American basketball star Michael Jordan was born on February 17, 1963, in Brooklyn, New York. Jordan left college after his junior year to join the NBA. Drafted by the Chicago Bulls, he helped the team make it to the playoffs. For his efforts there, Jordan received the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. With five regular-season MVPs and three All-Star MVPs, Jordan became the most decorated player in the NBA.
Born on December 18, 1879, in Gori, Georgia, Joseph Stalin rose to power as General Secretary of the Communist Party, becoming a Soviet dictator upon Vladimir Lenin's death. Stalin forced rapid industrialization and the collectivization of agricultural land, resulting in millions dying from famine while others were sent to camps. His Red Army helped defeat Nazi Germany during WWII.
Born in Ethiopia in 1892, Haile Selassie was crowned emperor in 1930 but exiled during World War II after leading the resistance to the Italian invasion. He was reinstated in 1941 and sought to modernize the country over the next few decades through social, economic and educational reforms. He ruled until 1974, when famine, unemployment and political opposition forced him from office.
Born on July 30, 1863, near Dearborn, Michigan, Henry Ford created the Ford Model T car in 1908 and went on to develop the assembly line mode of production, which revolutionized the industry. As a result, Ford sold millions of cars and became a world-famous company head. The company lost its market dominance but had a lasting impact on other technological development and U.S. infrastructure.
John Lennon was born on October 9, 1940, in Liverpool, England. He met Paul McCartney in 1957 and invited McCartney to join his music group. They eventually formed the most successful songwriting partnership in musical history. Lennon left the Beatles in 1969 and later released albums with his wife, Yoko Ono, among others. On December 8, 1980, he was killed by a crazed fan named Mark David Chapman.
Born on July 21, 1899, in Cicero (now in Oak Park), Illinois, Ernest Hemingway served in World War I and worked in journalism before publishing his story collection In Our Time. He was renowned for novels like The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea, which won the 1953 Pulitzer. In 1954, Hemingway won the Nobel Prize. He committed suicide on July 2, 1961, in Ketchum, Idaho.
Jesse Owens, also known as "The Buckeye Bullet," was born on September 12, 1913, in Oakville, Alabama. In high school, he won three track and field events at the 1933 National Interscholastic Championships. Two years later, while competing for Ohio State University, he equaled one world record and broke three others. In 1936 Owens won four gold medals at the Olympic Games in Berlin. Owens died from cancer on March 31, 1980.
Born in Los Angeles, California, on June 4, 1975, Angelina Jolie starred in the HBO biopic Gia before earning an Academy Award for best supporting actress for Girl, Interrupted. Jolie has become one of Hollywood's top marquee names, having starred in movies like Wanted, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Salt and Changeling, earning her first lead actress Oscar nod for the latter. Jolie later had a huge international blockbuster with Disney's Maleficent, in which she both starred and executive produced. She's also directed the films In the Land of Blood and Honey, Unbroken and By the Sea, which she co-starred with fellow actor and husband Brad Pitt.
Born on October 23, 1940, in Três Corações, Brazil, soccer legend Pelé became a superstar with his performance in the 1958 World Cup. Pelé played professionally in Brazil for two decades, winning three World Cups along the way, before joining the New York Cosmos late in his career. Named FIFA co-Player of the Century in 1999, he is a global ambassador for soccer and other humanitarian causes.
Born in Yate, England, on July 31, 1965, J.K. Rowling came from humble economic means before writing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, a children's fantasy novel. The work was an international hit and Rowling wrote six more books in the series, which sold hundreds of millions of copies and was adapted into a blockbuster film franchise. In 2012, Rowling released the novel The Casual Vacancy.