Not-So-Lucky Stars of Political Theater

Celebs Who Can't Find a Part in Politics

By Buck Wolf

Aug. 12, 2003 --   — Just because "Cooter" from The Dukes of Hazzard won a seat in Congress, it doesn't guarantee everyone in Hollywood a second career in politics.

With Arnold Schwarzenegger riding high in the polls in the California recall election, you have to imagine even more entertainers will mull second careers in public service.

You certainly don't need to be a star with the Oscar-winning stature of Charlton Heston to make it on the national stage. To be sure, Ronald Reagan wasn't held back because he played second fiddle to a chimp in Bedtime for Bonzo.

If Fred Grandy — Gopher on TV's The Love Boat — served four years in Congress as a representative from Iowa, anything's possible.

"The fact that I was Gopher was probably worth a couple of hundred thousand dollars worth of campaign finance," Grandy admits.

"I don't think being a magna cum laude from Harvard was anywhere near as valuable as being Gopher on The Love Boat. If I had to give up one I'd give up the degree in a heartbeat."

Celebrity has its limits, however. Grandy was unsuccessful in 1994, when he unsuccessfully challenged Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad in the GOP primary.

The Political Drive of a ‘NASCAR’ Democrat

TV's Cooter has had his setbacks, too. Ben Jones, the actor who played the country-fried mechanic on The Dukes of Hazzard, lost in 1986, when he first ran for Congress in Georgia.

Describing himself as a "NASCAR Democrat," Jones ran again and won two years later. He was reelected but unseated in his third term.

Jones lost again last year, when he ran for the House of Representatives in Virginia. Still, he stuck to his "Cooter" strategy, parading in the Duke's souped-up Dodge known as "The General Lee," which still sports a Confederate flag. But again, he lost.

So while Sonny Bono and Jesse Ventura made politics look easy, it's not for everybody.

Perhaps that's why fellow wrestler Hulk Hogan didn't follow Jesse into politics, even though he swore he would five years ago, when he retired.

Here's a look at some celebrities who didn't exactly enjoy stellar political careers.

Falling Political Stars

The Dead Kennedy Mystique: The Kennedy name has gone far in politics, but not far enough to elect Jello Biafra — the lead singer of the Dead Kennedys — as the mayor of San Francisco.