Famous 20th Century Diplomats

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple
Famous As: Actress, United States Ambassador to Czechoslovakia (1989-92)
Birthdate: April 23, 1928
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Santa Monica, California, United States
Died: February 10, 2014

After starting her film career at the age of three, Shirley Temple went on to become Hollywood's highest-grossing child actress from 1935 to 1938. She is the epitome of popular child stars who lose their charm as they grow up. Despite failing as an adult actress, she is ranked 18th in the greatest female screen legends of Classic Hollywood list.

 2 T. E. Lawrence

T. E. Lawrence
Famous As: Archaeologist
Birthdate: August 16, 1888
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Tremadog, Wales
Died: May 19, 1935
T. E. Lawrence was a British army officer who participated in the Arab Revolt, against the Ottoman regime, during World War I. Nicknamed Lawrence of Arabia, he inspired a movie of the same name. His treatise of his war experiences was published as Seven Pillars of Wisdom, his best-known work.

 3 Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright
Famous As: Politician & Diplomat
Birthdate: May 15, 1937
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Prague, Czechia
Madeleine Albright served as the U.S. Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001, under Bill Clinton, and was the first woman to hold the post. The Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee has also chaired the Albright Stonebridge Group and teaches at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.
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 4 Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt
Famous As: First Lady of the United States (1933-1945)
Birthdate: October 11, 1884
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: November 7, 1962

Feminist and civil rights icon Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was the longest-serving U.S First Lady. She was a prominent human rights activist, wrote columns, and hosted a radio show. She was named to Gallup's List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century in 1999.

 5 Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan
Famous As: Former UN Secretary General
Birthdate: April 8, 1938
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kumasi, Ghana
Died: August 18, 2018

Ghanaian diplomat Kofi Annan served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006. He was the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation and a co-recipient of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. During his stint with the UN, he launched the UN Global Compact and worked to combat HIV/AIDS. 

 6 Robert Todd Lincoln

Robert Todd Lincoln
Famous As: Politician, Son of Abraham Lincoln
Birthdate: August 1, 1843
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Springfield, Illinois, United States
Died: July 25, 1926

Lawyer Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln, served as the U.S. Secretary of War from 1881 to 1885 and as the U.S. minister to the U.K. from 1889 to 1893. He had served in the Civil War, too, and had also been the president of the Pullman Car Company

 7 Susan Rice

Susan Rice
Famous As: Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations
Birthdate: November 17, 1964
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Susan Rice has been the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and the national security advisor. She was chosen by Joe Biden as the director of the Domestic Policy Council. Rice was supposed to become the secretary of state, replacing Hillary Clinton in 2013, but withdrew due to the Benghazi attack.
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 8 António Guterres

António Guterres
Famous As: 9th Secretary-General of the United Nations
Birthdate: April 30, 1949
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Lisbon

António Guterres is a Portuguese diplomat and politician who served as Portugal's prime minister from 1995 to 2002. A favorite among the masses, Guterres was ranked the best prime minister of Portugal over the last 30 years in polls conducted in 2012 and 2014. In 2009, he was named in Forbes magazine's list of world's most powerful people

 9 Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger
Famous As: Politician, Diplomat
Birthdate: May 27, 1923
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Fürth, Germany

Henry Kissinger's heart-warming story of a Jewish who fled Nazi Germany in 1938 to become an influential politician in the USA is truly inspirational. As a National Security Advisor and US Secretary of State, Henry played a key role in the US foreign policy from 1969 to 1977. Henry Kissinger is also criticized by some as an alleged war criminal.

 10 Zbigniew Brzezinski

Zbigniew Brzezinski
Famous As: Former Diplomat, Political Scientist
Birthdate: March 28, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Warsaw
Died: May 26, 2017
Polish-American diplomat Zbigniew Brzezinski had been a counselor to President Lyndon B. Johnson and the National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter. He believed in the realist school of international relations. He also taught foreign policy and was seen in programs such as The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

 11 Dag Hammarskjöld

Dag Hammarskjöld
Famous As: Second Secretary-General of the United Nations
Birthdate: July 29, 1905
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Jönköping
Died: September 18, 1961

Dag Hammarskjöld was a Swedish diplomat and economist. In 1953, Hammarskjöld became the youngest person to be appointed as the Secretary-General of the United Nations. He died in airplane crash in 1961. Dag Hammarskjöld became the first person to be honored with a Nobel Peace Prize posthumously.

 12 Samantha Power

Samantha Power
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 21, 1970
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and academic Samantha Power has previously served as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. She was a war correspondent before she became a professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. She worked on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and infamously called Hillary Clinton "a monster.”

 13 Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Boutros Boutros-Ghali
Famous As: Former UN Secretary General
Birthdate: November 14, 1922
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cairo, Egypt
Died: February 16, 2016

Grandson of former Egyptian prime minister Boutros Ghali Bey, politician Boutros Boutros-Ghali is remembered for his tenure as the secretary-general of the UN, which witnessed peacekeeping activities in war-torn areas such as Bosnia and Herzegovina. His illustrious career boasted of various prestigious academic positions and a Fulbright scholarship.

 14 Kurt Waldheim

Kurt Waldheim
Famous As: Former President of Austria & UN Secretary General
Birthdate: December 21, 1918
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sankt Andrä-Wördern near Vienna, German Austria
Died: June 14, 2007

While he claimed he studied at the University of Vienna during World War II, documents recovered later suggested that Kurt Waldheim was in fact part of the German army in the Balkans. Waldheim later became the president of Austria and the secretary-general of the United Nations.

 15 Chiune Sugihara

Chiune Sugihara
Famous As: Diplomat
Birthdate: January 1, 1900
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kozuchi Town (now Mino, Gifu Prefecture), Japan
Died: July 31, 1986

Chiune Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat best remembered for helping thousands of Jews flee Europe during the Second World War. He did so by issuing transit visas to the Jews, enabling them to travel through Japanese territory. Sugihara helped the Jews despite knowing that he was risking the lives of his family and his job. 

 16 Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley
Famous As: 29th United States Ambassador to the United Nations (2017-2018)
Birthdate: January 20, 1972
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bamberg, South Carolina, United States

Born to Indian immigrant parents, Nikki Haley went on to become the first Indian-American to hold an office in South Carolina and later became its governor—the first woman and second Indian American to be appointed governor in the US. A published author, she has also served as the US ambassador to the United Nations.

 17 Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice
Famous As: Former United States Secretary of State
Birthdate: November 14, 1954
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Birmingham, Alabama, United States

The 66th United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made history in 2005 when she became the first female black Secretary of State. She is also the first female to serve as National Security Advisor, a position which she served from 2001 to 2005. One of the most powerful women in the world at one point of time, she has been depicted in Hollywood films.

 18 Colin Powell

Colin Powell
Famous As: 65th United States Secretary of State (2001-2005)
Birthdate: April 5, 1937
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Died: October 18, 2021

A veteran politician who served as the 65th United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell was the first African-American Secretary of State. A member of the Republican Party, he was an army man prior to entering politics. He was a  four-star general at the time of his retirement. After leaving politics, he pursued a career as a public speaker.

 19 George F. Kennan

George F. Kennan
Famous As: Diplomat
Birthdate: February 16, 1904
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Died: March 17, 2005

 20 U Thant

U Thant
Famous As: 3rd Secretary General of the U.N. (1961-71)
Birthdate: January 22, 1909
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pantanaw, Myanmar (Burma)
Died: November 25, 1974

Burmese diplomat U Thant made history by becoming the first non-Scandinavian to be named the UN secretary-general. Later in life, he tried applying Buddhist principles such as detachment to solve major international conflicts. Following his death in New York, his burial in Burma became a source of riots.

 21 Gary Hart

Gary Hart
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: November 28, 1936
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ottawa, Kansas, United States

 22 Vyacheslav Molotov

Vyacheslav Molotov
Famous As: Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Soviet Union (1930-41)
Birthdate: March 9, 1890
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sovetsk, Russia
Died: November 8, 1986

Vyacheslav Molotov was a Soviet diplomat and politician. An Old Bolshevik, Molotov played a key role in bringing the Bolsheviks to power. He also played a major role during the Great Purge, signing 373 execution lists. Molotov was portrayed by actor Michael Palin in the 2017 political satire black comedy film The Death of Stalin.

 23 Valerie Jarrett

Valerie Jarrett
Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: November 14, 1956
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Shiraz
Valerie Jarrett served as the senior advisor to former president Barack Obama and the director of the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs from 2009 to 2017. She had previously served Mayor Richard Daley as his deputy chief of staff and had hired Michelle Obama, then-fiancée of Obama.

 24 Warren Christopher

Warren Christopher
Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: October 27, 1925
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Scranton, North Dakota, United States
Died: March 18, 2011

 25 Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor
Famous As: Writer, Politician, Diplomat
Birthdate: March 9, 1956
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London

Born in London, to an Indian couple, Shashi Tharoor is known for his award-winning books such as the The Great Indian Novel and his over-the-top English vocabulary. Tharoor is also a Congress MP. He made headlines when his wife Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in a luxury hotel.

 26 Gertrude Bell

Gertrude Bell
Famous As: Writer, Diplomat
Birthdate: July 14, 1868
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Washington, United Kingdom
Died: July 12, 1926

 27 James Baker

James Baker
Famous As: Former US Secretary of State
Birthdate: April 28, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States
Attorney James Baker was made the White House chief of staff and then the secretary of the treasury by President Ronald Reagan. He managed George H. W. Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign and became the White House chief of staff under him, witnessing the Gulf War and the Cold War.

 28 Fridtjof Nansen

Fridtjof Nansen
Famous As: Explorer, Polymath
Birthdate: October 10, 1861
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Oslo, Norway
Died: May 13, 1930

Fridtjof Nansen was a Norwegian polymath who won the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 1922 for his post-war efforts after the First World War. A well-known explorer, humanitarian, and diplomat, Nansen achieved international fame for his attempt to reach the geographical North Pole during his Fram expedition. His techniques and innovations influenced a generation of succeeding Antarctic and Arctic expeditions.

 29 Paul Wolfowitz

Paul Wolfowitz
Famous As: Political scientist, Diplomat, Politician, Economist, Banker
Birthdate: December 22, 1943
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ithaca

 30 Lawrence Durrell

Lawrence Durrell
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: February 27, 1912
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Jalandhar
Died: November 7, 1990
Lawrence Durrell, eldest brother of naturalist and author Gerald Durrell, was a poet and writer whose best-known work is The Alexandria Quartet, the tetralogy of novels, including the famous book Justine. Constance from The Avignon Quintet earned a Booker Prize nomination. He is also known for his extensive travel writing.

 31 Richard Holbrooke

Richard Holbrooke
Famous As: Banker, Diplomat, Politician, Writer
Birthdate: April 24, 1941
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City
Died: December 13, 2010

 32 Kevin Rudd

Kevin Rudd
Famous As: 26th Prime Minister of Australia
Birthdate: September 21, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Nambour, Queensland, Australia

Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd has been an Australian Labor Party leader and his country’s foreign affairs minister, too. After graduating in Chinese studies, he directly stepped into a diplomatic career. He has also worked for KPMG Australia as a Senior China Consultant and has penned a memoir.

 33 Jean Chrétien

Jean Chrétien
Famous As: 20th Prime Minister of Canada
Birthdate: January 11, 1934
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada
Jean Chrétien was the Canadian prime minister from 1993 to 2003. He has previously served in cabinet posts such as the minister of justice and the minister of finance. He has led the Liberal Party of Canada and helped in the passage of the Clarity Act.

 34 Sargent Shriver

Sargent Shriver
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: November 9, 1915
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Westminster, Maryland, United States
Died: January 18, 2011
Sargent Shriver was part of the Kennedy family, as the husband of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of President John F. Kennedy. He was part of the U.S. Navy and also worked as an assistant editor at Newsweek. He developed many anti-poverty programs and was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 1972.

 35 Folke Bernadotte

Folke Bernadotte
Famous As: Diplomat
Birthdate: January 2, 1895
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden
Died: September 17, 1948

 36 Alexander Haig

Alexander Haig
Famous As: Former United States Secretary of State
Birthdate: December 2, 1924
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: February 20, 2010

 37 Kim Campbell

Kim Campbell
Famous As: Politician, Diplomat
Birthdate: March 10, 1947
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Port Alberni, British Columbia, Canada

Canadian politician and Progressive Conservative leader Kim Campbell made headlines when she became the first woman to serve as the prime minister of Canada and remains the only woman to have achieved the feat. After quitting her doctoral studies, she studied law and joined the British Columbia Bar.

 38 Alexander Vindman

Alexander Vindman
Famous As: Military officer
Birthdate: June 6, 1975
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kyiv, Ukraine

Alexander Vindman served as the Director for European Affairs for the United States NSC under Donald Trump. He testified against Trump in his impeachment case in 2019 and subsequently resigned from his military post, citing political bullying by the Trump administration as one of the reasons.

 39 K. R. Narayanan

K. R. Narayanan
Famous As: President of India
Birthdate: October 27, 1920
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Uzhavoor
Died: November 9, 2005

Born to a modest Ayurveda practitioner in a Kerala village, K. R. Narayanan initially dabbled in journalism and then studied political science at LSE. He later served as the president of India, becoming the first Dalit to achieve the feat. He had also been an ambassador to the U.S. and China.

 40 Raoul Wallenberg

Raoul Wallenberg
Famous As: Humanitarian
Birthdate: August 4, 1912
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lidingö, Sweden
Died: January 17, 1945

Swedish architect Raoul Wallenberg went down in history as a savior for Jews during the Nazi regime. He not only issued provisional Swedish passports, or Schutzpass, to protect Jews, but also set up safe houses for them. He disappeared amid mysterious circumstances. Many believe he died in a Soviet prison.

 41 J. Christopher Stevens

J. Christopher Stevens
Famous As: Diplomat
Birthdate: April 1, 1960
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Grass Valley, California, United States
Died: September 11, 2012

 42 Dan Coats

Dan Coats
Famous As: Politician, Diplomat
Birthdate: May 16, 1943
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Jackson, Michigan, United States

 43 Sérgio Vieira de Mello

Sérgio Vieira de Mello
Famous As: Diplomat
Birthdate: March 15, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Rio de Janeiro
Died: August 19, 2003

 44 Andrew Young Jr.

Andrew Young Jr.
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: March 12, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Andrew Young Jr. is an American activist, politician, and diplomat. Young is best known for his role in the civil rights movement; a close associate of Martin Luther King Jr., Andrew Young served as the executive director of a civil rights organization called Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Andrew Young is a recipient of the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 45 Jean Kennedy Smith

Jean Kennedy Smith
Famous As: Diplomat
Birthdate: February 20, 1928
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Brookline

 46 Caroline Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: November 27, 1957
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cornell Medical Center Hospital, New York City, New York, U.S.

Caroline Kennedy is an American author, diplomat, and attorney. The only surviving child of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Caroline served as the US Ambassador to Japan between 2013 and 2017. A prolific author who writes about civil liberties, Caroline Kennedy has also served as a spokesperson for the Kennedy family's legacy.

 47 Alger Hiss

Alger Hiss
Famous As: Diplomat
Birthdate: November 11, 1904
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Died: November 15, 1996

 48 Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Famous As: 7th Director-General of the World Trade Organization
Birthdate: June 13, 1954
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ogwashi Ukwu, Nigeria

 49 John Eisenhower

John Eisenhower
Famous As: Diplomat, Military historian, Author, Writer, Biographer
Birthdate: August 3, 1922
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Denver
Died: December 21, 2013

U.S. Army officer John Eisenhower was the son of military-general-turned-president Dwight D. Eisenhower. He had donned many hats, from teaching English to serving on his father's White House staff. He also assisted his father in writing his memoirs and had been the American ambassador to Belgium, too.

 50 Jon Huntsman Jr.

Jon Huntsman Jr.
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: March 26, 1960
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Redwood City, California, U.S.