Heard on the Hill

Kid Rock’s Stage and Screen Path to Political Spotlight Well-Worn

Reagan was the prototype, but many have tried to follow his lead

President Ronald Reagan set the bar for entertainers who aspire to political office. He is shown here at his inauguration in 1981. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Ronald Reagan was perhaps the highest-profile entertainer who decided to give politics a try.

Kid Rock and President Donald Trump are among the most recent — and they’re unlikely to be the last. In-between, many other former entertainers have caught the political bug. Among them: 

 Sonny Bono

5/21/97.QUADRENNIAL DEFENSE REVIEW--Sonny Bono, R-Calif., during House National Security hearing on the Quadrennial Defense Review..CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY PHOTO BY DOUGLAS GRAHAM
“Sonny and Cher” star Sonny Bono represented California’s 44th district as a Republican in the late 1990s.  (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Sonny Bono with Cher on the Sonny and Cher Show in 1976. By CBS (eBay) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Bono was a longtime songwriter, producer and actor. He was perhaps best known for his work with his former wife, Cher. He is shown here with her in 1976. (By CBS (eBay) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

Melissa Gilbert

 "Little House on the Prairie’ child star Melissa Gilbert ran as a Democrat for Michigan's 8th District but dropped out of the race in May 2016, citing health reasons. (Courtesy Facebook)
“Little House on the Prairie” child star Melissa Gilbert ran as a Democrat for Michigan’s 8th District but dropped out of the race in May 2016, citing health reasons. (Courtesy Facebook) 

 

Melissa Gilbert on Little House on the Prairie in 1975. By NBC Television Network (eBay item photo front photo back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Gilbert was a child actor on “Little House on the Prairie”  from the early 1970s through the early 1980s. She has continued to appear in movies and TV shows as an adult. (eBay item photo front photo back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons) 

  

Fred Thompson

<a class="memberLink" title="Click to view member info in a new window" href="http://data.rollcall.com/members/456?rel=memberLink" target="_blank">Fred Thompson</a> had a varied career as an actor, lawyer, columnist,, radio host and lobbyist. He was elected to the Senate in 1996 and declared as a candidate for president in 2008. Thompson appeared in movies and on TV shows, including: “Law and Order,” “The Hunt for Red October,” “Fat Man and Little Boy,” “Thunderheart” and “Barbarians at the Gates.” He is shown here at the confirmation hearing of Joe Allbaugh for director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2001. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Fred Thompson had a varied career as an actor, lawyer, columnist, radio host and lobbyist. He was elected to the Senate in 1996 and declared as a candidate for president in 2008. Thompson appeared in movies and on TV shows, including: “Law and Order,” “The Hunt for Red October,” “Fat Man and Little Boy,” “Thunderheart” and “Barbarians at the Gates.” He is shown here at the confirmation hearing of Joe Allbaugh for director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2001. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Fred Grandy

Fred Grandy was “Gopher” on “The Love Boat,” a sitcom in the 1970s and the 1980s. He represented Iowa’s 6th district in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a Republican. (Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives)
Fred Grandy was “Gopher” on “The Love Boat,” a sitcom in the 1970s and the 1980s. He represented Iowa’s 6th district in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a Republican. (Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives)

Al Franken

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 14: Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., attends a news conference in the Capitol on the Child Care for Working Families Act, which focuses on affordable early learning and care on September 14, 2017. Appearing behind him are, from left, Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., Bobby Scott, D-Va., and Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., attends a news conference in the Capitol on the Child Care for Working Families Act, which focuses on affordable early learning and care on September 14, 2017. Appearing behind him are, from left, Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., Bobby Scott, D-Va., and Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ben Jones

(Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives)
(Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 23: Former Rep. Ben "Cooter" Jones, D-Ga., speaks with reporters outside of the U.S. Supreme Court following arguments in the Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans case in Washington on Monday, March 23, 2015. Jones, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, came to the court to support the Texas division of the group suing to allow the Confederate battle flag on license plates. Jones starred as Cooter in the "Dukes of Hazzard" television show, and ran against Newt Gingrich in 1994. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Former Rep. Ben “Cooter” Jones, D-Ga., spoke with reporters outside of the U.S. Supreme Court following arguments in the Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans case in Washington in March 2015. Jones, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, came to the court to support the Texas division of the group suing to allow the Confederate battle flag on license plates. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.