Top 10 Actors Who Entered Politics
10 Ronald Reagan
Where else could such an article begin? America’s 40th president, Ronald Reagan had his time in acting before he actually got into politics and before he eventually became the president. Interestingly enough, he was the chairperson of the actor’s guild in his time, showing that the blood of a politician ran through his veins even during his acting stint. The president in his hay day appeared in over 50 films, having gotten his first job in Hollywood in 1937. He also hosted a couple of TV shows before becoming the Governor of California and subsequently the president.
9 Clint Eastwood
Hollywood’s macho man who has had a long illustrious acting career spanning over six decades is a devout Republican who is not afraid to share his views. He had a brush with a political career when he ran for, and was elected, mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California in 1986. Apparently, he was pushed to do so when council officials would not allow an office building next to his office to be remodeled. Once in power he fired all the officials who denied him the permit. He also overturned a strange law that had banned the sale of ice cream on the street, one of his main campaign points. He served only one year and did not run for office again.
8 Arnold Schwarzenegger
In 2003, there was a recall contest and the governor of California had to defend his seat. This led to actors of all types coming out to run against him, including porn star Mary Carey. Arnold himself claimed that he had not planned on running, not until he announced his interest in doing so on the Jay Leno show and he was all of a sudden thrown into the contest. Despite many jokes being coined concerning his intention to become governor (including the common term used to refer to him, the governator) and sex scandals that were propagated, he went ahead to win the elections and became governor of California.
7 Helen Gahagan Douglas
Before getting into politics, she was a well-known Broadway star in the 20’s. She also starred as the ice queen in the 1935 movie She, and her role is actually what served as the inspiration for the character of the wicked stepmother in Disney’s Snow White and the seven dwarfs. She got into politics in 1944, standing for an elective seat and successfully being elected the Democrat from California’s 14th district to the House of Representatives. She served in Congress for three terms.
6 Fred Thompson
The actor had quite a successful movie career before he launched out into politics. He vied for Senator of his Tennessee home state. His campaigning methods were simple, using a rented out truck, he drove all around the state trying to garner votes. Apparently it worked; come Election Day he won by a landslide. He stayed in office until 2003 before retiring back to his acting career, playing the DA in the successful Law & Order TV show. In 2008, he announced his plans to run for president, but probably sensing that he would not get the support he needed, he quietly backed out.
5 Shirley Temple
She had a long and illustrious acting career, starting out as a child actor where she appeared in several films to a more successful adult. She was wildly popular in the 1930’s, becoming the highest paid actor between 1936 and 1938. Her acting career however died off in the 1940’s and she unsuccessfully tried to run for a House of Representatives seat in 1967. However, President Nixon appointed her as the representative to the United Nations. Subsequent presidents appointed her ambassador to Ghana and later Czechoslovakia. In 1976, she was appointed the first female White House Chief of Protocol.
4 Glenda Jackson
She actually studied acting as a career and went ahead to have a successful one, winning two Oscar awards in 1969 and 1973 for her performances in ‘Women in Love’ and ‘A Touch of Class’ respectively. She retired from acting after an illustrious career in 1992, and joined active politics, running for Hampstead and Highgate as a Labour party candidate and winning the elections. She was then appointed a junior minister in the transport ministry and her focus was on the London transport system. She later resigned from this seat to run for mayor but did not succeed. All the same, she continues to be a prominent backbencher in the British parliament.
3 George Murphy
He dropped out of Yale, opting for an acting career instead. He started in the theatres of Broadway, acting alongside Shirley Temple in several plays. During the depression, he moved to Hollywood and began his movie career, which was quite successful. He displayed a passion for politics in the acting circles as well, acting as the chairperson of the actor’s guild in his time. He was later appointed the vice president for Technicolor. Murphy ran for congress in 1964 and was elected in. He however lost favor when it was discovered that he still got a salary from Technicolor even while still in congress and he did not win in the next elections.
2 Ben Jones
Even though he came to the limelight by playing the role of a crazy mechanic in ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’, this actor-turned-politician showed his serious side and actually proceeded to become congressman for Georgia’s Fourth District for two terms, from 1989-1993. When his opponents made jibes at him concerning his past, he would in a good-natured way respond by saying he woke up naked in a tattoo parlor one day and decided to reform his ways and become a politician.
1 Al Franken
The most recent addition to this list is the man behind ‘Saturday Night live’. It appears that winning 5 Emmy awards and hosting a radio show was not enough for him and he joined the growing list of actors-cum-politicians by announcing his candidacy for senate in 2007.