Finding Chuck Norris
Since being beaten up by Bruce Lee in Way of the Dragon (1972; aka Return of the Dragon), Chuck Norris has had a successful A- and B-film career. But he’s best known for his 196-episode TV show, Walker, Texas Ranger (1993-2001), the longest-running martial-arts-based program in the history of American television. While the success of the show baffled TV critics, his John Wayne-esque martial artist character resonated with Americana.
As the first major American martial arts film star, Chuck Norris’ soft-tough guy demeanor has become the brunt of jokes and Web sites. The legendary karate champion is the most parodied American martial arts star ever, and his support of presidential candidate Mike Huckabee gave birth to a political juggernaut. He created his own martial art, chun kuk do, and his run of Czech-language telephone commercials made Chuck Norris a household name in Eastern Europe.
So where is Chuck Norris’ career heading next? It’s a Hitchcock mystery, but Norris means “Northerner” in French—a clue, perhaps.
– February 9, 2015