It isn’t usual for famous people including artists, musicians, athletes and others to be politically active or/and publicly express support to political parties, candidates for public offices or/and policies. In the past, however, this was sometimes very dangerous. Listed below are a few famous individuals who got into trouble for their political views.
Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977). The famous English actor and filmmaker who is best known for the Tramp didn’t hesitate to raise his voice against ‘injustices’ and the government’s interference with civil liberties. While he rejected the allegations that he was a communist, he openly criticised the U.S. government’s actions against the members of the Communist Party in the 1940s which soon earned him a spot on the so-called Hollywood blacklist. Like other actors, directors, screenwriters and others in the entertainment industry who were on the blacklist for their ‘dangerous’ political views or associations, he suffered a major setback in his career. Nevertheless, he didn’t allow to be silenced. But as the Red Scare intensified, Chaplin also experienced a growing hostility from the public. In 1952, he thus left the United States.
Orson Welles (1915-1985). Just like Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles was put on the Hollywood blacklist as well. The celebrated writer, director and producer didn’t hide his leftist political views which automatically raised red flags. After the release of Citizen Kane (1941), now regarded as one of the best films ever made, Orson got even more suspicious to the American authorities.
John Lennon (1940-1980). The English singer, songwriter and co-founder of the Beatles, was politically very active, especially after he moved to the United States. Besides campaigning for peace, Lennon also heavily criticised the Vietnam War. This angered the U.S. administration which even tried to deport him in 1973. He managed to avoid getting expelled from the United States but didn’t get his green card until 1977.
Victor Hugo (1802-1885). The French novelist, dramatist and poet came into conflict with the authorities as well. He openly attacked the new French Emperor Napoleon III (r. 1851-1870), calling him a traitor. Compelled to leave France, he settled in Brussels and then in Jersey but was forced to leave the island as well for his involvement in a newspaper that attacked Queen Victoria. He continued with his political activism in exile and although his pamphlets were prohibited in his home country, they had a strong influence on public opinion. Hugo returned to France only after the downfall of Napoleon III in 1870.