Even with the current President of the United States of America being a former TV show personality, the idea of celebrities turning their hand to politics can often feel a little unnatural. But the transition from the red carpet to the halls of power is nothing new – particularly Stateside where name recognition alone can kick-start a career in office. With that in mind, here are 10 famous celebrities who became politicians…
Almost certainly the most successful example of all celeb-turned-politicians – pre-Trump at least – is Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States. Taking office in the White House between 1981 and 1989, Raegan actually started life as a radio announcer before becoming a Hollywood actor, starring in the likes of Dark Victory, All American, and Kings Row – which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1943. Reagan was famed for his timing and delivery, crafting a public persona that earned him the nickname ‘The Great Communicator.’
Manny Pacquiao is generally accepted to be one of the greatest pound for pound boxers of all time. But not only is he the only eight-division world champion in the history of boxing, he’s also a successful politician back in his home country of the Philippines. In 2010, ‘Pacman’ was officially proclaimed congressman of the lone district of Sarangani, having achieved a landslide victory over the wealthy and politically-experienced Chiongbian clan who had been in power for more than thirty years. He was re-elected again in 2013, and in 2016, Pacquiao was elected as a senator where he will serve a six-year term until 2022.
We all know about the rise of Arnie in the world of politics. But you may not know just how important his 2003 California gubernatorial election victory was. At the time, the state had a colossal budget crisis and it wasn’t just the Austrian former bodybuilder who threw hit hat into the ring to displace sitting Governor Gray Davis. Other unlikely candidates included diminutive actor Gary Coleman, former baseball commissioner Pete Ueberroth, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, and political pundit Arianna Huffington. Commando won, and the rest is history.
Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura
Pro wrestling has intertwined itself in politics more than you’d probably realise. Linda McMahon – yes, Vince’s wife from WWE – ran for U.S Senator of Connecticut in 2010 and 2012 and is currently the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, under the Trump Administration. But few could have predicted that Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura would find himself in the Minnesota governor’s office. Running as a Reform Party candidate, he won a three-way battle that saw him post the Reform Party’s most notable victory. Schwarzenegger’s later success meant that two members of the cast of Predator had been elected governor of a U.S. state. Carl Weathers has a lot to live up to..!
Alastair James Hay, AKA Al Murray The Pub Landlord, ran to be MP for South Thanet in Ramsgate in May this year, where he was running against UKIP’s Nigel Farage. Murray and his FUKP party gained only 318 votes, which unfortunately meant he had to pay back his £500 election deposit. Murray made just 13 election promises – one of which was for former SNP Leader Alex Salmond to be made ‘First Minister for Norwich’, “so he can get to understand what being ignored by the rest of the country is really like.”
Having achieved notoriety and critical success as a member of the Fugees alongside Lauryn Hill and Pras Michel, Wyclef Jean wanted more from life than just his three Grammy Awards. So in 2010, Jean filed for candidacy in the presidential election in his native Haiti. Unfortunately, the Electoral Commission ruled him ineligible to stand for office, as he had not met the requirement to have been a resident of Haiti for five years.
Known as being the demonic brother of The Undertaker, who was horribly burned as a child and left for dead, Glenn ‘Kane’ Jacobs has decided to run for Mayor of Knox County in Tennessee. The logo for his candidacy is a flame with the slogan ‘Lighting the way for our future.’ If he didn’t involve fire in some way, the Big Red Machine would have missed a trick. The paperwork has been submitted and the election will be held on in May 2018.
Here in the UK, we like our celebrities to stay in their lane and we don’t enjoy people reminding us of how rubbish we are by being successful in more than one field. Which is why Glenda Jackson’s story is so unique. Having been nominated for four Best Actress awards at the Oscars – and winning two of them – she swapped a life co-starring with actors such as Oliver Reed for a career working with politicians and the Labour party when she became an MP for Hampstead and Kilburn in 1992. She was in office for 23 years.
Though known for dealing with incest and midgets on his hit TV show, believe it or not Jerry Springer was once the Mayor of Cincinnati. Having been elected to the city’s council in 1971, he survived a short period away having admitted to hiring a prostitute to be chosen to serve one year as mayor by the City Council in 1977.
One of Hollywood’s genuine A-listers, Clint Eastwood has achieved it all when it comes to film-making. Whether he’s on screen or behind the camera, there’s few in the industry who can boast a CV quite like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly star. But he also ran for Mayor of Carmel in California in 1986, storming to victory with almost three-quarters of the vote. Eastwood kept his role for two years.