50 Famous Left-Handed People Who Changed the World
The world's left-handed people have always been in the minority — southpaws make up just about 10 percent of the population. Being in the minority didn't hold back countless left-handers through history who have made their mark. Next time you're tempted to tease a lefty for doing something "backwards," remember this list of the vast and varied achievements of left-handed people throughout history. Take that, righties!
Decades after his death, the man born George Herman "Babe" Ruth Jr. (1895-1948) remains perhaps the most famous Major League Baseball player of all time, a feat considering his early days found him using mitts designed for right-handed players. "The Bambino" played 22 seasons, most notably for the New York Yankees, setting records that still stand today.
Still don't understand e=mc2? Don't worry. You're not Albert Einstein, after all. The German-born physicist (1879-1955) and southpaw developed the theory of relativity — an integral component of modern physics.
The American author, political activist and lecturer was the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. Keller (1880-1968) has also inspired generations with her fortitude and, her dedication to causes including women's suffrage and labor rights. Her words, including, "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart," continue to inspire.
The writer born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1890) was an English writer who also gained attention as a mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon and photographer. Among this literary lefties classic works are "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking-Glass."
The American media mogul born 1954 in Mississippi has made her mark with a career in news, entertainment, and philanthropy. She has funded scholarships and grants to nonprofits through her Oprah Angel Network in addition to having her own television network, OWN.
Forget about being an outstanding lefty on Earth — Armstrong (1930-2012) was an astronaut and aeronautical engineer who was the first person to walk on the Moon. One giant leap for mankind indeed.
Gates (born 1955) has been described as an American business magnate and was the principal founder of Microsoft Corporation. The multi-billionaire is also equally noted for his philanthropic and humanitarian work, most notably through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Marie Sklodowska Curie (1867-1934) was born in Warsaw and made her name in France as a physicist and chemist who completed groundbreaking research on radioactivity –and earning her the distinction of being the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. Her many achievements also include developing mobile units that allowed field hospitals to have X-ray services during WW I.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910) is better known by his pen name — and being the author of seminal books including "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." An American legend, he was dubbed "the Father of American literature" by William Faulkner.
Mozart (1756-1791) was one of the most influential composers of the Classical era. The Salzburg-born musical genius wrote music that continues to delight audiences across the globe centuries after his death.
The Beatles bandmate, a Liverpudlian born in 1942, is, with the late John Lennon, considered one of song writing's best. McCartney's dedication to charitable efforts — he and late-wife Linda were famous for their animal-rights efforts — is an integral part of his story.
Mock the singer born Stephanie Germanotta in 1986 for wearing a meat dress at the 2010 MTV VMAs, but you can't fault her sheer talent or unwavering awareness and activism, most notably her support of the LGBT community through her Born This Way Foundation.
The 15th century Italian Renaissance man was was involved in invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history and cartography. He's also the guy who painted one of the world's most famous works, the "Mona Lisa."
Groening (born 1954) is a cartoonist best known for "The Simpsons," the show that will seemingly go on forever. If you watch Bart Simpson write on the chalkboard at the start of every episode you'll note he's a lefty, as is character Ned Flanders, who created The Leftorium, which specialized in products for left-handed people.
The stand-up comedian, actor, writer, producer and director born in 1954 is best known for playing himself in "Seinfeld," the sitcom hat delighted audiences for a decade. Its catchphrases (re-gifting, close talker, sponge-worthy, "No soup for you" and "yada yada yada") remain part of American lingo.
Bird (born 1956) is a 6-foot-9 lefty who rose to fame as a pro basketball player with the Boston Celtics, where he led the team to NBA championships while earning personal MVP honors. He'd also go on to coach and serve in team administration, while doing a lot – often under-the-radar – of charity work.
Hail the Roman politician (100-44 BC) and military general who was instrumental in the rise of the Roman Empire. He also became the first historical Roman to be officially deified.
The German composer and pianist (1770-1827) is considered one of the most influential composers of all time. His work played a crucial role in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras of music.
The Atlanta-born (1957) director who came of age in Brooklyn made his mark on the film industry with his 1986 breakthrough "She's Gotta Have It. The film cost less than $200,000 and earned $7 million. It led to Lee founding his own production company and making socially conscious films including "Malcolm X" and "Do the Right Thing."
Both Stallone (born 1946) and his film franchise namesake Rocky Balboa are left-handed marvels, with Stallone creating a signature character whose props are part of the Smithsonian Museum collection. He also did wonders for the iconic status of the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
We all might be heading to the mall in our horse-and-buggy if it weren't for the man (1863-1947) who founded the Ford Motor Company and sponsored the development of the assembly line, which enabled the mass production of automobiles, and manufactured the first auto that was affordable to many middle-class Americans.
They might not know his exact identity, but forensics determined the serial killer who terrorized London in the late 19th-century was most likely a left-hander. His infamous legacy continues to haunt.
"The Georgia Peach" (1886-1961) was a Major League Baseball outfielder who certainly made his mark on the game, receiving the most votes of any player in the inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. He's credited with setting nearly 100 MLB records, too.
Alexander III of Macedon (356-323 BC) was a rock star of ancient Greece. Known as Alexander the Great, he was a king who created one of the largest empires of the ancient world by the age of 30.
One of tennis' most successful players of all time, the Czech-born Navratilova (1956) made her mark in both singles and doubles play across the globe. She became an American citizen and has transitioned to a role as author and activist.
The French fashion designer (born 1952) is known for haute couture and ready-to-wear fashions that combine high style with a playful attitude. Having served as the creative director of Hermès for a spell, Gaultier is a singular force best known for man-kilts and using unconventional models long before it became "a thing."
The ancient Greek philosopher and scientist (384-322 BC) is considered, along with Plato, one of the fathers of Western philosophy. Aristotle is a subject of academic study today, even though only a third of his works survive.
The American technology entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg (born 1984) is certainly getting his share of attention these days — you can't miss the spotlight on his star creation, Facebook. The bad press has overshadowed the Harvard-educated techie's extensive philanthropy work, at least for now.
The French statesman and military leader (1769-1821) rose to prominence during the French Revolution and died in exile. While he was deemed short by British newspapers at the time (and modern-day historians), he was actually the average height of a Frenchman at 5' 2".
The American stand-up comedian, actor and social critic (1940-2005) was known for his examinations of racism and other contemporary topics — always telling it like it was. And for that, he was the recipient of countless awards and an enduring legacy.
What's with left-handed astronauts and the moon? "Buzz" Aldrin (born 1930), American engineer, former astronaut and Command Pilot in the United States Air Force, was, with Neil Armstrong, one of the first two humans to land on the Moon.
Keep calm and give kudos to Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (1874-1965), the one-of-a-kind figure Gary Oldman so notably brought to life for a new generation in the film "Darkest Hour." Churchill was the British Prime Minister (1940-45 and 1951-22), notably guiding Britain through World War II and on to victory.
John-John (1960-1999) captured America's heart with his brave childhood salute to his father's casket — and would go on to become a noted American lawyer, journalist, magazine publisher and pilot. His own life ended in a tragic plane crash in 1999.
The British silent-film star (1889-1977) reached worldwide fame playing the character of the Little Tramp. But there's nothing little about his legacy: Chaplin's considered one of the most important figures in the history of film.
When The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City presented "Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer," the exhibition broke records — a testament to the enduring legacy of the Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet born in 1475 as Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. The name may be a mouthful — but the High Renaissance master had a major influence on the development of Western art.
The singer, songwriter, actor and all-around artistic genius was born David Jones in 1947. He left fans around the globe and those he influenced in all fields reeling with his 2016 death from liver cancer.
The star player born in 1959 turned the reserved game of tennis upside down with his on-court tantrums. As successful as he was volatile, McEnroe was one bad-boy who had the goods to back up his antics.
When the tabloid drama that surrounds the Academy Award-winning actress-filmmaker Jolie (born 1975) dies down, her humanitarian work may eventually stand as testament to her true calling. She has worked in war-ravaged countries, supported refugees, been involved in conservation and has had an active role with the United Nations for years.
It's said that breakthrough guitarist Hendrix was a naturally left-handed player but his father believed that playing left-handed was a sign of the devil, so tried to force the rising star to change. Ultimately, Hendrix (1942-70) rocked out as he was meant to — from Woodstock right into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The man who changed not only Seattle sound but brought grunge to the world with Nirvana, Cobain (1967-1994) was a right-hander who played his guitar left-handed. No one knows why — but no one can question the choice's success.
The risqué comic (1925-1966) was a performer who pushed the envelope — and it led to his conviction in 1964 in an obscenity trial. His influence has been noted on those who followed, from Richard Pryor to George Carlin.
The Indiana-born talk-show host, writer, comedian and producer (born 1947) changed the face of late-night television with his singular sense of humor, running jokes, rapport with guests and wacky bits. He hosted late-night television shows for an impressive 33 years.
The British singer, songwriter and musician (born 1956) rose to fame as Johnny Rotten, the frontman of the punk band Sex Pistols. The short-lived band had little recorded output was influential enough to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
Entrepreneur Jobs (1955-2011) made history as the chairman, chief executive and co-founder of Apple Inc. The computer pioneer died of neuroendocrine cancer of the pancreas.
"Notorious RBG" — or more formally, the associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States — Ginsburg (born 1933) is a woman of many firsts who fights for gender equality and women's rights.
The reality star and gender transition champion was born Bruce Jenner in 1949. While identifying publicly as a male, he gained international attention as a 1976 Olympic gold-medal winner in the decathlon. Today, this left-hander is considered the most famous openly transgender woman in the world.
The foul-mouthed chef born in 1966 has certainly made a mark on American and British television. This lefty is not one to mince words – and the broadcast landscape found one of its most polarizing figures.
The medieval French peasant girl known as the "Maid of Orléans" was fueled by a conviction that God had chosen her to lead her country to victory in its war with England — and she indeed would take a leading role in the war. Later, though, she would be convicted for witchcraft and heresy and burned at the stake in 1431. Canonization would follow nearly five centuries later. While handwriting analysis has suggested that Joan of Arc was left-handed and she was often depicted in artwork carrying her sword in her left hand, some say that she may have been characterized as left-handed to discredit her at a time when left-handedness was regarded as a curse.
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