INDEPTH: U.S. POLITICS|
CBC News Online | Oct. 7, 2003
In 1967, an American film actor became the governor of California. Thirteen years later, Ronald Reagan was elected president of the United States.
Now that Arnold Schwarzenegger has won the governor's election in California, CBC News Online takes a look at some other celebrities of varying degrees of fame who couldn't resist the lure of political life.
Arnold Schwarzenegger (AP file photo)
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- Alan Autry, actor
This In the Heat of the Night actor was elected mayor of Fresno, Calif., in 2000.
- Amitabh Bachchan, actor
Indian film superstar Bachchan was elected a member of Parliament in 1984 in his home city of Allahabad. After being implicated in a series of scandals, he resigned his seat and vowed never to re-enter politics.
- Phineas Taylor (P.T.) Barnum, circus impresario
Barnum was mayor of Bridgeport, Conn., and served three terms as a Connecticut state legislator.
- Shirley Temple Black, actress
Arguably the most famous child star ever, Temple Black unsuccessfully ran as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Congress. She later served as White House chief of protocol for President Gerald Ford, U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Ghana and U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia.
- Salvatore (Sonny) Bono, actor, singer
The star of The Sonny and Cher Show served as mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., from 1988 to 1992. He was elected as a Republican congressman in 1994 and re-elected in 1996. He served until his death in 1998.
- Bill Bradley, NBA basketball player
After 10 years with the New York Knicks, Bradley spent three terms as a Democratic senator. He briefly ran against Al Gore for the 2000 Democratic presidential nomination.
- Adrienne Clarkson, writer, director and host
Before serving as Queen Elizabeth's official representative in Canada, Clarkson wrote, produced and hosted the television programs Clarkson's Summer Festival and Adrienne Clarkson Presents.
- Clint Eastwood, film actor
Politics made his day for two years during a stint as mayor of Carmel, Calif. The town's 1986 mayoral elections drew twice the normal voter turnout.
- Gilberto Gil, musician
Gil, a Grammy-winning Brazilian musician who helped find the Tropicalia music movement, is culture minister in the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
- John Glenn, astronaut
The first American to orbit the Earth, Glenn was a Democratic senator from 1974 to 1997. In 1984, he unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic presidential nomination.
- Fred Grandy, actor
Political life was exciting and new for Grandy, who played Burl (Gopher) Smith on the Love Boat. He was a Republican congressman from 1987 to 1995.
- Glenda Jackson, actress
The Academy Award-winning actress became minister of transportation in British PM Tony Blair's Labour government.
- Otto Jelinek, figure skater
Jelinek became a Canadian cabinet minister after winning the World Pairs championship with his sister, Maria. He served as minister of state for fitness and amateur sport from 1984 to 1988.
- Ben Jones, actor
Best known as Cooter Davenport from The Dukes of Hazzard, Jones was a Democratic congressman from Georgia from 1989-1993.
- Imran Khan, Pakistani cricket player
Khan, a star cricket player in Pakistan, became the chairman of the political party Tehrik-e-Insaf.
- Vinod Khanna, actor
Khanna, an Indian movie star, acted in more than 100 films before becoming an MP. He serves as minister of state in India's Ministry of External Affairs.
- Howie Meeker, hockey player, broadcaster
Before starting his now-legendary career as a hockey commentator, Meeker spent three years as a Conservative MP while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
- Melina Mercouri, actress
First elected to the Greek Parliament in 1977, the Academy Award-nominated Mercouri was Greece's minister of culture for more than eight years.
- Pele (Edson Arantes do Nascimento), soccer/football player
Brazilian soccer legend Pele became the country's minister for sport from 1995 to 1998.
- Eva Peron, radio actress
Peron helped found Argentina's Peronista Feminist Party, became a hero to the working class, aspired to become vice-president alongside her husband, president Juan Peron.
- Marudur Gopalamenon "M.G." Ramachandran, actor
Ramachandran dominated film and politics in India after he was elected chief minister of Tamil Nadu state. He was re-elected for three consecutive terms and died in office in 1987.
- Ronald Reagan, actor
Reagan starred in more than 50 films before becoming governor of California in 1967. He was elected president of the United States in 1980, with running-mate and future president, George H. Bush.
- Jerry Springer, lawyer, mayor
Jerry! Jerry! Springer reversed the trend, finding celebrity as the king of TV shock talk shows following a stint as mayor of Cincinnati.
- Ilona Staller, porn star
The Hungarian-born performer known as Cicciolina represented the Radical party in the Italian parliament from 1987 to 1992.
- Fred Thompson, actor
Thompson, a Watergate lawyer, acted in several films and television programs before his election to the U.S. Senate in 1994. He was re-elected in 1996, but did not run in 2002.
- Jesse (The Body) Ventura
A former professional wrestler, Ventura spent one term as the governor of Minnesota.