Most people see Angelina Jolie as the genuine article when it comes to celebrity humanitarians, according to a Reuters AlertNet poll.


American actress Angelina Jolie, seen promoting A Mighty Heart at Cannes this May, seems genuine in her humanitarian causes, a poll says. ((Francoise Mori/Associated Press))

The star of A Mighty Heart topped a list of celebrities who command respect for their work for humanitarian causes around the world.

She was closely followed by U2 singer and Red campaigner Bono, South African church leader Desmond Tutu and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, whose foundation is funding AIDS research and othercauses around the world.

Other prominent do-gooders failed to gain the same amount of respect, with Madonna topping a list of the least respected celebrity altruists of 2007.

The Material Girl, an adoptive mother and backer of orphanages in Africa, was hurt by claims she used her fame to circumvent Malawian adoption rules.

Paris Hilton was second on the list of least-respected celebrity humanitarians.

Best celebrity humanitarians
1. Angelina Jolie
2. Bono
3. Desmond Tutu

4. Bill Gates

5. Bill Clinton
6. Jimmy Carter
7. Kofi Annan
8. Mia Farrow
9. Don Cheadle
10. Brad Pitt
Hilton, fresh out of jail for violating probation in a traffic offence, announced she would travel to Rwanda, but then postponed the trip.

Oprah Winfrey, whose image was tarnished by a scandal involving a dormitory matron at her exclusive South African girls school, also made the least-respected list, along with Bono and Bob Geldof, who some readers felt had their hands into too many causes.

People "can really sense when it's just an endorsement and when somebody really means it," said Peter Walker, director of the Feinstein International Famine Centre at Tufts University.

"Someone like Angelina Jolie comes across as having more integrity than some celebrities and a greater sense that she doesn't just do this for the publicity," he told Reuters news service.

The online poll of 606 people was conducted Dec. 7 to 19.

Jolie is an ambassador for the UN refugee agency UNHCR, and has adopted three children from Ethiopia, Cambodia and Vietnam.

But her advocacy islow-key as she travels without film crews and does her best to dodge the paparazzi.

"Madonna seems to do philanthropy the way she's done Indian culture, sex, and just about everything — like a disposable fad," said one anonymous voter in the poll.

But others gave her credit for drawing attention to Africa with her orphanage in Malawi.