Military Uniforms in Photos and Movies

| October 30, 2019

Wes O’Donnell of writes an article called The Truth Behind Terrible Stock Military Photos.”

If there is one thing that veterans love to hate, it’s stock military photos. You’ve probably seen them in your social media feed or as an ad on a website; the perpetrators are usually companies targeting the veteran community for Veterans’ Administration (VA) home loans or class action lawsuits.

Posing the question as to whether actors or models were allowed to wear a military uniform, he writes…

Recently, someone asked me a question about the legality of having actors or models wear a U.S. military uniform. That person said, “Isn’t it true that a uniform worn in a movie has to have something wrong with it and can’t be identical to an actual uniform?”

This persistent rumor has existed for at least three decades. I remember hearing the same argument in the 1990s.

Actually, the Supreme Court ruled on this matter in a 1970 case called Schacht vs. United States. This ruling involved a case of an actor who was convicted of illegally wearing a military uniform while performing an anti-war skit in front of an induction center.

The Supreme Court declared that a limitation on wearing uniforms was unconstitutional. Actors were allowed to wear military uniforms as long as they did not “discredit the armed force.”

There is a common myth that the actor is required to create some inaccuracy about the uniform to distinguish it from being authentic but this is not true.  It does, however, create an excuse for not getting it right.

I really liked how he finished off the article…

Ultimately, when marketing to veterans (or any other psychographic marketing segment), all we want is authenticity. Making the effort to get the details right will go a long way to appealing the veteran demographic. As consumers, we crave authentic experiences.

Having said that, I must appeal to photographers of terrible military stock photos everywhere: Please don’t change a thing. The entertainment value of your work far exceeds my desire for accuracy.

Category: Hollywood, Legal, Media

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Comm Center Rat

Has any actor worn military uniforms better or more accurately than the beautiful Catherine Bell, who starred as USMC Lieutenant Colonel Sarah MacKenzie on JAG? I still enjoy watching that TV series – to sharpen my knowledge of the military justice system, of course.

Combat Historian

Donald Bellisario, the creator of JAG, Magnum PI, the original NCIS, and other shows, is a former U.S. Marine who strives to create fairly realistic military characters who wore their uniforms properly. Other Hollyweird producers and directors who had never served couldn’t care less, and the military characters they created and their uniforms reflect as much…


Could’ve used him (and decent writing) on The Marine…


Where Mr. Bellisario failed in getting the details right was casting Catherine Bell. I spent 4/20 years in the USMC (Reserve/ Active respectively) and I will admit that there were some good looking female Marines that I saw. I don’t recall Catherine Bell level good looking, however! Well. . . maybe after 7 months at Al Taqqadum. Now that I think of it, there were a bunch of hot females there toward the end for some reason. . .

A Terminal Lance Coolie

Seven months at Taqqadum would do that to anyone.

I was stuck right across Michigan at Habbaniyah for seven months. The deployment goggles were real when he headed back through TQ to get on the birds to Kuwait.


Habbaniyah – I spent some time over there when I would go over to coordinate with the Army command. We often patrolled in “their” territory (they generally didn’t have a strong desire to do so) and we would do face to face meetings prior to doing so. I was there from Feb-Oct 04. Here are a bunch of my pictures. In the first few there are pictures of the Russian cannon that was over on Habbaniyah.


He can be forgiven for casting Catherine Bell. It’s ok.

Commissioner Wretched

Fascinating point … there was an episode of JAG in which Admiral Chegwidden started to crawl a sailor outside their Headquarters about his shoes and haircut, then learned that a movie was being shot nearby with a Naval theme. The admiral became a technical advisor to the production, until he pissed off the director about accurate uniforms and got himself fired.

Slow Joe

If you don’t like it, don’t look at it.

That’s what I do.

Daisy Cutter

“You don’t like the way the sausage is made, close your eyes when you’re eating it.

— Samuel L. Jackson / Shaft (2019) —

Slow Joe

Nobody’s commenting about the whistler blower?


A Proud Infidel®™️

Likely because it’s just another jumbo nothingburger, don’t be a Lars!


That photo, the collar on the ACU. People on TV always wear it like that and it drives me nuts.


Your head should explode here. (Yeah, me too, that pisses me off.)

LOL !!

Hack Stone

This is the quality of work when you hire people like The Round Ranger or Joe Cryer as a military advisor on your movie or photo shoot. Some productions are willing to go the extra mile and hire genuine veterans as technical advisors. That’s how Hack Stone got hired on the set of Debbie Does Delta Company, and parlayed that experience as Director Of Media Relations for a proud but humble woman owned business that sells software to the federal government.

A Proud Infidel®™️

Speaking of which, do they even have a door on their mailbox or a late model Jaguar that runs without leaving a smoke screen that would make an old moonshine hauler jealous?


Have some sailors wear white socks with their working uniforms and watch all the lifers go apeshit.

just lurkin

Watching a movie with the wife last week and they showed the WWII uniform of a character’s father-corporal stripes, but officer insignia on the collar. Just a little thing, but I had to bite my lip a little. Lots of TV shows and movies seem to make mistakes like this in both detail and continuity (uniform looks one way in one scene, another way in a different one), it drives me nuts.

5th/77th FA

One of my super powers/hobbies is pissing people off by pointing out historical or other inaccuracies in movies/TV shows. It’s what I do.

And Catherine Bell/LTC Mac? Honey Hush and hubba hubba hubba hubba. Would serve under her or in any position. Watching now as we speak. My local ME Tv runs a 9 hour marathon of JAG every Wednesday. Since I’m watching on broadcast antenna I get the full 1080 pixel picture quality. Life is good.




You are in big trouble now.

With Mick and AW1Ed.

The article has that “Word” in it:

T-O-P G-U-N.

Thank You for sharing!