Top 10+ Most Famous Celebrities Who Became Politicians
In American—and increasingly, global—culture, the celebrity-to-politician pipeline has become an accepted and even expected phenomenon. Celebrities as diverse as Ye (formerly Kanye West) and Dr. Oz have launched (unsuccessful) political campaigns in recent years, while household names like Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who once played a president on TV, have risen to the highest offices in their respective countries.
While the number of celebrities running for political office appears to have increased in the last decade, celebrities getting involved in US politics is not a new phenomenon. From early-twentieth-century country singers to former child stars to Washington, fame has lifted people. Popularity, name recognition, and a sense of relatability have all played a role in many celebrities’ decision to enter politics.
Check out Top 10+ most famous celebrities who became politicians!
Donald Trump, the son of real estate mogul Fred Trump, inherited the family business and began costly developments in Manhattan. He also built hotels and casinos, which resulted in several bankruptcies.
His most visible role, however, was hosting the reality television show “The Apprentice” from 2004 until 2015, when he decided to run for President of the United States as a Republican. His appearance on the show saved him, providing him with millions of dollars in related deals as well as a national platform, paving the way for his candidacy.
Trump’s platform was built on nationalist and anti-immigrant policies that resonated with fervent white nationalists. Despite multiple sexual assault allegations, he went on to win the Republican Party’s nomination and the presidential election against Hillary Clinton.
Ronald Reagan was born in Illinois and attended college during the Great Depression. His first foray into the spotlight was as a sportscaster for an Iowa radio station, a role that took him to Hollywood under contract with Warner Bros. several years later. In 1940, he married actress Jane Wyman and began acting.
He soon left to join the Army Air Forces’ First Motion Picture Unit, where he starred in inspirational films and training videos for American troops entering World War II. From there, he became president of the Screen Actors Guild, where anti-communism efforts were already underway; divorced Wyman in 1949; and remarried Nancy Davis, another actor, a few years later, in 1952.
Fred Thompson wore many hats, ranging from lawyer to actor to politician and back again. He began as a lawyer and was chosen to serve as Republican counsel on the Senate Watergate Committee when he was 30 years old, eventually assisting in the investigation that resulted in Richard Nixon’s resignation.
His first foray into acting appeared to be unintentional—he played himself in the 1985 film “Marie,” which was based on a real-life case he was involved in as a lawyer. He went on to appear in films such as “The Hunt for Red October,” “Die Hard 2,” “No Way Out,” and “Days of Thunder.”
Thompson, on the other hand, did not stay in politics for long, leaving in 2002 to work as a lawyer.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, aka “The Governator,” rose to fame as “The Terminator” before becoming California’s governor. In 2015, he returned to the “Terminator” franchise.
Before becoming governor of California, Schwarzenegger was a professional bodybuilder and successful actor, appearing in films such as “The Terminator,” “Conan the Barbarian,” and “Kindergarten Cop,” as well as “Total Recall,” “True Lies,” and others.
He was the governor from 2003 to 2011. While he was popular for much of his governorship, he ended his final term with a nearly record-low approval rating of 23%.
After an 11-year wrestling career, Ventura, also known as “The Body,” was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
Ventura served as mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, in the 1990s before being elected governor. He ran for governor as a Reform Party candidate in 1998 and won, becoming the Reform Party’s highest-elected official to that point, though he left the party after only a year.
He served as governor until 2003, and he hosted “The World According to Jesse” on RT (Russia Today) until the channel’s closure in 2022 due to the invasion of Ukraine.
The 71-year-old also considered running for president in 2020 under the Green Party banner, but ultimately decided against it.
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Jenner, a former reality television star on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” announced her intention to run for governor of California on April 23, 2021.
“Taking on entrenched Sacramento politicians and the special interests that fund them necessitates the presence of a fighter who is not afraid to do the right thing.” “I am a proven winner and the only outsider who can put an end to Gavin Newsom’s disastrous tenure as governor,” she declared in a statement.
Voters rejected Newsom’s recall, and Jenner finished 13th with only about 1% of the vote.
By the age of twelve, Temple had appeared in 43 films. However, she retired from film entirely ten years later, drastically altering her career path.
In 1967, Temple ran unsuccessfully for Congress. Two years later, she was appointed to represent the United States at the United Nations. She was then named US ambassador to Ghana in 1974, a position she held until 1976, when she was named US chief of protocol for a year.
In 1989, President Reagan appointed her as ambassador to Czechoslovakia, a position she held until 1992.
Helen Gahagan Douglas was born in New York City and raised in Brooklyn before becoming a Broadway star. In 1931, she married actor Melvyn Douglas and moved to California to pursue careers in Hollywood.
During a business trip to Europe in the late 1930s, she witnessed the rise of fascism and returned to the United States as an anti-fascist activist, launching her political career. Gahagan Douglas became a member of the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League and an activist group in California that supports migrant workers.
She and her husband were introduced to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in 1939. They developed a strong friendship, which saw Douglas volunteering for a presidential reelection campaign and being appointed to head the women’s division of the Democratic Party in California.
Steven Michael Quezada began his career as a comedian, theater performer, and playwright in a community theater before landing the role of Drug Enforcement Administration agent Steven Gomez on “Breaking Bad” and its spinoff series “Better Call Saul.”
His first major television role was in “Breaking Bad,” which he remained a cast member for the duration.
Following his departure from the show, he entered local politics, being elected to Albuquerque’s school board in 2013. He then ran for Bernalillo County commissioner as a Democrat and was elected in 2017. In 2020, he was re-elected for a second term.
Sean Duffy earned his law degree shortly after appearing on the Boston season of MTV’s “The Real World.” Before entering politics, he worked as a pro lumberjack, an ESPN commentator, and the district attorney of Ashland County, Wisconsin.
He was elected to Congress as a Republican in 2010 and quickly became known as an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump.
He resigned from Congress in 2019 to spend more time with his wife and nine children, but he has remained involved in politics in a more informal capacity as a lobbyist and co-host of the Fox News show “The Bottom Line.”
From 2009 to 2011, actor Kal Penn of “Harold & Kumar” fame worked as an associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement on and off.
Penn, best known for his role as Kumar in the “Harold & Kumar” films, was appointed to President Obama’s White House Office of Public Engagement. For a year, he worked as an assistant director and liaison to the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities before returning to acting.
He was appointed to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in 2013, a position he held until 2017. He resigned in response to President Trump’s remarks at the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally, and he has previously stated his intention to resign.
Cynthia Nixon, who played Miranda in the “Sex and the City” television series and films, announced her intention to run for governor of New York in 2018, taking on incumbent Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination.
Nixon ran against Cuomo in the Democratic primary, but was defeated by a margin of approximately 500,000 votes.
Starring in the reality show, on the stage or in the business sector, those celebrities decided to engage in the political sector. Not all of them have been successful as some just ended up with running for a political campaign.
Whatever they have done, they have been remembered as the most famous celebrities who became politicians.
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