As we approach this Fourth of July there's perhaps few things more all-American than icon Chuck Norris. I recently visited his Texas ranch and he took us to a warehouse out back full of memorabilia, memories and stories - and even shared a few Chuck Norris facts you probably didn't know. First of all, his real name isn't Chuck. It's Carlos.
Sharyl: Who gave you the nickname first?
Chuck Norris: I joined, I went in the military, and I’m in boot camp and a Hispanic guy says, 'You know what the name Carlos means in English?" I said, "Yeah, it’s Charles." And he says,"Yeah, and the nickname for Charles is Chuck and I’m gonna call you Chuck." For some reason it stuck with me and from that point on, everyone called me Chuck, so. I just stuck with it.
Sharyl: It worked well for you.
Chuck Norris: Yeah it did. And of course these are all my books that I’ve written over the years.
I’ve done two trips to Iraq, 2006 and 2007. So I went over and I went to 17 different bases and camps and shook hands and took pictures with 20,000 troops in 2006 and then I went over and did it again in 2007.
Sharyl: Are you really popular among the military guys?
Chuck Norris: Oh my gosh, one guy, they said show - one of the troopers had a jumpsuit on - they said, "Show Chuck, show Chuck." He pulls down his arm, he’s got a picture of me on his arm. I go, "Guy that’s on there for the rest of your life!" But they had my name on tanks and, you know, carriers and all this stuff here.
Sharyl: Are you surprised when you understand the scope of your popularity
Chuck Norris: It’s kind of mind boggling, really.
Sharyl: Were you in the army?
Chuck Norris: Air Force.
Sharyl: Air force.
Chuck Norris: Yeah.
Chuck Norris: My brother, this is my brother’s dress uniform. He was killed in Vietnam
Sharyl: I’m sorry.
Chuck Norris: And so we have his dress uniform and he was one of my black belts too. This is his black belt certificate and he was on my fighting team.
Sharyl: I think people know, most people know, obviously you aren’t an actor who dabbles in martial arts you are a true martial artist.
Chuck Norris: That dabbles in acting, really.
Chuck Norris: Yeah, this is when I won the title right here. That’s Louis Delgado and I’m going down to punch him in the head. This photo came out; Louis says, came over and says, "That must have been your mother down in the audience taking that picture." I said, "I don’t know who took it, Louis." This here is missing in action and I’m rescuing POWs and so the scene is for me to get the POWs into this helicopter out over the ocean. Well of course, I have a stuntman to do that. But the wind was blowing so hard that they said, "No, it’s too dangerous. So what we will do is pick you up out of the water about 3 feet then drop you back down and cut." I said okay. So anyway, POWs go in the helicopter, I grab a hold of there and the pilot takes off, takes off with me out over the ocean. And I’m hanging no safety or anything I’m just hanging on. So anyway, I’m flying out over the ocean I’m looking down about 300 feet up and I said if I drop would it kill me, you know? And finally my brother who was on the set calls and they finally get a hold of the pilot and they bring me back to the beach and drop me down. I’ve held so tight that they had to peel my fingers off.
Chuck Norris: So I’ve had pretty fun experiences.
Sharyl: How did you first hear that you were getting sort of this resurgence with the Chuck Norris facts?
Chuck Norris: About 11 years ago, a college kid from Brown University sent me 3 Chuck Norris facts. And I’m reading them and the first one was, they wanted to put Chuck Norris on Mt. Rushmore, but the granite wasn’t tough enough for his beard. I thought you know this is pretty funny. Well, the college crowd started gravitating to them and started making up their own Chuck Norris facts. Then it went to high school, elementary school and then it’s just started going worldwide.
Sharyl: Did you ever want to be in law enforcement?
Chuck Norris: Yes, I did. Actually that was my goal. You know I grew up planning on being in law enforcement and so when I joined the military I got in military police with the purpose of preparing myself for law enforcement. In fact, when I got out of the service I was married and uh had you know I had to start working right away so I took my exams for the LAPD but I had like a 4 month waiting list. so in the meantime I worked at Northrop Aircraft and I decided to start a little karate club in my mom’s backyard. And I started teaching and in about three months I fell in love with teaching and I decided to make that my career. And so I changed my mind at the last minute and that’s history.