If you think Ronald Reagan, Shirley Temple, and Arnold Schwarzenegger are weird, because they’re actors turned politicians, then you really don’t know the first thing about just how strange the world of politics can be, in terms of backgrounds. Then, there’s former beauty queen Sarah Palin, astronaut John Glenn, and singer Sonny Bono. And, of course, some politicians, like Finland’s Jon Gnarr and Toronto’s Rob Ford are just weird, because… well, they behave in ways quite unlike any we’ve seen before them. But they’re not the focus of today’s post either – for today we look at the five politicians with the weirdest backgrounds. Brace yourselves, because the people on our list really come from the strangest, most unexpected places.
5. Francisco Everado Oliviera Silva ‘Tiririca’ – Clown (congressman, Brazil)
Clown has got to be one of the tamer professions on our list of politicians with the weirdest backgrounds, but this guy sure has some story. Silva was born into one of the most underprivileged areas in Brazil. He left school at 9 years-old and became a clown immediately after that. It was the circus that helped turn his dream of a singing career into a reality; from music to TV comedian it only took one step. And then, in 2010, his political career began, with a run for the country’s National Congress. The odds against him ran high, as many deemed him a joke and illiterate, but in the end Tiririca prevailed. He was the most popular candidate in the vote and won the Sao Paulo seat. He went on to become one of the most notable and appreciated congressmen in the country.
4. Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura – Wrestler (mayor, state governor, MN, U.S.A.)
You wouldn’t believe it if you saw it in a movie, but here’s a man who went from professional wrestler to actor to mayor to state governor to Harvard faculty! Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura, a former U.S. marine and Rolling Stones bodyguard performed for the World Wrestling Foundation for more than 10 years. After discovering he had blood clots, he became a TV commentator and an actor, but in 1990 he decided to run for mayor in Brooklyn Park, MN. He defeated the former mayor of 18 years and, in 1998, ran for governor, on a platform that promoted pro-choice, the right to bear arms, and LGBT rights. He never ran for a second term, but briefly taught at Harvard and had his own talk show.
3. Peter Garrett – Rock star (member of the House of Representatives, Australia)
Remember Midnight Oil, the band that sang about serious issues like the nuclear threat, homelessness, and Australia’s aboriginal population? Remember their hit single Beds Are Burning? Well, what you might not know, however, is that their lead singer Peter Garrett has a longstanding history in politics too. In 1984, he ran for Senate for the Nuclear Disarmament Party and lost, but he did become a member of the House of Representatives in 2004, on behalf of the Labor Party. In spite of the fact that his former rock star status makes him one of the politicians with the weirdest backgrounds ever, Garrett has served two terms (1989-1993; 1998-2004) as the President of the Australian Conservative Foundation.
2. Ilona Staller ‘Cicciolina’ – Adult film star (MP, Italy)
She barely needs any introduction, especially for Europeans. She held a 5 year term in the Italian Parliament, founded the ‘Party of Love’ together with colleague Moanna Pozzi, struggled to get brothels in Italy legalized and played a part in the furthering of sex ed in Italy. However, she also continued to perform in adult films. During the Gulf War, she actually proposed she have sex with Saddam Hussein, the then-leader of Iraq, in order to persuade him to make peace in the area. Hussein did not respond – nor did the Hungarian-born bombshell receive a second term.
1. Stubbs – Cat (mayor, AK, U.S.A.)
Forget about those human politicians with the weirdest backgrounds. Mayor Stubbs is, well, a cat. And, yes, he’s the (honorary) mayor of the town of Talkeetna, AK. He’s held that position since 1997, when he got elected into power. He’s a major tourist attraction, hugely fond of catnip-spiked water, and a Facebook star, with more than 10,000 followers. Also, he’s adorable.