To celebrate the turn of the century, we paused for a moment to
remember a few of the personalities that shaped the 20th century. Their
decisions, contributions, creations and /images have carved a niche in
This New Orleans native is heralded as one of the originators of scat
singing and a legend in jazz music. Armstrong has heavily influenced
the pop, rock, blues and jazz of today. His billboard smash "Hello,
Dolly" knocked the Beatles down from the prestigious number one seat
"One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," Armstrong said
as he took man's first step on the moon after Apollo 11 touched down
on the lunar surface. The Ohio native prefaced his space career with
flying experience in the Army and the Navy.
Americans fell in love with Brando when they met him in "A Streetcar Named
Desire" and "On The Waterfront." The Nebraska native was an ardent
supporter of civil rights and fair treatment for American Indians. He
captivated fans with "The Godfather" and "Last Tango in Paris," and
Roger Ebert has called Brando "the greatest screen actor of all time."
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill served in the army and the
Parliament of England. Queen Elizabeth II knighted him, and John F.
Kennedy made him an honorary U.S. citizen. Churchill gave the English
people hope and pulled England through World War II after the Axis
Powers had taken control of the majority of mainland Europe.
William Jefferson Clinton was the last United States President of the
20th Century. The country experienced a booming economy during his
tenure, but Clinton received incredible scrutiny and an impeachment
decision that color his legacy. His personal troubles in office are
redefining what the role of a president is, what behavior is
acceptable and what privacy limits a human being, regardless of
title, is due.
Walt Disney is synonymous with fun and fantasy. The legendary creator
of Mickey Mouse has left his stamp on American culture. After growing
up in Chicago and serving in the American Ambulance Corps, Disney
introduced the world to Mickey, Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia and
every child's playground, Disneyland.
Henry Ford, who lived from 1863-1947, revolutionized travel. He
founded Ford Motor Company in 1903 and began the mass production of
automobiles with the Model T and A. In 1913, he began the first
moving assembly line, making cars less expensive and more available
to everyday folks.
Sigmund Freud's ideas have affected the way we think about sex,
mentality, memory, adolescence and meaning. Freud's views are still
contested, but they have forever influenced the way we think about
He has been crowned the human being of the 20th century on many
occasions. Gandhi dedicated his life to truth and liberty for every
person, regardless of religion or race. He sent this message to the
world through non-violent means and campaigned vigorously for Indian
independence, human rights and economic exploitation. Mahatma means
"The Great Soul."
This Illinois native served on the front of Italian battle lines in
the volunteer ambulance unit. The Italian government decorated him
after he was wounded in battle. Hemingway returned to Europe during
his career as a newspaper reporter and found inspiration for many of
his novels while traveling.
This Cold War warrior began his life as a shepherd and locksmith. He
served in World War I and gained favor in Stalin's eyes. Once Premier
of the Soviet Union, Khrushchev changed foreign policy strategy and
sought peace and economic competition with Western countries. In his
efforts to fight the Cold War, Khrushchev began the Cuban Missile
Crisis that originally infuriated Americans and, after its
conclusion, disappointed many Russians.
A Baptist minister and dynamic speaker, King was a powerful civil rights leader.
He established the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as a base for nonviolent protests, including the 1963 March on Washington and the 1965 voter registration drive in Selma, Ala.
In 1964, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. While planning a Poor People's March for antipoverty legislation, he was shot and killed in Memphis, Tenn. James Earl Ray was convicted of the murder. 1999 marked the 70th anniversary of King's birth.
The 1993 winner of the Nobel peace Prize spent his life striving for
equality in South Africa. He worked through the African National
Council to fight the segregationist policies that dominated his
African home. After years of imprisonment, Mandela was released in
1990, and in 1991, he became president of the African National
This brave Israeli woman, who spent her childhood in Wisconsin, is
one of the shining success stories of female leadership. Golda Meir
served as Israel's prime minister from 1969-1974. Under her
leadership, Israel strengthened ties to the United States, fought
terrorism and found increased economic assistance.
Yugoslavian-born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu joined the Sisters of Loreto
in 1928. Naming herself after St. Teresa of Lesiux, Mother Teresa
became a servant of India's poorest and a symbol of what is good and
unselfish to the rest of the world. She began the Missionaries of
Charity in Calcutta, India, a group of nuns dedicated to serving the
poor. The order began with 12 members and now has over 3,000 in 100
This founder of the Nationalist Fascist Party led Italy during World
War I. He ended parliamentary government in Italy and became the
country's dictator. During World War I and II, this ally of Hitler
marched on Ethiopia, Albania, Greece and North Africa.
The 40th President of the United States saw the end of the Cold War,
played a lead role in the Iran Contra Affair and authored the Trickle
Down economics policy. The former film star ushered in the age of the
media-efficient President, handling the press with a masterful touch.
This contemporary artist has left a mark on popular culture. The
multi-talented artist tried his hand at filmmaking, magazine
publishing, illustrating, painting, producing music, designing and
Born a minister's son, Woodrow Wilson went on to lead the world out
of World War I. Wilson strove for world peace with the failed League
of Nations and the Treaty of Versailles, and succeeded with domestic
legislation such as the Federal Reserve Act and the Underwood Act.