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Top 20 Celebrity Activists of All Time

An inside look at stars ranging from Harry Belafonte to Ronald Reagan

Former President Bill Clinton hugs Barbra Streisand at political event

Barbra Streisand hugs former President Bill Clinton at a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York in 2006. — Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Barbra Streisand

Few stars have shown more longevity in their political commitments than the flamboyant and impassioned Streisand, who has lent her soaring soprano to Democratic presidential candidates from Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The list of causes she has embraced spans decades — from Daniel Ellsberg's defense fund to post-Chernobyl opposition to nuclear power to her early involvement in the debate over global climate change.

But Streisand's greatest political impact came when she emerged from a self-imposed exile from politics and public performing in 1986 to sing at a fundraising gala she held at her Malibu home for Democratic Senate candidates. The event pulled in $1.5 million — a huge sum at the time — and helped Democrats recapture the Senate that fall. It also signaled Hollywood's revival as a fundraising powerhouse for left-leaning causes after the decline of its '60s-era liberal establishment.

With her star power, Streisand widened the path from Washington to Hollywood — deepening the conviction in the capital that an unparalleled pot of gold awaited along the Pacific.

Next: Elizabeth Taylor >>

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