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It has long been said that “politics is show business for ugly people” and today there seems to be no end of celebs getting involved in it one way or another.

The world of politics is famous for being one of the most cut-throat of all, so maybe it is not surprise that people from across the full range of media – including TV, films, music, writing or any other – find that they are naturally drawn toward Capitol Hill.

Of course, as with most things this is not an especially new phenomenon as there’s a long history of celebrities getting into bed with politicians, both metaphorically and in reality.

So who are some of the biggest names that became famous in another way before they dipped their toes in the political waters?

President

The biggest job in American politics, maybe even in the global political picture, is being the President of the Untied States of America. Although some might say that there have been quite a few actors in the White House over the years, Ronald Wilson Reagan is the only one who can actually lay claim to a successful Hollywood career before he took office.

The 40th President of the United States was in the job from 1981 to 1989, although he had been the Governor of California from 1967 to 1975 and was active as a union leader during his time in Hollywood.

Reagan the oldest President ever elected to date and won a landslide victory for a second term in 1984. His legacy included playing an enormous role in international affairs especially in his talks with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. The Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet Union collapsed soon after Reagan left office.

Governor

Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger made his name as an actor, although he had achieved a certain level of fame before that as a professional bodybuilder.

The former Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia became a world famous actor when he starred in the Hollywood blockbuster Conan the Barbarian in 1982, but his is probably best known as the deadly robotic killer in The Terminator series of movies.

Schwarzenegger became the 38th Governor of California and was in office from 2003 until 2011, firstly being sworn in as part of a special recall election to replace then-Governor Gray Davis.

Arnie’s political ambitions may have stretched all the way to the White House but for one thing – Article II, Section I, Clause V of The Constitution prevents anyone who is not a natural-born citizen of the United States from taking up the reigns as POTUS.

Challenger

Although not a star of the big screen, Donald Trump can lay claim to real TV stardom for his role in NBC’s hugely popular reality game show The Apprentice. With his forthright manner and take-no-prisoners attitude on the show, Trump became famous for more than just his personal wealth and success in the world of commerce.

However, if a couple of years ago you had come up with a list of politicians who would be mounting a serious challenge to run for President in 2016, alongside the name Donald Trump, Batman would have seemed just as likely.

Nevertheless, the fact is that Trump is now a very serious contender indeed. At a recent rally in Mobile, Alabama, 30,000 people turned out to hear what he had to say. Moreover, of course, Trump is becoming even more outspoken as his campaign gathers speed.

Some polls consistently put Trump ahead of his rivals in the Republican pack of runners,

with closest rival Jeb Bush in a distant second place. Of course, Bush has the luggage of his family name to carry but for many he also lacks the personality that his brother and father used to help them win the highest office in the land.

Whether the GOP eventually goes with Trump is still not a certainty by any means, but the heavy-hitter who is used to getting his way has hinted at the option of running as a third-party candidate if he does not secure the nomination.

One thing that celebrities understand is that the public wants to be entertained, and the most successful politicians have always known that too.

Trump is a great entertainer, and this is why The Apprentice TV show was such a hit and probably also lies behind a lot of his high profile business success.

Whether or not his success as an entertainer and business person will propel him all the way to the White House next year is still anyone’s guess.

[Photo by Gage Skidmore]