December 4th, 2013
10:11 AM ET

Inspiration for ‘Top Gun’ Character Gets Top-Level Pentagon Post

The inspiration for the leading female role in the 80s blockbuster movie “Top Gun,” has soared to new heights in real life.

Christine Fox has become the first woman appointed to the Pentagon’s No. 2 job, set to serve in an acting capacity until a permanent successor is named.

Her boss, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, called Fox, "a brilliant defense thinker and proven manager."

Fox most recently held a top-level defense post where she played a large role in determining budget priorities.

"She helped identify the challenges, choices, and opportunities for reform facing the department during this period of unprecedented budget uncertainty. She will be able to help me shape our priorities from Day One because she knows the intricacies of the department's budget, programs and global operations better than anyone," Hagel said in a statement.

A long-time civilian defense employee, Fox held several influential positions over the years.

But she is perhaps best known for serving as the inspiration for Tom Cruise's love interest in the 1986 film, about a hot shot pilot's experience at the Top Gun Naval Flying School.

According to a People Magazine profile published shortly before the film's release, Fox was working as a mathematician at the Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego when she was introduced to movie producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer.

The two had been brainstorming a possible love interest for Cruise's character, Maverick, and thought Fox fit the bill.

The result was Charlie, a beautiful astrophysicist played by Kelly McGillis, who instructed the Top Gun candidates.

The movie was a hit with viewers. Off screen, Fox continued to advance through the ranks at the Defense Department, serving as a scientific analyst to the Chief of Naval Operations and as president of the Center for Naval Analyses, before her 2009 appointment to Secretary Hagel's office.

As acting deputy secretary, Fox will take over the role being vacated by Ashton Carter until a permanent successor is named and confirmed.

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