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Actor Morgan Freeman Was Air Force Radar Repairman

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Actor Morgan Freeman is known for his many roles in film, including "Driving Miss Daisy" (1969), "Glory" (1989), "Unforgiven" (1992), "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994), "Seven" (1995), "Amistad" (1997), "Million Dollar Baby" (2004), "The Dark Knight Trilogy" (2005-2012), and "Invictus" (2009).

A man in a tuxedo poses for a photo.
Festival Freeman
Morgan Freeman at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France.
Photo By: Courtesy of Morgan Freeman
VIRIN: 051001-O-D0439-002C

Among Freeman's many TV appearances was his role in the acclaimed children's television series "The Electric Company" in the 1970s.

Born June 1, 1937, in Memphis, Tennessee, Freeman started his career acting in high school plays.

After graduating from high school in 1955, he turned down a drama scholarship from Jackson State University, opting instead to enlist in the Air Force, where he was trained to be an automatic tracking radar repairman.

An airman poses in uniform.
Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman in his Air Force uniform sometime in the mid-to-late 1950s.
Photo By: Courtesy of Morgan Freeman
VIRIN: 550813-F-0000C-001

Automatic tracking radar stations were used for automatically aligning radar antennas toward an air target such as an aircraft or missile to continuously measure its location. The stations became obsolete and were closed in the early 1990s with the development of precision guided munitions that used GPS.

After four years in the Air Force, he was honorably discharged as an airman first class in 1959. He subsequently moved to Los Angeles and took acting classes at the Pasadena Playhouse. He also studied theatre arts at Los Angeles City College.

A movie poster for "The Sum of All Fears,” showing two men.
Sum of All Fears
Poster for the 2002 movie "The Sum of All Fears."
Photo By: Paramount Pictures
VIRIN: 021001-O-D0439-001
A movie poster for "High Crimes," showing a man and a woman.
High Crimes
Poster for the 2002 movie "High Crimes."
Photo By: 20th Century Fox
VIRIN: 021001-O-D0439-002

Some of Freeman's films with a military connection:

  • In the film "Glory," he played Army Sgt. Maj. John Rawlins. The film, directed by Edward Zwick, was about the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the Union Army's second African-American regiment in the Civil War. "Glory" was nominated for five Academy Awards.
  • In the 1995 film "Outbreak," Freeman played a doctor, Army Brig. Gen. William "Billy" Ford. The film, based on the 1994 nonfiction book "The Hot Zone," is about a virus outbreak in Zaire and later in California.
  • In 1990, Freeman provided the voice of abolitionist Frederick Douglass in "The Civil War," a TV miniseries about the Civil War.
  • Freeman also narrated "The True Story of Glory Continues," a 1991 documentary about the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment.
  • In the 2002 military and spy thriller, "The Sum of All Fears," Freeman plays William "Bill" Cabot, director of the Central Intelligence Agency. 
  • In the 2002 film, "High Crimes," Freeman plays Charlie Grimes, a former military attorney.

Among Freeman's many accolades, are:

An Academy Award for "Million Dollar Baby" and a Golden Globe Award for best actor in "Driving Miss Daisy."

An airman holds a breathing tube for a man in a flight suit.
Egress Training
Air Force Master Sgt. Curtis Chiles (left) conducts egress training for actor Morgan Freeman before his orientation flight in a T-37 Tweet aircraft, at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., Aug. 13, 2004.
Photo By: Air Force 1st Lt. Jennifer Moore
VIRIN: 040813-F-0000C-001H

Freeman currently lives in Charleston, Mississippi.

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