Historical Figures

From Musketeers to Nazis, Archimedes to Harriet Tubman, these famous historical figures changed the course of history -- for better or worse.

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Columnist and investigative reporter Dorothy Kilgallen covered numerous big stories from the 1940s through the 1960s. But her death by overdose in 1965 while investigating the John F. Kennedy assassination remains a subject of controversy.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Oliver Cromwell overthrew the British monarchy and became 'Lord Protector,' but was convicted of treason after he died and beheaded. What happened to his head next is a very strange tale.

By Dave Roos

The distinguished American general was the first Black man to become Secretary of State and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff. He died Oct. 18 at age 84 after breaking down many barriers for African Americans.

By Chad Williams

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Plato called him a "Socrates gone mad." Others nicknamed him "the Dog." Yet there was a method to his madness as he barked hilarious takedowns at passersby. Here are a few of them.

By Dave Roos

How did Vincent van Gogh escape mainstream attention during his lifetime and what changed after his death? Meet the intrepid woman who made van Gogh a household name.

By Alia Hoyt

Frances Kelsey saved countless lives when she decided not to approve a drug for morning sickness in the 1960s. Her instinct was spot-on and has had lasting effects on FDA drug approval ever since.

By Joanna Thompson

The Dalai Lama stresses practical wisdom in his words about finding joy and peace, and spreading kindness. These are ideas we can all get behind.

By Dave Roos

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He palled around with Wyatt Earp in Dodge City, then later with President Teddy Roosevelt in New York City. He was a lawman, gambler and gunfighter who also was a sports writer, newspaper man and big fan of boxing.

By John Donovan

Edward Osborne "E.O." Wilson never grew out of his "bug period" as a child and, as a result, became one of the world's foremost experts on the subject of ants.

By Patty Rasmussen

This enslaved man taught an orphaned Daniel the secret of making the smoothest Tennessee whiskey. In turn, Green became the company's first master distiller.

By Stefanie Benjamin

The Mad Trapper of Rat River probably wasn't a trapper, and he most likely wasn't mad, but who was he and why did he lead the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on one its greatest chases ever?

By Nathan Chandler

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He is famous for assassinating Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV. But what was his motive, other than to rid the world of the man who killed President John F. Kennedy days before?

By John Donovan

Nietzsche's prose is playful, but its meaning is often opaque. Though perhaps we should expect nothing less from a philosopher who wrote, "I am not a man. I am dynamite."

By Dave Roos

Born into a family of poor sharecroppers in Mississippi, Fannie Lou Hamer became field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and an indefatigable fighter for civil and voting rights.

By Yves Jeffcoat

And he was still growing at the time of his death. But there was a lot more to Robert Wadlow than just his extraordinary height.

By Alia Hoyt

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The brief and disturbing life of Tarrare is a fascinating study of perhaps the most bizarre and disgusting eating disorder ever known, and one that remains a medical mystery some 250 years later.

By Jennifer Walker-Journey

At 91, Dolores Huerta, the activist who inspired Barack Obama's "Yes, we can" campaign, continues to work tirelessly developing leaders and advocating for the working poor, women and children.

By Tara Yarlagadda

Brazenly ambitious, he became king of Scotland and won independence from the despised English to become a legendary figure of Scottish national pride, just like William "Braveheart" Wallace.

By Dave Roos

Some say his IQ was 50 to 100 points higher than Albert Einstein's. So why haven't you heard his name before? We'll tell you the sad tale of why this incredible genius flamed out.

By John Donovan

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Muir was personally involved in the creation of Yosemite, Sequoia, Mount Rainier, Petrified Forest and Grand Canyon national parks and earned the title of "Father of Our National Park System."

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

Beulah Mae Donald's son Michael Donald (Michael left and Beulah right) was lynched by the Ku Klux Klan in Mobile, Alabama, in 1981. She fought back and took them down. Her story is now a four-part CNN Original Series.

By John Donovan

Prince Philip's marriage to Queen Elizabeth helped cement 1,000 years of European royal dynastic history. His death puts an end to that system that endured for a millennium.

By Jonathan Spangler

The late Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska was the first woman to lead a dinosaur excavation expedition — into Mongolia's Gobi Desert no less. And her volumes of research provide most of what we know today about the evolution of modern mammals.

By Mark Mancini

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Malcolm X was the leader of the Nation of Islam for more than a decade. His speeches were often militant in tone and he was labeled a firebrand by many. But was he simply misunderstood?

By Oisin Curran

Bugsy — nobody called him that to his face — Siegel was a shrewd mobster whose crew was dubbed "Murder, Incorporated" by the press. But that fast life got him killed by age 41.

By John Donovan