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.
An Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, wanted to discover a direct water route from Europe to Asia. In his four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain, however, what he ended up discovering was not Asia, but America. Though he was not the first one to land in America, his historical journey began what eventually turned into Spanish colonization of America.
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.
Amelia Earhart became the first female pilot to complete a solo trans-Atlantic flight, in 1932. A champion for equal rights, Amelia later wrote best-selling memoirs and contributed to the women pilot’s group The Ninety-Nines. In 1937, Amelia disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean and was later declared dead.
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 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.
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.
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.
11 James Cook
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.
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.
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.
20 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.
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.
22 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.
23 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.
25 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.
Savitribai Phule was a revolutionary social reformer who dedicated her life to educate girls and bring about gender equality in the face of resistance from the conservative Indian society. Phule, who was illiterate till her marriage, went on to become a teacher, a feat considered first by an Indian woman. With her husband, she established schools for girls in Maharashtra.
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.
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.
Jacques Cousteau was a French explorer, naval officer, filmmaker, conservationist, scientist, photographer, researcher, and author. Renowned for his exploration of various forms of life in water, Jacques Cousteau is credited with pioneering marine conservation and co-developing the Aqua-Lung, the first underwater breathing apparatus to achieve popularity and commercial success.
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.
A leader in the civil rights movement in the mid-twentieth century, Martin Luther King Jr. is best remembered for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience. A man of Christian faith who was inspired by Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent activism, he was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for fighting racial inequality.
35 Muhammad Ali
Widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time, Muhammad Ali was a major figure of the 20th century. He was an inspirational figure for African-Americans during the civil rights movement. Because of his opposition to Vietnam War and his refusal to be drafted into military, Muhammad Ali became an icon for the larger counterculture generation.
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.
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.
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.
40 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.
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.
42 Mia Khalifa
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.
44 Walt Disney
Walt Disney is considered to be the forerunner of the American animation industry. He has won 22 Oscars and holds the record for most Academy Awards earned by an individual as a film producer. His The Walt Disney Company has produced many successful animation films. He later established amusement theme park, Disneyland, in 1955, which has since grown manifold.
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.
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.
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.
48 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.
Prince Philip was the husband of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Born into the Greek and Danish royal families, he first met Elizabeth in 1934. After courting her for a few years, he married her in 1947. He was formally made a British prince in 1957. He was the oldest-ever male member of the British royal family.
An Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and a missionary, Mother Teresa was the founder of Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation. She was both an admired and controversial figure and was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. While she was admired by many for her charitable work, she also earned criticism for her stance against abortion and contraception.