″It’s the bullies who are afraid, are the ones that do all the fighting. It’s not the secure kids that get out there and fight. It’s the insecure kids. And when you develop that security in these youngsters and all of a sudden they have no reason to fight . . . This is to me the most gratifying thing I’ve ever been able to do.” – Chuck Norris

Carlos Ray Norris was born in Ryan, Oklahoma. Until Norris joined the Air Force in 1958 and moved to Korea, he was an introverted, shy and cowed by his alcoholic stepfather. He didn’t excel at school and it wasn’t until he joined the forces that he picked up an interest in martial arts. He began training in Rang Soo Do, an interest he continued after returning Stateside.

When he left the Air Force, after four years of service as an Air Policeman he began entering martial arts competitions, suffering several defeats while developing his skills. By 1969 he had won Karate’s triple crown for the most tournament wins of the year, and the Fighter of the Year award by Black Belt magazine. He made his acting debut in 169 as a background player in the Dean Martin comedy spy film The Wrecking Crew, Martin’s fourth and last outing as super-spy Matt Helm. Bruce Lee was the martial arts advisor for the film.

Chuck Norris had met Bruce Lee in 1968, before The Wrecking Crew and had trained with him for two years before Lee’s return to Hong Kong. Lee invited Norris to act his opponent in the Colosseum in his directorial debut Way of the Dragon (1972). “Ir will be a fight scene that everyone will remember. We will be like two gladiators in ancient times. When Norris asked Lee who was to win the fight Lee pointed out that he was the star. Norris the asked if Lee really wanted to beat up the current World Karate Champion. Lee said he didn’t. “I want to kill the current World Champion.” In the scene he did just that. He had asked Norris to put on weight to appear larger and more formidable and Lee filmed it in long takes, framing it so that you could see their entire bodies. He used dramatic lighting, making both of them look larger-than-life. The fight scene was minutely choreographed, taking up about one quarter of the script and needing 45 hours to film. The movie was a financial success, both in Hong Kong and worldwide, grossing £27 million against a $130,000 budget.

Chuck Norris had established a chain of karate schools and one of his pupils, actor Steve McQueen, encouraged him to take acting lessons at MGM. Norris, who had turned down many martial art films with the intention of appearing in films with story and character development, got his first starring role in the trucker film Breaker! Breaker! (1977). He was paid $5000 for his performance. The $250,000 movie made a handsome $12 million at the box office. Norris claims his first significant lead was in the thriller Good Guys Wear Black. The plot concerns John T Booker (Norris), the former leader of a commando rescue attempt into Vietnam, trying to discover why his squad members are being murdered, one-by-one after the war is over. When Chuck Norris was offered the lead role of the film, he was in the process of establishing a new kickboxing league in Los Angeles with Benny Urquidez. Norris cites his decision to pursue the movie over the league as a defining point in his transition from martial arts competition to acting. The film struggled to find a producer and Norris says “I peddled the script all over Hollywood. The night before I was to meet this producer – I’d gone through everyone; he was the last – I thought, ‘What can I say to this guy that I haven’t said to everyone that’s turned me down?’ I went to bed, and about 2 o’clock in the morning, the answer popped into my head. And when I met the producer, he asked me the same question the others asked, ‘Chuck, why will this movie make money?’ And I said, ‘First of all, there’s four million karate people in America. They all know who I am. And if only half of them go to the movie, that’s a $6 million gross on a $1 million budget.’ And he said, ‘Sounds good to me’.” On release, Norris embarked on a year-long publicity campaign and, as no distributor could be found Norris and his producers four-walled it, (renting the theatres and taking all the money that came in). The film did very well; shot within its $1 million budget, it made over $18 million at the box office.

A string of action movies followed leading to a three-film deal with MGM in 1981. The first was Forced Vengance (1983) but Norris was unhappy with the direction MGM were pushing him and the contract was cancelled. 1983 saw the release of Lone Wolf McQuade. The same woman (Barbara Carrera) draws the attention of a drug dealer (David Carradine) and Texas Ranger McQuade (Chuck Norris). Both me are martial arts experts. Chuck Norris and David Carradine refused to use stunt doubles for their climactic fight scene, despite strong reservations from the producers.

“The thing about the fight with Dave is that not only is it very well done, but it and the other martial-arts scenes are not just fillers, You’ve got to have more than technique if you’re going to capture the emotions of the audience.” – Chuck Norris

It was written into David Carradine’s contract that he could not be defeated in hand to hand combat. Hence why he was killed at the end by means of a grenade. When asked to comment on David Carradine’s actual martial arts skills, Chuck Norris opined, “David Carradine is every bit as good a martial artist as I am an actor.” The film was a worldwide hit and had a positive reception from movie critics, often being compared to Sergio Leone’s stylish spaghetti westerns. The film became the inspiration for Norris’s future hit TV show Walker, Texas Ranger. Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film a 3.5 star rating, calling the character of J.J. McQuade worthy of a film series and predicting the character would be a future classic.

The same year Chuck Norris was introduced to a new audience via a computer game, Chuck Norris Superkicks, for the Commodore 64, Commodore VIC-20, Atari 2600, and Colecovision.

In 1984 Chuck Norris made the first film of what became a trilogy, Missing in Action. he had signed a multiple movie deal with Cannon Films that paid him one million dollars per film. This movie was actually shot directly after Missing in Action 2: The Beginning but Cannon felt MIA was a far better film so released it first and retitled the first film to MIA 2: The Beginning (1985). Even so the critics were scathing: Derek Adams of Time Out wrote that the film was “so bad that it defies belief. It’s xenophobic, amateurish and extraordinarily dull”. He also labelled it as “all-gooks-are-baddies propaganda.” On AMC’s movie guide, Jeremy Beday of Rovi described the film as a “crass, dopey Rambo-esque film that ultimately fails to connect with anything interesting in the realm of fact or fiction” and that its “chop-socky, shoot-em-up, explosion-a-minute action quickly wears thin”. Audiences still made the film one of Cannon’s most profitanle, purring a net $6.5 million back in the studio coffers. Cannon used Norris for Invasion USA (1985), Code of Silence (1985)and Braddock: Missing in Action III (1988)

A pairing with Lee Marvin in Cannon Films’ The Delta Force (1986) was Norris’ last notably successful film at the box office. Charles Bronson was set to star with Norris but decided against it though he did make Death Wish IV (1987) for Cannon. The film was originally to be produced with the cooperation of Delta Force’s real-life founder and original Commanding Officer, Colonel Charles Beckwith. The producers wanted to tell the story of Operation Eagle Claw, the failed attempt to rescue the American hostages from Iran in 1979, but they wanted to change the story so that Delta Force completed their mission successfully. Colonel Beckwith left the project in disgust. In an interview with the Toronto Star regarding the TWA hijacking Norris commented “What we’re facing here is the fact that our passive approach to terrorism is going to instigate much more terrorism throughout the world,”I would have sent the Delta Force immediately.I’ve been all over the world, and seeing the devastation that terrorism has done in Europe and the Middle East, I know eventually it’s going to come here,” added Norris. “It’s just a matter of time. They’re doing all this devastation in Europe now, and the next stepping stone is America and Canada. Being a free country, with the freedom of movement that we have, it’s an open door policy for terrorism. It’s like Khadafy said a few weeks ago. ‘If Reagan doesn’t back off, I’m going to release my killer squads in America.’ And there’s no doubt in my mind he that he has them.”

Lee Marvin did publicity for the film, which was rare for him. He said the movie was “a good flick” and admitted but I guess I might be protecting myself, keeping the doors open” with Cannon. “There aren’t too many firm film offers these days that guarantee money up front.” Marvin was considering doing a sequel where Delta Force would rescue hostages after a terrorist skyjacking of a luxury liner. Sadly, The Delta Force was Marvin’s last film, he had suffered abdominal pains and an inflamed colon during filming and died on August 29, 1987, at the age of 63.

Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars and called it “a well-made action film that tantalizes us with its parallels to real life.” Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote that it “will be the 1986 film all others will have to beat for sheer, unashamed, hilariously vulgar vaingloriousness.” Variety described it as “an exercise in wish fulfillment for those who favor using force instead of diplomacy.”

“I felt better after that film was made, I did, I swear to God. I think it’s a way for other people to release their tensions. I think it’s good therapy. – Chuck Norris

In 1993 Chuck Norris began shooting the action TV series Walker, Texas Ranger which introduced him to another audience. Norris appeared as the series title character, Texas Ranger Sgt. Cordell Walker, a former Marine and a modern-day Ranger who believes in the Code of the Old West. He is a decorated Vietnam vet and a martial arts expert. The series was noted for its moralistic style. The characters refrained from the use of drugs, and they participated in community service. Martial arts were displayed prominently as the primary tool of law enforcement and occasionally as a tool for Walker and company to reach out to the community. The show ran for 196 episodes over eight seasons ending in May 2001.The series was well-known during its run for its product placement deal with Chrysler, especially its Dodge division. After Walker used a GMC Sierra during the first season, he switched to the Dodge Ram (which at the start of the second season was completely redesigned for 1994), which would be advertised during commercial breaks. Other members of the cast often used other Chrysler vehicles, while villains would drive vehicles from General Motors or Ford Motor Company The series has been broadcast in over 100 countries and has since spawned a 2005 made-for-television movie entitled Trial By Fire. The movie ended on a cliffhanger, which was never resolved.

Chuck Norris’ most recent big screen appearance has been in The Expendables 2 (2012) as Booker,a retired military operative on a mission to save his old teammates. The character’s name is a homage to the 1978 action film Good Guys Wear Black, where Norris plays John T. Booker. Norris agreed to come out of retirement from acting at the age of 71 in order to appear in this film; it was reported that a change from R to PG-13 was requested by Norris before he would take part. Norris wanted the change because he did not appreciate the swearing in the script. However the finished film was rated R. When the adult-oriented rating was confirmed shortly before release the visual effects supervisor said that The Expendables 2 was shot as a PG-13 film, with all bullet wounds being dust-hits. Once it was decided that the film would be R-rated, blood, decapitations, eviscerations and severed limbs were digitally added in post-production.

Chuck Norris facts are satirical factoids that originally started appearing on the Internet in early 2005 and have become widespread in popular culture. The ‘facts’ are normally absurd hyperbolic claims about Norris’ toughness, attitude, virility, sophistication, and masculinity. Norris responded to the Chuck Norris facts on his official website with a statement. Admitting some of the statements were indeed humorous, he said he tries not to take any of them seriously, and he hopes that such statements will interest people in real facts about him contained in his literary works. Norris has stated that his personal favourite “fact” is that people wanted to add Chuck Norris to Mount Rushmore, but the granite was not tough enough for his beard.

“When I got into the film business, my aim was to adopt a positive persona, of a guy who fights against injustice. And it saved me, because my acting was atrocious to say the least!” – Chuck Norris

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