1. Ronald Reagan: His political career was more successful than his acting career. His “A Time for Choosing Speech” might have not helped Barry Goldwater defeat Lyndon Baines Johnson, but it paved the way for Reagan to become governor of California. He tried to run for President in 1976, but could not defeat then current sitting President Gerald Ford for the primary. Four years later with Democrat Jimmy Carter in the White House, Reagan would try again and this time win his primary. He would also defeat Carter in a landslide and become America’s 40th President.
2. Al Franken: He worked as a writer and also acted in front of the camera on the long running sketch comedy program Saturday Night Live. His best known recurring character on the program is self-help guru Stuart Smalley. He made his politics known to the general public with his bestselling book Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations. In 2003 he did a follow up book titled Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, after which he signed a contract to do a talk radio program on a startup commercial network called Air America in which he would compete directly with Rush Limbaugh himself and speak out not only against Limbaugh buthis own left leaning progressive opinions. In 2007 Franken stepped down from his talk show and ran for U.S. Senate in his native Minnesota (where he lived since he was four years old).
In spite of a controversy regarding the 2008 elections, Franken eventually won his Senate seat and is currently serving a second term in the Senate.
3. Fred Thompson: Fred Thompson is a jack of all trades. He was a lobbyist, a lawyer and a Senator and actor.
Unlike Reagan he could go in and out of politics and in and out of acting. He served in the U.S. Senator of the state of Tennessee from 1994 until 2002. In his acting career he played roles in box office smashes “Die Hard 2,”“The Hunt for Red October,” and “Days of Thunder.” He also played District Attorney Arthur Branch on the long running legal TV drama Law & Order from 2002 through 2007.
4. Clint Eastwood: We know best as part of the Spaghetti Westerns craze of the 1960’s, and later on as Dirty Harry in the 1970’s and 80’s. Eastwood was mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California for a single two-year term in the mid 1980’s. He also served on theCalifornia State Park and Recreation Commission in the early 2000’s.
5. Fred Grandy: We know him best as Yeoman Purser Burl Smith aka “Gopher” on the long running sitcom The Love Boat. When the series finally came to an end, Grandy ran for Congress in his home state of Iowa and shed his Gopher persona. He would serve four terms. He was CEO of Goodwill Industries International and did political commentary for NPR. In spite of all these accomplishments, we will always remember Grandy as Yeoman Gopher.
6. Jesse Ventura: Before he went into professional wrestling, Jesse Ventura served our country in the Navy. Ventura might have been born in Minnesota and left his heart and mind there, but his character in the ring was a California snob who was a heel, and watched their back when he did the color commentary on WWE shows. His political career started in 1991 when he became mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. He would only serve for five years unlike his predecessor who served for 25 years. Ventura served a single term as Governor of Minnesota as a part of the Reform Party from 1998 through 2002.
7. Shirley Temple Black: We shall always know her as a child actress, but she was one of the few that kept a level head and knew when to quit while they were ahead. While she was not able to win a seat in congress, Shirley Temple Black was an United States Ambassador to Czechoslovakia appointed by George H.W. Bush from 1989-1992.
8. Sonny Bono: The second wife of Cher, and she was quick to correct Butt-Head (and Beavis) that he was the mayor of Palm Springs and not a police officer in San Diego when she updated the classic hit “I Got You Babe.” After that recording however, Bono would be elected as an House Representative from California’s 44th District from 1995 up until his tragic death in 1998. He is best known for the extending copyrights up to 20 years via the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act or the Bono Act for short.
9. Arnold Schwarzenegger: He stepped up as a candidate for California Governor during the 2003 recall of then Governor Gray Davis. Schwarzenegger won the popular vote and would serve two terms as governor of California. He politics would eventually lean left although he stayed Republican during his time in office, but would earn the nickname the“Jerkanator” from radio syndicated talk show host Mark Levin.
10. Donald Trump: He took America by surprise when he decided to make a run for President of the United States. He almost went bankrupted in early 1990’s and would host a reality competition contest in which “You’re Fired” would become his catch phrase. Trump got enough of the electoral college vote to make sure that Hillary Clinton would get the pink slip. Donald Trump has gone down in history as the 45th President of the United States.