Actors Entertainers To Politicians, Actors Entertainers To Politicians, Actors and actresses might make good politicians due to their ability to manipulate people and the press. After all, it is their job to act and lie, which sounds a lot like the job description of a politician, if you ask me.
All politicians have a background, maybe entertainment or otherwise, people should be judged on their performance and not their previous employment.
Peter Brett Orrin, United Kingdom
It seems that every other star these days has their finger in at least one political pie.
Ronald Reagan went from film star to president of the United States in the 1980s, now actor Warren Beatty is hinting that he might run for the 2000 elections.
Even TV talk-show host Jerry Springer- famed for his programmes like “I’m here to tell my husband I’m really a man” – is considering a run for the US Senate from Ohio.
In the UK, double Oscar-winning actress Glenda Jackson crossed over to become a high profile Labour MP and is now in the running for Mayor of London.
And Italy even elected ex-porn star Ilona Staller (aka La Cicciolina) as an MP for five years.
Is it their popularity, wealth and ability to play the press that helps them climb the political ladder, or are they more in touch with the people than traditional politicians will ever be?
Background ¦ Your reaction
If Paul Daniels enters politics, can the last person to leave the country please turn out the light? Enough said.
Simon Skelton, UK
The ability to act, sing, dance or hit a ball has no bearing on a person’s ability to govern. It does give him more instant public exposure, though. We’ve had some good ex-entertainer politicians and some bad ones, too. Lawyers are most successful as politicians because they study hard how to manipulate people and that’s generally bad for the people. When we started my country the Congress was composed of farmers, teachers, clergy and the occasional businessman. That was probably a better mix of trades than we now have.
Peter L. Manly, United States of America
Ronald Reagan notwithstanding, I’m afraid that entertainers widely miss the mark when it comes to governing. Thanks to whatever fame and notoriety they possess, perhaps they can wield political power successfully and can “wow” the pandering media but governing is best left to those who are selfless by nature and motivated to serve the people and elevate the common good, irrespective of parochial interest.
Dino Vallone, USA
It depends, I would think they would need some sought of background into politics and I don’t think their experiences as peformers would be a good background.
Malcolm Johnston, Australia
No, because (a) entertainers have a personality, and (b) sometimes they tell the truth.
Ian Chard, Scotland
Actors can indeed make good politicians, after all they are both egomaniacs and have the desire for the limelight and can play the role. They also have a peculiar desire to be someone else; the actor a character and the politician doing the bidding of the fortune 500. No one gets to be a high level politician in the US unless backed by the top 1% of wealth holders.
Jay Holmes, USA
Individuals who can communicate are essential to politics, whilst other politicians can provide the substance.
James Duddridge, United Kingdom
We get the politicians we deserve.
John Atkins, Singapore
In my opinion entertainers can be good politicians, if they treat the citizens as the audience and treat their job like a live show and work hard to make sure the audience likes them.
Ronald Reagan was probably the worst president the US ever had. He only got there because he had money
Tim Sowter, England
I do believe that background does not always determine the kind of politicians they will become. Much depends on that individual. The direction they want to go and the people they choose to listen to. I however do not think entertainers make good politicians.
Kofi Boateng, USA
Fabulously entertaining though Mr Coe is, he was MP for Falmouth and Camborne and not St Ives, as Mr Bailey from Belgium suggested. He lost his seat on a tiny swing, but hopes to return to parliament. He is currently part of William Hague’s private office. But, what this shows is how easy the transition can often be. Glenda Jackson (MP for Hampstead and Highgate) and Andrew Faulds (former MP for Warley West) were both successful actors. In the House of Lords, there is Lord Ampthill (former impressario) and Lord Haden-Guest (actor and husband of Jamie Lee Curtis). With the number of MPs on television shows, soon the two professions might be indistinguishable. How different would Britain be if Ken Dodd, or Lester Piggott had been chancellor, or John Mills had been in charge of defence. I’m not so keen on the idea of Robin Cook hosting Blankety Blank, though…
Craig Barrett, GB
What can we do about it anyway? Surely if they stood for office, public opinion would decide whether or not we ‘think’ they would make good politicians. The White House is waiting Mr Beatty!
A certain Sebastian Newbold Coe (one time MP for St Ives) was a brilliant runner and therefore entertainer – who could forget his three world records in 41 days in 1981, and did considerably more that a lot of the Conservative MPs in the government of the day. It is sad however that he lost his seat and became William Hague’s personal trainer for a while.
Mike Bailey, Belgium
Entertainers can be as good politicians as doctors, or lawyers, or academicians, or electricians can be. Sonny Bono was an effective mayor of Palm Springs and a successful Congressman. Many consider Ronald Reagan to be one of the most popular presidents of the United States after a stint as governor in California. On the other hand, an electrician brought greatness and positive change in Poland, while a cobbler’s apprentice (Nicolae Ceaucescu) brought infamy to himself and a demoralising dictatorship to Romania.
Avi Grigoresco, USA
I submit there is little, if any, difference between the two in this country, where the cult of personality reigns supreme. Among the electorate, it is face and name recognition that gets the vote, among the minority who even cares to vote.
R McNaughton Phillips, USA
A good actor should be someone who follows the feeling of a scene or a piece of music or something like that. A politician should be able to detach from the emotion of a decision and stick to the facts. I fear that people who get too emotional about things may cloud their wisdom with all sorts of artistic desires.
Richard, Wales, UK
Politicians do not make good entertainers since they lack the humour and circumspection that is needed to crack a good joke. In my mind Tony Blair and his cronies in parliament should keep their noses out of the Comedy Store and the suchlike and save their clowning around for the front bench which was tailor-made for general mirth and derision.
Clarke Barker, UK
Generally, the more famous the actor, the worse the politician. This is because they become used to everybody telling them how wonderful and brilliant they are. If politicians are not constantly challenged they cannot develop their ideas beyond a Mickey Mouse level.
John Watkin, Holland
Ronald Reagan was a terrible actor, and followed suit as President. His policies brought AIDS to epidemic proportions in the USA and exacerbated our citizens’ role as world-wide targets (as if we needed help!). Today’s world is even more volatile than the early 80′s, and Warren Beatty was no better an actor than Reagan. Please, no!
Rick Pettit, USA
A generalisation as to whether entertainers do or do not make good politicians doesn’t really concern me. What concerns me is how willingly we grant celebrities instant credibility in any number of areas, whether those celebrities have the requisite expertise or not (and in the case of celebrities, it is more often not).
Michele K, Canada
The only way entertainers make good politicians is the fact that they are used to sitting/standing in front of an audience with a often rehearsed script. The only difference is that when acting they know they are speaking either fiction or a modified truth so that it makes the play/film/or whatever more entertaining and in politics a self-convinced truth, i.e. they have convinced themselves something that may or may not be the real truth. Let’s face it, and actor/actress comes over, in their parts, as more trustworthy!
PJ Hughes, UK
Being an entertainer has nothing to do with it. It depends on the person. Former Italian porn star Ilona Staller is reported to be more honest and to have done a better job than her professional politician counterparts. In fact, there is a strong case to be made that a professional politician is the LEAST likely to be a “good” politician. Or, as Bill Clinton would put it, “what is the meaning of ‘good’?”
Ray Pecaut, United States
US politics, and presidential elections are such a tacky media circus, I would have thought another actor would be an eminently suitable presidential candidate.
Why not entertainers? I don’t see any reason that business persons and lawyers are better. Frankly, in some ways I would prefer a movie star over a scuzzy lawyer. Of course, then I think of Ronald Reagan and change my mind.
Derek Burrows, USA
Gyles Brandreth (former MP for the City of Chester) was generally recognised to be not only a good Parliamentarian, but also a good constituency MP. The fact that he is a television “entertainer” was irrelevant.
Craig Barrett, UK
The point is that anyone can make it big these days in showbiz with no talent to show for it and a lot of luck. Surely the same could be said for politicians so with the added ‘vote-winner’ of popularity, I could think of no-one better than Warren Beatty to run for President and while we’re at it what about Geri Halliwell as an ambassador – oh yes of course that one has already been done. Hugh Grant for Prime Minister??
Claire Tooley, UK
Funny how a forum about people being one thing on the outside and something totally different on the inside has generated so many comments from US citizens…
Rob Sole, UK
Actors might make effective politicians, but rarely good ones. But then again, it’s much the same for any, isn’t it?
Alister McClure, UK
I would’ve thought that politicians make good entertainers – they’re more likely to make fools of themselves that entertainers would!
Entertainers are almost by definition self-centred egoists, whereas politicians are …………… ? Wait a minute. Seems like entertainers may have all the ingredients to be “good” politicians!
Tony Hague, UK
They may look pleasing in front of the TV but they don’t have the skills to make decision and influence the decisions of the other seasoned politicians.
Tenzin Dawa, India
You mentioned actors and politicians but you forgot the priests. They are three of a kind of which the actors are the less harmful. The remainder are the worst; their struggle for power over people delivered nothing but trouble as long as mankind exists. So it disgraces an actor who turns into a politician or a priest.
Ron Brandenburg, The Netherlands
Fine, Captain Zeta Jones for Prime Minister. If we have to listen to insincere rhetoric I would rather that the packaging be improved.
Mike Staley, HK SAR
In so much as the majority of actors are wooden and unconvincing, they certainly do mirror politicians exceedingly well. This indeed makes them viable candidates and, as equally unsuitable as most politicians are to the task expected of them.
Richard Bell, UK
There is a thin dividing line between the role of a politician and that of an actor. Bill Clinton brought a touch of Hollywood to the White House with his Lewinsky antics. People should not be judged on their previous occupations and the role of a politician should be open to all, irrespective !
Omar Vasnaik, USA
The point nowadays seems to be that there is no line between politics and entertainment anymore. Politicians have always used the media as a tool to manipulate the public and who would know better how to do that than an entertainer? That said, I think there are smarter, less pompous actors than Warren Beatty who would be better choices as a third-party candidate. And having a political track record besides being a Bill Clinton donor does help.
In general I’m prepared to accept the idea that actors make good politicians because they tend by way of training to be able to act out their positions on issues as if they were performances. This was most spectacularly true with respect to Ronald Reagan. Of course, it helps to have these performances based on principles, which of course, President Reagan did wonderfully. It is his fate that he will forever to reviled and denigrated by the liberals in the US, and in the world, because he was a man who actually believed in certain things, and was thereby able to defeat communism, win the Cold War, and give the American people the most effective tax cut in the last 25 years. The liberal in the US just cannot stand this man, even now, in his present condition, they will not give him a generous critique. If you can stand upon your stage with competence, and confidence, based on something approaching principles, actors can make fine politicians.
Michael E. Sorrell-Bristow, British Citizen working in the USA
No, I don’t think so. Even if they have good awesome intentions they still do not understand the dirty game of politics, most especially in the USA, where Republicans consistently launder money and do all possible things for the rich or elite, while isolating the rest.
While Ronald Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild he turned in names of supposed “Communist” among the SAG ranks to the House Un-American Activities Com. or HUAC. He then flipped from a Roosevelt Democrat to Conservative Republican. He spoke at the codenamed “Cable-Splicer” meetings that gave rise to the pseudo-military police units known as SWAT units. That old boy was more than an actor. It is a bit thin to suggest that bad actors make bad politicians or vice versa. A politician is a beast all their own.
Matthew Malin, U.S.A.
I think the answer to the question is obvious: actors make great politicians. As has already been mentioned, politicians are almost always acting. However just because and actor makes for a good politician, a politician rarely makes for a good leader.
James Angus McDonald, United States
Well, there are a lot of politicians that are great comedians, albeit unwittingly
Nick Grealy, UK
After having had the media trawl through Clinton’s past, unearthing sex and drugs scandal, would it really be in America’s interest to elect another President who’s private life would prove such rich pickings for the tabloids. Clinton’s creates problem is that many American’s simply can’t muster any respect for the man because of his past behaviour, often despite his political aims. Isn’t there a danger that Warren Beatty could fall into exactly the same trap?
I wonder just how in touch “entertainer politicians” would be with the main issues that affect the majority of the population. Would they merely focus on the “trendy” causes close to their hearts? If that’s the case they would be better off sticking to single issue campaigns and pressure groups.
Paul Davey, UK
Entertainers are intelligent people too – probably above average, actually. Many, by reason of their celebrity, are already used by politicians and lobbying groups as bait for the electorate (e.g. Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, Charlton Heston). Such involvement is bound to make the more committed amongst them feel that they could make a positive contribution – and why not?
Generalities aside, Beatty has been known for his political views for quite a while so at least cannot be questioned on his seriousness. Whether the rather conservative US electorate could accept either his views or his past personal life I somewhat doubt. But I would love to see him campaign along the lines of his character in “Bulworth”.
P.S. A lot of your correspondents may be surprised to know that Jerry Springer has already served a term as Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio before he ever got into the talk show business.
Tim Richardson, USA
It certainly ain’t new. Reagan, Glenda Jackson, and even Clint Eastwood as mayor of somewhere. I don’t think a prospective politician’s former career is relevant, train driver, road sweeper, civil servant…… who cares? What matters is their ability to deliver on the issues of today and tomorrow.
In this country all I can say is that as a transport minister Glenda Jackson did sweet fa to solve the problems of traffic congestion and delayed, dirty and cancelled trains but the people of America should judge Warren Beatty on what they think he can do for them.
Who next? Mickey Mouse!!
Wannabe President, UK
Are actors better at politics than politicians? I hope not. Politicians and politics rarely have anything to do with what is right or constructive for the US. Partisanship, crooked campaign contributions, pork-barrel politics, and the like will destroy America faster than any nuke dropped by a ‘rogue’ nation we may be starving. I’d rather see a LEADER, be it an actor, doctor, or welder, admit the gross inequalities that exist in the US currently and try to fix them, than some great POLITICIAN keep the status quo of elected political leaders cowing to the unelected leaders of this country, the leaders of big business.
Kyle Zinth, US
On the whole no. Acting requires deceiving people into thinking you are someone you are not. Quite useful for getting elected perhaps, but you will never know if they are being honest and straightforward or if they are still acting when in office.
Barry Tregear, England
The rich and famous believe it is their right to walk into the highest offices in the land just because they are rich and famous. Their ego drove them to be entertainers, and it is their ego that makes them want more. And Ronald Reagan was merely a “spokes model” for the conservative machinery that got him elected. He was neither intelligent nor competent enough to be elected otherwise.
M. Wilson, USA
Capitalists seem to find professional actors well suited to represent their interests in the electoral arena.
John Daniel, USA
It’s not an issue. I don’t think famous people make any more or less good politicians than people who decided on politics as a career. Maybe you could say they’re more used to the public life, but yes, you could also say this is to be used by them to lie to their voters.
Jaque Oeuf, France
I can appreciate the idealism of those who say don’t judge a person’s potential by her/his background, but since I am over age 50, I will shelve idealism and say, solely on the basis of having lived in a country whose president was once allegedly a movie star & earlier under the same man as governor of the state I live in, that entertainers are salesmen of themselves although usually gifted communicators, but of what? I see a lack of background with issues & a lack in essential skills needed to run a country or state, especially at times when being concerned about the welfare of one’s land is more important than being stylish, cute, or popular.
Dr. E. D. Lister, U.S.A.
Nothing can be done to stop them. But your question begs the issue be ‘do they make GOOD politicians’? Then the issue becomes populism versus principle and that debate will draw all kinds of people from different backgrounds. Personally, populism has replaced democracy, but the human condition will prevail.
Michael Sullivan, Canada
It depends whether the entertainer has a good platform for which he stands – sometimes they may turn out real well if they’re serious about the job and sometimes it may just be a farce. I would vote for an entertainer only if his views were solid and there was a good chance of his acting upon them.
It’s a moot point – the only reason it’s an issue is that these people were well-known before the move to politics. Imagine that the way to fame was being a management consultant – then we’d be asking ‘do management consultants make good politicians?’ I think what people did before is pretty irrelevant, as long as it was legal and moral. So the answer to the question is that entertainers are as good at politics as butchers, barristers and anything else you care to mention – if you’re going to generalise this much.
The fact that someone was an entertainer does not mean that he should not run for office. President Reagan is a good positive example. On the other hand I do not feel that all entertainers should run. Some only have public recognition of their name in their favour.
Frederick Jorden, USA
The United States is young in terms of its political history. However, if we think of the first “politicians” America had, who were they? There were ministers, doctors, farmers, just about everyone from all walks of life. That was intentional.
I think America should be represented by anybody that has a passion for bettering his/her country – that includes “career politicians” and those from the entertainment industry. You don’t have to have “training” to have principles and convictions about how the country can grow morally, safely, and economically.
Rob Fay, USA
There’s no way the sweeping statement ‘actors make bad politicians’ can be justified. Acting is a profession like any other and it will have among it, people who would make good politicians and people who are bad politicians. Whether or not an individual actor can be a success as a politician depends on the individual, their beliefs and how they choose to put those beliefs into practice.
With regard to Warren Beatty, it’s not as if he’s some political novice, who’s decided that ‘oh, that might be fun’. As his films and his previous political activity show, he’s a committed liberal activist who I think could be a very good US President.
Nick Barlow, UK
The answer to this is like saying how good does food taste. Entertainers are politicians who know what they want and how to get it. The only good outcome is that entertainers make politics interesting. I do not know the name of ‘famous politicians’ say in the USA, but sure know the political entertainer in the US…It make politics accessible and digestible to all…Even to people know don’t care about politics (even though we all should!).
Internationally – it’s a good thing, because we all know Clint Eastwood and as a president he’d make faster in roads on tackling problems around the world, because at least we’d all have a common ground to break the ice…Entertainers – entertain and if they can make politics interesting, sometimes amusing and involve all of us… then I wanna vote in Snoopy
I believe that some entertainers make good politicians. President Reagan is just one illustration. Glenda Jackson is another. Both of my examples came from working class backgrounds and gradually rose to prominence without losing their contact with that background and real life.
By contrast many politicians have been formerly lawyers. The legal field is a rather black and white world, with not many shades in between. Thus, the legal background does not foster flexibility or open minded thinking.
Though I might not support a Jerry Springer type of candidate, I think that someone like Warren Beatty, might be an asset in elected office. (Besides which the speeches might be easier to watch and listen to!)
Pat van der Veer, Canada