Carlos Ray “Chuck” Norris (born March 10, 1940) is an American martial artist, action star and television and film actor who is known for action roles such as Cordell “Cord” Walker on Walker, Texas Ranger and for his iconically tough image and roundhouse kick.
Norris was born in Ryan, Oklahoma, the son of Wilma (née Scarberry) and Ray Norris, who was a mechanic, bus driver, and truck driver. Norris’s paternal grandfather (an immigrant) and maternal grandmother were of Irish descent, while his paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather were Cherokee Native Americans. Norris was named after Carlos Berry, his father’s minister. He has two younger brothers, Wieland (deceased) and Aaron (a Hollywood producer). When Norris was sixteen, his parents divorced, and he later relocated to Prairie Village, Kansas and then Torrance, California, with his mother and brothers. Norris describes his childhood as downbeat. He was nonathletic, shy, and scholastically mediocre. Other children taunted him about his mixed ethnicity, and Norris daydreamed about beating up his tormentors. Norris mentioned in his autobiography that his father had a very serious problem with drinking and “wasn’t there” a lot for him growing up. Norris admitted that he loved his father but did not like him. However, he professed that he only felt pity for the man because “that was just how he was, and he missed so much.”
He then joined the United States Air Force as an Air Policeman in 1958 and was sent to Osan Air Base, South Korea. It was in South Korea that Norris acquired the nickname Chuck and began his training in Tang Soo Do (tangsudo), an interest that would lead to black belts in that art and the founding of the Chun Kuk Do (“Universal Way”) form. He also created the education associations United Fighting Arts Federation and “KickStart” (formerly “Kick Drugs Out of America”), a middle school and high school–based program intended to give at-risk children a focus point in life through the martial arts. When he returned to the United States, he continued to act as an AP at March Air Force Base California. Norris was discharged in August of 1962. He worked for the Northrop Corporation and opened a chain of karate schools, which Chad McQueen, Steve McQueen‘s son, attended.
Rise to fame
Norris’s career in tournament karate began on a losing note. He was defeated in his first two tournaments, dropping decisions to Joe Lewis and Allan Steen and three matches at the International Karate Championships to Tony Tulleners. However, by 1967, Norris began to demonstrate his skill and scored victories over the likes of Lewis, Skipper Mullins, Arnold Urquidez, Victor Moore, Ron Marchini, and Steve Sanders. In early 1968, Norris suffered the sixth and last loss of his career, losing an upset decision to Louis Delgado. However, on November 24, 1968, he avenged his defeat to Delgado and in the process won the Professional Middleweight Karate champion (non-contact) title, which he held for six consecutive years. 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 1969 that Norris made his acting debut in the Dean Martin movie The Wrecking Crew.
In 1970, his younger brother Weiland was killed in Vietnam. Norris later dedicated his Missing in Action films to his brother’s memory. At a martial arts demonstration in Long Beach, Norris met the soon-to-be famous martial artist Bruce Lee. In 1972, he acted as Bruce Lee’s nemesis in the movie Way of the Dragon (titled Return of the Dragon in its US distribution), which is widely credited with launching his way into stardom. In Asia, he is still known primarily for this role. In 1974, McQueen encouraged him to begin acting classes at MGM. Chuck Norris retired with a karate record of 183-10-2.
Norris’s first starring role was 1977′s Breaker! Breaker!, and subsequent films such as The Octagon (1980), An Eye for an Eye (1981), 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. Contrary to reports, he was never offered the part of the sensei of the Kobra Kai dojo in the movie The Karate Kid. On a February 9, 2006 episode of Adam Carolla’s radio show, Norris said that he was never offered the role. Norris noted that he was already playing leading roles by the time The Karate Kid was in production.
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.. Many of the aforementioned films were produced by Chuck Norris’s brother Aaron, as were several episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger. In 1986, he was involved in the production of the Ruby Spears cartoon Karate Kommandos.
It is occasionally cited that Norris made history in 1997 when he was the first Westerner in the documented history of Tae Kwon Do to be given the rank of 8th Degree Black Belt Grand Master. However, Norris himself appears to have been misled about this as there were at least two other US Black Belts (Charles ‘Chuck’ Sereff and Edward Sell) awarded TKD 8th Dan several years previously. On July 1, 2000, Norris was presented the Golden Lifetime Achievement Award by the World Karate Union Hall of Fame.
On March 28, 2007, Commandant Gen. James Conway made martial-arts ninja and action movie star Chuck Norris an “Honorary Marine” during dinner at the commandant’s residence in Washington, D.C.
Walker, Texas Ranger
By the close of the 1980s, Cannon Films had faded from prominence, and Norris’s star appeal seemed to go with it. He reprised his Delta Force role for MGM, which 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.
On October 17, 2005, CBS premiered the Sunday night “Movie of the Week” Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire. The production was a continuation of the series, and not scripted to be a reunion movie. Norris reprised his role as Cordell “Cord” Walker for the movie. He has stated that future Walker, Texas Ranger “Movie of the Week” projects are expected, however, this was severely impaired by CBS’s 2006–2007 season decision to no longer regularly schedule MOWs on Sunday night.
Norris married Diane Holechek in 1958. In 1963, his first child with Holechek, a son named Mike, was born. His daughter, Dina, was born in 1964 to a woman that wasn’t his wife. Then, he had a second son, Eric, with his wife in 1965. After 30 years of marriage, Norris and Holechek divorced in 1988.
He married again, in November 1998; this time to former model Gena O’Kelley, who was born in 1968, and is 28 years Norris’s 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.
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 him a letter to his home informing him that she was his daughter. After meeting her, he acknowledged that he knew that she was his upon seeing her.
Norris has always been a very loving family man; it was noted in People that his adult sons still hug and kiss him goodbye. “It’s great my boys aren’t afraid to show love,” Norris said, “nothing can buy that”. Norris’s son, Mike, said of his father: “Dad never had a lot of love growing up, but he has given me and my brother all that he should have had in multiples”. Norris’s two older sons are married and he has 6 grandchildren including American actress Gabby Di Ciolli.
Currently, Norris lives in north Houston and owns a ranch between Navasota, Texas and Anderson, Texas. He also has a small residence in Los Angeles for when he does films or television shows. He works for KickStart, which is located in Dallas and Houston.
Now an outspoken Christian, Norris is the author of several Christian 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 2006, he began penning a column for the conservative news website WorldNetDaily, sharing his “musings about faith, family, freedom, country, loyalty – maybe even kickboxing.” In his 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.
Norris serves on the board of directors of the NCBCPS, an organization promoting the use of the Bible in public schools, and also speaks on behalf of organizations advocating official prayers in public schools.
Norris has received a brownbelt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from the Machado family.
Norris is a Republican, often championing the views of the party. Norris has donated more than $32,000 to Republican candidates and organizations since 1988. On January 26, 2007, Norris filled in for Sean Hannity as a co-host on the popular Fox News Channel debate program Hannity & Colmes alongside Alan Colmes.
Norris condemns homosexuality and supports gun rights ownership. He also opposes the theory of evolution.
On October 22, 2007, Norris announced his endorsement of Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee for President. Norris said, “I believe the only one who has all of the characteristics to lead America forward into the future is ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.”
On May 10, 2008, Norris was the commencement speaker at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. Norris addressed a graduating class of more than 4,000 students.
Chun Kuk Do
Norris created the martial art Chun Kuk Do, which is based primarily on Tang Soo Do and includes elements from every combat style he knows. Like many other martial arts, Chun Kuk Do includes a code of honor and rules to live by. These rules are from Chuck Norris’s personal code. They are:
- I will develop myself to the maximum of my potential in all ways.
- I will forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements.
- I will continually work at developing love, happiness and loyalty in my family.
- I will look for the good in all people and make them feel worthwhile.
- If I have nothing good to say about a person, I will say nothing.
- I will always be as enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own.
- I will maintain an attitude of open-mindedness.
- I will maintain respect for those in authority and demonstrate this respect at all times.
- I will always remain loyal to God, my country, family and my friends.
- I will remain highly goal-oriented throughout my life because that positive attitude helps my family, my country and myself.
His record, based on tournament matches, is estimated to be 183-10-2, though some sources list it as 65-5. Norris won an estimated 30 or more tournaments, beating an average of five opponents per tournament. At the New York tournaments, he defeated 12-13 opponents per tournament.
- 1963: 15th Airforce Judo Tournament, Fairchild Airforce Base, Spokane, Washington, March 22-23, fought as Carlos Norris: Result unknown.
- 1964: Defeated unknown opponent in Salt Lake City Tournament (debut).
- 1964: Defeated unknown opponent in semi-finals in Salt Lake City Tournament.
- 1964: Defeated by unknown opponent in finals in Salt Lake City Tournament.
- 1964: Defeated Ron Marchini in the finals at the Tak Kubota’s All-Stars Tournament in Los Angeles, California by half a point.
- 1965: Defeated by Tony Tulleners at Takayuki Kubota’s All-Stars Tournament in Los Angeles, California.
- 1965: Defeated by Tony Tulleners
- 1965: Defeated by Tony Tulleners
- 1965: Defeated by Joe Lewis.
- 1965: Defeated Ron Marchini for the Grand Championship of the Winter Nationals in San Jose, California.
- 1966: Defeated by Allen Steen at the Long Beach Tournament promoted by Ed Parker.
- 1966: Won the National Winter Karate Championships in San Jose, California promoted by Jim Mather.
- 1966: Defeated Skipper Mullins.
- 1966: Defeated Joe Lewis in finals of the Tournament of Champions in New York City.
- 1966: Won the All-Star Championship Tournament in Los Angeles, California.
- 1966: Defeated Skipper Mullins.
- 1967: Won American Tang Soo Do Championship in Stockton, California.
- 1967: Defeated 11 opponents in elimination matches at the All-American Karate Championships in Madision Square Garden in New York City.
- 1967: Defeated Hiroshi Nakamura (Japan) in semi-finals of the All-American Karate Championships in New York by points 12-1.
- 1967: Defeated Joe Lewis for the Grand Championship at the All-American Karate Championships in New York.
- 1967: Won the World Karate Middleweight Title in Long Beach, California
- 1967: Defeated Skipper Mullins(?/?).
- 1967: Defeated 11 opponents in elimination matches at the Grand Champion Internationals on August 12, 1967.
- 1967: Defeated Carlos Bundo at the Grand Champion Internationals on August 12, 1967.
- 1967: Defeated Joe Lewis by one point at the Grand Champion Internationals on August 12, 1967.
- 1967: Won All American Karate Championships promoted by Henry Cho.
- 1967: Won National Tang So Do Tournament in Silversprings, Maryland.
- 1967: Defeated by Marcos Solar at Kini K. Wang Tournament.
- 1967: Defeated Skipper Mullins(?/?).
- 1967: Defeated Skipper Mullins(??).
- 1967: Defeated Joe Lewis(?/?).
- 1967: Defeated Arnold Urquidez.
- 1967: Defeated Victor Moore(?/?).
- 1967: Defeated Steve Sanders(?/?).
- 1967: Won All American Karate Championships.
- 1968: Defeated Fred Wren in Dallas Tournament. (Norris’ nose was broken)
- 1968: Defeated Skipper Mullins in semi finals in Dallas Tournament.(Norris fought with a broken nose).
- 1968: Defeated by Joe Lewis in finals of Dallas Tournament promoted by Allen Steen. (Norris fought with a broken nose).
- 1968: Defeated by Jim Butin in the opening match of a tournament in Silver Springs, Maryland.
- 1968: Defeated Skipper Mullins in Long Beach, California.
- 1968: Won the Internationals(Dallas, Texas).
- 1968: Defeated Louis Delgado.
- 1968: Defeated by Louis Delgado in West Coast vs, East Coast.
- 1968: Defeated Theodore Wong in Orient vs. US in New York.
- 1968: Defeated Louis Delgado on November 24th on points: 101 to 93 to win the World Professional Middleweight Title at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. (Norris suffered a broken jaw)
- 1968: Draw with George Chalian, on Governor’s Island, in New York.
- 1968: Won All-American Karate Championships in New York defeating 13 opponents.
- 1968: Won the National Tournament of Champions in Cleveland, Ohio.
- 1969: Won The Internationals.
- 1970: Won All Star Teams Championship in Long Beach, California.
- 19??: Won North American Karate Championships in New York, New York defeating 12 opponents.
- 1970: Defeated unknown opponent on January 17th at the Long Beach Sports Arena for the US Team Championship. Norris announced his retirement following the match.
- 1972: Draw with Willie Adams-U.S. Teams Championship.