Donald Trump

Celebrities in high office

If Cynthia Nixon became governor, she would not be the first entertainer to run and win.

New York is abuzz with reports that activist and “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon is considering a challenge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary. While Nixon would have high name recognition, some say that being an entertainer who has never held public office could harm her candidacy. However, she's hardly the first celebrity – or even the first celebrity from New York – to seek higher office, and many former stars have been elected across the country. Here's a guide to the celebrities, limited to entertainers such as actors and musicians, who have been elected to major public office. It includes a few from New York, along with the Governator and the man currently occupying the Oval Office.

President Donald Trump

Trump made the leap from being a constant presence on New York’s tabloids to a national household name as the host of “The Apprentice,” a reality TV show that ran from 2003 until 2015. Trump reportedly also considered challenging Cuomo in the 2014 election. He overcame naysayers who doubted he could even win the Republican nomination in 2016.

President Ronald Reagan

The 40th president and Republican icon began his career in Hollywood, becoming famous for his leading roles in films such as “Bedtime for Bonzo.” Reagan was known as “the Gipper” throughout his career, after his role as George “The Gipper” Gipp in “Knute Rockne, All American.” This could be a warning sign for Nixon, who could be referred to as “Miranda” in honor of her “Sex and the City” character throughout her campaign if she decides to run.

Reagan was elected governor of California in 1966, and president in 1980.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Although seemed far-fetched, Schwarzenegger’s career as an actor-cum-politician-cum-actor again isn’t fake news, or even true lies – the man made famous for playing a killer android did indeed serve two terms as the governor of the country’s most populous state. The former competitive bodybuilder from Austria was elected as a Republican in 2003 and served until 2011, after which he returned to making action movies– although he continues to speak out on political issues, including advocating for redistricting reform.

Gov. Jesse Ventura

This article focuses on celebrities who have attained higher office, not athletes, but professional wrestling is a staged performance – and that’s how WWE Hall of Fame inductee Ventura made his name. A former mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, Ventura launched a grass-roots campaign for governor on the Reform Party line. He was elected in 1998 and served one term.

Sen. Al Franken

Minnesota must have a thing for electing celebrities. Franken made his name as a comedian on Saturday Night Live, and wrote several popular satirical books. After being elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 2008, Franken became known as a staunch progressive, and was considered a potential presidential contender in 2020. However, Franken stepped down in 2017 amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Sen. Fred Thompson

Thompson’s career in the Senate was bookended by a career in acting. He had roles in movies such as “The Hunt for Red October” and “Die Hard 2” before he was elected a Republican senator for Tennessee in 1994. He joined the cast of “Law & Order” while he was still in the Senate, and began filming during the Senate recess in the summer of 2002. After leaving the Senate in 2003, he played a district attorney on the long-running crime procedural until 2007.

Rep. Sonny Bono

As half of the singing duo Sonny & Cher, Bono released hit songs such as “I Got You Babe.” He apparently was able to convince voters that he also got them, as he was mayor of Palm Springs, California, from 1988 until 1992. He was elected to Congress in 1994, and served as a Republican congressman until his death in a skiing accident in 1998. He was the only member of Congress to have a No. 1 single on the Billboard Top 100 chart.

Rep. John Hall

Raised in Elmira, New York, Hall was the founder and frontman of the band Orleans. He remained active in politics during his musical career, co-founding three citizens groups in Saugerties, New York. Hall was elected as a Democrat to Congress in 2006, but was defeated by Republican Nan Hayworth in 2010.

Rep. Helen Gahagan Douglas

Douglas was raised in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and began her career on Broadway before becoming an opera singer. Her role in the film “She” inspired the Evil Queen in the movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” Fortunately, the citizens of California’s 44th Congressional District weren’t put off by that performance, as they elected her to Congress in 1944. She served in the House as a Democrat until 1951, after losing the 1950 Senate race to Richard Nixon.