With the arrival of former Saturday Night Live comic Al Franken to the hallowed halls of the U.S. Senate, we thought it would be a good time to salute those trailblazing celebrities who parlayed fame into political office. Here, we rank our top 5. — Scott Montgomery, Times government/politics editor
The Gipper. His nickname has higher name ID than half the people who served as president in the past 50 years. He was a journeyman movie actor who wasn't afraid to work with chimps (or couldn't afford not to), but as a politician he was a driven conservative with a common touch. Points off: None. Hard to beat two terms as president.
2 John Glenn
The first (and then later the oldest) American to orbit the earth, Glenn rode his ticker-tape fame as an astronaut of the 1960s into a 24-year career in the U.S. Senate for Ohio. Points off: He really, really wanted to be president.
3 Arnold Schwarzenegger
From bodybuilder to action hero, nobody has plotted the trajectory of celebrity with greater precision than the current governor of California. Points off: Have you read what's happening in California lately?
4 Clint Eastwood
Four-time Oscar winner Eastwood ran for mayor of tiny Carmel, Calif., in 1986 on a classic I-can-do-better-than-those-bozos platform. He won in a landslide, served a single term and returned full time to movies. Points off: Two years as mayor, no body count.
5 Sonny Bono
He was a goofy celebrity whose fame had lots to with his proximity to wife Cher, but Bono was a serious politician. He spent four years as mayor of Palm Springs, lost a U.S. Senate bid, then won a seat in Congress with the GOP tidal wave of 1994. Points off: Probably shouldn't have been famous in the first place.
Conversely, these one-time celebs-turned-pols made our bottom 5.
The famed wrestler ran a fun campaign, but he wasn't amusing in Minnesota's Governor's Mansion.
2 Fred Thompson
His sober bearing won him TV (Law and Order) and movie roles and enough Tennessee votes to join the Senate, but he ran a befuddled presidential campaign.
3 Fred Grandy
"Gopher" from The Love Boat made it to Washington, serving four terms as a Republican congressman from Iowa. He once told People magazine, "If there were no Gopher, there would be no Fred Grandy for Congress."
4 Ben Jones
"Cooter" from The Dukes of Hazzard was elected to two terms as a Democratic congressman from Georgia. When he was defeated for re-election in 1992, he returned to acting. His biggest role: playing a media consultant in 1998's Primary Colors.
5 Shirley Temple Black
The movie legend became a mover and shaker in GOP politics. She lost her one shot at elective office but enjoyed the fruits of activism with a string of diplomatic assignments.