Born Carlos Ray Norris
March 10, 1940 (age 75)
Ryan, Oklahoma, U.S.
Occupation Actor, martial artist, film producer, screenwriter
Years active 1968–present
Spouse(s) Dianne Holechek (1958–88)
Gena O’Kelley (1998–present)
Carlos Ray “Chuck” Norris (born March 10, 1940) is an American martial artist, actor, film producer and screenwriter. After serving in the United States Air Force, he began his rise to fame as a martial artist, and has since founded his own school, Chun Kuk Do.
Norris appeared in a number of action films, such as Way of the Dragon, in which he starred alongside Bruce Lee, and was The Cannon Group’s leading star in the 1980s. He played the starring role in the television series Walker, Texas Ranger from 1993 until 2001.
Norris is a devout Christian and politically conservative. He has written several books on Christianity and donated to a number of Republican candidates and causes. In 2007 and 2008, he campaigned for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who was running for the Republican nomination for president in 2008. Norris also writes a column for the conservative website WorldNetDaily. Since 2005 Norris has been widely associated with an internet meme which documents fictional and often absurd feats associated with him.
Norris was born in Ryan, Oklahoma on March 10, 1940, the son of Wilma (née Scarberry) and Ray Norris, who was an World War II Army soldier, a mechanic, bus driver, and truck driver. Norris is one half Irish and one half Cherokee Indian, whose paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather were full blooded Cherokees. Norris was named after Carlos Berry, his father’s minister. He has two younger brothers, Wieland (1943-1970; killed in Vietnam) and Aaron (a Hollywood producer). When Norris was sixteen, his parents divorced, and he later relocated to Prairie Village, Kansas, and then to Torrance, California, with his mother and brothers.
Norris has described his childhood as downbeat. He was nonathletic, shy, and scholastically mediocre. His father, Ray, worked intermittently as an automobile mechanic, and went on alcohol drinking binges that lasted for months at a time. Embarrassed by his father’s behavior and the family’s financial plight, Norris developed a debilitating introversion that lasted for his entire childhood.
He joined the United States Air Force as an Air Policeman (AP) in 1958 and was sent to Osan Air Base, South Korea. It was there that Norris acquired the nickname Chuck and began his training in Tang Soo Do (tangsudo), an interest that led to black belts in that art and the founding of the Chun Kuk Do (“Universal Way”) form. When he returned to the United States, he continued to serve as an AP at March Air Force Base in California.
Norris was discharged in August 1962. He worked for the Northrop Corporation and opened a chain of Karate schools including a storefront school in his then-hometown of Torrance on Hawthorne Boulevard. Norris’ official website lists celebrity clients at the schools; among them Steve McQueen, Chad McQueen, Bob Barker, Priscilla Presley, Donny Osmond and Marie Osmond.
Norris married Dianne Holechek in 1958. In 1963 their first child, Mike, was born. His daughter Dina was born in 1964 out of an extramarital affair. Later, he had a second son, Eric, with his wife in 1965. After 30 years of marriage, Norris and Holechek divorced in 1988.
In November 1998, he married former model Gena O’Kelley, born in 1963 and 23 years Norris’ junior. O’Kelley had two children from a previous marriage. She delivered twins in 2001: Dakota Alan Norris, a boy, and Danilee Kelly Norris, a girl. The wedding was performed by Lawrence Kennedy, who is featured in Norris’ autobiography.
On September 22, 2004, Norris told Entertainment Tonight’s Mary Hart that his daughter Dina was the result of an extramarital affair. He did not meet her until she was 26, although she learned that he was her father when she was 16. She sent a letter to his home informing him of their relationship. After meeting her, Norris said he knew she was his daughter upon seeing her.
In 2005, Norris mentioned in an autobiography that his mother gave birth to him when she was 18 years-old and that his deceased brother Wieland was his first black belt when he was teaching him how to fight.
Norris has nine grandchildren.
An outspoken Christian, Norris is the author of several Christian-themed books, such as The Justice Riders. He has also been in a few TV commercials promoting Bible study and prayer in public schools, in addition to efforts to reduce drug use. In his WorldNetDaily columns, he has expressed his belief in Biblical creationism, that those who are troubled should turn to Jesus, and is quoted as saying “true patriots” do not stay clear of discussing religion and politics.
On April 22, 2008, Norris expressed his support for the intelligent design movement when he reviewed Ben Stein’s Expelled for Townhall.com.
Norris has received a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu from the Machado family.
In his February 15, 2010 WorldNetDaily column, Norris announced that, starting in the fall of 2010, he will begin a second weekly column for Creators Syndicate. This new column, “C-Force”, will focus on personal fitness.