Celebrities are breaking the mould - GulfToday

Celebrities are breaking the mould

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.


Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump and Clint Eastwood. File

Isn’t it funny how today’s world politics is more exciting and entertaining than at any other time in the last thirty odd years? Whether it’s in America, France, Britain or Russia, it’s like watching a Reality TV show or a spy novel being played out in real time. Something of intrigue is revealed almost on a daily basis.

Speaking of entertaining and reality TV, I was actually struck by how many people from the world of entertainment have entered the political arena in the past 30 odd years, three of them are actually in power in three different countries. Moreover, they do not hail just from America.

The United States has had, and still does today, three prominent celebrities in their highest offices. For obvious reasons, the one that immediately springs to mind is the current President. Everyone knows that President Donald Trump was a property mogul based out of New York. Apparently, the most high profile buildings and hotels bear his name. But it’s not his business acumen that made him a household name. He became famous for hosting a successful reality TV show called ‘The Apprentice’ and his infamous phrase ‘You’re fired’. However, at this point he didn’t appear to have any political ambitions, although he did go on talk shows commenting about political talking points at the time. In actual fact, Donald Trump first got his political appetite when he questioned President Obama’s place of birth.

But Trump is not the only celebrity in America to hold the highest office in the Land. Several other prominent celebrities came before him. Ronald Reagan was one and ‘The Terminator’ was the other. Reagan became president in the early 1980s but sadly, as his days in office progressed, he fell into a state of mental decline due to Alzheimer’s. Arnold Schwarzenegger, renowned for his famous words, ‘I’ll be back’ became Governor of California and consequently acquired the nickname ‘The Governator’.

Other famous American celebrities have also held offices, albeit some have been lesser than others.

Do you recall the child actress Shirley Temple? She appeared in all those really old black and white movies from 1935 to 1938. She was renowned for her chubby cheeks and incredibly tight curly hair. In adulthood she became US Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

Now, unless you’re a Saturday Night Live enthusiast, you may not be familiar with Al Franken. In the 1970s and 1980s he was well known for writing skits for the show. He was a performer, writer and comedian. But for almost 10 years he served as Senator for Minnesota. Another actor who followed a similar path was Fred Thompson. I remember watching him play the District Attorney in the original Law and Order series. He served as senator for Tennessee for almost ten years as well. Clint Eastwood was obviously famous for his Dollar Trilogy movies but in his later years he served as Mayor of Carmel in California.

Across the pond in the UK actress Glenda Jackson was more of a theatre actress and became Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate and later for Hampstead and Kilburn. Now the current minister for Housing and Planning, Esther McVey, was host of the morning show called GMTV. Current Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove wore many hats before going into British politics. He has been a journalist, television show host and actor. Another surprise to me was an ‘Eastenders’ actor, Michael Cashman. He has been member of the European Parliament and House of Lords.

Ukraine also has a celebrity in the highest office of the land. President Volodymyr Zelensky was at one time a comedian which is rather amusing, if you excuse the pun.

In the Philippines, world boxing camp Manny Pacquiao was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 and later became senator in 2016.

The subcontinent has also had its share of celebrities. As you know, Amitabh Bachchan is a world-famous Indian actor. In the early 70s and 80s there wasn’t a movie in which he did not appear. He was a household name and I suppose, to some extent, he still is among Indian and indeed Indian movie fans. But he too tried his hand at politics and was elected to the Indian National Congress and later was MP for Allahabad during the years 1984 to 1988.

The final one is Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan. This man spent many of his early years in London, playing county cricket and was captain of the Pakistan cricket team during international matches. I remember him walking past our car one weekend near Regents Park mosque. Whether he was coming from it or not I don’t know. But in his later years he returned to Pakistan and spent decades trying to replace existing Prime Ministers. After years of trying he finally became one himself.

The question is, what is it about celebrities and their political desires? I can understand how they get their votes. Through their jobs they acquire public speaking skills and that, ultimately, is what is required to win voters.

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