The Five Toughest Roles of Chuck Norris, Honorary Texan

Oklahoma-born action superstar has played everything from a Texas Ranger to a Vietnam vet over the years

by Zachary Leeman | Updated 07 Apr 2017 at 8:57 AM

Chuck Norris became an honorary Texan this week. The “Walker, Texas Ranger” actor received a State Senate gavel and a flag that had been flown over the Alamo at a ceremony in Austin.

Senate Resolution 569 was passed unanimously by the Texas Senate, naming the Oklahoma-born Norris a Texan for “his many contributions to our state.”

Norris, 77, was previously named an honorary Marine in 2007 and an honorary Texas Ranger in 2010.

Best known for his popular action movies and his starring role in the long-running television show “Walker, Texas Ranger,” Norris has put in countless hours with charities that help both at-risk youths and veterans.

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An Air Force veteran himself, Norris has visited troops overseas and been a spokesman for the U.S. Veterans Administration; he’s promoted better pensions and health care for servicemen and women.

He also started the Kickstart Kids program in 1990. The martial arts program comes at no cost to members and is meant to help teach kids and teens self-respect and other positive traits that go hand-in-hand with the sport Norris mastered so long ago.

Norris is also now cemented in pop culture history, thanks to viral “facts” about the man that are constantly spread around social media. They include humorous bits such as: “They wanted to put Chuck Norris on Mount Rushmore, but the granite wasn’t tough enough for his beard.”

In honor of his new honorary Texan status, here's a look at five of the actor's best roles, all of which helped shape his status as Hollywood's go-to tough guy.

1.) "Walker, Texas Ranger" (1993-2001). This TV show ran for eight seasons and over 200 episodes. The immensely popular show promoted the kind of values that aren't typically found in today's darker programming.

Norris played Cordell Walker, an uncompromising Texas Ranger who always had a bad guy to catch and a lesson to teach. The show gave Norris a platform every week to show off his famed roundhouse kicks — and to deliver Texas justice, Norris style.

2.) "Missing in Action" (1984). This was one of the actor's most patriotic and successful films. In two follow-ups, he returned to the lead role. Beyond a showcasing of Norris' skills as a leading man, the film was a personal story and journey for the actor. He portrayed James Braddock, a Vietnam vet who launches a mission to return to the POW camp he escaped from and to rescue the men still held captive there.

In reality, Norris' brother, Wieland, died in the Vietnam War. "I'll never forget the day I heard my younger brother, Wieland, was killed in Vietnam. It was a day like no other. No family should have to feel what my mother, other brother, Aaron, and I did that day. And yet so many do, every day, every year," Norris wrote for World Net Daily about the loss.

He continued, "At the height of the Vietnam War, both of my brothers, Wieland and Aaron, enlisted in the U.S. Army. As a veteran myself, I understood their desire to serve, and I concurred with their decision to enlist. After all, the U.S. Air Force turned my life around. It helped me get on the right path."

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Norris' brother, Aaron (who later became a director), was sent to Korea while Wieland was sent to Vietnam — where he died before his 28th birthday. "I still miss my brother terribly — we all do. I think of Wieland often and am comforted only by the certainty that one day we will be giving him a great big hug in heaven," Norris wrote.

"Missing in Action" captures those sentiments, albeit in a much more hard-nosed, action-packed way. It's far more patriotic than other Vietnam-based movies. Norris leaves politics at the door and one can sense his frustration and anger pouring through his tough-guy, fantasy character of Braddock. "It was to Wieland," wrote Norris, "that I also dedicated all my 'Missing in Action' films."

3.) "Way of the Dragon" (1972). This was most people's introduction to Chuck Norris — and he went toe-to-toe with the late Bruce Lee. The two actors allegedly made real contact in their fights, which were some of the more impressive throw-downs in cinema history. It's easy to see why movie producers who watched "Dragon" footage saw a star in the making with Norris.

4.) "Invasion U.S.A." (1985). If there's a quintessential Chuck Norris film, this may be it. It didn't win much love from critics, but the action movie was gold for Norris fans. When the U.S. is invaded by terrorists, Norris stands alone to prevent attacks that could change the course of history. It's ridiculous, fun, and one of Norris' best tough-guy roles.

5.) "The Delta Force" (1986). This was one of his most famous films. "Walker" let Norris salute Texas Rangers, "Missing in Action" let him salute Vietnam veterans — and "The Delta Force" let the actor salute one of the military's most elite fighting forces, albeit in an over-the-top way.

Norris also got the opportunity to work with fellow tough-guy actor Lee Marvin ("The Dirty Dozen"), which made his screen presence all the more impressive.

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