LONDON - From tattooed wild woman to humanitarian heroine -- what a difference a few years has made for Angelina Jolie, who topped a Reuters poll released on Thursday of the best celebrity humanitarians of 2007.
Hollywood star Jolie commanded the greatest public respect of all celebrity public do-gooders this year due to her work as a U.N. goodwill ambassador and as the adoptive mother tried to raise awareness of suffering in Africa.
But the poll by humanitarian Web site Reuters AlertNet (http://www.alertnet.org) found not all do-gooders fared so well, with fellow adoptive mother Madonna voted the least respected celebrity altruist of 2007 despite raising millions for orphans in Malawi, and Bob Geldof struggling for support.
Madonna's image was hit by claims she used her fame and wealth to circumvent Malawian adoption rules.
"People aren't stupid," said Peter Walker, director of the Feinstein International Famine Center at Tufts University.
"They can really sense when it's just an endorsement and when somebody really means it. Someone like Angelina Jolie comes across as having more integrity than some celebrities and a greater sense that she doesn't just do this for the publicity."
The online poll of 606 people conducted from December 7 to 19 put 32-year-old Jolie ahead of U2 singer Bono, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Microsoft founder Bill Gates -- all of whom have helped put African suffering on the global agenda.