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5 Facts About Willie Nelson, The Martial Arts Prankster Who Punked Kris Kristofferson

Arguably no one looms larger in marijuana lore than Willie Nelson, who turns 83 today. From being an outspoken advocate, to facing repeated arrests, to holding smoke sessions with other famous consumers like Snoop Dogg, the country singer is a legend in cannabis culture. But sometimes marijuana overshadows the rest of his fascinating life. Here are five interesting facts about Willie Nelson that don't involve marijuana.

1. He has more film and TV credits than Alfred Hitchcock

Nelson's contribution to American television and cinema is highly underrated. The bulk of his work involves contributions to soundtracks. According to IMDB, Willie's music has appeared in 238 movies and shows over the years. The most popular song is "Crazy," which Nelson both wrote and famously recorded in the early 60s.

2. He's appeared on screen, too

Nelson has 45 acting credits for films and TV show appearances. Sometimes he plays himself - as in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999). But he's also played characters in westerns, comedies and even the political satire Wag the Dog (1997). Nelson plays Johnny Dean, who oversees the musical wing of the government's propaganda machine in the fictional war with Albania. Here's Willie conducting a choir singing a jingoistic anthem called, "The American Dream."

3. He has other recreational pastimes

During a 2014 interview on Real Time with Bill Maher, Nelson said that his neighbors - including Woody Harrelson and Owen WIlson - often stop by Willie's Hawaiian home in Maui, where they play poker, chess and dominoes. Willie also suggested that he and his guests might puff a joint between turns now and then.

4. He's a ruthless prankster

While promoting Another Pair of Aces in 1991, Nelson teamed up with Ed McMahon (who was then hosting Super Bloopers and Practical Jokes) and pranked Willie's co-star and fellow Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Kris Kristofferson. During a phoney interview, Kristofferson took a call from a "fan" who pretended to be in labor, forcing Kristofferson to serve as her Lamaze coach.

5. He's a skilled martial artist

Age doesn't slow Willie down. In celebration of his 81st birthday, Nelson received his fifth-degree black belt in the Korean martial art Gongkwon Yusul. Nelson began his training in martial arts in the 60s when he studied kung fu in Nashville. Here's Willie receiving the advanced blackbelt in 2014.


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