Search for famous people
Most of us possess a natural curiosity when it comes to famous people. We all have our heroes, from movie stars to sporting legends. We are inspired by people who have made something of their lives; whom have done something that the rest of us average joes can only aspire to. Some have led entire nations, others have performed remarkable feats, and a few have made a viral video on YouTube.
Never before in our history have we been so enamoured by the cult of celebrity. We have whole magazines dedicated to pop stars, TV icons and silver screen icons. Your local bookstore will likely have a whole section dedicated to the biographies of those who have either found fame or have had fame thrust upon them. Sit most people down with a piece of paper and ask them to name a hundred famous people and the odds are the paper will be filled within ten minutes.
Finding out about famous people can be entertaining. Which legendary scientist loved to talk about ghosts and other supernatural beasties, for example? Who was the famous US politician who was suspended whilst at University for cheating on his exams? And which well-known musician and composer never spent one single day at school?
Here’s a list of the top ten sites where you find out all about famous people.
Time Magazine was founded in 1923 in New York City, and celebrated its ninety year anniversary in 2013, boasting of a world-wide readership of 25 million, the largest readership for any weekly news magazine. In 1999 Time began to publish its annual Time 100, a yearly list of what the magazine considered to be the 100 most influential people in the world. Each list from 2007 onwards is available on the Time website, and each person thought influential enough to make it into the Top 100 is given a short and potted biography. The record for making the list is nine, held by Oprah Winfrey, one appearance ahead of Barack Obama in second place.
The Biography Channel (or bio. for short) is an American digital channel that has been broadcasting to the US, Canada and the UK since 1999. Their web-site is a fascinating treasure trove of information above famous people, in both written form, plus video and audio. Their biographies are extensive and inter-linked; you start reading about one famous person, then you see an icon of someone they are associated with and you start reading about that person, and so on. There’s also a game on the site that tests your knowledge of famous people.
NNDB stands for “Notable Names Database” and is genome-style mapping system of anyone and everyone who had ever done anything deemed noteworthy enough with their lives. The site is not to be taken seriously, and seems to have a bit of a downer on movie stars. NNDB hosts 37,000 user-contributed biographies, and has an amusing tool called a mapper, in which you start with the name of one famous people, and through a series of clicks create a map of other famous people that person is connected to.
Occasionally a celebrity will come along and dominate our TV screens and gossip columns for a while and then fade back into the mundane. After a while we forget why they were famous in the first place (Kim Kardashian? Rebecca Black? Carrot Top?). This site should help reduce the angst whenever we have cause to remember why someone became famous. You can even purchase your own celebrity-tracking (keeping details of, not stalking) software from this site, if you’ve $219 to spare.
A slightly more sombre site than those previously listed, this site has hundreds of detailed biographies of people who have really made their mark on the world, rather than just by looking nice or singing a couple of hits. You can use the search facility, or simply browse the A-Z. Not surprisingly then, we couldn’t find a entry for Kim Kardashian.
This is the online site of the real Academy of Achievement, which was established in Washington DC in 1961. Each year, a select handful of famous people are voted into the academy, for their contribution to the Arts, Public Service, Science, Business and Sports. Biographies and profiles of each “honouree” is then made available on the site.
A no-thrills site (and one happily ad-free), this site is dedicated to those who have inspired others, from authors and artists to scientists and leaders. They have a separate section with details of famous woman, and a list of the Top 100 people who have changed the world, a list Jesus Christ sits proudly atop, a few votes ahead of Thomas Jefferson.
S9 is a complete biographical dictionary, and has been online since 1997. It relies upon user contributions, and registered users are even allowed to write their own biographies, which are then added to the site. If you consider yourself an expert in all thing famous, you can try the site’s Master Biographer Challenge.
A basic but nicely constructed site, this is a collection of links through to other biography-hosting sites. You can search for your favorite famous person, then select one of the numerous biographies that pop up to. The amount of material you then uncover can be slightly overwhelming, though.
Another pleasant-looking site but in truth, there was hardly a cornucopia of biographic material here, and some of the people selected for biographical coverage seemed odd, such as the rapper Bow Wow and Jonathan Davis, the lead singer of the hard rock group Korn.
If you’re wondering, or can’t be bothered to find out for yourself, the famous people alluded to in the third paragraph are Sir Issac Newton, “Teddy” Kennedy and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.