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Do Actors Necessarily Make Good Politicians?
by Michol Little

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Actor Ronald Reagan

Actor Ronald Reagan
By now you are probably ready at any given moment to spew words that would make your Grandma faint if there is one more political phone solicitor; one more punch-and-run election video; or one more new commentary telling all us dumb people what we SHOULD think at any given moment. There are always the meaningless videos that have little to do with true facts but more like little factoids grown into large fabrications potted with the soils of mean intents and hydroponically watered with lame innuendos. Since former President Reagan is often mentioned for his policies and demeanor who just happened to be a very popular actor in his day, I started thinking of the "why" and
"how-comes" an actor follows that path often with short-term successes or out-right failures.

Let's consider for example these actors: Ronald Reagan, Arthur Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood, Sonny Bono, Jesse Ventura, Fred Thompson, Al Franken, Shirley Temple, and yes even Jerry Springer of all people. There are other minor notables but none the less still visible throughout the last 100 years.

I then considered the privileged life actors live due to the slobbering posse of tagalongs who help window dress an otherwise average person for hefty incomes; the innate need to showoff and be appreciated; the abilities to project, pretend, personify and portray an entirely different human being, and the driving need to be appreciated for their art. Now how do those entertainment actor traits manifest within our politicians and do those skills and needs actually become some of the requirements to be successful politically? I actually believe they do. The actor can become who they want to be; they have the resources and built-in cheering squads to surround themselves with well wishers and beautifiers; they have the need to be accepted and liked on grand scales; they are able to project the very characters that well-wishers want and with energy that gives them momentum. In fact, I think many of our Presidents of less charisma yet excellent leadership skills should have taken acting lessons. Just think how that would have helped in the debates, not to mention how they waver to and fro to please their masses; how they can display emotion whether heart-felt or not
Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry

Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry
for the 47% of us low-life's who consider ourselves victims; how they can wear that dark suit and solid color tie and actually make us believe they know what they are talking about!!

I know this is a little over the top when you consider the majority of our politicians are educated and groomed into public service many times by former family members; or molded into leaders via military service or may simply have a natural born gift to say the right things at the right time.

Ronald Reagan was a highly admired actor with a film career that began in 1937. He accumulated 50-plus successful films to his resume along with TV starring roles, President of the Screen Actors Guild; and host to TV shows like General Electric Theater. He was soft spoken but seemed to carry a big stick of influence. He was basically a likeable guy with a good heart and confident of his popularity but with meager beginnings as a child in rural America. I don't want to minimize also the unique trait in some actors and politicians who genuinely are social activists who purely want to make a better world for the masses. Many of these people have grown up out of lowly beginnings, scraping along to help support their families at very young ages as well as suffering the sad life of having either no parents or having dysfunctional families. It is simply what happens to some and it is the strength of character that drives a few of those to seek better lives; public recognition; and contribute to the betterment of humanity. Reagan knew how to become the person we needed at the time of his Presidency and certainly his acting career went a long way in shrouding himself to look and project the part. Was he successful? Politically most say he was. He connected in ways others couldn't. It didn't mean he was smarter than others or more experienced as a political figure; it just means he knew well how to deliver that feel-good message we wanted to hear. He took risks; he gave the American people confidence to believe in his message. I don't think history proclaims admiration as much for Reagan's accomplishments as it admires his ability to act like the leader we needed as a country. That really is a key point anyway for the one elected when you consider our
Sonny Bono as Entertainer with Cher

Sonny Bono as Entertainer with Cher
Presidents are at times figureheads and provide a balance of powers. They are the front men/women for their political affiliate and can only accomplish what our political system allows him to do. With what skills? The ability to connect and communicate at the right time and with the right prescription drug.

Wow, isn't that exactly what a successful actor has to do? They must project a character that speaks to the emotions of the movie watchers. Is the story as important as the acting? I wonder at times if it is. We movie addicts connect to actors on many levels mainly because of the character the actor portrays. How many times have you heard the fans call an actor by one of his more notable character's name? The actor becomes in many ways the film character to those who submerse thenselves in the story. So that brings me to the theory that movie enthusiasts look for characters in films played by believable actors who thrill us, make us think, provide us moments of emotional connection and allow us to live in moments of stories where we actually become physically strong; skilled warriors; admired politicians; revered or successful entrepreneurs; sexy bombshells, or even darker sides of our personalities. President Reagan more than most embodied all those acting skills; memorized the script; listened to the experts; applied his own style of delivery, and became an extraordinarily vetted politician.

Others did the same yet with less success. Clint Eastwood brought forth his cutting edge personality of Dirty Harry when he became totally ticked with his local planning board when they rejected his pet project to use and remodel a building close to the restaurant he owned. How did Dirty Harry circumvent the board? He ran for office; fired all the members who opposed him and went on to follow his heart-felt and sometimes fiery opinions about environmental causes. Clint only held one 2-year term, yet here he was at the Republican National Convention talking to an empty chair. Significance? NO ONE will ever forget that unique one-of- a- kind performance that only Dirty Harry could have delivered. Wasn't that performance and its fallout notriety what most actors live for?

Sonny Bono had a story like Clint. He had
Ted Nuggent, activist and musician

Ted Nuggent, activist and musician
something he wanted to do personally; was thwarted by local politics and with his notoriety and financial resources and, well, just being part of the Sonny and Cher legend, struck out to make a system he felt dysfunctional new and improved as Mayor of Palm Springs, California. He was already popular, well liked and believable because of his film, TV and musical successes. He served as a US Congressman in 1994. He served two terms in the House of Representatives where his acting skills and humor along with his hippy type bluntness made him popular. People listened because he communicated to his constituency on a level he knew they needed.

Others will come and go. Jesse Ventura won over his followers at a time when ANY change was better than the politicians his fellow Minnesotans had to choose from. He was a radical and he played that part well. He still does and it promotes his personal agenda to those who like to live on the edge much like Ted Nugent born out of the idealism of the 60's and continues to spews his political agenda. If he wasn't a celebrity would anyone even have heard his death threat against Obama? Never, so the point is film, TV and musical personalities capture their audiences; create a posse of followers and voila! Their voices are always heard. Isn't that what it takes also as a politician? Of course it does. I think there is a good bit of actors' skills in all our politicians. Actors make great politicians if they also have the intellect to absorb just the right amount of global and local data to make themselves believable; that they can have at least one pet cause that resonates well with most Americans and they are quick to adjust to the will of the masses and give them what we want. Whether they come close to accomplishing their goals is rarely due to their hard efforts; after all we-the-people are represented by those-the-congressmen and women who actually make or destroy the good intentions for society as a whole. Are they just actors in a film that we watch waiting for the final scene? We don't even have a trailer to get a hint that is believable. We communicate with the actor/politician, relate to their words factual or not and go for it and hope for the best. At least we have the right to do it, right?

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Mike Thomas
Oct 27, 2012 12:38 AM
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Actors as politicians....

Without getting too political, isn't that being redundant? A politician comes to the job with a specific set of skills, but even the most principled politician has to re-learn an entirely different set of skills so that they can become a character on a stage (Congress).

Don't get me wrong - not all politicians are meat puppets. But all play a part, a part they hope will get them a return engagement (re-election).

"And all the men and women merely players," and we all have our parts to play. It's ironic that the best of actors make very poor politicians. I'm not exactly sure what the message is, but in this election year, it does give you food for thought.

Great choice of subjects!
Oct 27, 2012 9:58 AM
[X] delete
Hi Mike. It is always great to hear from you. I think your statement about best actors are poor politicians is right-on but also consider the worst actor scenario? I never thought Clint Eastwood was a "great" actor; perhaps an excellent director but he is an in-your-face politicians and adds no fluff. Maybe the "worst" actors just can't pretend as well? In film (remembering the 2016 Film on Obama that seemed to come from an evil doer) and politics, it is probably a fantasy to think a Man's Word is his honor and truth could possibly prevail.

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An update of current gossip surrounding the good, bad and just horrible events while filming different movies. What went wrong, who did what and the answer to the burning question, "What is the point of this movie anyway?"

Other Columns
Other columns by Michol Little:

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What movie nearly wrecked Kevin Costner's career?

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Dinesh D'Souza and 2016: OBAMA'S AMERICA


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Michol Little
I've been writing about anything and everything all my life: fiction, research projects, speeches and term papers for anyone who needed help. I'm a single Mom with all kids out of the nest, and now have time to really enjoy my writing passion. While finishing my courses for my MBA, I developed a burning desire to actually publish some of my work in fiction as well as research white paper on most anything that interests me. I work for a national retail food brand as a construction project manager which is my DAY job; and hope to increase my exposure as an author and ghost writer as well as write articles and commentaries for various venues. .

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