With former "American Idol" star Clay Aiken announcing his intention to run for Congress, we thought it was a great time to remember some other famous faces who have gone before the 35-year-old and transitioned into public office. From Jesse Ventura to Ronald Reagan, here are seven celebrities who chose a second career in politics.
Bono, best known for his work as an entertainer (and high-profile relationship with singer Cher), enjoyed a successful career in politics as both the mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for California's 44th district. He was inspired to run for office after a frustrating experience with bureaucratic red tape in an attempt to open a restaurant in Palm Springs.
Clint Eastwood's long run in politics has included a two-year term as mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif., as well as several appointments to the California State Park and Recreation Commission and the California Film Commission. His most famous (and derided) political moment came during the 2012 Republican National Convention, when he talked to an empty chair as if President Barack Obama were sitting in it.
Perhaps the most well-known celebrity (after former President Ronald Regan) to have made the leap from acting to politics, Schwarzenegger stunned the world by becoming the 38th governor of California and holding office from November 2003 to January 2011. In an interview with Vanity Fair after he left office, Schwarzenegger admitted that his surprise announcement on "The Tonight Show" that he was running for governor was initially meant as a joke. "And two months later I was governor. What the f**k is that? All these people are asking me, ‘What’s your plan? Who’s on your staff?’ I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a staff. I wasn’t running until I went on Jay Leno."
The former "Saturday Night Live" comedian is a junior United States senator from Minnesota, having taken office in July 2009. His first piece of legislation, created in conjunction with Republican Johnny Isakson, was the creation of a program with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to pair disabled veterans with service dogs. It passed unanimously in the Senate. Franken (who currently enjoys high approval rating) will run for a second term later this year.
Former professional wrestler Jesse "The Body" Ventura served as the 38th governor of Minnesota from 1999-2003. Ventura chose not to run for a second term citing the negative effects of politics on his family. Nevertheless, he most-recently floated the idea of running for president in 2016.
Of all the names on this list, Fred Thompson is perhaps the only one who was briefly a politician and a television actor at the same time. The former U.S. senator, who served from 1994-2003, joined the cast of "Law & Order" during the final months of his last term. He went on to appear on the show for the next five years — only pausing from acting to run for the Republican nomination for president in the 2008 election.
Reagan, a former TV, film, and movie star, left his Hollywood roots behind to become the 33rd governor of California and later the 40th president of the United States. "Politics is just like show business," he once said. "You have a hell of an opening, you coast for awhile, you have a hell of a closing."
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