The first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, Princess Diana was a member of the British royal family. As a princess, she became known for her unconventional approach to charity work. She was celebrated as a style icon and fashionista as well. She divorced Charles in 1996 and died in a tragic car accident the following year.
Marco Polo was a Venetian explorer, writer, and merchant. He explored Asia along the Silk Road and is credited with providing the Europeans with descriptions of the culture of the Eastern world, which remained unknown until his exploration. Polo's travel book inspired other travelers like Christopher Columbus. His writings also influenced European cartography, which led to the Fra Mauro map.
A prolific author, having written 12 published books and several articles, Helen Keller was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Her autobiography, The Story of My Life, made Keller famous and was adapted for film and stage. She was also an activist and campaigned for women's suffrage, labour rights, socialism and other such causes.
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.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was the second President of India and served from 1962 to 1967. He is regarded as one of India’s most eminent scholars and wrote extensively on Indian philosophy and religion. Lifelong he defended Hindu traditions and culture against criticism from the West. September 5, his birthday, is observed as Teachers Day in India, in his honour.
British explorer, navigator, and cartographer James Cook, who had also served the merchant navy and Royal Navy, was the first to complete an expedition around New Zealand. He explored areas in the South Pacific, such as eastern Australia and Hawaii. He was killed while trying to kidnap a Hawaiian king.
Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was the first to link Europe and Asia through an ocean route, when he reached Calicut in 1498, thus enriching Portuguese trade with Asia. He made a second voyage later. He was made Count of Vidigueira in 1519 and the viceroy of India in 1524.
Amerigo Vespucci was a merchant, navigator, and explorer. Credited with participating in two major voyages of the Age of Discovery, Vespucci's claim that the New World represented a new continent inspired cartographers to associate the name America (a Latinized form of his first name) to the newly discovered continents.
Francis Drake was an English explorer and naval officer. He is remembered for his Raiding Expedition, a prominent historical maritime event which unfolded between 1577 and 1580. Although Drake is considered a hero in the United Kingdom, his privateering led the Spanish to refer to him as a pirate. His expedition has also had a major cultural impact in Britain.
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.
14 Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta was a Berber-Moroccan explorer and scholar who traveled extensively, visiting most of the Old World over a period of three decades. He is one of the most traveled explorers in history. After returning home, Ibn Battuta dictated an account of his journeys, which is simply referred to as The Rihla.
15 Kofi Annan
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.
Spanish explorer and conquistador Juan Ponce de León was the first governor of Puerto Rico but had to give away the governorship to Christopher Columbus's son, Diego. Juan led the first European expedition to Florida. He was knighted by King Ferdinand but died in an attempt to colonize coastal U.S.
18 John Dewey
A staunch advocate of progressive education and liberalism, the American philosopher and psychologist was the founder of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. John Dewey’s famous writings included The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology and Human Nature and Conduct. According to him, passion for knowledge and intellectual curiosity were central to a teacher. He called himself a democratic socialist.
19 Nellie Bly
Nellie Bly was an American industrialist, journalist, inventor, and charity worker. She is remembered for her circumnavigation of the world in 72 days. She is also known for pioneering a new kind of investigative journalism as she worked undercover from within a mental institution to report on the institution. Nellie Bly’s life and work have inspired several works of art.
David Livingstone was a Scottish physician who played a major role at the London Missionary Society, where he was a pioneer Christian missionary. He is also remembered for his work as a missionary in Africa. Widely considered one of the most famous British heroes of the late Victorian era, Livingstone was mentioned in the 100 Greatest Britons list in 2002.
The first person to walk on the Moon, Neil Armstrong was an astronaut and aeronautical engineer. Prior to his trip to the Moon, he became NASA's first civilian astronaut to fly in space. After resigning from NASA, he taught in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He was a Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee.
American investor, business tycoon and philanthropist Warren Buffett is considered one of the most successful investors in the world by the media. The chairman and largest shareholder of the firm, Berkshire Hathaway, he is often called as the ‘Oracle’ or ‘Sage’ of Omaha. Notably, he has pledged to give away a sizable portion of his wealth to philanthropic causes.
Francisco Pizarro was a Spanish conquistador best remembered for his expeditions that eventually paved the way for the Spanish conquest of Peru. Along with Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Pizarro became the first European to reach the Pacific Ocean after crossing the Isthmus of Panama. After two failed expeditions to Peru, Pizarro led a third and successful campaign to conquer Peru.
Jackie Kennedy was a literature editor, photographer, and socialite who was once married to the former American President John F. Kennedy. She became the First Lady of the United States when her husband became the president. She was known for her iconic fashion style. She is considered one of the most popular and recognizable First Ladies in American history.
India's first Minister of Law and Justice, B. R. Ambedkar inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement. He also fought against social discrimination prevalent in India at that time. Widely regarded as the chief architect of the Constitution of India, Ambedkar was posthumously honored with India's highest civilian award - The Bharat Ratna.
26 Frida Kahlo
Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo, was known for her many portraits and self-portraits. Her work is said to have been inspired by the nature, artifacts and popular culture of Mexico. Her work was not much known until the late 1970s, when it was rediscovered by art historians and political activists. By early 1990s, she became a recognized figure in art history.
Born to parents who were bonded slaves, Harriet Tubman life was a difficult one from the very beginning. Yet with her remarkable courage and determination, she not only escaped slavery herself, but also led other enslaved people to freedom. The prominent political activist and abolitionist was also the first woman to lead an armed expedition during the American Civil War.
28 Sunny Leone
In 2010, Sunny Leone was named among 12 top porn stars by Maxim magazine. After a flourishing career in the porn industry, Sunny Leone settled in India where she is currently popular as a film actress. Her journey from a porn actress to a successful Bollywood personality is viewed as an inspirational story by many young women across the world.
29 Bill Gates
Leading American technologist, business leader and philanthropist, Bill Gates is the co-founder of the world’s largest software company, Microsoft. His passion for computers made him one of the richest in the world and through his charity foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, he and his ex-wife, Melinda, use this money generously to help people world over live a better life.
30 Desmond Doss
Desmond Doss was a US Army corporal. Doss served as a combat medic in World War II. For his actions during the Battle of Okinawa, Desmond Doss became the only conscientious objector to be honored with the prestigious Medal of Honor as he saved 75 men. His life and work inspired several books and the biographical war film Hacksaw Ridge.
Catherine “Kate” Middleton became the Duchess of Cambridge after her marriage to Prince William in 2011. Associated with countless charities, Kate and William started a mental-health campaign named Heads Together. Kate also gave rise to the “Kate Middleton effect" in the fashion world and was named to Time 100.
Wife of the former U.S President, Barack Obama, and one of the most popular First Ladies of the United States, Michelle Obama is a celebrity in her own right. She is still very popular and is a sought-after speaker around the globe and often lends her voice to issues like poverty awareness, education, nutrition, women’s rights, immigration and racism.
German monk Martin Luther challenged the dogmas of Roman Catholicism and the authority of the pope, in his Ninety-five Theses, and was thus excommunicated. His German translation of the Bible enriched the German culture, and his marriage set an example for clerical marriage. His teachings are now known as Lutherans.
34 John Jay
One of the Founding Fathers of the United States who signed the famous Paris Treaty, John Jay was best known as the first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, although he occupied various other important public positions. He was a diplomat, who shaped his country’s foreign policy. He passed legislation to gradually abolish slavery, but he himself owned five enslaved people.
35 Joan of Arc
Considered a great saint and a symbol of French unity, Joan of Arc led the French army to the watershed victory over the English forces in Orleans in 1429. In 1430, she was captured by the Anglo-Burgundians while defending Compiegne. She was burned at the stake at the age of 19 in 1431. Pope Benedict XV canonised her in 1920.
Pablo Picasso was a renowned artist whose paintings sell by millions of dollars at auctions even today, many years after his death. With masterful strokes, attractive shades and rich textures, Picasso created some of the most visually impressive arts of the 20th century. While exploring new styles and experimenting with different techniques, Picasso co-founded Cubist art style and co-invented collage.
37 Emmett Till
In the 1950s, a teenage African-American boy, Emmett Till was kidnapped, tortured and brutally killed for allegedly misbehaving with a white woman. Those responsible were never convicted but the brutality of the crime brought focus on racial discrimination and African-American Civil Rights Movement. It eventually played a crucial role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
38 Zheng He
Social reformer and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass was a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York. Born into slavery, he had a difficult early life. Eventually, he managed to escape and dedicated the rest of his life to promoting the cause of abolition. He was a great orator and writer.
Katherine Schwarzenegger is a young and confident woman. As an author, she encourages young women to achieve a positive self-image and confidence. Each of her books serves as a guiding light for women, children, and youngsters. She is also associated with non-profit organizations, such as Best Friends Animal Society and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
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.
A multi-talented personality, Howard Hughes was one of the richest person of his time. A business tycoon, he made big investments in films and aviation industry. Passionate about flying, he set numerous flying records, and also risked his own life in process. Howard Hughes who inherited his family business and became millionaire at the age of 18, was later on troubled with mental illness and turned recluse.
Pocahontas was a Native American woman born in the Powhatan tribal nation. She was embroiled in the hostility between the English colonial settlers and the natives in Virginia during the 1610s. Later she married an Englishman and was taken to England in 1616 for the world to see the example of the ‘civilised savage’. Her legacy continues in the US.
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.
45 Buzz Aldrin
Widely regarded as the richest person in modern history and the wealthiest American ever, John D. Rockefeller was a business magnate who founded the Standard Oil Company. He was America’s first billionaire. He also defined the structure of modern philanthropy as the foundations created by him had a major effect on scientific research, medicine, and education.
Salvador Dali was a Spanish artist best remembered for his precise draftsmanship and technical skills. His artwork is famous for depicting bizarre and striking images. In spite of producing brilliant artworks, Dali's ostentatious and eccentric public behavior often overshadowed his professional achievements, much to the irritation of his fans and critics. His works have influenced other artists like Jeff Koons.
John F Kennedy Jr was the son of former US President John F Kennedy. He tragically died at a young age of 38 when the plane he was flying crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts in 1999. He was a lawyer and a journalist and had founded the trendy political magazine, George, which stopped publication in 2001.
50 John Glenn
The first American to orbit the Earth, John Glenn was an astronaut, aviator, politician, and businessman. Beginning his career as an army man, he was a fighter pilot in World War II. He later joined NASA and was one of the Mercury Seven. Following his retirement from NASA, he became a politician and served in the US Senate.