Famous 20th Century Diplomats

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Vote for Your Favourite 20th Century Diplomats

 1 
Shirley Temple
(Actress, 27th United States Ambassador to Czechoslovakia)

Shirley Temple
7
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
(Archaeologist & Army Officer Known for His Legendary War Activities in the Middle East During World War I)

T. E. Lawrence
5
Birthdate: August 16, 1888
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Tremadog, Carnarvonshire, 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
(Ist Female U.S. Secretary of State)

Madeleine Albright
5
Birthdate: November 28, 1937
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Smíchov, Prague, Czechia
Died: March 23, 2022
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 also chaired the Albright Stonebridge Group and taught at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.
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 4 
Eleanor Roosevelt
(Longest-Serving First Lady of The United States)

Eleanor Roosevelt
6
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
(Former UN Secretary General)

Kofi Annan
4
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
(35th United States Secretary of War & Son of Abraham Lincoln)

Robert Todd Lincoln
5
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 
António Guterres
(9th Secretary-General of the United Nations)

António Guterres
4
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

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 8 
Zbigniew Brzezinski
(United States National Security Advisor (1977-81))

Zbigniew Brzezinski
4
Birthdate: March 28, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland
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.

 9 
Dag Hammarskjöld
(Secretary-General of the United Nations (1953-61))

Dag Hammarskjöld
4
Birthdate: July 29, 1905
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Jönköping, Sweden
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.

 10 
Chiune Sugihara
(Diplomat)

Chiune Sugihara
4
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. 

 11 
Kurt Waldheim
(Secretary-General of the United Nations (1972-81))

Kurt Waldheim
4
Birthdate: December 21, 1918
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sankt Andrä-Wördern, 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.

 12 
Henry Kissinger
(56th United States Secretary of State (1973-77))

Henry Kissinger
7
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.

 13 
Nikki Haley
(The First Female Governor of South Carolina)

Nikki Haley
4
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.

 14 

George F. Kennan
4
Birthdate: February 16, 1904
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Died: March 17, 2005

 15 
Sidney Poitier
(Director and the First African-American to Win an Academy Award for Best Actor)

Sidney Poitier
4
Birthdate: February 20, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Miami, Florida, United States
Died: January 6, 2022

Sidney Poitier was a Bahamian-American actor who became the first Afro-Bahamian and Black male actor to receive an Oscar for Best Actor in 1964. In 2009, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His life and work inspired a couple of documentary films, including the 2008 film Sidney Poitier, an Outsider in Hollywood.

 16 
Colin Powell
(The First African-American Secretary of State)

Colin Powell
4
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.

 17 
U Thant
(3rd Secretary General of the U.N. (1961-71))

U Thant
4
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.

 18 
Condoleezza Rice
(66th United States Secretary of State (2005-09))

Condoleezza Rice
4
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.

 19 
Gary Hart
(Politician)

Gary Hart
4
Birthdate: November 28, 1936
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ottawa, Kansas, United States

 20 

Warren Christopher
4
Birthdate: October 27, 1925
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Scranton, North Dakota, United States
Died: March 18, 2011

 21 
Vyacheslav Molotov
(Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Soviet Union (1930-41))

Vyacheslav Molotov
4
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.

 22 
Gertrude Bell
(Writer, Diplomat)

Gertrude Bell
5
Birthdate: July 14, 1868
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Washington, United Kingdom
Died: July 12, 1926

Born into a wealthy English family, Gertrude Bell was an explorer at heart and went down in history for her journeys across the Middle East and for helping establish the Hāshimite dynasty in Iraq. Though she graduated in history from Oxford, being a woman, she wasn’t awarded a degree.

 23 
Rory Stewart
(Political Leader)

Rory Stewart
4
Birthdate: January 3, 1973
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: British Hong Kong

The son of a soldier and intelligence officer, Rory Stewart was educated at Eton and Oxford and was also a tutor to princes William and Harry. Apart from being a diplomat and MP later, he also traveled across several countries on foot and wrote about this remarkable journey in a bestselling book.

 24 
James Baker
(Former US Secretary of State)

James Baker
4
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.

 25 

J. Christopher Stevens
4
Birthdate: April 1, 1960
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Grass Valley, California, United States
Died: September 11, 2012

 26 
Sergey Lavrov
(Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia (Since 2004))

Sergey Lavrov
4
Birthdate: March 21, 1950
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

Sergey Lavrov is a Russian diplomat and politician. Since 2004, he has been serving as the foreign minister of Russia. An alumnus of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), he began his diplomatic career in 1972. Considered a brilliant diplomat, he was later appointed to the post of minister of foreign affairs. He is multi-lingual. 

 27 

Folke Bernadotte
3
Birthdate: January 2, 1895
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden
Died: September 17, 1948

 28 
John Gavin
(Actor)

John Gavin
4
Birthdate: April 8, 1931
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Died: February 9, 2018

 29 
Raoul Wallenberg
(Humanitarian)

Raoul Wallenberg
4
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.

 30 
Shashi Tharoor
(Writer, Politician, Diplomat)

Shashi Tharoor
6
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.

 31 
Sargent Shriver
(Politician)

Sargent Shriver
4
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.

 32 
Alexander Haig
(United States Secretary of State (1981-82))

Alexander Haig
4
Birthdate: December 2, 1924
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: February 20, 2010

 33 
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
(7th Director-General of the World Trade Organization)

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
4
Birthdate: June 13, 1954
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ogwashi Ukwu, Nigeria

 34 
Andrew Young Jr.
(55th Mayor of Atlanta (1982 - 1990))

Andrew Young Jr.
4
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.

 35 
Dan Coats
(Politician, Diplomat)

Dan Coats
4
Birthdate: May 16, 1943
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Jackson, Michigan, United States

 36 

Caroline Kennedy
0
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.

 37 
John Eisenhower
(Diplomat, Military historian, Author, Writer, Biographer)

John Eisenhower
4
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.

 38 

Sérgio Vieira de Mello
4
Birthdate: March 15, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Rio de Janeiro
Died: August 19, 2003

 39 

Lawrence Durrell
4
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.

 40 
George J. Mitchell
(United States Special Envoy for Middle East Peace (2009-2011))

George J. Mitchell
4
Birthdate: August 20, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Waterville, Maine, United States

 41 
Jon Huntsman Jr.
(Politician)

Jon Huntsman Jr.
4
Birthdate: March 26, 1960
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Redwood City, California, U.S.

 42 
Roger Casement
(British Diplomat Known as ‘Father of Twentieth-Century Human Rights Investigations')

Roger Casement
4
Birthdate: September 1, 1864
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sandycove, Ireland
Died: August 3, 1916

Roger Casement was an Irish nationalist and diplomat. Also a well-known humanitarian activist, Casement is remembered for the Casement Report, a 1904 document in which he wrote about the abuses in the Congo Free State. His investigations of human rights abuses earned him a knighthood in 1911. However, Casement was stripped of his knighthood after being charged with high treason.

 43 
Julie Bishop
(Jurist, Politician, Diplomat, Lawyer)

Julie Bishop
4
Birthdate: July 17, 1956
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lobethal

Julie Bishop is an Australian former politician who once served as the Minister for Foreign Affairs. For several years, she was the deputy leader of the Liberal Party. She studied law at the University of Adelaide and worked as a commercial lawyer before venturing into politics. In 2020, she became the first woman chancellor of the Australian National University.  

 44 

Christiana Figueres
4
Birthdate: August 7, 1956
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: San José, Costa Rica

 45 

Samantha Power
4
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.”

 46 
Mohammed Daoud Khan
(Politician, Diplomat)

Mohammed Daoud Khan
4
Birthdate: July 18, 1909
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kabul
Died: April 28, 1978

 47 
Bill Richardson
(Politician)

Bill Richardson
4
Birthdate: November 15, 1947
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Pasadena, California Pasadena, California, United States

 48 
Raymond A. Spruance
(Navy admiral during World War II)

Raymond A. Spruance
4
Birthdate: July 3, 1886
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Died: December 13, 1969

 49 
Joseph C. Wilson
(Diplomat, Writer, Whistleblower, Businessperson)

Joseph C. Wilson
4
Birthdate: November 6, 1949
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Bridgeport

 50 

Lewis Wallace
4
Birthdate: April 10, 1827
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brookville, Indiana, United States
Died: February 15, 1905