On silver screen they might have played all types of roles like police, soldier, doctor, businessman, politician, President, minister etc, but film stars are generally considered to be unaware of and indifferent to the real world of what they portray especially in politics and government. There are few film stars who proved themselves not only well-informed of social and political issues but also played important role in running the government. Some have even headed the government of their countries. Here is a small list of a few film stars who after entering politics and government, changed the course of history of their country and even the world.
So here we go..
Ronald Reagan: The foremost and obvious choice is Ronald Reagan who in the 1980s was elected President of the United States of America. Before entering politics he was a successful film star who acted in Hollywood movies like “Knute Rockne”, “All American” (1940), “Bedtime for Bonzo” (1951). He started his political career by joining Democratic Party but later he joined Republican Party in 1962 and was elected Governor of California in 1967 and 1971. Then he was elected President of USA in 1980 after defeating incumbent Jimmy Carter. He was re-elected as President in 1984. Due to his personal belief in individual freedom, Reagan as the President was responsible for changing the face of the USA as well as the world by bringing about changes in economy by following the philosophy of Laissez-faire. During his first inaugural address he famously said, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem,” He also contributed to the end of cold war between USA and the then USSR. His another inspiring quotation is – “The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave...”
Arnold Schwarzenegger: One of the greatest action movie star, champion body-builder, Mr. Universe, Mr. Olympia, The Terminator hero Arnold Schwarzenegger became the 38th Governor of California for two terms from 2003-2011. As governor, he is responsible for reducing the levels of Green-House-Gas emissions by passing global warming laws, and for improving health and fitness sector. During Republican Convention in 2004, he said, “I remember I arrived here with empty pockets but full of dreams, full of determination, full of desire.”
Jesse Ventura: A former professional wrestler and Hollywood star who appeared in movies like Predator, Demolition Man, Batman and Robin, Jesse Ventura was elected to the post of Governor of Minnesota for a term of 1999-2003. His major achievements as governor include reforms in property tax, sales tax and income tax system, construction of Metro Rail etc.
Sunil Dutt: An Indian movie star of successful films like Waqt, Humraz joined politics and was elected member of Parliament in 1984. In 2004, he was also appointed as minister of Youth affairs and sports. Other Hindi film stars like Vinod Khanna and Shatrughan Sinha also served as Union Ministers after being elected as member of Parliament.
N.T.Rama Rao: Considered as one of the greatest Indian actors, NTR was elected Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh ( one of the largest States of India) three times. In India especially in its Southern parts film stars enjoy unique political following that is why there are many film stars who became successful Chief Ministers and Ministers. Prominent names like M.G. Ramchandran, Jayalalithaa, M.Karunanidhi, Chiranjeevi, etc.
Eva Peron: Pursuing her career as a stage and film actress in Argentina, Eva Peron met Juan Peron at a charity event in 1944. Both married thereafter. In 1946, Juan Peron was elected as President of Argentina. Though holding no political office but being the First Lady and an extraordinary leader, Eva Peron played an important role in the government of Argentina, championed the cause of labourers, women and sick people. She was given the title of ‘Spiritual Leader of the Nation’. Such was her impact on the people of Argentina that when she died at the age of 33, the whole Argentina came to a standstill.
Joseph Estrada: A highly popular film star of more than 100 movies in a film career of 33 years in Philippines, Joseph Estrada became the 13th President of Philippines and remained in office from 1998 to 2001. His regime was marked by corruption charges and his government’s fight against Islamic fundamentalists.
Mikhail Yevdokimov: In Russia, a long time movie star and comedian, Mikhail Yevdokimov was elected governor of Altai Krai region of Russia in 2004after defeating Putin supported candidate.
Glenda Jackson: An actress par excellence, two time Oscar winner, Glenda Jackson retired from film career and joined electoral politics by joining Labour Party of England and was elected as member of Parliament. She also served as Junior Minister in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Mahinda Rajapaksa: Sri Lanka’s incumbent President, Mahinda Rajapaksa was also an actor who played some cameo roles in Sri Lankan movies before joining politics. It was during the rein of Rajapaksa that LTTE was defeated in Sri Lanka and civil war ended.
There are many film stars in several countries who are/were successful actors and by their understanding of socio-economic and political scenario, proved themselves to be great public servants also. In the above article, I have listed only a few of them. I am sure you will find them from the source from which I have also sourced a large chunk this article.
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All photos Source: Wikimedia