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Singers who've become actors, from Frank Sinatra to Mariah Carey

“Mile 22,” due in theaters Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, marks the latest action-thriller from Mark Wahlberg, who plays an undercover government agent trying to protect a man with valuable information. Wahlberg has clearly come a long way since rapping in his hip-hop group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch in the early 1990s. He earned a platinum album, but he has found more success on the big screen: His movies have earned a combined $2.9 billion in ticket sales according to Box Office Mojo. 

How have other pop music vocalists fared in Hollywood? The results have been mixed to say the least. Here are 25 folks who have gone from the concert stage to the big screen, and how they stack up. 

Bing Crosby

Photo Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

HIT SONG “White Christmas” 
BEST MOVIE “Going My Way,” 1944 
WORST MOVIE “Say One For Me,” 1959 
Before Elvis, even before Frank, Bing turned his musical persona — the laid-back cool cat — into big-screen stardom, launching the “Road” comedies with Bob Hope and appearing in several hit musicals. He won the best actor Academy Award as a priest in “Going My Way.” 
MOVIE STARDOM (3.5 out of 4 stars) 

Pictured: Barry Fitzgerald, left, and Bing Crosby hold Oscars for their work in "Going My Way." 

Frank Sinatra

Photo Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

HIT SONG “Strangers in the Night” 
BEST MOVIE “The Manchurian Candidate,” 1962 
WORST MOVIE “Dirty Dingus Magee,” 1970 
The young Sinatra was such a skinny, mournful crooner that he was caricatured as a vitamin-deficient canary in the 1947 cartoon “Catch as Cats Can.” As Sinatra’s music toughened, so did his movie roles: He won an Oscar as a scrappy soldier in “From Here to Eternity” (1953) and played a traumatized vet in “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962). 
MOVIE STARDOM (3.5 stars) 

Dean Martin

Photo Credit: AP

HIT SONG “That’s Amore” 
BEST MOVIE “Rio Bravo,” 1959 
WORST MOVIE “Cannonball Run II,” 1984 
The consummate lounge lizard and all-around entertainer, Martin was a strong film presence nearly his entire career, from his early hit comedies with Jerry Lewis to his romps with the Rat Pack in “Ocean’s Eleven.” 
MOVIE STARDOM (2.5 stars) 

Elvis Presley

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Liaison

HIT SONG “Hound Dog” 
BEST MOVIE “Viva Las Vegas,” 1964 
WORST MOVIE “Clambake,” 1967 
Presley made more than 30 feature films, but does he count as a movie star? In fact, do those even count as movies? Presley’s low-concept musicals often barely qualified as camp, but they’re also valuable documents of a magnetic, mesmerizing performer. 
MOVIE STARDOM (2.5 stars) 

Pictured: Ann-Margaret and Presley and in a 1964 promotion for "Viva Las Vegas."

Glen Campbell

Photo Credit: AP

HIT SONG “Rhinestone Cowboy” 
BEST MOVIE “True Grit,” 1969 
WORST MOVIE “Norwood,” 1970 
He might have been a pretty boy, but Campbell was also a crackerjack musician (he played guitar with the famous Wrecking Crew) and a surprisingly natural actor. His performance as a preening Texas Ranger helped make “True Grit” a classic. 
MOVIE STARDOM (2 stars) 

Barbra Streisand

Photo Credit: Hulton Archive, Getty Images/Harry Benson

HIT SONG “The Way We Were” 
BEST MOVIE “The Way We Were,” 1973 
WORST MOVIE “Little Fockers,” 2010 
After a prolific recording career, Streisand made her movie debut in the 1968 musical “Funny Girl” and promptly won the Oscar for best actress. These days, after a long string of cinematic works (including “A Star is Born” and her directorial debut, “Yentl”), Streisand almost seems like a singer second. 
MOVIE STARDOM (4 stars) 

Kris Kristofferson

Photo Credit: AP

HIT SONG “Me and Bobby McGee” 
BEST MOVIE “A Star is Born,” 1976 
WORST MOVIE “Heaven’s Gate,” 1980 
Known as a country singer’s country singer, Kristofferson put his rugged good looks to use on the screen in Martin Scorsese’s “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” the comedy-drama “Semi-Tough” and others. He next appears in Ethan Hawke’s country music biopic “Blaze,” opening in New York on Sept. 7, 2018.
MOVIE STARDOM (3 stars) 

Mick Jagger

Photo Credit: Hulton Archive, Getty Images Express/Joe Bangay

HIT SONG “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” 
BEST MOVIE “Performance,” 1970 
WORST MOVIE “Freejack,” 1992 
Jagger’s claim to movie fame is a weird mood-piece about a debauched rock star who allows a hit man (James Fox) into his world. Codirected by Nicolas Roeg, it’s a standout film, though Jagger showed little interest in movies afterward. 




Diana Ross

Photo Credit: Hulton Archive, Getty Images/Monti Spry

HIT SONG “You Can’t Hurry Love” 
BEST MOVIE “Lady Sings the Blues,” 1972 
WORST MOVIE “The Wiz,” 1978 
After leaving the Supremes — a story that itself inspired the musical and movie “Dreamgirls” — Ross went solo and made her movie debut playing Billie Holiday in “Lady Sings the Blues.” She earned an Oscar nod for the performance. 
MOVIE STARDOM (1.5 star) 

Bob Dylan

Photo Credit: Hulton Archive, Getty Images/William Lovelace

HIT SONG “Blowin’ in the Wind” 
BEST MOVIE “Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid,” 1973 
WORST MOVIE “Hearts of Fire,” 1987 
Sam Peckinpah’s 1973 hippie-western cast Dylan as a spacey outlaw with the meta-nickname Alias, but otherwise he tended to play an eccentric musician — not exactly a stretch. 
MOVIE STARDOM (1/2 star) 

In the photo:  Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan  at the Isle of Wight Pop Festival in England. 

David Bowie

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Hulton Archive, Central Press

HIT SONG “Let’s Dance” 
BEST MOVIE “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” 1976 
WORST MOVIE “The Linguini Incident,” 1991 
Like Jagger, Bowie turned to director Nicolas Roeg for his major film debut. The result, 1976’s “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” capitalized on Bowie’s space-alien image but also helped define it for years to come. Bowie went on to make his mark in “Labyrinth,” “Basquiat,” “The Prestige” and others. 
MOVIE STARDOM (3 stars) 


Dolly Parton

Photo Credit: Everett Collection/Universal

HIT SONG “9 to 5” 
BEST MOVIE “9 to 5,” 1980 
WORST MOVIE “Rhinestone,” 1984 
Even if Parton’s only movie was the classic workplace comedy “9 to 5,” she’d still rank high on this list. The lovable country star also appeared in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” “Steel Magnolias” and 2012’s “Joyful Noise.” 
MOVIE STARDOM (3 stars) 


Photo Credit: AP/Reed Saxon

HIT SONG “Believe” 
BEST MOVIE “Moonstruck,” 1987 
WORST MOVIE “Burlesque,” 2010 
Cher’s 1969 acting debut, “Chastity,” written and produced by then-husband Sonny Bono, was such a flop that she avoided acting for almost 15 years. She became a genuine star in the 1980s and is still a draw today, helping turn “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” into a hit. 
MOVIE STARDOM (3.5 stars) 


Photo Credit: Hulton Archive, Getty Images/Cinergi Pictures Entertainment

HIT SONG “Like a Virgin” 
BEST MOVIE “Desperately Seeking Susan,” 1985 
WORST MOVIE “Swept Away,” 2002 
The feminist icon made a lot of bad movie choices with male partners, notably Sean Penn in “Shanghai Surprise,” Warren Beatty in “Dick Tracy” and director Guy Ritchie with “Swept Away.” She got good marks for “Evita,” though. 
MOVIE STARDOM (2 stars) 

Pictured: Antonio Banderas and Madonna in 1997's "Evita."

Will Smith

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Elisabetta Villa

HIT SONG “Parents Just Don’t Understand” 
BEST MOVIE “Men in Black,” 1997 
WORST MOVIE “After Earth,” 2013 
He used to be the Fresh Prince, but now he’s the king of Hollywood. Somehow, audiences forget his duds — “Wild Wild West,” “The Legend of Bagger Vance” — and remember only high points like “Independence Day” and “The Pursuit of Happyness.” 

Whitney Houston

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Kevin Winter

HIT SONG “I Will Always Love You” 
BEST MOVIE “The Preacher’s Wife,” 1996 
WORST MOVIE “The Bodyguard,” 1995 
In her short time as an actress, Houston never made a truly terrible film: “Waiting to Exhale” had its charms, and “The Bodyguard” remains a classic guilty pleasure. Houston seemed to be mounting a big-screen comeback with the musical remake “Sparkle,” but she died shortly after filming ended, in 2012. 
MOVIE STARDOM (2 stars) 

Queen Latifah

Photo Credit: AP/Willy Sanjuan

SONG “U.N.I.T.Y.” 
BEST MOVIE “Chicago,” 2002 
WORST MOVIE “Just Wright,” 2010 
She began as a rare female rapper in the late 1980s, but by the late ‘90s Latifah was an established actress with roles in “Set It Off,” “Living Out Loud” and Martin Scorsese’s “Bringing Out the Dead.” She’s also the voice of the mammoth matriarch Ellie in the animated “Ice Age” movies. 
MOVIE STARDOM (3.5 stars) 

Ice Cube

Photo Credit: AP/Reed Saxon

HIT SONG “Straight Outta Compton” 
BEST MOVIE “Boyz N The Hood,” 1991 
WORST MOVIE “Lottery Ticket,” 2010 
The founder of N.W.A. was once notorious for his anti-cop rhymes, but now he plays a police detective in the “Ride Along” comedies. And speaking of franchises: Cube created “Barbershop” and “Friday,” and plays recurring roles in “xXx” and “Jump Street.” 
MOVIE STARDOM (3 stars) 

Tupac Shakur

Photo Credit: AP/Kevin Larkin

HIT SONG “”How Do U Want It/California Love” 
BEST MOVIE “Gridlock’d,” 1997 
WORST MOVIE “Above the Rim,” 1994 
The rapper might have been a movie-star in the making, an absolute natural whether playing a romantic lead (“Poetic Justice”) or a heroin addict (the dark comedy “Gridlock’d”). His final film, “Gang Related,” came out a year after his death, in 1997. 


Janet Jackson

Photo Credit: AP

HIT SONG “What Have You Done For Me Lately” 
BEST MOVIE “Poetic Justice,” 1993 
WORST MOVIE “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps,” 2000 
A music superstar who outranks her famous late brother on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (her songs stayed there longer), Janet Jackson has fared only so-so on film. Three of her five features were made under director Tyler Perry. 
MOVIE STARDOM (1.5 stars) 


Mark Wahlberg

Photo Credit: AP/Rick Maiman

HIT SONG “Good Vibrations” 
BEST MOVIE “Boogie Nights,” 1997 
WORST MOVIE “Transformers: The Last Knight,” 2017 
First the leader of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, then a Calvin Klein underwear model, Wahlberg found his true calling in movies — particularly in action-crime films (“The Italian Job,” “The Departed”) and comedies (“Ted,” “The Other Guys”). His days as Marky are all but forgotten. 
MOVIE STARDOM (4 stars) 


Mariah Carey

Photo Credit: AP/Joel Ryan

HIT SONG “All I Want For Christmas is You” 
BEST MOVIE “Precious,” 2009 
WORST MOVIE “Glitter,” 2001 
An ostensible star vehicle for Carey, “Glitter” became a legendary bomb thanks to numbingly bad reviews, a release date shortly after 9/11 and Carey’s hospitalization for “exhaustion.” Carey returned to deliver brief but excellent performances in two Lee Daniels films, “Precious” and “The Butler.” 
MOVIE STARDOM  (1.5 stars) 


Photo Credit: Getty Images/Michael Tullberg

HIT SONG “Yeah!” 
BEST MOVIE “Fast Five,” 2011 
WORST MOVIE “Crash,” 2004 
For a while, the guest-rapper Ludacris was the ketchup of hip-hop: everyone put him on everything, and he always made it better. He’s been like that as an actor, too, spicing up the “Fast and Furious” movies and adding a bit of zip to the mushy (but Oscar-winning) “Crash.” 
MOVIE STARDOM (2.5 stars) 

Justin Timberlake

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Stephen Lovekin

HIT SONG “SexyBack” 
BEST MOVIE “The Social Network,” 2010 
WORST MOVIE “The Love Guru,” 2008 
He’s certainly versatile, having held his own in the gritty crime-drama “Alpha Dog,” the rom-com “Friends With Benefits” and David Fincher’s Oscar-nominated “The Social Network.” Timberlake has been in a lot of duds, too: Remember “Yogi Bear”? 
MOVIE STARDOM (2 stars) 


Lady Gaga

Photo Credit: Getty Images for NARAS/Kevin Winter

HIT SONG “Poker Face” 
DEBUT MOVIE “A Star is Born,” Oct. 5, 2018 
Stefani “Lady Gaga” Germanotta has so far done little acting, save in her music videos and on FX’s “American Horror Story.” Her first major movie role, in Bradley Cooper’s remake of “A Star is Born,” may determine whether she’s another Streisand, or another Madonna. 
MOVIE STARDOM (to be determined)


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