never fully restored. Norris sued the manufacturer of the contrast agent, demanding $11 million in compensation.
The outcome of the legal proceedings regarding the poisoning is still unclear. Gina's health was severely compromised, and she continues to undergo therapeutic treatment and various procedures, but most importantly, she remains alive.
Norris spent over two million dollars on her treatment, and now, with her condition improved, he tries to travel more with his family. However, Chuck's health has shown worrying signs: he has suffered two heart attacks one after another.
Chuck Norris Now
Missionary work has become a constant companion in the life of the main Texas Ranger. In addition, the actor is interested in politics - Norris supports the conservative party and actively speaks out against same-sex marriages. Also, Chuck fights for the right to freely carry firearms.
In 2020, Chuck Norris celebrated his milestone - the actor turned 80. Currently, having retired and stopped acting in films, Chuck Norris has not lost popularity on the internet. He is still admired by fans, and the actor himself often addresses them with video message.
In addition, he appears in commercials, where his toughness is invariably played up, as in the commercials for the Finnish burger chain Hersburger or QuickTrip snacks.
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