In the early days of the music industry, only a combination of hard work and luck could get musicians a recording contract—and even then, success was limited by the scope of a radio or record distribution deal. But thanks to the reality TV phenomenon, even an appearance on the American Idol competition can make you an instant superstar. Here are some of the show's most famous competitors and judges.
Many African-Americans made their name performing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, including Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown and Jimi Hendrix. The roster of talented artists who made their careers after a successful amateur night at the Apollo grew so large, that the venue earned a reputation as the place to jump-start the career of an ambitious hopeful. Other performers, like Aretha Franklin and Michael Jackson, came to the theater after experiencing big professional success, adding further credibility to the historic New York concert hall. Explore the biographies of some of the more notable African-Americans who stepped out onto the Apollo stage, making entertainment history.
They've made us laugh. They've made us cry. They've made us nostalgic, and they've even made us vengeful. They're among Hollywood's most famous black actresses, appearing in classic films like The Color Purple, Poetic Justice, Soul Food, Dreamgirls and The Help, as well as on television and on the stage. Explore our collection of famous black actresses, including Halle Berry, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne and Angela Bassett.
Spanning jazz to soul to funk, to more contemporary genres like R&B, rap and pop, African-American musicians are responsible for chart-topping hits like "I Feel Good," "Respect," "Georgia on My Mind," "Let The Good Times Roll," "Good Golly Miss Molly" and "Thriller." Explore our collection of famous black musicians, including Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, B.B. King, Duke Ellington, James Brown, Little Richard, Beyoncé Knowles, and more.
From Whitney Houston's unbelievable vocal range to Michael Jackson's spot-on pitch and unforgettable choreography, these are the famous black singers who, together, have unequivocally defined pop culture for the masses for more than a century. Explore this group to learn more about some of the world's most renowned African-American vocalists, including Josephine Baker, Whitney Houston, Sammy Davis Jr., Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé Knowles, Chuck Berry, Nina Simone, Mary J. Blige, André 3000, Janet Jackson and Gladys Knight.
Get more on the high-profile cast of The Butler, the 2013 biopic based on the life of longtime White House butler Eugene Allen, who served under eight U.S. presidents, including Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Over his decades-long career, Allen, an African American, witnessed firsthand the nation's changing perspectives on race, as well as several major historical events. Directed by Lee Daniels, The Butler stars Forest Whitaker as the title character and Oprah Winfrey as his wife. The film's large supporting cast includes Mariah Carey, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Matthew McConaughey, Liev Schreiber, Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, John Cusack, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo and Robin Williams.
Because they're in the public eye, celebrities are subject to being the butt of many jokes, and on the Internet, it seems the best way to knock 'em dead is to ... well, claim that they're dead. Among the most famous celebrity death hoaxes, favorites include Bill Cosby, Margaret Thatcher, Barack Obama, Britney Spears, Sean Connery, Eddie Murphy and Morgan Freeman, among many others.
Did you know that since 1912, nearly 50 million girls in the United States have joined the Girl Scouts? Girl Scouts helped an amazingly diverse array of famous women develop a strong foundation of courage, confidence and character. It's no surprise then that quite a few famous women spent time in the sash. Celebrities who got their start selling cookies and earning merit badges include Wonder Woman star Lynda Carter and actress/writer Carrie Fisher; former first ladies Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Nancy Reagan; Olympic skaters Bonnie Blair and Peggy Fleming; astronaut Sally Ride; and iconic women's rights activist Gloria Steinem. Browse our collection of inspiring famous Girl Scouts who have certainly earned merit badges in their fields.
The first Grammy Awards ceremony was held in 1959, after Walk of Fame recording executives compiled a list of industry leaders who they realized would never get a star on Hollywood Boulevard, but deserved recognition. The group helped found the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and named their award the "Grammy" as a nod to Edison's gramophone. Since then, hundreds of music industry members have received Grammys for their notable accomplishments in the field of music and recording. Here are the many winners of this now-prestigious award.
Madonna unapologetically celebrated and monetized her sexuality when she began her career in the 1980s. Her bold behavior paved the way for other female performers—including Cyndi Lauper, Britney Spears, and Janet Jackson—giving them the freedom to explore previously taboo roles and take control of their image and career.
The American Dream is the notion that, with hard work, any individual can emerge from poor circumstances to a life of wealth and security. Despite the economic ups and downs of modern times, the notion of lifting one's self up is still ingrained in our mindset. Some of our most famous celebrities are, in fact, people who came from nothing. Talent, hard work, and good fortune aligned to make these individuals successful business leaders, actors, athletes and more.