It seemed a perfect match when MSNBC announced it had partnered with outspoken, left-leaning actor Alec Baldwin on a new weekly program. But, as Variety’s Andrew Wallenstein argues, “Up Late with Alec Baldwin” could be less about giving the thesp a soapbox and more about getting the public to forget his social media and paparazzi squabbles and consider him as a potential politician. But Baldwin wouldn’t be the first in Hollywood to head for Washington. Here are some others who have made cameos (or even careers) as candidates.
By far Hollywood’s biggest political success, the radio and film actor started out as a Democrat before becoming California’s governor and the country’s 40th president. He also served as president of the Screen Actors Guild.
Even Dirty Harry couldn’t avoid the political swamp. The vocal Republican actor-director is a former (nonpartisan) mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Doggone it, the people of Minnesota narrowly determined the Democratic “Saturday Night Live” alum was “good enough” and “smart enough” to defeat Norm Coleman for a U.S. senate seat in 2008.
Former hippie Sonny Bono ditched both Cher and his bell bottoms to serve as mayor of Palm Springs. He lost a Republican senate race in 1992 but was elected a congressman in 1994. He died in 1998, and is also remembered for helping start the Palm Springs Film Festival during his mayorship.
Nicknamed the ‘Governator,’ 1980s action star Arnold Schwarzenegger became Republican governor of California during the 2003 recall election to replace Democrat Gray Davis. Schwarzenegger, who left office in 2011, has since returned to acting and appears in the “Expendables” film franchise.
Grammy winner Wyclef Jean was one of many working to rebuild his native Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. He attempted to run for president of the country that year, but was told he was ineligible because he hadn’t lived there for some time.
With her signature ringlet curls, Shirley Temple was the biggest child star of her era, but as an adult her focus shifted elsewhere. After a failed run with the California Republican party for a U.S. House of Representatives seat, she served as a representative to the United Nations under Richard Nixon and as United States Ambassador to Ghana under Gerald Ford. As the first female Chief of Protocol of the United States, she helped organize Jimmy Carter’s inauguration and George H.W. Bush appointed her United States Ambassador to Czechoslovakia.
Broadway star Helen Gahagan Douglas didn’t have a long Hollywood career, but she did make a splash in another profession out west. She served California for three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1950, she ran against – and was the subject of a smear campaign by – Richard Nixon for a U.S. Senate seat. He might have tried to tarnish her reputation by claiming she had Communist sympathies, but she might have given him something much worse: the nickname “Tricky Dick.”
Minnesota souvenir shops sold memorabilia with phrases like “Mess with me, Mess with my governor” after professional wrestler Jesse Ventura was sworn in as the state’s 38th head.
“Law & Order” alum Fred Thompson didn’t just play a lawyer on television. The Republican character actor served as a lobbyist and assistant U.S. attorney (he even helped investigate the Watergate scandal) before playing himself in the 1985 film “Marie.” Thompson took over Al Gore’s vacated U.S. Senate seat in 1994 and held the job until 2003, filming scenes for “Law & Order” during the senate’s 2002 summer recess.