Not-So-Lucky Stars of Political Theater

In 1998, when the 88-year-old left-wing activist stepped in as the New York Green Party's gubernatorial candidate, he jokingly said he had to remind people he was among the living both because of his age and his work as a comedic vampire.

The Green Party took a turn to the gangrene after former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, the party's first choice to challenge Gov. George Pataki, turned them down.

But once the Greens settled on Lewis, they hardly ran from his Munster past. They even fought, albeit unsuccessfully, to have their candidate listed on the ballot as "Grandpa Al Lewis."

At the very least, the Greens were hoping Lewis had the name recognition to earn the 50,000 votes needed to secure the party a permanent spot on the statewide ballot. But this Munster became something of a political horror show, after he called convicted mob boss John Gotti "a friend" and embraced Al Goldstein as "America's greatest pornographer."

Lewis and the Greens had to sweat it out. On the day after the election, Lewis had 49,741 votes. Luckily, once the absentee ballots were counted, Grandpa Munster rose from a political grave, securing the final few votes needed to keep the New York Greens on the ballot.

Shirley Temple Treated Like a Kid: There was anything but smooth sailing on the Good Ship Lollypop in 1967, when the most celebrated child actor of Hollywood's golden age ran for Congress.

"The political cartoonists had a lot of fun with me. They showed me as a 6-year-old or a 5-year-old kicking LBJ in the shins," the 75-year-old actress, now known as Shirley Temple Black, tells Reuters. "That also probably hurt my campaign a bit because it was probably difficult to look at a woman and not see the 7-year-old tap dancing."

Still, Temple Black later served Republican administrations as ambassador to the former Czechoslovakia and Ghana where she undoubtedly found that international diplomacy and tap dancing are very much the same.

Beverly Hillbillies Feudin': The man who played millionaire hillbilly Jed Clampett was none too happy when Miss Hathaway made a run for a congressional seat in Pennsylvania.

Buddy Ebsen took on Nancy Kulp, his fellow The Beverly Hillbillies cast member dismissing her as "too liberal," providing radio support for incumbent Republican Bud Shuster.

"He's not the kindly old Jed Clampett you saw on the show," Kulp told Time magazine, as the 1984 congressional election heated up. "I've worked so hard on this campaign. It's none of his business and he should have stayed out of it."

Kulp admitted she and Ebsen had difficulties on the set. "But I would never have done something like this to him."

With no record in public office, she called in fellow actor Ed Asner for support. "I think I've been successful in making the distinction between actress and politician," she said. "But there's always someone who screams, 'Where's Jethro?' "

After losing, Kulp and her two terriers declared California was the place they ought to be, so they loaded up their truck and moved to the land of movie stars, swimming pools … and TV sitcoms.

Stearn's Private Parts Are Financial: Shock jock Howard Stern loves to talk about his sexual proclivities on the air. But he found political life a little too revealing in 1994, when New York election officials demanded that he reveal his income, as is required by state law.

Stern withdrew as the Libertarian candidate for governor in his own trademark style:

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...