Were there ever any serious celebrity candidates for U.S. President?

Jimmie Davis who wrote and sang “You Are My Sunshine” was suggested to me… but his racism would probably rule him off a national ticket.

Any famous candidate who is vegan or anti-war is also probably ruled off a national ticket as they would be toxic in “purple-ish” states.

President Ronald Reagan

I seem to remember a celebrity steak salesman who ran for president. He had tiny hands and was obsessed with walls.

Reagan had stopped acting long before and wasn’t that well-known as an actor as he was a “B” movie actor.

I’m thinking of people who were well known for other professions at the time of the election cycle. the Governator counts as he was and is better known as a film star.

I’m talking about historical elections, not 2016.

Well, George Washington, Zachary Taylor (he was nominated because of his fame), U.S. Grant, and Dwight Eisenhower all were celebrities by the standards of their time.

T Roosevelt was a celebrity by the same standard.

Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild before running for Governor in California and his acting career was well-known enough that it was fodder for his opponents when he ran for President. I don’t see why he shouldn’t count.

Yes, but he’d been in (and sometimes out) of public office since he was in his twenties. He was a politician long before he was a celebrity.

He had a very high profile as host of General Electric Theater, which got as high as #3 in the Nielsen ratings. When he first ran for governor, he was a recent TV star, not just a B movie star.

And I agree that Reagan isn’t necessarily a great example, but I think he might be the best one. The next best things I can find are Roseanne’s minor party bid and joke candidates like Pat Paulsen.

Edit: There’s Fred Thompson, but I’m not sure he was famous enough to be a celebrity. And he’d also been a senator.

Wendell Wilkie wasn’t a professional politician…?

Horace Greenly? Winfield Scott? Winfield Scott Hancock? Grant?

I would argue that Ike and GW both had political experience before office; Ike’s position was a political and diplomatic one and I think GW was a delegate to the Continental Congress.

I think Lindbergh was being proposed in 1940, although not much came of it. Had the Governator been a natural born citizen he would have been proposed. Jackson, when he first ran in 1824 had not been involved in politics.

Reagan is best I’ve got for running for President.

George Murphy ran for, and won, a US Senate seat from California.

I suspect he might be known by more than a few Dopers courtesy of a song by Tom Lehrer lyrics link which includes this quasi prophetic opening line:

It seems Lehrer wrote that song in 1965 at the latest, the same year Murphy took up his Senate office. Lehrer performed the piece in in a concert in 1965 for which there is a YouTube clip. I *think *that well pre-dates Reagan’s own political aspirations though Reagan was an outspoken supporter of other politicians since the 1950s, if not earlier.

Joe Piscopo is considering a run for New Jersey Governor.

Al Franken is a Senator. Already in his 2nd term.

That would be two former SNL cast members in politics.

Coincidentally I saw Helen Gahagan in the 1935 version of She last week. She was pretty good in it, I think if she’d chosen to stay in acting (this was her only film) she could have been a big star.

Are you kidding me? He was the Gipper, and a very well known actor. He also was a well recognized television host in the 50’s.

And FWIW, I’ve never heard of Jimmie Davis.

Victoria Woodhull.

Celebrity? you bet. She was the first female presidential candidate, she ran as the candidate of an actual party, and she was the most hated woman in the country because of her advocacy of free love.

Ross Perot. Owner and CEO of Electronic Data Systems. I don’t know if I’d call that a ‘celebrity’, but high profile and certainly not a politician.

Dwight Eisenhower was a huge celebrity prior to his run in 1952. As the Commanding General of the ETO, leading the winning strategy in WWII made him a household name and propelled him into politics.

Ralph Nader has had no government experience. One could argue that he doesn’t qualify for this thread because he was a third-party candidate, but I’ll argue he was a significant factor.

Eugene Debs was a five-time nominee of the Socialist Party. He had served one term in the Indiana legislature, but was known as a labor leader.