Tough Love: Norris Fans Board the Chuck Wagon

By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 2, 2006

Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

Chuck Norris frequently donates blood to the Red Cross. Just not his own.

Chuck Norris does not fade away. By all rights he should have, by now. "Walker, Texas Ranger," his butt-kicking law-and-order TV series, finished its run on CBS in May 2001, after eight years and 203 episodes. And that should have been that for the great Stoneface, outside of the endless cable reruns, the Total Gym infomercials and the occasional late-night rebroadcast of one of his '80s-era chop-socky movies ("Lone Wolf McQuade," "Missing in Action," etc.).

But Chuck Norris, or maybe just Chuck Mania, endures.

At the moment, the 65-year-old martial-arts master is the object of a kind of sardonic cult veneration. Conan O'Brien, on his late-night show, has been airing vintage "Walker" clips for months. , a Web site popular among the dorm set, regularly links to all things Norris on the Internet (recent entry: a rare photo of Norris sans beard). Norris popped up in a cameo in "Dodgeball" two summers ago, and in a two-hour "Walker" movie in October, which drew respectable ratings.

Most intriguing, and certainly most amusing, has been the grass-fire spread of Chuck Norris "facts," a series of Paul Bunyanesque exaggerations riffing on (and amplifying) the Legend of Chuck. Such as:

Chuck Norris's tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.

Wilt Chamberlain claims to have slept with more than 20,000 women in his lifetime. Chuck Norris calls this "a slow Tuesday."

Why does Norris (once described by a critic as the stiffest guy on TV since Ed Sullivan) rate this sort of exaltation, this David Hasselhoff-ization? Why not fellow aging B-pic martial-arts action stars such as Steven Seagal or Jean-Claude Van Damme? Why not cartoonish wrestler-actors like the Rock or Hulk Hogan? Why not other men-of-frozen-facial-features such as Charles Bronson or Steve McQueen (a former Norris martial-arts student)?

Why not that MacGyver guy?

Why, in short, a guy who never uttered more than three consecutive lines of dialogue and tended to solve contentious military and law enforcement issues by, um, kicking people in the head?

Chuck Norris does not go hunting because "hunting" implies a chance of failure. Chuck Norris goes killing.

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