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Top 25 Celebrities Turned Politicians: A Reference for Seekers of Truth

Big news!! Arnold “I-had-to-use-illegal-steroids-to-make-me-the-man-I-am-today” Schwarzenegger called Democrats “Girlie Men”. Oh, what a world. Will he apologize? Will he not? God help us!

Of course that's the best the GOP has to offer. All bluster and no substance. That's exemplified by Arnold because, not only is he an intellectual waste of space, but he is now one of the highest profile Republicans in the land...solely because of his celebrity status.

Indeed, the celebrity-grab seems to be a popular, if not desperate tactic for the GOP in their languishing search for viable candidates.

Let us not forget “Da Coach” (Mike Ditka) who bowed out of the Illinois Senate race last week. What did he have to offer? He coached a FOOTBALL TEAM!!

He was not the first and he most certainly will not be the last. I'm sure the GOP is prying at every one of the post-prime, right-wing celebrities out there.

In fact, the GOP popularity-contest approach has been around for some time. Let's take a look.

Celebrities Turned Republican Politicians:

Alan Autry - Actor who starred in the popular TV series, “In the Heat of the Night”. Was elected mayor of Fresno, California in 2000.

Phineas Taylor (P.T.) Barnum - Circus impresario. Barnum was mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and served three terms as a Connecticut state legislator.

Shirley Temple Black - 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.

Sonny Bono - Followed his split from Cher by becoming the mayor of Palm Spings, California from 1988 to 1992. He was then elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 and served until his death in 1998.

Jim Bunning - First elected to the U.S. Senate from Kentucky in 1998. He is a Hall-of-Famer who pitched primarily for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies.

Pete Coors - Currently running for the Republican slot in the 2004 U.S. Senate race in Colorado. If you've ever had a beer, you are familiar with this famous corporate name.

Fred Grandy - Served as an Iowa Congressman from 1987 to 1995. Gandy played Gopher on the 70's TV sitcom, The Love Boat.

Jack Kemp - Was a congressional representative from New York and later Bob Dole's running-mate in the 1996 presidential elections. Kemp was a celebrated quarterback for the Buffalo Bills and NFL player of the year in 1965.

Steve Largent - A former Oklahoma congressman who lost the 2002 gubernatorial race to Democrat Brad Henry. Largent was elected to the House after his Hall of Fame career in the National Football League with the Seattle Seahawks.

George Murphy - An actor, dancer and former president of the Screen Actors Guild who served as a U.S. Senator from California from 1965 to 1971.

Tom Osborne - A congressman from the 3rd District of Nebraska. Former head coach for the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers... If you don't think he was a celebrity in his district, if not the entire state, then you don't know didly about Cornhusker football.

Ronald Reagan - The former governor of California and two-term president of the United States. Reagan starred in more than 50 films before becoming governor of California in 1967.

Jim Ryun - Thirty years ago, Jim Ryun was the fastest miler in the world for his age. He took the world 1,500-meter record from Herb Elliott. Today, Ryun is a Kansas Republican congressman, as he has been since 1996.

Arnold Schwarzenegger - The action star defeated the unpopular recall target, Grey Davis in the 2004 special election for California governor.

Fred Thompson - Was elected to the U.S. Senate from Tennessee in 1994 following an acting career that included roles in films such as "In the Line of Fire" and "The Hunt for Red October". 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.

J.C. Watts - First elected to Oklahoma's 4th Congressional District in 1994. He quarterbacked the University of Oklahoma to national championships in the 1980s and played professionally in the Canadian leagues.

Celebrities Turned Democratic Politicians:

Bill Bradley - Played 10 years with the New York Knicks. Bradley spent three terms as a Democratic senator from New Jersey. He briefly ran against Al Gore for the 2000 Democratic presidential nomination.

Nancy Culp - U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania. Was best known as Miss Hathaway from “The Beverly Hillbillies”.

John Glenn - Fighter-plane ace and then the nation's first space hero, became a senator and ran for the presidential nomination. 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.

Ben Jones - An actor best known as Cooter Davenport from “The Dukes of Hazzard”. Jones was a congressman from Georgia from 1989-1993 before losing to Newt Gingrich.

Sheila Kuehl - A California state senator who many years previously had been a child actor on “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis”

Tom McMillan - Was an NBA player who became a Democratic congressman from Maryland.

Ralph Waite - U.S. Representative from California. Was best known as the father from the TV show, “The Waltons”.

Other Party Affiliations:

Clint Eastwood - Libertarian - Served two years as mayor of Carmel, California in the 1980s. Starred in such movie classics as “Dirty Harry”, “A Fistful of Dollars”, and “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”.

Jesse (The Body) Ventura - Reform - A former pro wrestler who served a single term as the governor of Minnesota.

No candidate can succeed in American elections without prior 'name recognition' among the voters, and people who are already stars don't have to squander their campaign funds in order to win it. So...

Send in the clowns.

Join our Mailing List !!

Reference :: Schwarzenegger, Arnold :: Tactics | Link


Don't forget Cooter, from Dukes of Hazzard. Ben Jones served two terms in Congress from Georgia as a Democrat (1989-1993). He also tried to run again in Virginia in 2002, but lost.

Also, how about Jerry Springer? He was a Cincinnati City councilman and mayor, but I think that was before he was famous.

Posted by: Pete at July 19, 2004 11:05 PM

Strike that - I missed Ben Jones on my first read-through. Mea culpa.

Posted by: Pete at July 19, 2004 11:06 PM

What about terrible Ted Nugent" the thrash rocker and notorious gun loving right wing zealot? He should be in the republican or independent list.

Posted by: Tom Dickerson at July 19, 2004 11:19 PM

Nugent hasn't run for anything yet. The only thing he's run for is away from paying child support for about 10 years for a child he fathered while married to the current Mrs Nugent.

Posted by: Michael Hawk at July 20, 2004 01:03 AM

Nugent also ran away from serving in his country's uniform. He's a right wing fair weather patriot until it comes time to put up.

Posted by: tim at July 20, 2004 03:19 AM

Didn't Bess Myerson
(Miss America 1945) run in N.Y. for U.S. Senate back in '80?
What about former child star Barry Gordon running for a House seat from Ca. in '02.
More ancient history:
B movie star John Davis Lodge was Conn. guv from '50-'54.
Also playwright Claire Booth Luce was a congresswoman
from Conn. in early '40's.

Posted by: Don Benedetto at July 20, 2004 05:43 AM

Does being a TV news reporter count as a 'celebrity'?

Before going into politics, Kay Bailey Hutchinson (Rep., TX) was a news reporter/anchor for a Houston television station.

Posted by: PlanoTX at July 20, 2004 05:48 AM

Nugent said, in 2002, that if Jennifer Granholm was elected governor of Michigan, he would run against her in '06. Wonder what his campaign slogan will be.

Posted by: alan at July 20, 2004 05:49 AM

There's also Jerry "The Iceman" Butler, who's had a number of hit songs as a member of the Impressions and as a solo artist. He's a Cook County (IL) board member (Democrat) and has been for some time.

On the Republican side, former Chicago Bears kicker Bob Thomas is now an Illinois Supreme Court justice.

Posted by: Sister Havana at July 20, 2004 05:55 AM

Jerry Springer was once the Democratic mayor of Cincinnati.

I can't believe that got overlooked in the article.

Posted by: Bloodstone Press at July 20, 2004 06:44 AM

Glenda Jackson is a Member of the UK Parliament representing Hampstead and Highgate for the Labour Party.

Posted by: JH at July 20, 2004 08:35 AM

what about the italian porn actress/ parliamentarian madonner, er, ciccolina?

and you're forgetting former President Martin Sheen.

oh, yes, and let's not forget the Kevin Kline administration (1996?).

finally, there's Jack Ryan's penis, which, if it's not a celebrity, at least was IN one.

Posted by: Fritz_Underblade at July 20, 2004 09:47 AM

It's Sheila Kuehl, not Sheila Kuhn.

She played Zelda on Dobie Gillis. Went on to UCLA and Harvard Law, and is the smartest person in Sacramento.

Posted by: William Downs at July 20, 2004 02:30 PM


* Jerry Springer was Mayor BEFORE he had his show.

* Nugent has never held office.

* Kay Baily Hutchinson should be included.

* Only considered US politics.

Posted by: Tom Ball at July 20, 2004 03:23 PM

Helen Gahagan Douglas

Posted by: at July 20, 2004 08:05 PM

Let's go back to _ancient_ U.S. history, early 19th century.


"Between 1811 and 1813 Crockett fought under General Andrew Jackson in the Creek War. It was his reputation as an Indian fighter and frontiersman that first established his popularity. He used rough, exaggerated images of himself as soldier and hunter to rise to political positions. Although he was admired for being a strong, hard and heroic frontiersman, the obsessive admiration of Davy Crockett was due in large part to his humor. He was charismatic and possessed the mastery of vernacular coupled with common sense that made him a natural storyteller with the power to enthrall his audience and parody his opponents. He served two terms in the Tennessee legislature and was elected to Congress three times." (He served in Congress in the 1830s.)

Posted by: PlanoTx at July 22, 2004 03:13 AM

Ronald Reagan >>actor, governor of Cali, President.
Sonny Bono, Semi actor/singer, either senator or congress person. see you don't have to serve your country to serve in your country.

Posted by: Leif Anderson at July 22, 2004 01:00 PM

Most Americans are fair weather soldiers. Those who volunteer are the brave!

Posted by: Al Bee at July 25, 2004 12:07 AM

Wasn't Alice Cooper (Vincent Furnier) mayor of Scotsdale, AZ for a few years?

Posted by: Dale at July 25, 2004 04:38 AM

Calling Sheila Kuehl the smartest person in Sacramento is possibly the greatest insult I've ever seen against a city.

Posted by: Eric Pobirs at July 30, 2004 11:10 AM
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