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Over the years, several Hollywood stars have made the jump from silver screen celebrities to prominent political figures. Among the influential actors to serve in politics, the five listed below have been recognized as the most impactive, and perhaps the best to have done so.

1. Ronald Reagan: The United States’ 40th president Ronald Reagan landed his first Hollywood acting job in 1937, and went on to appear in numerous box office hits. At one point Reagan even served as the president of the Screen Actor’s Guild. He went on to become the Governor of California in 1966 and President of the United States in 1981, where he would remain in office until 1989. In his time in office, Reagan was referred to as “the great communicator,” a title that only he and Bill Clinton have ever held.

2. Fred Grandy: Fred Grandy, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Gopher in the popular television sitcom The Love Boat, was actually a Harvard graduate who was well on his way to a political career long before his years of Hollywood fame. Upon ending his nine-year career on The Love Boat, Grandy decided to run for Congress in Iowa. He served in the House from 1987-1995.

3. Clint Eastwood: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly star Clint Eastwood ran for office in is hometown Carmel, California in 1986 after he was told by authorities that he couldn’t remodel an old office building next door to a restaurant that he owned. This was clearly a huge mistake on the naysayers part, as he won the election by a landslide and then fired planning board members who voted against his proposal. Eastwood only completed one two-year term.

4. Arnold Schwarzenegger: Before he was the Governator, Schwarzenegger had an extensive career as both a body builder and big time Hollywood actor. Despite the many jokes thrown at him during his campaign for governor of California, he won the election and served two terms from 2003-2011.

5. Ben Jones: Famous for his hilarious character portrayal of Cooter in The Dukes of Hazzard, Ben Jones went on to serve two terms as congressman of Georgia’s Fourth District, after retiring from his acting career.

– Meagan Hurley

Sources: Time, IMDB
Photo: Ride Apart

Arnold Schwarzenegger Political Career
The sixty-six year old Austria native, Arnold Schwarzenegger, first began his career in American politics in 1990 when he was appointed Chairman of the President’s Council on Fitness and Sports under the administration of George H. W. Bush. Little did he know that just thirteen years later he’d be serving as Governor of California–a title that would remain his until January of 2011. Listed below are five things that Schwarzenegger’s political career tells us about politics.

1. Anyone can become a politician.

This isn’t meant as an insult, but merely as a hopeful observation. A person doesn’t have to be born into a political background or wealth in order to hold an office.

Schwarzenegger had built a name for himself based on physical education, body-building and acting long before he ever made the decision to run for Governor of California. Upon election, Schwarzenegger went on to lead California politics for eight full years.

2. Celebrities are becoming increasingly involved in politics.

Celebrities holding political positions are becoming a common trend in society. Other entertainers like Schwarzenegger to hold office in California include former actor George Murphy, former singer Sony Bono, and former actor and United States President Ronald Reagan.

Political scientist Darrel M. West comments on celebrities in government, “There are a number of factors that have made it possible for celebrities to run for elective office. One key aspect of celebrity politics in the post-World War II period has been the emergence of television and its enormous ramifications for the political process.”

3. Age is irrelevant.

A person doesn’t have to work their whole life climbing the political ladder to succeed in politics. Schwarzenegger didn’t.

At the age of twenty-two, he was winning the Mr. Universe competition. By thirty-five he was starring on the silver screen as Conan the Barbarian. It wasn’t until he was forty-three years old that his involvement with politics began. This just goes to show that it’s never too late for a person to make their voice heard.

 4. Being goal-oriented will get you far.

Schwarzenegger’s entire career began with a simple dream to be more than ordinary. His parents wanted him to become a police officer, like his father, but he was too ambitious for such a mundane job. Against many people’s wishes, he made a career for himself in body-building and used that as his “ticket to America.”

He later wished to transform himself into an actor, and after much criticism and perseverance, was able to achieve this goal. When he decided that he wanted to get involved in politics, he made yet another transformation. Though he knew that switching to a new career as serious as politics would be difficult, his determination took him all the way to governance.

In a Huffington Post article, Fred Whelan & Gladys Stone write, “Whatever your opinions are of Arnold Schwarzenegger, he’s a great example of what happens when you go after goals despite what people (well-intentioned or otherwise) might say.”

 5. All dark secrets will eventually come to light.

Though Schwarzenegger had what most would call a successful political career, he received much backlash after his split with his wife of twenty-five years, Maria Shriver, once it was revealed in May 2011 that Schwarzenegger had fathered a child more than fourteen years earlier with housekeeper Patty Baena. The scandal was the subject of much media attention and had many Americans questioning the morale of the former governor. In politics, nothing stays hidden.

Though Schwarzenegger’s political career has come to a halt, he still continues to be a great subject of learning for American politics.

– Meagan Hurley

Sources: NY Daily News, Huffington Post, Arnold and Celebrity Politics, LA Times