Some celebrities make music; others make movies, while some adorn weird Wikipedia pages. But the rarest of the breed are those who change the world meaningfully without an influential work or charity concert! We praise extraordinary celebrities for whom entirely new laws were created:
Oprah Ensures a Registry of Child Abusers
A victim of child indecent abuse herself, Oprah vowed that no other child should go through that ordeal as her. In 1991, she paid for and hired lawyers to create the National Registry of Convicted Child Abusers by passing a bill to enact it. It’s unimaginable that such laws didn’t exist as six states with own registries, found 6,200 convicted abusers trying to get jobs in childcare in 1991 alone. The Bill was passed in 1993 only after Oprah testified before the Senate.
Hugh Jackman and wife Deborra-Lee Changed Australian Adoption Laws
Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee considered adopting orphans from very impoverished countries, but Australia had strict laws about overseas adoption, and takes up to ten years. Jackman and Furness bypassed Australia completely, using Furness’ U.S. green card to adopt children from America. Determined to clear the mess, the couple led an adoption lobby group and press campaign about how Australian laws discouraged adoption. The Prime Minister got involved, announcing easier adoption laws for children.
Rebecca Schaeffer’s Death Made it a Crime to Stalk People
In the 1980’s, Rebecca Schaeffer, a star received from a fan, Robert Bardo, a volume of letters, soon escalating to harassing her agent for information. Bardo hired a private investigator to get Schaeffer’s address from the DMV, for just a $4 fee and shot her at her door. Bardo confided in his sister about his obsession with someone he couldn’t have and eliminating what he couldn’t. California then enacting the country’s first ever anti-stalking law, after Schaeffer was brutally murdered.
John Lennon’s Desire to Remain in America Revolutionized Immigration Law
In the early ’70s, President Nixon though faced with Watergate, spent much effort and time, to get John Lennon deported. Lennon had a drug record after a 1968 arrest in England, so it seemed like an easy win. Lennon could afford great legal representation with stiff objections to the deportation. Fellow Beatle George Harrison later testified that the same police officer had previously planted banned drugs on him, too and that Lennon was similarly being unfairly targeted, even as more than 1,800 similar deportation cases were not taken up. Lennon won his case and set a precedent crucial to U.S. immigration law. That decision helped President Obama to propose the DREAM Act and eventually implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Jayne Mansfield’s Death Changes How Trucks Are Built
Jayne Mansfield, the original pin-up girl, was known more for her ample “assets” than her acting ability, often compared to Marilyn Monroe, with both suffering tragic deaths. Jayne’s boyfriend was at the driver’s wheel, and was taking her, her three kids and her lawyer back to a hotel in New Orleans, when they collided with a slow-moving tractor-trailer. Only the 3 sleeping children survived. Today’s trucks are built to prevent this exact thing from occurring, but back then, horrified people called for trailers and trucks to be fitted with a rear bar to stop smaller cars from going under then in case of a collision. In 1998, rear underside bars, known as Mansfield bars, finally became part of federal law. Her death was tragic, but inspired new safety equipment invented in her name.