Jimi Hendrix May 10, 1968
Jimi Hendrix May 10, 1968 by Steve Banks (CC BY-SA)

50 Famous Left-Handed People Who Changed the World

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Jimi Hendrix May 10, 1968
Jimi Hendrix May 10, 1968 by Steve Banks (CC BY-SA)

Lefties Rule

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 "backward," remember this list of the vast and varied achievements of left-handed people throughout history. Take that, righties!

Babe Ruth
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Babe Ruth

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.

Albert Einstein
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Albert Einstein

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.

Helen Keller
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Helen Keller

The American author, political activist, and lecturer was the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. Helen Keller (1880-1968) has also inspired generations with her fortitude and her dedication to causes including women's suffrage and labor rights. Her words, continue to inspire: "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart."

Barack Obama
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Barack Obama

In 2014, Time magazine put the first African-American president at the top of its list of top 10 lefties. And he isn't the only left-handed POTUS. Others include Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford.

Lewis Carroll
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Lewis Carroll

The English writer born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1890) also gained attention as a mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon, and photographer. Among this literary lefty's classic works are "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking-Glass."

Oprah Winfrey
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Oprah Winfrey

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 TV network, OWN.

Neil Armstrong
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Neil Armstrong

Forget about being one of the most outstanding southpaws on Earth. Astronaut and aeronautical engineer Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) was, of course, the first person to walk on the moon — one giant leap for leftykind.

Bill Gates
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Bill Gates

Bill Gates (born 1955) has been described as an American business magnate and was the principal founder of Microsoft Corp. The multi-billionaire is equally noted for his philanthropic and humanitarian work, most notably through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Marie Curie
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Marie Curie

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 — earning her the distinction of being the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. Her many achievements include developing mobile units that allowed field hospitals to have X-ray services during World War I.

Mark Twain
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Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910) is better known by his pen name, and for 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.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart (1756-1791) was one of the most influential composers of the Classical era. The Salzburg, Austria-born musical genius wrote music that continues to delight audiences across the globe centuries after his death.

Paul McCartney
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Paul McCartney

The famous Beatle, a Liverpudlian born in 1942, is considered one of songwriting's best, along with the late John Lennon. Paul McCartney's dedication to charitable efforts — he and his late wife, Linda, were famous for their animal-rights efforts — is an integral part of his story.

Ringo Starr
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Ringo Starr

Sir Richard Starkey (born 1940) made history as part of the Fab Four — a left-handed drummer playing a right-handed kit in his own inimitable way. This Beatle helped raise the profile of the drummer as an integral member of a band.

Lady Gaga
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Lady Gaga

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 LGBTQ community through her Born This Way Foundation.

Leonardo da Vinci
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Leonardo Da Vinci

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."

Matt Groening
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Matt Groening

Matt 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.

Jerry Seinfeld
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Jerry Seinfeld

The stand-up comedian, actor, writer, producer, and director born in 1954 is best known for playing himself in "Seinfeld," the sitcom that delighted audiences for a decade. Its catchphrases (re-gifting, close talker, sponge-worthy, "No soup for you," "yada yada yada") have become part of the American lexicon.

Larry Bird
Larry Bird by Kurt Shimala (CC BY-SA)

Larry Bird

Larry 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 of charity work, often under-the-radar.

Julius Caesar
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Julius Caesar

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.

Ludwig van Beethoven
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Ludwig Van Beethoven

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.

Spike Lee
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Spike Lee

The Atlanta-born director (1957) 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."

Sylvester Stallone
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Sylvester Stallone

Both Sylvester Stallone (born 1946) and his alter ego Rocky Balboa are left-handed marvels. The actor created a signature character whose props are part of the Smithsonian Museum collection. He also raised the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art to iconic status.

Henry Ford
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Henry Ford

If it weren't for this man (1863-1947), we might still be getting around with horses and buggies. He founded Ford Motor Co. and sponsored the development of the assembly line, which enabled the mass production of automobiles and manufactured the first car that was affordable to many middle-class Americans.

Jack The Ripper
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Jack the Ripper

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.

Ty Cobb
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Ty Cobb

"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 The Great
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Alexander the Great

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.

Martina Navrátilová ! Photo taken from ECM Prague Open 2006
Martina Navrátilová ! Photo taken from ECM Prague Open 2006 by Michal.Pohorelsky (CC BY)

Martina Navratilova

One of tennis' most successful players of all time, Czech-born Martina 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.

Jean-Paul Gaultier
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Jean-Paul Gaultier

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, he's a singular force perhaps best known for man-kilts and using unconventional models long before it became "a thing."

Aristotle
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Aristotle

The ancient Greek philosopher and scientist (384-322 BC) is considered one of the fathers of Western philosophy, along with Plato. Aristotle is a subject of academic study today, even though only a third of his works survive.

Mark Zuckerberg
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Mark Zuckerberg

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 tech entrepreneur's extensive philanthropy work, at least for now.

Napoleon Was Short
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Napoleon Bonaparte

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-foot-2.

Photo of Richard Pryor.
Photo of Richard Pryor. by Alan Light (CC BY)

Richard Pryor

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.

Buzz Aldrin
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Buzz Aldrin

What's with left-handed astronauts? Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. (born 1930), an American engineer, 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.

Winston Churchill
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Winston Churchill

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 1951-55), notable for guiding Britain through World War II and on to victory.

John F. Kennedy Jr.
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John F. Kennedy Jr.

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.

Charlie Chaplin
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Charlie Chaplin

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.

Michelangelo
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Michelangelo

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 an outsize influence on the development of Western art.

 Bowie smiling
Bowie smiling by Photobra (CC BY-SA)

David Bowie

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.

John McEnroe
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John McEnroe

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, John McEnroe was one bad boy who had the goods to back up his antics.

Angelina Jolie
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Angelina Jolie

Tabloid drama seems to follow the Academy Award-winning actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie (born 1975), but 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 had an active role with the United Nations for years.

Jimi Hendrix
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Jimi Hendrix

It's said that breakthrough guitarist Jimi Hendrix (1942-70) was a naturally left-handed player, but his father believed that playing left-handed was a sign of the devil, so he tried to force the rising star to change. Ultimately, Hendrix rocked out as he was meant to — from Woodstock right into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Kurt Cobain
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Kurt Cobain

The man who not only changed Seattle sound but brought grunge to the world with Nirvana, Kurt Cobain (1967-1994) was a right-hander who played his guitar left-handed. No one knows why — but no one can question the success of that choice.

Lenny Bruce
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Lenny Bruce

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.

David Letterman
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David Letterman

The Indiana-born talk-show host, writer, comedian, and producer (born 1947) changed the face of late-night TV with his singular sense of humor, running jokes, rapport with guests, and wacky bits. He hosted late-night TV shows for an impressive 33 years.

John Lydon
John Lydon by Shell Smith (CC BY-SA)

John Lydon

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 but was influential enough to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

Jobs holding up a MacBook Air at the MacWorld Conference & Expo in 2008
Jobs holding up a MacBook Air at the MacWorld Conference & Expo in 2008 by Matthew Yohe (CC BY)

Steve Jobs

Entrepreneur Steve 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.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
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Ruth Bader Ginsburg

"Notorious RBG" — or, more formally, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg — (born 1933) is a woman of many firsts who fights for gender equality and women's rights.

Caitlyn Jenner
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Caitlyn Jenner

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 perhaps the most famous openly transgender woman in the world.

Gordon Ramsay
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Gordon Ramsay

The foul-mouthed chef born in 1966 has certainly made a mark on American and British TV. This lefty is not one to mince words — the broadcast landscape found one of its most polarizing figures.

Joan of Arc
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Joan of Arc

The medieval French peasant girl known as the Maid of Orléans (1412-1431) was fueled by a conviction that God had chosen her to lead her country to victory in its war with England — and she indeed took a leading role in the war. Later, though, she was convicted for witchcraft and heresy and burned at the stake. Canonization followed nearly five centuries later. Although handwriting analysis suggests that Joan of Arc was left-handed, and she was often depicted in artwork carrying her sword in her left hand, some say she may have been characterized as left-handed to discredit her at a time when left-handedness was regarded as a curse.