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Sections: Political Humor | Causes and Controversies | Blurring of the Lines 

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Members of the entertainment field have long served as behind-the-scenes players in politics. But during World War II, Clare Boothe Luce and Helen Gahagan Douglas, two figures of note from stage and screen, left the entertainment world to win seats in Congress. And, in the 1960s, song-and-dance man George Murphy was elected to the U.S. Senate and Ronald Reagan became governor of California. Especially in the television era, entertainers found that their ability to connect with the public served them well in politics. Although the number of actors-turned-politicians has remained limited, entertainers have continued to span both worlds

It’s tough for an actor in politics. With your old movies on TV, it’s like having a built-in smear campaign.—Bob Hope, 1969


Mayor Bob Hope

In January 1948, Bob Hope was installed as honorary mayor of Palm Springs, California, an office he held for decades. In his honor, leading cartoonists of the day created comic tributes in celebration of Hope’s new office.

Walt Disney (1901–1966). “All I asked him was to appoint me commissioner in charge of Dorothy Lamour,” 1948. Reproduction. Bob Hope Collection, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress [Digital ID # bhp0501]

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Clint Eastwood (b. 1930)

Photograph from the film Fistful of Dollars, 1967. New York World-Telegram and Sun Photograph Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress [Digital ID# ppmsca-24317]

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Al Franken (b. 1951)

Photograph from Saturday Night Live, May 13, 1989. Courtesy of the NBC Universal Photo Bank [Digital ID# bhp0539]

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Arnold Schwarzenneger (b. 1947)

Photograph from The Tonight Show, September 19, 2001. Courtesy of the NBC Universal Photo Bank [Digital ID# bhp0541]

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Ronald Reagan (1911–2004)

Governor Ronald Reagan, 1966. New York World-Telegram and Sun Photograph Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress [Digital ID# ppmsca-24319]

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Sonny Bono (1935–1998)

Sonny and Cher, TV Guide, July 14–20, 1973. Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress [Digital ID# bhp0538]

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George Murphy (1902–1992)

George Murphy, with Gale Storm (1922-2009) and Cesar Romero (1907-1994), September 14, 1964. New York World-Telegram and Sun Photograph Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress [Digital ID# ppmsca-24316]

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Shirley Temple Black (b. 1928)

Shirley Temple Black with Vice President Richard Nixon (1913–1994), 1960. New York World-Telegram and Sun Photograph Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress [Digital ID# ppmsca-24323]

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Clare Booth Luce (1903–1987)

Congresswoman Clare Booth Luce at the Republican National Convention, 1944. New York World-Telegram and Sun Photograph Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress [Digital ID# ppmsca-24312]

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Helen Gahagan Douglas (1900–1980)

Helen Gahagan Douglas, 1935. New York World-Telegram and Sun Photograph Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress [Digital ID# ppmsca-24314]

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Good evening, this is Larry Charm

Jules Feiffer. Good evening, this is Larry Charm here to talk sense to the American people,” March 6, 1966. Ink drawing on layered paper with paste-ons. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress [Digital ID # ppmsca-24320]

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Sections: Political Humor | Causes and Controversies | Blurring of the Lines