When Fidel Castro was in power, the island nation of Cuba banned music from the Beatles, as well as lots of other popular musicians. It was Western decadence, so it didn’t have a place in Castro’s Cuba. After the Beatles broke up, Lennon went on to become a big-time political activist, constantly sparring with those in the government, especially in the Nixon years.
The news from Miami was beamed to Cuba, where Castro and other high-ranking members of the regime could watch. Castro found a strange sort of kinship in Lennon, which doesn’t exactly say many good things about Lennon. The rock musician became an icon in Cuba, with a bronze statue in the park. He’s such a popular figure that the statue doesn’t have glasses, because people keep stealing them.
Jerry Lewis – France
If you’ve never popped in a classic Jerry Lewis film, you’re missing out. His brand of comedy and humor have to be seen to be believed, and it’s no surprise that American audiences loved his slapstick, jokes, and strange noises. However, France seemed to like him even more. To many French audiences, Lewis embodied and satirized the “ugly American” trope, which gave them plenty to laugh at.
Influential film critic Robert Benayoun, who wrote the seminal book on Lewis, called him a revolutionary, a man who dared, an experimentalist, and a pioneer. It also helped that his movies were really, really funny. Even now, public showings of any of Jerry Lewis’s filmography are bound to draw big crowds. Finally, Lewis appreciated the French right back, making numerous trips to the country.
John Cusack – China
While not the biggest name in his native America, John Cusack still enjoys the celebrity life. But in China, he’s at the top of the list. He started getting lead roles in a number of Chinese projects such as the hit “Dragon Blade.” This started because one of his films, “2012,” ended up being a big smash in China, proving that something can be popular anywhere.
In recent years, he’s starred in plenty of projects of varying sizes, from independent films to blockbusters, and while they’ve met with mixed box-office success in America, they remain draws in China. He also has some collaborations with Jackie Chan who is obviously famous in America, but might be the most well-known celebrity in China. Cusack has also loved martial arts, and uses it in several of his movies.
Chris de Burgh – Lebanon
Irish singer/songwriter Chris de Burgh released “Lady in Red” back in 1986 and the song immediately became a big hit in a number of countries, including the Middle Eastern country of Lebanon. However, it was the Lebanese civil war that was the real root cause of de Burgh’s popularity. Bet you didn’t expect that one, did you? As bombs fell on one side or the other, the Lebanese would shelter in bunkers, listening to music to pass the time.
Of course, a beautiful, memorable song like “Lady in Red” would be on constant rotation, and thus this musician became a household name halfway across the world from his native Ireland. Local musicians consider being able to perform with him a huge boost to their career, and for the most part, they are correct.
Gérard Depardieu – Russia and North Korea
French actor Depardieu wasn’t happy with his native country, and it’s for one of the most classic reasons to be unhappy – the high taxes. He decided that the best course of action would be to move to Russia. Okay, Big G, whatever makes sense to you. France imposes high taxes on the wealthy, which is always a winning idea (sarcasm), and this traveling man figured he would move to Russia, and Russia was all about it.
His popularity even led President Putin to grant Depardieu citizenship. In addition, Depardieu has also made trips to North Korea, making him popular there just for recognizing them. He also liked Turkey and had talks with President Erdogan. One might wonder why Depardieu is always getting cozy with despots, but that’s a question for another time.