In America we are enthralled by big-time Hollywood actors and our politicians, and sometimes those same actors make the leap from the glamorous world of acting to the cutthroat world of politics. It makes sense that they would be good candidates since they’re comfortable in front of the camera, used to interviews and familiar with public scrutiny. And perhaps, once you’ve known the power and prestige of Hollywood you want to see what power is like in politics as well.
Perhaps the best known example is former president Ronald Reagan, who spent the early part of his career on the big screen before turning to politics. More recently, we saw Arnold Schwarzenegger make the leap from action star to California governor.
Some other notable actors who went on to a career in politics include:
- Clint Eastwood–Dirty Harry himself was elected mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California in 1986.
- Ben Jones–Probably better known as “Cooter” to most, Jones starred in “The Dukes of Hazzard” and in 1988 was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia. In 1994 he ran against Newt Gingrich and lost. Jones tried to resurrect his career by running for congress again in 2002, this time in Virginia, but lost that race to Eric Cantor.
- Sonny Bono–One of the two stars of “The Sonny and Cher Show,” Bono went on to appear in “Fantasy Island” and “The Love Boat” as well. He was elected mayor of Palm Springs, CA, and served from 1988-1992 before being elected to Congress in 1994.
- Jesse Ventura–Also known as “the Body,” Ventura was a pro wrestler and starred in “Predator” alongside Schwarzenegger, perhaps making it the only movie to ever feature two future governors. Ventura was elected governor of Minnesota in 1998 as a member of the Reform Party.
- Fred Thompson–Thompson has been in numerous movies but is probably best know for his work on “Law & Order.” He served in the U.S. Senate from Tennessee from 1994-2003 and in 2007 he made a half-hearted attempt to run for president, but dropped out early in 2008.
- Al Franken–Best known for his comedic work on “Saturday Night Live” (see his role as Stuart Smalley below), Franken is now a U.S. senator from Minnesota after winning the seat in 2008.
So who will be the next big star to make the leap from acting to politics?