Top Living Influential Americans

Living Americans who received votes from panelists


As we assembled our list of the top 100 influential figures in American history, we took note of the living Americans who received votes from our panelists:

33 (Tied): Hugh Hefner

Magazine publisher, founder of Playboy Enterprises

33 (Tied): Tiger Woods
Professional golfer; highest-paid athlete in the world (Wikimedia Commons)
31 (Tied): Clint Eastwood
Film actor, director, producer, and composer; former mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California (Wikimedia Commons)
31 (Tied): Martha Stewart
Businesswoman, television host, author, and magazine publisher (Wikimedia Commons)
28 (Tied): Bill Clinton
The 42nd president of the United States (Wikimedia Commons)
28 (Tied): Chuck Berry
Guitarist, singer, songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock-and-roll (Wikimedia Commons)
28 (Tied): Henry Kissinger
Political scientist, diplomat, and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize; served as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State (Wikimedia Commons)
26 (Tied): Stan Lee
Founder of Marvel Comics; inventor of Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and other superheroes (Wikimedia Commons)
26 (Tied): Bill Cosby
Comedian, actor, author, and educator (Wikimedia Commons)

25: Helen Gurley Brown

Editor of Cosmopolitan magazine; author of Sex and the Single Girl (Wikimedia Commons)
24: Lawrence Roberts
One of the four "fathers of the Internet" (Wikimedia Commons)
23: Leonard Kleinrock
One of the four "fathers of the Internet" (Wikimedia Commons)
22: Robert E. Kahn
One of the four "fathers of the Internet" (Wikimedia Commons)
21: Vinton Cerf
One of the four "fathers of the Internet" (Wikimedia Commons)
20: Sid Caesar
Actor and the "soul of Borscht Belt comedy" (Wikimedia Commons)
19: Norman Mailer
Novelist, journalist, essayist, poet, and playwright (Wikimedia Commons)
18: Phyllis Schlafly
Politically conservative activist and constitutional attorney, opponent of feminism and the Equal Rights Amendment (Wikimedia Commons)
17: Gloria Steinem
Feminist, journalist, and social and political activist (Wikimedia Commons)
16: Walter Cronkite
Broadcast journalist and, for 19 years, anchorman for the CBS Evening News (Wikimedia Commons)
15: Shirley Temple

Film and television actress, public servant (Wikimedia Commons)

14: Michael Jordan
Professional basketball player and businessman (Flickr)
13: Norman Borlaug
Agronomist engineer, humanitarian, Nobel laureate, and "the father of the Green Revolution" (Wikimedia Commons)
12: George Lucas
Film producer, screenwriter, and director, and creator of the Star Wars movie franchise (Wikimedia Commons)
11: Billy Graham
Christian evangelist and spiritual adviser to 12 U.S. presidents (Wikimedia Commons)
10: Oprah Winfrey
Television talk-show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist (Wikimedia Commons)
9: Sandra Day O'Connor
Jurist who was the first female member of the Supreme Court of the United States (Flickr)
8: Muhammad Ali
Boxer and three-time World Heavyweight Champion (Wikimedia Commons)
7: William F. Buckley, Jr.
Conservative author and commentator, and founder of the political magazine National Review (Wikimedia Commons)
6: Steven Spielberg
Film director, screenwriter, and producer (Wikimedia Commons)
5: Steve Jobs
Co-founder and chief executive officer of Apple (Wikimedia Commons)
4: Bob Dylan
Singer-songwriter (Wikimedia Commons)
3: Ralph Nader
Political activist, author, lecturer, and four-time candidate for President of the United States (No. 96 on the Top 100) (Wikimedia Commons)
2: James D. Watson
American molecular biologist and zoologist; one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA (No. 68 on the Top 100) (Wikimedia Commons)
1: Bill Gates

Co-founder and chairman of Microsoft, author, and philanthropist (No. 54 on the Top 100) (Wikimedia Commons)

See below for more on America’s most influential filmmakers, musicians, critics, architects, and poets—along with The Atlantic’s full list of the 100 most influential figures in American history



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