• Donald Trump is hardly the first celeb to turn their thoughts to politics (AAP)Source: AAP
Talk about star power...
By
Bianca Soldani

11 Nov 2016 - 3:11 PM  UPDATED 11 Nov 2016 - 3:49 PM

President-elect Donald Trump has posed for his first photos inside the Oval Office, making his stay in the White House look all the more real for some of Clinton’s still-disbelieving supporters.

And although his election surprised both pollsters and the media, Trump’s charge from reality star to politician is by no means an unfamiliar one.

In fact, the United States has a long history of electing celebrities to public office with Terminator-turned-former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, and former President and actor Ronald Reagan, being two of the most well-known.

Dirty Harry star Clint Eastwood also turned his hand to politics in the 1980s when he became a Californian mayor, as did late singer Sonny Bono, who entered the House of Representatives in 1994, and Law and Order star-cum-Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, who recently launched an unsuccessful bid for the White House.

Jerry Springer was another popular personality to enter the public sphere when he attempted, unsuccessfully, to be elected to Congress. He went on to quit his role in the local Cincinnati council after paying for a prostitute, only to return a year later as the city’s Mayor. Interestingly, child star Shirley Temple also made an unsuccessful bit at Congress while in 2020, we have a potential Kanye West candidacy to look forward to.

Although it’s hard to argue that anyone does this better than the US, celebrities around the world have turned their successful public lives into political ones. Here are some highlights:

Ilona Staller

Ilona Staller, or “Cicciolina” as she’s also known, has the unique title of being the first women to appear topless on live Italian television. Born in Hungary, she migrated to Italy in her 20s where she enjoyed a popular career as a porn star and singer.

Staller launched her political career in 1979 with an anti-nuclear and pro human rights stance before being elected to the Italian parliament just under a decade later. She served for five years until 1992 but dabbled in politics again in the early 2000s when she offered to sleep with both Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein in exchange for peace.

Imran Khan

Held by many as the Pakistan’s greatest cricket star, Imran Khan went from leading his country to victory as captain of the 1992 Cricket World Cup team, to an elected representative opposing government corruption in just under a decade.

Khan is currently the chairman of the Tehreek-e-Insaf party which he established himself in the late 1990s and lives on as one of the sporting world’s most lauded stars.

Bete Mendes

In Brazil, Bete Mendes is a TV icon. She’s stared in over 40 soap operas in the five decades since her 1966 small screen debut – and all with a four year break to serve in the country’s parliament.

Mendes was elected to Congress in 1983 as part of the Partido dos Trabalhadores or Worker’s Party of which she is a founding member. Ten years earlier she had been arrested and tortured by a Brazilian intelligence agency, and part of her work as congresswoman brought her face to face with one of her torturers.

Emilio Ramon Ejercito

The Philippines’ Emilio Ramon Ejercito has both acting and politics in his blood as the nephew of the country’s former President Joseph Estrada, and son of actor George Estregan.

Having started on screen under the stage name Jorge Estregan Jr, he rose to fame for his portrayal of villains or “kontra-bida”, before moving into politics in the early 2000s when he was elected Mayor of Pagsanjan, Laguna. In 2010 he became Laguna’s Governor but lost his bid for re-election in this year’s polls.

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Alessandra Mussolini

Almost 50 years after her grandfather - Italy’s fascist Prime Minister Benito Mussolini - was killed, Alessandra Mussolini began carving out her own political legacy.

She was first elected to office in 1992 following a career in acting and modelling, and has continued to espouse her right-wing brand of politics over the next two and a half decades.

Jeewan Kumaranatunga

Following in the footsteps of his late uncle and actor-turned-politician Vijaya Kumaratunga, Jeewan Kumaranatunga became one of Sri Lanka’s most commercially successful film stars before entering public office in the 1990s.

He is also a relative of former Sri Lanka’s first female President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

Eva Perón

Although she never held office, actress and First Lady Eva Perón, is a formidable historical figure in Argentinian politics. Influential in the women’s suffrage movement and in fighting for the poor, she ran for the Vice Presidency alongside her husband and President Juan Perón in 1951, but pulled out due to ill health and opposition from the country’s military.

Following her death a year later at age 33, the musical Evita was made about her life as a popular national and international figure.

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Jaya Bachchan

Considered one of the most talented and versatile actresses of her time, Bollywood star Jaya Bachchan has countless awards to her name. She is also married to another famous actor and has become a well-known political figure after being elected to India’s parliament in 2004.

Bachchan’s tearful reaction to the “shameful” gang rape of a young woman on a moving bus captured the nation’s attention in 2012.

What about Aus?

Meanwhile back in Australia, we’ve also had our fair share of celebrity politicians. Midnight Oil frontman-turned-Labor MP Peter Garrett, has brought plenty of star power to politics in Canberra, leading the way for a slew of popular figures who ran for office during our 2016 federal elections.

In Sydney’s sunny Northern Beaches, TV star and the former Australian Idol host James Matheson tried to challenge former Prime Minister Tony Abbott for his seat of Warringah earlier this year but failed to gain much traction.

Rock star Gary “Angry” Anderson also threw his hat in the ring and campaigned unsuccessfully for the anti-Islam Australian Liberty Alliance, while radio and TV personality and one time Dancing With The Stars participant Derryn Hinch, had more luck with his bid and now represents Victoria in the Senate.

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