Friday 6 December 2019

From box office to ballot box - welcome to 'PoliWood'...

Angelina Jolie may have just revealed her political interests but showbiz and politics have long been bedfellows

Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie
George and Amal Clooney
Clint Eastwood
Ronald Reagan
Ashley Judd

Tanya Sweeney

Angelina Jolie is no stranger to a good cause, but the star has just revealed that she may well turn her tireless passion for humanitarian work into a political career.

The actress and UN Goodwill Ambassador was musing over the prospect of throwing her hat into the political ring, telling Vanity Fair: "When you work as a humanitarian, you are conscious that politics have to be considered. I am conscious of what I do for a living, and that [could] make it less possible."

Yet, Ange needn't worry about whether her showbiz past might scupper her fledgling political ambitions. As it happens, quite a few celebrities have used their profile to grease the wheels of a career in public office, with varying degrees of success…

1. Dana Rosemary Scallon

Largely known as a nicey-nicey Eurovision winner, Dana first threw her hat into the ring in 1997, running for the presidency (choice quote afterwards: "I may not be a president. But I AM a precedent.") In 2011, the former MEP entered the fray as a president hopeful yet again. Michael D Higgins emerged triumphant from the scrum (and what a scrum it was), while Dana placed sixth in the race. Third time's a charm…

2. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnie was largely known for his brawn, but there was in fact plenty of elbow grease happening behind the scenes. A known Republican, his marriage to Maria Shriver put him into the heart of the Kennedy political dynasty. Schwarzenegger became (the Republican) Governor of California in 2003, and initially focused his powers on climate change. But when 'the Governator' left office in 2011, his approval rating was a lowly 23pc. Oops.

3. Ronald Reagan

If you're under 30, it's likely that you know Reagan not for his (actually rather prolific) acting career, or even as a sports commentator, but as the 40th president of the US. After two unsuccessful attempts at the presidency in 1968 and 1976 (take note Dana), Reagan was finally elected in 1980, defeating incumbent Jimmy Carter. Seems that public service and stardom were uneasy bedfellows in Reagan's life: he was ordered into duty by the army weeks after the release of his breakthrough film, initially scuppering his 'movie star' hopes.

4. Kenny Egan

Who'd have ever predicted that Olympic silver medallist Kenny Egan would emerge as a politico? Egan took a seat in Clondalkin in May of this year, despite admitting that he knows little about politics… but life on the political frontlines, seemingly, has its up and downs. This week, councillor Kenneth (as he now wants to be known) vented frustrations on Twitter, writing "why do I bother me b****x!!". The tweet was later deleted and replaced with, "Apologies for the bad language earlier, might not happen again." Could happen to a bishop, Kenneth.

5. Clint Eastwood

Eastwood's movie career has been seriously stellar, but in 1986, he was nominated as the nonpartisan mayor of Carmel (he ran for office after the local planning board thwarted his attempts to renovate a local office building). Shortly after taking office, Eastwood fired the planning board that turned his application down, and served just one two-year term. Not getting mad but even; a classic Clint move.

6. Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple was the most famous set of dimples in the world in the 1930s, yet her movie star power waned as she grew up and she made her last film at 21. Temple - then Shirley Temple-Black - was appointed by Richard Nixon as UN ambassador in 1969. Later, she became US ambassador to Ghana (1974-76) and Czechoslovakia (1989-1992).

7. Jerry Springer

The chat-show kingpin has had a chequered political career. After a false start in 1970 when he ran for Congress, he was elected to the Cincinnati council a year later, but was forced to resign in 1974 after he admitted to hiring a sex worker. Bloodied but not unbowed, he ran for governor of Ohio in 1982, even referencing his own 'personal mistakes' throughout the campaign.Spoiler alert: he lost.

Irish Independent

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