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Clint Eastwood made his name as a popular television and film actor, and went on to become an acclaimed filmmaker, directing several Academy Award-winning films.
Actors Turned Politicians (2:48)
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Clint Eastwood starred on the TV western "Rawhide" before transitioning to film as "the Man with No Name" in Sergio Leone's films. Eastwood has won the Academy Award for Best Director twice, for "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby."
As Ronald Reagan asked, "How can a president NOT be an actor?" Since Reagan, celebrities such as Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger have entered the political arena and run for elected office.
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Born on May 31, 1930, in San Francisco, California, Clint Eastwood got his big break starring on the television western Rawhide. He then became immensely popular via a string of Sergio Leone movie westerns and the Dirty Harry franchise. In recent years, Eastwood has directed many films, including the Academy Award-winning projects Unforgiven, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby and The Changeling. He's also known as a big supporter of the Republican Party,
"I've always felt that if I examine myself too much, I'll find out what I know and don't know, and I'll burst the bubble. I've gotten so lucky relying on my animal instincts, I'd rather keep a little bit of the animal alive."
"If they're so interested in the opinion of a grocery-store clerk in Reseda, let them hire him to make the movie."
"If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster."
"As a director, I'm more interested in the whole story--in other people's characters. If I were only acting, maybe I'd want to be the only guy in the movie. Who can say?"
"I guess I would like to be interpreted as a liberal libertarian, like leave everybody alone and let them do their own thing."
"Movies are fun, but they are no cure for cancer."
"A lot of guys falter when they get in that [director's] chair ... But for somebody who's relaxed and understands other actors and likes the process, it's kind of simple."
"If somebody's dumb enough to ask me to go to a political convention and say something, they're gonna have to take what they get."
[on his infamous speech to an empty chair]
"There's a rebel lying deep in my soul."
"I always thought of myself as a character actor. I never thought of myself as a leading man."
"The trouble with Clint is that he doesn't know he's a movie star."
and made headlines when he spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2012.
Actor, director and producer Clint Eastwood was born Clinton Eastwood Jr. on May 31, 1930, to Clinton Sr. and Ruth Eastwood, in San Francisco, California. He has one older sister, Jean. After traveling and looking for work throughout California during the Depression, the family settled in Oakland, where Eastwood graduated from Oakland Technical High School in 1948.
Eastwood worked odd jobs around this time, including as a hay bailer, logger, truck driver and steel-furnace stoker. In 1950, he was called to military duty with the Army Special Services, based at Ford Ord in Monterey, California. While in the Army, Eastwood met actors David Janssen and Martin Milner, who convinced him to move to Los Angeles in 1954 after he finished his military duty. Eastwood took a screen test and signed a contract with Universal for seventy-five dollars a week. His first roles were in the science fiction films Revenge of the Creature and Tarantula, both released in 1955. Eastwood's rugged looks landed him the role of Rowdy Yates on the CBS TV series Rawhide (1959), which ran for eight seasons.
In 1964, Eastwood went to Italy to star in a trio of westerns directed by Sergio Leone. The role Eastwood took—the cool, laconic "Man with No Name"—had been turned down by James Coburn and Charles Bronson. The films included 1964's A Fistful Of Dollars (a remake of the classic Yojimbo), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Nicknamed "spaghetti westerns" due to their Italian production, these films gained worldwide popularity, and Eastwood became internationally known.
Back in the United States, Eastwood directed his first film, the thriller Play Misty For Me (1971), and starred in the leading role. His next important project was a series of violent action movies portraying Harry Callahan, a contentious San Francisco cop. The Dirty Harry series proved immensely popular with the public and included five films over a period of 17 years, including Dirty Harry (1971), Magnum Force (1973), The Enforcer (1976), Sudden Impact (1983) and The Dead Pool (1988).
Eastwood went on to direct the Charlie Parker biopic Bird (1988), for which he won wide critical acclaim. He also earned accolades for directing and producing the 1992 Western Unforgiven, which won an Academy Award (best picture). The following year, he directed and starred in 1993's A Perfect World, and went on to star in and direct 1994's The Bridges of Madison County (with Meryl Streep) and 1997's Absolute Power.
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Lot of actors play politicians on the big and small screens, but few have made the transition in real life. At every level of government, there are actors who have used their charisma, good looks, and personalities to get the policies they support enacted. Though Hollywood has a reputation as a city of liberals, many conservative actors have been members of the Republican party. From Ronald Reagan to Sonny Bono, here's a look at famous actors who went on to careers in politics.
Actors Turned Politicians 20 people in this group
Actors Turned Directors 56 people in this group
Best Director Oscar Winners 49 people in this group