Famous American People

A number of Americans rose to exceptional fame and prominence during the 20th century.

These include the political leaders and Presidents who led the nation through wars and other crisis, inventors, literary figures, activists, pioneers, businessmen, creative geniuses and more.

Following is a brief list of some of these stand-out individuals from the 20th century.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein's 'Theory of Relativity' brought a revolution in the world of science Read more about the Albert Einstein >>

Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie was an American writer who focused on the notions of self-improvement Read more about the Dale Carnegie >>

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was a Famous American author and journalist! Read more about the Ernest Hemingway >>

Henry Ford

Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company and developed the assembly line technique Read more about the Henry Ford >>

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King was a civil rights activist who spearheaded the civil rights movement in the United States Read more about the Martin Luther King >>

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali is regarded as the greatest and most famous heavyweight boxing champion of all time Read more about the Muhammad Ali >>

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks was a leader of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and an African American activist Read more about the Rosa Parks >>

Walt Disney

Walt Disney one of the most successful of famous American Animators, film producers of the 20th century Read more about the Walt Disney >>

Wright Brothers

Orville and Wilbur Wright are famous for building and flying the first airplane in the history of aviation Read more about the Wright Brothers >>

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt served as the 26th President of the United States. He served two consecutive terms and remains one of the most popular presidents in American history. Roosevelt was known for his robust personality, focus on physical activity, and a kind of cowboy persona.

He famously championed a modern ideal of masculinity which combined physical strength and mental skills. As the President, he took many new initiatives. These included the beginning of work on Panama Canal, the launch of the Great White Fleet, mediation in the Russo-Japanese War, and the establishment of a large number of natural reserves, parks and forests.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt served as the 32nd President of the United States. He won four consecutive presidential terms, which is a record in American history. And he remained the President from 1933 all the way until his death in 1945. Roosevelt is regarded as among the top 3 greatest presidents in American history.

He led the nation through many crucial events such as the Great Depression and the World War II. He was able to handle these crises in a very statesman-like manner which earned him the respect and popularity of the masses. Roosevelt led the U.S. through World War II. He made the decision to use atom bombs on Japan and later also played a role in the establishment of United Nations.

Dwight Eisenhower

Dwight Eisenhower served as the 34th President of the United States. He famously served as the supreme commander of the Allied forces during World War II. He played a vital role in leading these forces during the invasion of France and Germany which ultimately led to the end of the war.

During his terms, America played an important role in resolving a number of global conflicts such as the Syrian Crisis of 1957, and the Suez Crisis of 1956. He also authorized the establishment of NASA in a bid to compete with Soviet Union in the space race. He also implemented the Interstate Highway System on the domestic front.

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks was one of the most iconic American civil rights activists of the 20th century. Parks played a very significant role in highlighting the segregationist laws in the southern states. Her rise to prominence began when she refused to give up her seat in the whites-only section of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

Being a prominent member of the community, Parks’ act brought the segregationist policies of the state into question and other African-Americans started attempting similar acts of defiance. She later worked alongside a number of other prominent activists such as Martin Luther King. Parks received national recognition for her efforts. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was the most widely recognized, celebrated and renowned scientists and physicist of the 20th century. Although a German by birth, Einstein later became an American citizen. He coined the theory of relativity which was a breakthrough in the field of physics.

Einstein was noted for his exceptionally original and creative ideas which led him to make vital discoveries in the field of physics. His name became synonymous with the word ‘genius’. At age 26, Einstein published a number of papers in which he described his scientific discoveries. In all, Einstein wrote more than 300 scientific papers. He became a U.S. citizen in 1940.

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was a noted literary figure in 20th century America. Hemingway wrote a large body of short stories, novels and non-fiction material. He became an icon of 20th century American literature and his style inspired many generations of writers.

Hemingway came up with a minimalist style of writing which he coined the iceberg theory. As per this theory, he focuses on the surface elements of a story instead of providing the deeper insights, which he left to the reader to discover. One of his most recognized works include the short novel ‘The Old Man and the Sea’. Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.

Wright Brothers

The Wright Brothers refer to Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright who are credited with successfully completing the first powered flight of an airplane. The two brothers had been working on aircraft and aeronautics for years. In 1903, they created a heavier-than-air aircraft and successfully flew it. After building upon this success, they later came up with controls to guide a fixed-wing powered flight.

Instead of trying to develop a power engine, the Wright Brothers instead tried to find a successful method of steering an airplane. They were successful in doing so which made it possible to create and fly airplanes. Today, the brothers are recognized as one of the pioneers of aeronautics and airplanes.

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King was one of the most notable leaders of the American civil rights movement during the 1950s and the 1960s. King championed the cause of the rights for African-American citizens. He spoke powerfully against racial discrimination and promoted civil disobedience and nonviolence.

King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 in recognition for his efforts. In 1968, King was assassinated by James Earl Ray. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously.

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali was an American boxer who became one of the most accomplished, celebrated and recognized boxers in American history. At the same time, Muhammad Ali also became an icon of the civil rights movement. He won a record number of titles and beat the greatest boxers of his time. He also spoke for the rights of the African Americans. Ali is today regarded as the greatest heavyweight boxer of all times.

Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie was among the most famous self-improvement gurus of 20th century America. Carnegie wrote a large number of books. He provided inspirational material on how a person can improve financially, socially and in other ways. His most famous work ‘How To Win Friends and Influence People’ remains equally popular to this day.

He gave a large body of lectures as well which were also themed along the same lines. His lectures and books were related to a number of areas including salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, interpersonal skills and self-improvement.

Walt Disney

Walt Disney was an iconic film producer and voice actor of 20th century America. Disney focused on improving the production of cartoons and brought many new innovations and techniques to the field of animation. He experimented with different methods to improve the animations and was among the first to offer color cartoons with voice.

He established the famous amusement park named after him, the Disneyland. His name and his brand remain one of prestige and widespread renown in American media. He also holds the distinction of winning the largest number of Oscar awards – in all, he received 22 Oscars out of an overwhelming 59 nominations.

Henry Ford

Henry Ford was a renowned business magnate of 20th century America. He founded the Ford Motor Company which became the first major automobile company in the United States. He is credited with developing and perfecting assembly line production.

By using this method, Ford’s company was able to manufacture inexpensive automobiles that middle-class Americans could afford. This revolutionized the automobile industry in the United States. It also led the Ford Motor Company to extraordinary success, making Henry Ford one of the richest man in the U.S. at the time.

J. Edgar Hoover

J. Edgar Hoover was the first Director of Federal Bureau of Investigation or FBI. He is credited with ensuring a sound foundation for FBI in its formative years. He remained the Director of FBI for 47 years until his death.

During this period, he took FBI from a new and budding organization to a comprehensive agency that could fight criminal enterprises on the domestic front. Hoover is also accused of misusing his powers as the FBI director. In fact, it is even alleged that he tried to blackmail sitting U.S. presidents. That being said, Hoover remained a very powerful and controversial figure of the 20th century America.

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan served as the 40th President of the United States. He served for two consecutive terms, from 1981 to 1989. Before becoming a politician, Reagan also worked as a sports announcer and actor. Reagan became the president at a time when the Cold War was drawing to an end. The Soviet Union was on the brink of failure and everywhere the Iron Curtain was coming down.

The American economy significantly improved during his presidency and he also launched the War on Drugs. Reagan is today regarded as one of the most successful presidents in American history. He is especially esteemed among the conservative presidents of the country.