Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev was a former Soviet premier who was instrumental in provoking the Cuban Missile Crisis that brought the Soviet Union and the United States at the brink of the nuclear war. He was born in a poor family of Ukrainian peasants and faced many hardships in his early life. After doing several small jobs in the industrialized area of Russia, he began his political career as secretary of the Communist party in school. It did not take much time for him to rise in the party; his involvement in the party and the Red Army led him to become one of the prominent members of the party. He was a close ally of Joseph Stalin, but after his death he became involved in reformation also known as ˜De-Stalinisation'. After the death of Stalin, he rose to power overthrowing all the other leaders of the party. The efforts however, led to an intense power struggle and the communist party members did not take this lying down. Khrushchev era saw the progress of the early Soviet space program, and several relatively liberal reforms in areas of domestic policy. His political moves resulted in the Cuban Missile Crisis and brought the United States and Soviet on the verge of a nuclear war. In 1964, he was forced by his party colleagues to relinquish power.
Known as the ˜Empress of Blues', Bessie Smith was one of the strongest blues vocalists in 1920s and 1930s. Bessie lost both her parents at a tender age and was taken care of by her elder sister. To fend for the family, Bessie and her brother started performing on the street. With the initiation of her elder brother who was part of a travelling troupe, Bessie got an audition and was hired as dancer, because the troupe already had the famous singer Ma Rainey. She worked hard for the next few years performing in chorus lines, and shows. Later, she signed a contract with Columbia and started her recording career. Bessie went on to become the highest-paid coloured entertainer and performed before large audience with some of the most famous jazz and blues artists like Fletcher Henderson and James Johnson. As a classic Blues singer, Bessie brought her heart and soul to music. This is probably the reason that she outshone others who recorded the same number. Bessie sung many of Ma Rainey's numbers and her audience were picky as they always waited for Bessie's tracks which were sincere and full of gusto. She had a brief encounter with the world of Broadway and films but the Great Depression combined with her personal problems cut short her fame
British comedian and singer known for his flamboyant suits and wicked charm. Though he never swore on stage, his risqué jokes often got him into trouble with television and radio censors.
The first ever dancer to perform at the White House, American dancer Martha Graham was an artist beyond compare. In a career spanning over half a century, she revolutionized modern dance and created more than 180 works as a dancer and choreographer. She believed in revealing the inner man and saw the art of dance as a medium for the expression of intense human emotions. Her influence on modern dance has often been compared with the influence Picasso had on the modern visual arts and Stravinsky had on music. A highly creative person, she saw dance as a movement language that allowed human beings to artistically express their inner most desires, fears, and ecstasies. As an artist, she collaborated with not just other dancers, but also with painters, designers and musicians to produce works of art that were as aesthetically appealing as they were profoundly touching. Through her experimentation with social, political and psychological themes, she influenced generations of choreographers and dancers including Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Tharp. She founded the Martha Graham Dance Company, which is today the oldest American dance company; the company served as the launch pad for many of the great 20th and 21st century modern dancers and choreographers.
Norman Perceval Rockwell was an American artist”a painter and an illustrator. His work was an artistic depiction of the American culture and spirit of its people - he was inspired by the ideas of civil rights, poverty, national events, international events and space exploration. Most of his career was spent illustrating for the ˜Saturday Evening Post', a collaboration that continued for around 47 years and resulted in 321 magnificent covers. Apart from the Post, Rockwell also worked for other publications like ˜Look', ˜Peoples Popular Monthly', ˜Life Magazine', ˜The Literary Digest', etc. He successfully created 4,000 illustrations and paintings in his career. Some of his iconic works include”1927 celebration of Charles Lindbergh's crossing of the Atlantic, Neil Armstrong's left foot on the surface of the moon after the successful moon landing, the ˜Four Freedom' series during World War II, etc. Apart from illustrating for magazines and publications, Rockwell took classes at the Otis College of Art and Design, penned down his autobiography, ˜My Adventures as an Illustrator', and did portraits of personalities like, President Kennedy, Nixon, Johnson, Jawaharlal Nehru, etc.
Famous for surviving the 1912 Titanic disaster by jumping into the freezing water and subsequently being rescued by Lifeboat 12, Thayer later published his personal account of the tragic event that had resulted in the deaths of his father and numerous other passengers.
Edward VII served as the King of United Kingdom, British Dominion and Emperor of India from 1901 to 1910. Eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Edward was the longest-serving heir apparent to the British throne before his accession in 1901. Furthermore, he holds the record for the longest serving holder of the title, Prince of Wales till date, closely followed by his great-great-grandson, Charles, current Prince of Wales. Edward jumped to fame even before his term of reign but due to wrong reasons. Highly self-indulgent, Edward was known as a womanizer and Casanova. His playboy reputation soured his relationship with his mother, Queen Victoria, who abstained him from pursuing any political duties during her term. As such, Edward in his early years mostly served as the British representative abroad. His tours, especially to that of North America and Indian subcontinent, were highly successful. During his short term of reign, Edward played an instrumental role in reforming the British Army and Navy. He also acted as the ˜peacemaker' between England and France by fostering good relations between the two nations. Under his kingship, traditional ceremonies were largely publicized and royal socializing highly magnified. The only political hitch in his rule came in the form of constitutional crisis which was resolved posthumously. Edward VII was succeeded by his second son, King George V
Jack Benny, born as Benjamin Kubelsky, was an American comedian, vaudevillian, and actor. He was one of the most famous names in show business for more than 50 years and was an eminent star of radio, the stage and screen. He started out as a serious musician, before he discovered he could make people laugh. He received nationwide acclaim in the 1930s as a result of his weekly radio show ˜The Jack Benny Program' which became a forerunner of the sitcom genre. His program was among the most popular shows on American radio, and later on television. He was one of the first comedians who was willing to let other people share some of the laughs. He rarely made jokes that hurt other people; instead he would let the other actors make fun of him. He also appeared in several Hollywood movies during his outstanding career as a comedian. He continued to perform and did a few television specials after his weekly series ended. He was one of America's best-loved funnymen during the 20th century and remained one of the top stars of radio, television, and stage throughout his career.
King Vidor was an American film director, film producer, and screenwriter known for films like ˜The Big Parade' and ˜The Crowd.' His extensive career spanned nearly seven decades during which he was nominated five times for Academy Award for Best Director, and won eight international film awards. His films are counted amongst the most creative ones produced during his era as he never shied away from taking up unconventional topics and was known to be a risk-taker. Born in Texas, he survived the devastating Galveston Hurricane of 1900 as a little boy. Creative and ambitious from the very beginning, he started working as a ticket collector at a local Galveston theater as a teenager and quickly progressed to projectionist. He made his directorial debut with the short drama film, ˜Hurricane in Galveston', even before he turned 20. Within years, he was directing full length feature films and had his first taste of success with ˜Peg o' My Heart' in 1922. The success of ˜The Big Parade', counted among the most acclaimed war films of the silent era, cemented his position in Hollywood. Over the ensuing years he established himself as a highly creative director and received many accolades for his works. With a career that spanned 67 long years, he entered into Guinness World Records as having "The Longest Career As A Film Director."
Edward Estlin Cummings was an American poet as well as a painter, essayist, author and playwright. Being one of the most innovative poets of his time, his body of work included 2,900 poems, four plays and several essays, as well as numerous drawings and paintings. Cummings is well known for creating poetry using his own personal style by experimenting with poetic forms and languages, as well as revising grammatical rules to suit his own purposes. But despite going against traditional forms of poetry, his work was loved by readers and they became highly popular. He is also remembered for his attacks on conventional patterns of thought and criticisms on how society restricted free expression. Also ranked among the best loved poets of his time, he mainly wrote poems dealing with themes such as love, childhood, nature, etc. He is known for his children's novels as well. Cummings can be considered as the second best poet in America of his time, next only to the famous Robert Frost.
Legendary American standup comedian who was a pioneer of the 'Chitlin' Circuit' of African-American vaudeville. produced and narrated a documentary about her life for HBO in 2013.
Twentieth-century writer and newspaper columnist who was opposed to both the New Deal and labor unions and criticized the Supreme Court and the tax system. His outspoken and aggressive writing style was frequently parodied by The New Yorker and Mad Magazine.