Before Chuck Norris became a Hollywood powerhouse, the action star ran multiple karate studios all over Hollywood. During the 1960s and 1970s, if Norris wasn’t winning a new competition in martial arts, he was teaching classes to some of the biggest stars at the time.
Many notable names at the time came to Norris to refine their martial arts. Some of the biggest stars in his dojo were Price is Right host Bob Barker and the "King of Cool" himself, Steve McQueen.
During the years Norris spent training McQueen, the two became great friends with one another.
Around 1974, just after Norris retired from competition, he noticed that many of his karate studios were struggling financially. Unsure what to do, McQueen reached out and suggested he pick up acting work.
Never having acted once in his life, Norris rejected the idea until McQueen reminded him of his own positive credo.
“I had no experience, I’d never even done a high school play. And here I’m trying to jump into the acting field. If I looked at it in a negative way, I would have... given up. But from training myself over the years to think positively and to realize that if there was a will there was a way, I was able to achieve success,” said Norris on his first approach to acting.
Norris began auditioning and even reached out to a few of his Hollywood friends and connections that he had made over the years. Bruce Lee would invite him to fight opposite of him in The Way of the Dragon in 1972 in his first major role.
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