One of history’s most controversial Presidents, Andrew Jackson was a war hero who was a driving force behind the end of the War of 1812, the acquisition of Florida, and the Trail of Tears. Beloved and hated by many, Jackson’s face graced the US $20 bill for years. Jackson died on his plantation in 1845.
With Carter Roy & Vanessa Richardson
About Historical Figures
Big Lives. Little-known Facts. Great, unknown stories hide inside history—every Wednesday, we dig up what you don't know about the icons you do know. Hosts Carter and Vanessa bring history to life, telling unexpected anecdotes, describing the real personalities behind big names, and examining each individual’s lasting impact on the world. A reboot of Remarkable Lives. Tragic Deaths. (iTunes “Best Debuts of 2016”) Historical Figures is part of the Parcast Network and is a Cutler Media Production.
A Dutch woman with a Scottish last name and Javanese pseudonym, Mata Hari took up a career as an exotic dancer in France. She soon became a courtesan, but the seductress’ fondness for military men led her to the center of international espionage during World War I. When she was accused of being a German double agent, Mata Hari was executed by the French.
He struggled with depression. The deaths of his children. Perhaps even his sexuality. Oh, and he had to lead the nation during America’s Civil War. Abraham Lincoln, lawyer and 16th president of the United States, was assassinated in 1865, but is revered as one of the country’s greatest leaders. This week, Vanessa and Carter look into the secret life and sudden death of the man on the penny.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Uncle Buck. Splash. Home Alone. John Candy’s hilarious and unforgettable performances brought joy to children and adults across America. This Canadian star got his start on SCTV and later became a part owner of the Toronto Argonauts. After battling with his weight all his life, Candy died of a heart attack at age 43.
“I Heard It Through The Grapevine” that this week “What’s Going On?” is Marvin Gaye, so “Let’s Get It On.” The Prince of Motown was a singer, songwriter and producer whose hits endure to this day. There “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” for this consistent chart-topper, whose awards included induction into the Rock and Roll hall of Fame, a lifetime achievement Grammy and making Rolling Stone’s list of Greatest Songs of All Time. Marvin was tragically shot to death by his own father in 1984.
She led an army to victory. She helped France crown a new king. She inspired a nation. And all before the age of 19. A legend and a saint, the girl who defended France claimed to hear “voices” of angles and saints, through whom God was addressing her. This week, we look at Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans. Joan's military strategy helped France take back their land from the English in the Hundred Years' War, but before the war ended, she was burned at the stake for witchcraft, heresy, and dressing like a man.
Beware the Ides of March... Rome’s most famous dictator, Julius Caesar’s quest for power started when he was only sixteen. In his rise to power, he led the Romans to conquer Gaul, introduced the Julian Calendar, and build bridges across the German Rhine. Along with his military success, Caesar formed the First Triumvirate with Crassus and Pompey to consolidate political power, and used this as a stepping stone to become a dictator. Caesar was assassinated by Roman senators in 44 B.C. The event lives on today in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
Al Capone is one of the most infamous gangsters of all time. He was a popular figure in Chicago and leader of the Chicago Outfit, a crime syndicate best known for bootlegging, racketeering and political corruption. Of all his crimes, it was tax evasion charges that ended his reign as a mob boss. Capone died of a stroke at the age of 48.
“Toga! Toga!” Animal House star John Belushi was a boisterous, high energy performer who vividly brought SNL favorites like Samurai Futaba, Beethoven, and Captain Kirk to life. He was also one half of “The Blues Brothers”, an SNL-sketch-turned-legitimate-band that put out the double platinum album Briefcase Full of Blues. Belushi’s entertaining career was tragically cut short when he died of a drug overdose at age 33.
The father of the 1960’s pop art movement, Andy Warhol’s art included subjects like Marilyn Monroe, Mao Zedong, and a can of soup. Warhol was initially a commercial illustrator, which greatly influenced his methods of printing and mass-producing art. His studio, “The Factory”, was a hangout for everyone from drag queens to wealthy art buyers to the punk band “The Velvet Underground”. Warhol died unexpectedly at age 58. The expression “15 minutes of fame” was coined by Warhol, but his fame has lasted well over his “15 minutes”.
A scientist and physician who turned into a radical journalist and politician during the French Revolution, Jean-Paul Marat advocated for human rights for all people, even the poorest. He was the writer and publisher of his periodical, “The People’s Friend” which gained him fame across France. As a rallying symbol of the Montagnard faction during the French Revolution, Marat spent a lot of time in hiding. In 1793, Marat was assassinated, and the event is immortalized in the iconic painting “The Death of Marat”.
Wild Bill Hickok was a stagecoach driver and Union Soldier, but that’s not what made him famous. This hard-drinking, gun-slinging, high-stakes-gambling sheriff embodied the myth of the old west. Thanks to wild rumors and his appearances in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, Bill became a legend in his own lifetime. Hickok was shot to death during a game of poker in 1876. Dead at 39, Wild Bill left a cultural legacy: the iconic image of the Old West gunslinger.
A 1950’s music legend, Buddy Holly was best known as the lead singer and guitarist for The Crickets. Holly wrote, recorded, and produced his own songs, including upbeat hits like “That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue”. Holly died in a plane crash when he was only twenty-two, but his music and style inspired The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Elton John, and songs like Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” and Don McClean’s “American Pie.”
Leon Trotsky's Marxist writings and powerful speeches made him a leading figure in the Russian Revolution of 1917 and later, a Communist tyrant. He was known as a brilliant, arrogant intellectual, but ideological differences with Joseph Stalin led to his assassination in 1940. Trotsky published hundreds of articles, over forty books, and stood by his ideals until the end.
A Baptist Minister and political activist, Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. encouraged nonviolent civil disobedience to stand up for equality. King’s incredible skills as an orator made him a beloved leader in the Civil Rights Movement. This earned him a Nobel Peace Prize when he was only thirty-five years old. Shockingly, King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 at the age of thirty-nine.
A major blues vocalist in the 1960's, Joplin gained fame as the beloved lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company, leading to a solo career. Famed for her raw and uninhibited singing style, Janis' powerful voice made her a highlight of Woodstock. Joplin's platinum records include Cheap Thrills and Pearl, and she's known for hits such as "Ball 'n' Chain", "Cry Baby" and "Piece of My Heart". In 1970, Janis' lifelong struggle with drug abuse culminated in a heartbreaking overdose.
Edward Teach or Edward Thatch, better known as Blackbeard, was a legendary pirate whose fearsome image has been romanticized since his death. Most likely born in Bristol, England, he plundered ships traveling to and from the American colonies as well as ships in the Caribbean. Although his reign of terror only lasted two years, he has become the inspiration for countless movies and books.
Socrates was a Greek philosopher who is credited as one of the founders of Western Philosophy. He was born circa 470 BC in Athens, Greece. We know of his life through the writings of his students, including Plato and Xenophon. His "Socratic method," laid the groundwork for Western systems of logic and philosophy. Socrates was sentenced to death by hemlock poisoning in 399 BC.
We are taking a short holiday break and will be back every Wednesday starting January 4th when we examine the life and death of Edward Teach (Blackbeard). Happy Holidays from everyone at Parcast. We are so thankful to have you as our listener. Have a happy, healthy and safe New Year!
Maybe the most influential musician ever to live, famed singer-songwriter John Lennon founded the Beatles, a band that impacted the popular music scene like no other. Born in Liverpool, England on October 9th, 1940, Lennon gained worldwide fame for not only being a member of the Beatles, but for his subsequent solo career, his political activism and pacifism. On December 8th, 1980, he was shot and killed by a crazed fan in New York City.
Crazy Horse was a legendary Native American warrior and leader. Celebrated for his battle skills, he took up arms against the United States Federal Government to preserve Native American traditions and way of life. Some of his war heroics include acting as a decoy in the Fetterman Massacre and being an instrumental leader in the defeat of George Armstrong Custer’s army at the Battle of Little Bighorn. He was killed in 1877 after having a scuffle with soldiers.