Category Archives: Distinguished Person

Person: Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby has excelled in so many segments of the entertainment industry. Stand-up comedian, actor, author - and citizen. Uploaded by

Which Bill Cosby do you like best? Maybe the stand-up comedian, who broke ground with memories of his childhood – Rudy, Mushmouth, Russell and Fat Albert (“Hey, hey, hey!”). And who put the story of Noah into a perspective it hadn’t been told before (“Riiight…what’s a cubit?”).

Maybe you like Bill the serious actor, from his stint as the first African-American to co-star in a dramatic series (I Spy), movies (Let’s Do It Again, Uptown Saturday Night, Mother, Jugs and Speed),  situation comedies (The Bill Cosby Show and, of course, The Cosby ShowGreat American Things, June 20, 2009) .

Uploaded by

Or perhaps it’s Bill Cosby the outspoken citizen, who has urged the black community to pay less attention to sports and rap music, and more to raising strong families and focusing on education.

Cosby is beloved by Americans of all ages and races, as his honors reveal. Professionally, he’s won three Emmys and nine Grammys. He’s received honorary doctorates from major universities. And he’s been awarded both the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2002) and Kennedy Center Honors (1998).

All this, and we haven’t even talked about Jell-O…

Person: Willis Carrier

While he doesn't typically get recognized in the pantheon of great American inventors, Willis Carrier's invention of air conditioning has increased productivity, allowed the growth of the Sunbelt, and saved the lives of thousands with respiratory problems. Uploaded by

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Willis who?” When the roll of great American inventors is called, you usually hear the names of Edison (Great American Things, Mar. 25, 2010), the Wright Brothers (Great American Things, Sept. 13, 2009), and maybe Alexander Graham Bell. Let’s here and now make sure to include Willis Carrier, inventor of air conditioning. As we say in the South, Bless his heart.

Uploaded by

Carrier, a mechanical engineer first submitted theoretical drawings for a/c in 1902. He received his first patent in 1906, and his systems were in use in factories and some residences by the 1920s. The Depression and World War II slowed the demand for the product, but the 1950s saw a huge growth in demand.

Now, think of the great things that air conditioning made possible. Its use in factories caused productivity to increase dramatically during summer months. The massive migration to the Sunbelt states wouldn’t have occurred without a/c. Thousands of lives have been saved, people who suffer from respiratory problems that air conditioning relieves. And, doggone it, it’s simply made life more livable for everyone. You don’t get enough credit, Mr. Carrier. But we salute you and recognize your accomplishments as one of the truly Great American Things.

Person: Cesar Millan

Cesar Millan's program, The Dog Whisperer, debuted on the National Geographic Channel in 2004, and became the network's highest-rated show the first season. Uploaded by

Aren’t you fascinated by those people who know from a very young age what they want to do in life? Growing up in Mexico, Cesar Millan had such a way with dogs that he earned the nickname “The Dog Boy.” At the age of 13 he told his mother that he wanted to be the best dog trainer in the world.

Photo by Mark Thiessen, National Geographic Channel.

So, he did what many others who want to be the very best do – he came to the United States. Illegally. I’m a bit ambivalent about honoring someone who took this route, but Millan learned English, took steps to become legal, and became a U.S. citizen in 2009. He created the Dog Psychology Center, where he sharpened his theories of mastering dogs by creating a calm energy, and making the dog’s owner its “pack leader.”

He pitched a television show — The Dog Whisperer — to the National Geographic Channel, and it became the network’s highest-rated program in its first season. The show has been nominated for an Emmy as Best Reality Program three times and has won a People’s Choice Award. While there are those in the animal community who dislike his methods, he received an award from the Humane Society of the United States for his work in rehabilitating animals.

Person: Harry Truman

Truman is the closest thing we've had to a common man as President in a long time. Though he was a senator from Missouri, he did his job in obscurity until FDR chose him to replace Henry Wallace in his third term. Uploaded by

Again, I tread lightly when selecting a person from the political realm. But as with Ronald Reagan (Great American Things, February 7, 2011), I admire Harry Truman for the kind of person he was, not just for the job he did as President. But I do admire that as well.

Truman was plucked from obscurity by Franklin Roosevelt to succeed Henry Wallace as Vice President for FDR’s third (and fourth) term. Well, being a U.S. Senator from Missouri isn’t quite obscurity, but Truman wasn’t a leader on the national stage. When Roosevelt died unexpectedly of a cerebral hemorrhage, Truman became the leader of the free world in the midst of a world war.Upon taking office, he said, “Boys, if you ever pray, pray for me now. I don’t know if you fellas ever had a load of hay fall on you, but when they told me what happened yesterday, I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me.”

Uploaded by

He performed admirably, making the difficult decision to drop the A-bomb on Japan that ended the conflict. Among his other notable accomplishments were implementing the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, creating the Air Force and the CIA, airlifting crucial supplies to break the blockade of West Berlin, recognizing the state of Israel, and assuring civilian control of the military by firing Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

Truman said of his life, “I always remember an epitaph which is in the cemetery at Tombstone, Arizona. It says: ‘Here lies Jack Williams. He done his damnedest.’ I think that is the greatest epitaph a man can have…That is all you can ask of him and that is what I have tried to do.”

Person: Ronald Reagan

It was said by some that America didn't support Reagan's policies, but he was such a great communicator that he sold his ideas. Reagan said, "I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things." Uploaded by

This has never been a political blog, so please don’t misinterpret the inclusion of our 40th President as a departure from that principle. He was a great man, and the things which made for his inclusion on this list aren’t political.

For example, Reagan was optimistic about our country and our future. He took office just six years after Nixon resigned in shame and immediately following a crisis in which Americans were held hostage for a year in Iran. His belief in our institutions, our people, and our Constitution were contagious – and very much needed.


Uploaded by

And it isn’t just his Presidency that is worth honoring. He was a good actor – not great – and retained a lifelong nickname of The Gipper from his role as George Gipp in 1940’s Knute Rockne, All-American. He became familiar on the small screen as well, serving as a spokesman for General Electric on The General Electric Theater, then later hosting Death Valley Days as well.


It’s sometimes said by his detractors that Reagan’s policies weren’t all that popular, but he persuaded people because he was such a good communicator. In his farewell address, he refuted that idea. “I wasn’t a great communicator,” he said, “but I communicated great things, and they didn’t spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation — from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in principles that have guided us for two centuries.”

Person: Walt Disney

Think of all the areas Walt's imagination created -- animated feature films, family movies, children's television, prime time variety TV, and theme parks. He changed American entertainment. Uploaded by

Lots of people have changed American culture. Some for better, some for worse. But few have had the positive influence that Walter Elias Disney brought to the world of entertainment.

Uploaded by

From Steamboat Willie to The Wonderful World of Color to Epcot Center, Walt Disney’s imagination has inspired and delighted generations of Americans. His movies managed to achieve the near impossible task of simultaneously enthralling both children and adults.

Just think of all the areas his imagination affected. He virtually invented the animated feature film with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Great American Things, October 22, 2010) … Made memorable live-action movies for families, such as The Absent-Minded Professor and Mary Poppins … Had a huge impact on the development of television, with both The Mickey Mouse Club and the Wonderful World of Disney… virtually invented the theme park with Disneyland, then ratcheted it up to a whole new level with Disney World.

In the Disney movie Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket said it best: “Like a bolt out of the blue, fate steps in and sees you through. When you wish upon a star your dreams come true.”

Originally posted April 14, 2009

Person: Harry Houdini

Houdini escaped from handcuffs, strait jackets, crates submerged in the river, even graves. Uploaded by

Houdini’s first trick was to escape his name — Erich Weiss. I don’t know why, but you don’t expect the most amazing escape artist in history to have that name. Or to come from Appleton, Wisconsin. Or to be only 5’5″ tall and have a high-pitched voice. But such was Houdini’s talent and reputation, that he rose above all these limitations.

Uploaded by

Houdini’s act wasn’t an instant success. In fact, he became so discouraged that he took out an ad to sell all his magic equipment for $20. No one called. Then he came up with what he called the “Challenge Act.” He told the audience he could escape from any pair of handcuffs they produced. (Local law enforcement officers started jamming them on purpose to thwart him.) He then started escaping from more difficult circumstances — upside down in a strait jacket, jail cells, padlocked crates thrown in rivers, an oversize milk can filled with water, even being buried alive.

Sadly, Houdini also thought he could escape death from a ruptured appendix. He was wrong. A fascinating display of Houdini memorabilia and paraphernalia is part of an exhibit titled Houdini’s Art and Magic. It’s going to be on display at the Jewish Museum in New York through March 27, 2011, then will be moved to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Madison, Wisconsin.

I think I see my grandfather in this video. He’s the man in the hat:

Person: Dick Clark

The World's Oldest Living Teenager made his mark as host of American Bandstand. The dance show ran weekly through most of four decades. Uploaded by

It would be easy to pigeonhole Dick Clark as a dance show host or a game show host, or a New Year’s Eve host. And he is all those things, but he is so much more than that. He’s also an entertainment mogul whose company, Dick Clark Productions, produces the Golden Globes telecast, the American Music Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards, and even So You Think You Can Dance. (Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, purchased DCP in 2007.)

Of course, everyone got to know Dick Clark through American Bandstand (Great American Things, July 7, 2009) which began its national run in 1957 and stayed on weekly until 1987. During that time he also started his $10,000/

Uploaded to Flickr by dtramos.

$20,000/ $25,000/ $50,000/ $100,000 Pyramid shows which earned him three Emmy Awards as best game show host. He also had a top 40 countdown show on radio in addition to the syndicated Rock, Roll & Remember.

These are just the highlights of a long and distinguished career in broadcasting that culminated in membership in these halls of fame: Rock and Roll, Broadcasting Magazine, Radio, and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, as well as a Peabody Award and a Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Because he retained his youthful looks forever, a long-running joke held that he was “America’s Oldest Living Teenager.” As we all know, that myth was shattered by a devastating stroke in 2004. Though rumors of his death continue to circulate, he is still alive as of this posting and recently celebrated his 81st birthday.

Person: Dave Barry


You just look at Dave Barry, and you say, This is a funny guy. This isn't the face of a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. But he is. It is. Whatever. Uploaded by

Dave Barry is one funny guy. Okay, I suppose that’s like saying broccoli is one green vegetable. Still, he’s funny when he writes, he’s funny when he talks, and forgive me, he even looks funny. Not weird funny, but ha-ha funny. You look at him, and you know you’re not seeing the face of a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist.

Uploaded by

Whoops! Yes you are. Or you would. Or whatever tense I was using. Which leads me to my favorite Dave Barry alter ego, Mr. Language Person. If I can find one (and if it’s legal wink-wink), I’m going to link to one of the Mr. Language Person columns. Dave was syndicated out of the Miami Herald for 25 years, but he retired from the weekly grind in 2004. We can point to that date, and to the date when Bill Watterston stopped producing Calvin and Hobbes (Great American Things, October 8, 2009) as the beginning of the end for America’s newspaper industry.

If you’ve read Dave’s columns or books, you don’t need me to tell you what a funny guy he is. But if you should not know his work, I’ve found an Ask Mr. Language Person column for you. You can then go to your local bookstore and purchase one of his books. Or visit the Miami Herald website, where you can also see some more of his work. Thanks, Dave Barry, for helping us all not to take ourselves so seriously.

Person: Ralph Lauren


Ralph Lauren started out selling neckties to his classmates in high school. Today he's the world's 173rd richest person according to Forbes, with personal wealth estimated at $4.6 billion. Uploaded by

Some people struggle through their lives, never finding what they’re meant to do, never experiencing more than a regular paycheck. Then there are those, like Ralph Lauren, who seem to understand their destiny from an early age. While still in high school, Ralph Lauren was known by his classmates as the guy who sold them neckties. In the yearbook he wrote that he wanted to be a millionaire.

Uploaded by

In the ensuing years, he’s sold neckties and every other piece of casual clothing that goes on the human body under his “Polo Ralph Lauren” brand. And he’s expanded into fragrances, bedding and bath products, furniture, and home decor. He now presides over one of the largest retail empires in the world, with annual sales in 2009 of just over five billion dollars.

Lauren has mastered the art of selling in tiers – the purple label for high rollers, the black label just below that, down to Polo, Polo Denim, Polo Golf, Polo Sport, etc. He’s ridden that polo pony to riches and fame. So how did the dream of the boy born Ralph Lifshitz do on his dream of becoming a millionaire? Pretty good, I’d say — Forbes named him the 173rd richest person in the world with a personal fortune estimated at $4.6 billion. Buddy, that’s a lot of neckties.

Person: George Eastman


The original 1888 Kodak camera. Prior to Eastman's invention, cameras were about the size of microwave ovens. The Kodak camera put photography into the ordinary person's hands. Uploaded by

You have a camera. As inexpensive and easy as digital models have become, you may even own several. Then you owe a debt to the man who took early cameras, which were the size of microwave ovens, and invented a way for them to be held in the hands. George Eastman invented roll film, then created the personal-size box camera he called “Kodak.”

Uploaded by

As with many inventors, Eastman was single-minded as he worked on his invention. He’d work as a clerk in a bank all day, then come home and experiment in his mother’s kitchen into the night, sometimes sleeping on the kitchen floor. Clearly, his hard work paid off: In 1880, he leased space on the third floor of a building in Rochester, New York, and established the Eastman Kodak Company.

Eastman coined a slogan for his business that could be used today: “You press the button, we do the rest.” Of course, that would be unacceptable by today’s standards. The film had to be shipped to Rochester where it was processed, and prints sent to the camera’s owner. Eastman Kodak became hugely successful, and Eastman gave away much of his fortune, becoming one of America’s leading philanthropists.

By the way, the original Kodak camera cost $25. But think of that in 1880s terms…

Person: Henry Ford

The greatest kings of history never dreamed of the comfort and mobility we enjoy in our automobiles. For this, we can thank Henry Ford. Uploaded by

You have a car. I have a car. All God’s children have cars. For this convenience, which the greatest kings in history never dreamed of, we have Henry Ford to thank.

Not that Ford invented the automobile, or anything. He didn’t even build the fanciest or most comfortable “horseless carriages” of the day. What he did was invent and build the Model T, about which he said, “I will build a motor car for the great multitude.” That was in 1908, and in the next nineteen years he built 15,500,000 of them, amounting to about half of the entire world’s production of automobiles during that era.

Uploaded by

Ford was not only an industrialist, but also a prolific inventor. He was awarded 161 patents for his creations. He used his innovations to create mass production, an assembly line the likes of which the world hadn’t seen before. He also offered the best wages in Detroit, drawing the most talented people in the area to his firm and keeping turnover to a minimum.

Ford also created the dealership system, providing outlets for his cars throughout the country. When he moved to Detroit from his family’s farm, two in eight Americans lived in cities. By the time of his death in 1947, it was five in eight. Henry Ford wasn’t a gentle man, not necessarily a pleasant man, in fact, he had some opinions that today are cringe-worthy. But his vision changed the way the world lives, which truly made him a great man.

Person: Julia Child

Julia Child brought the art of French cooking to America in her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Uploaded by

Julia Child didn’t set out to be a cooking celebrity. While that’s now a common condition, thanks to such outlets as The Food Network, Julia’s dream was not celebrity. She fell in love with French cooking, and she wanted her fellow Americans to appreciate it as well.

While Julia’s husband Paul was assigned to work in France, Julia took advantage of the opportunity to attend the world-famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. That led to a friendship with two women, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, who were attempting to write a cookbook teaching French cooking to Americans. Julia enthusiastically joined in, and the eventual result was Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The book not only became a bestseller, it became a standard that French chefs have attempted to meet or exceed ever since.

Uploaded by

Julia became a staple of public television; her first program, The French Chef, ran for nearly a decade and won both Emmy and Peabody awards. She was almost always on television thereafter, though the names of the shows changed to describe each series. She expanded her own home kitchen to a functioning television set from which she filmed most of her episodes. The kitchen today can be seen in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Meryl Streep portrayed Julia in the 2009 movie, Julie & Julia. Writer Julie Powell had attempted to prepare every one of Julia’s 524 recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking during one year, and wrote a popular blog about it. Julia Child was unimpressed. She said, “I worked very hard on that book. I tested and retested those recipes for eight years so that everybody could cook them. And many, many people have. I don’t understand how she could have problems with them. She just must not be much of a cook.”

Julia Child received the French Legion of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She also published 18 books, most of which are still in print today…

Person: Albert Einstein

Born in Germany and educated in Switzerland, Einstein recognized the Nazi threat and emigrated to the U.S. He became an American citizen in 1940. Uploaded by

Einstein was not an American by birth; he grew up in Munich, then went to secondary school and university in Switzerland. But he, along with many other scientists, saw what lay in store for the Jews when Hitler rose to power. In fact, there was a $5,000 bounty placed on his head by the Nazi regime. He therefore emigrated to the United States in 1933, and became an American citizen in 1940.

By the time he arrived in the U.S., Einstein was already world famous for his theory of relativity, and he had received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. Einstein took a position at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey (which is not affiliated with Princeton University). As World War II approached, Einstein wrote a famous letter to President Franklin Roosevelt, warning him that Germany might be attempting to develop a nuclear bomb. He told the President about the urgency of developing the weapon first, and his letter is credited with prodding Roosevelt to action. Einstein himself never worked on the Manhattan Project, however.

Uploaded by

When the first president of Israel died, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion asked Einstein to be the new state’s leader. Einstein refused, realizing that he was more comfortable with theories than people. He said, “I am deeply moved by the offer from our State of Israel, and at once saddened and ashamed that I cannot accept it. I have neither the natural ability nor the experience to deal with human beings.”

Einstein was politically active following World War II. Calling racism America’s “worst disease,” he joined the NAACP at Princeton. He also vocally opposed Sen. Joseph McCarthy, whose Congressional investigations attempted to find Communists in public life. Einstein wrote a letter that was published in many newspapers in which he condemned the hearings. “Every intellectual who is called before one of the committees ought to refuse to testify,” he wrote.

Time Magazine named Einstein “Person of the Century” in 1999…

Person: Will Rogers

Will Rogers commented on the politics of his time, and yet his remarks seem surprisingly contemporary. Uploaded by

If you’ve seen The Will Rogers Follies, you probably think of the man as a humorist who told jokes and stories with the Ziegfeld Follies, punctuated by rope tricks. But that’s just one small part of Rogers’s life, the fellow who became the voice of the common man in America.

For example, he starred in 71 movies (only 21 were “talkies”), and became the highest-paid man in Hollywood. He had a highly successful vaudeville act. He wrote more than 4,000 newspaper columns. He toured the lecture circuit and wrote a number of humor books. He was one of the early stars of radio. And he loved to fly — a love that would be his undoing.

Uploaded by

Wiley Post was interested in finding a passenger and mail route from the West Coast to Russia, and invited Will Rogers to fly with him through Alaska. Rogers, looking for new material for his newspaper column, agreed. Post had built his own plane, and made it ready for this route over water by adding floats. Unfortunately, they made the aircraft nose heavy, and the plane crashed trying to take off from a lagoon near Point Barrow, Alaska. Both men were killed.

But nothing has been able to extinguish the flame of Rogers’s famous wit. Here are some memorable sayings from the humorist who said, “I never met a man I didn’t like”:

“Lord, the money we do spend on Government and it’s not one bit better than the government we got for one-third the money twenty years ago.”

“America has a unique record. We never lost a war and we never won a conference in our lives. I believe that we could without any degree of egotism, single-handed lick any nation in the world. But we can’t confer with Costa Rica and come home with our shirts on.”

“I am not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat.”

“A fool and his money are soon elected.”

“Buy land. They ain’t making any more of the stuff.”

“Diplomacy is the art of saying “Nice doggie” until you can find a rock.”

“The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”

Person: Thomas Edison

Edison owned 1,093 U.S. patents, and among his many accomplishments, established the electric utility industry. Uploaded by

Want to go to the movies? Or would you rather stay home and read, or listen to music? Whichever you choose, you have the genius of Thomas Edison to thank for the motion picture camera, the phonograph, and the light bulb.

Of course, all those technologies have progressed dramatically since Edison’s time. But his ingenuity and inventions helped lead the way to a world where iPods and video cameras on cell phones would be possible.

Uploaded by

Edison was such a prolific inventor that he held 1,093 U.S. patents, as well as patents in many other countries. These successes came from his Menlo Park research laboratory, generally considered the first of its kind. Over the course of a decade it expanded to cover two city blocks.

Perhaps his greatest enduring success came from the creation of the first electric power generating and distribution system. He set up his first power station on Pearl Street in lower Manhattan, serving 59 customers primarily with nighttime lighting. Then, as others began using electricity in more applications, he developed a network of power stations and a company called Edison General Electric.

Edison was home schooled, because he did so badly in school. His teacher even called him “addled.” His mother knew better, and she believed he had an undiscovered gift. “My mother was the making of me,” Edison said. “She was so true, so sure of me, and I felt I had some one to live for, some one I must not disappoint.”

Person: Edward R. Murrow

Murrow's program See It Now took on the Red Scare and led to the humbling of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Uploaded by

Had Adolph Hitler not chosen to subjugate England during the blitz of 1939, Edward R. Murrow might be just another forgotten wartime journalist. But Hitler foolishly kept bombing during what became known as the Battle of Britain, and Murrow’s nightly reports from London’s rooftops riveted even isolationist Americans. When he concluded with “Good night, and good luck,” Murrow inadvertently coined one of the first catchphrases in broadcasting history.

Following his celebrated term as a war correspondent, Murrow came home to the post of Vice President of Public Affairs for CBS, but couldn’t shake the desire to get back behind a microphone. He anchored the nightly newscast on CBS Radio for several years, then began his own program, Hear It Now. But the advent of television already began to eclipse the influence of radio, and the show became See It Now when Murrow moved it to CBS Television.

Clearly the most memorable episode of See It Now was Murrow’s attack on the Red Scare, led by Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Depicted in the recent film Good Night, and Good Luck, the program used mostly McCarthy’s own words to show his contradictions and paranoia. It was the beginning of the end for the senator, and Murrow is rightly held in high regard for helping to bring that shameful chapter in American history to a close.

Uploaded by

Murrow also pioneered what might be called celebrity journalism in his Person to Person series. He’d visit people in their homes (sound familiar, Barbara Walters?), encouraging them to let down their guard and speak freely. He interviewed a wide spectrum of people, including Frank Sinatra, Bogart and Bacall, Margaret Mead, and John Steinbeck.

Edward R. Murrow is still the standard by which television news is measured. But the man himself was aware of his medium’s limits. He once said, “If we were to do the Second Coming of Christ in color for a full hour, there would be a considerable number of stations which would decline to carry it on the grounds that a Western or a quiz show would be more profitable.”

Person: Rachael Ray

She's been a success at just about everything she's tried. And it seems like she's done it all in 30 minutes or less. Uploaded by

“Hi, I’m Rachael Ray, and I make 30-minute meals. That means in the time it takes to watch this program, I’ll have made a delicious, healthy meal from start to finish.” On her first network show, 30 Minute Meals, Rachael didn’t try to teach us haute cuisine, or to use advanced chef techniques. Instead, she showed how to prepare family food within the time frame the average person has to fix a meal.

Her girl-next-door beauty and effusive personality made her a star, and more television opportunities followed. The Food Network, recognizing her star power, gave her two additional shows: Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels and $40 a Day. But others were noticing her as well, including the Queen of All Things – Oprah. Harpo Productions launched Rachel Ray, a talk show that goes beyond the kitchen to explore Rachael’s other lifestyle interests. Launched in 2006, the show won Daytime Emmys in 2008 and 2009 for Outstanding Talk Show (Entertainment).

Photo by Andy Kropa, uploaded by

Now Rachael has her own magazine, Web site (of course), best-selling cookbooks, and lots of product endorsements. She even got her signature “EVOO” (for “extra virgin olive oil”) into the dictionary. She’s lived a charmed life, and she knows it.

“I’ve just sort of gone with the flow and I ended up here,” she said. “Crazy. I’m not going to start planning anything, my life is way better than anybody could have planned it.”

Here’s an excellent interview that demonstrates why America loves Rachael Ray:

Person: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Seldom has one person been able to accomplish so much to change his people - and his country. Uploaded by

In December 1999, the Gallup Organization compiled its data and named its Most Widely Admired People of the twentieth century. At number two on the list, ahead of Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill, ahead of Billy Graham and behind only Mother Teresa, was Martin Luther King, Jr.

Anyone who lived through the 1950s and 60s knows that King was the central figure in the major American issue of our time. He burst on the scene as the leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, following the refusal of Rosa Parks (Great American Things, Sept. 23, 2009) to give up her seat to a white man. King was arrested and his house was bombed, but a U.S. District Court’s ruling overturning the policy was a major breakthrough in the struggle for civil rights.

Uploaded by

King was influenced by the civil disobedience practices of Gandhi. He recognized how incendiary the pursuit of freedom was to the majority white public, and believed that nonviolent protest would help him achieve his goals more quickly. He used sit-ins and demonstrations, knowing that he would be arrested and that the resulting publicity worked in his favor.

His fight was not just against segregation, but against all forms of discrimination, so his campaign included voting rights and labor rights. He led marches on Birmingham, St. Augustine, and Selma. But his most famous crusade was the March on Washington that was, at its time, the largest protest ever in the nation’s capital.

Any discussion of Martin Luther King has to include not just his actions, but the inspiration he was to his people during their great struggle for equality. When he was assassinated in Memphis in 1968, his place in American history was assured, and a national holiday was established in his honor in 1983.

King was a Baptist preacher and an exciting orator. Undeniably, his most famous speech – and one of the most famous in U.S. history – was his “I have a dream” message delivered during the March on Washington:

Person: General George S. Patton

Clearly, General George Patton wasn't a happy man unless he was either planning combat or in the midst of it. Uploaded by

General Patton was politically incorrect before the phrase existed. His strong opinions and unorthodox tactics were the reasons why he was valued as a fighting general and unable to assume the highest levels of command that his military success would otherwise have entitled him.

Patton attended VMI for a year before entering West Point, from which he graduated in 1909. His first major military action was in Mexico, chasing Pancho Villa with General John J. Pershing. During World War I he was assigned to the newly created U.S. Tank Corps, and led troops in the world’s first tank battle in the Battle of Cambrai.

That experience led to the command of the 2nd Armored Division at the outset of World War II. He was soon promoted to lieutenant general due to his success in the North Africa campaign, and then received command of the Seventh Army in preparation for the Allied invasion of Sicily.

Well, I feel like I’m just reciting the movie now. The film starring George S. Scott is apparently very true to the facts and character of the famous general. Instead of more biography, let’s see some of Patton’s stirring – and controversial – statements:

*** “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
*** “A pint of sweat saves a gallon of blood.”
*** “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”
*** “If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking.”
*** “Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler. Just like I’d shoot a snake!”