Birth Date: March 10, 1940 / Age: 77
Birth Place: Ryan, Oklahoma, USA
Biography: Carlos Ray Norris Jr. (born March 10, 1940), better known in the entertainment world as Chuck Norris, is a martial artist, an American action movie actor and Hollywood star.
A native of Ryan, Oklahoma, Norris has two younger brothers, one of which is Hollywood producer Aaron Norris. Norris is one 1/4 Cherokee (from his father) and part British and Irish (from his mother).
When Norris was 12, his parents divorced and he relocated to California with his mother and brothers. There, he finished high school and soon married his girlfriend, Diane Holechek. After marriage, Norris joined the United States Air Force as a Military Policeman and was sent to South Korea. It was in South Korea that Norris acquired the nickname Chuck and began his martial arts training. He has portrayed an Army Major in The Delta Force, Army Colonel in Missing in Action, and a Marine Captain during flashback scenes in his T.V. hit series Walker, Texas Ranger.
Norris has indicated in his own biography that he has black belts in Tang Soo Do, Tae Kwon Do, and is founder of Chun Kuk Do ("Universal Way"). Mr. Norris has also practiced Judo, Shito-Ryu Karate, and Brazilian jujutsu. He is also founder of The United Fighting Arts Federation (UFAF).
Norris returned to the United States in 1962, working for the Northrop corporation and opening a karate school, which many celebrities, including Steve McQueen attended. In 1963, his son Mike was born. A daughter, Dina followed in 1964, and a second son, Eric, in 1965. But another important moment happened in 1964: at a demonstration in Long Beach, Norris met the soon to be famous, Bruce Lee, who would ingrain Norris in martial arts history forever with his portrayal as Lee's nemesis in The Way of the Dragon. But while the two were publicly friendly, contrary to what many (including Norris himself) state, they were not close friends. Lee had repeatedly humiliated Norris during a mock sparring session in the hotel hallway at the Long Beach International Karate Championships in 1964. And Norris had offended Lee when he publicly claimed to be a better fighter than Lee. When word got back to Lee, he called Norris and openly challenged him, threatening to drive to his school to fight (Norris was teaching his black belt class at that time). According to eye witnesses, Lee made Norris hold the phone receiver up and shout in front of his black belts, "Bruce Lee is a better fighter than me!" Later, Norris wrote an apologetic letter to Lee; the original letter is currently in the care of Lee's student, Dan Insanato. Yet despite these conflicts, the two managed to set aside any differences in pursuit of their mutual film aspirations and develop a friendly public persona toward one another.
Chuck Norris as Cordell Walker in Walker, Texas RangerIn 1968, Norris became Middleweight Karate champion (non-contact), and in 1969, he won Karate's triple crown for the most tournament wins of the year, and the fighter of the year award by Black Belt magazine. It was also in 1968 that Norris made his acting debut, in the Dean Martin movie The Wrecking Crew. The greatest tragedy of Norris's life took place in 1970. His younger brother Weiland was killed in Vietnam. Norris later dedicated his Missing In Action films to his brother's memory. In 1972, he acted alongside Lee in the movie Way of the Dragon, and in 1974, McQueen encouraged him to begin acting classes at the MGM Studio.
While at acting classes his voice and drama coach was Jonathan Harris, of Lost In Space fame. Harris taught Norris how to speak by putting his fingers in Norris's mouth, and stretching his mouth wide open. Norris describes Harris as the only man in the world who could get away with doing that to him.
Norris' first starring role was 1977's Breaker, Breaker!, and subsequent films such as The Octagon, An Eye for an Eye, and Lone Wolf McQuade proved his increasing box office bankability. In 1984, Norris starred in Missing in Action, the first of a series of POW rescue fantasies produced by Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus and released under their Cannon Films banner. Over the next four years, Norris became Cannon's most prominent star, appearing in eight films, including Code of Silence, The Delta Force and Firewalker, in which he co-starred with Academy Award winner Louis Gossett, Jr.
During the 1970's he taught The Price is Right host Bob Barker karate.
In 1988, after 30 years of marriage, Norris and Holechek divorced.
In 1990, Norris founded the non-profit organization Kick Drugs Out of America. It has since been renamed KICKSTART.
By the close of the 1980s, Cannon Films had faded from prominence, and Norris' star appeal seemed to go with it. He reprised his Delta Force role for MGM, who had acquired the Cannon library after the latter's Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Norris went on to make several more largely ignored films before making a transition to television. In 1993, he began shooting the series Walker, Texas Ranger, which lasted eight years on CBS and continued in heavy syndication on other channels.
He married again in 1998, this time to former model Gena O'Kelley, and she delivered twins in 2001: Dakota Alan Norris, a boy, and Danilee Kelly Norris, a girl.
United States President George W. Bush has stated that Norris is his favorite actor.