Movies and TV shows have been a great interest of Kelley's since he was a kid, and he's written many articles about them.
Impressive Men of America: As Long as the Country Is Wide
All of the men on this list are at least 50 years of age and are American citizens living in the United States, although one or two may not have been born in America. Moreover, all of these men, depending on one’s perspective of course, could be considered great role models.
Please keep in mind this compilation is written in no particular order, since it is not the intent of the author to crown America’s most impressive man.
Please keep reading!
1. Bill Gates
Almost everybody knows that William Henry Gates III, usually called Bill or Trey, is one of the richest people in the world. They also probably know that Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975, which became the world leader in the production of software for PC computers. But they may not know that after entering Harvard College in 1973, Gates never graduated. It seems he didn’t require further schooling to become one of the greatest software writers of all time! Semi-retired in present times, Gates still works as a technology adviser with Microsoft. But Gates also promotes many philanthropic projects and programs throughout the world, as administered by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, established in 2000. Interestingly, in an interview by Rolling Stone magazine in 2014, Gates said, “America’s way better today than it’s ever been.”
2. Tom Hanks
Just about every American is familiar with Tom Hanks, perhaps the greatest male American actor in modern times. Winning numerous awards for this acting, including two Academy Awards, one BAFTA Award, four Gold Globe Awards, eight Emmy Awards and two SAG Awards, Hanks has starred in some of the most iconic films of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Moreover, his films have grossed over nine billion dollars worldwide. Regarding the performing arts in America and elsewhere, who has been more successful than Tom Hanks? Hanks’ list of honors is impressive as well; he's received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Kennedy Center Honors Medallion and the French Legion of Honor. Hanks was also given the Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award, given to those who promote awareness of space programs. And, without a doubt, Tom Hanks seems one of the most likeable and approachable people on the planet!
3. Magic Johnson
Most basketball fans are familiar with Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr., who had a tremendous basketball career in the college ranks, and then played as a point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, helping them win five NBA titles. Moreover, Johnson was on the so-called Dream Team in the 1992 Olympics, which won a gold medal, and then topped off his basketball vocation by being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. But Johnson contracted HIV in 1991 and had to quit playing in the NBA. Then Johnson became an advocate for HIV treatment throughout the world, establishing the Magic Johnson Foundation. And since Johnson’s basketball days, he’s become a sports entrepreneur and manager, becoming part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Sparks, and recently became the President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers in February 2017.
4. Neil deGrasse Tyson
Astrophysicist, author and all-around science expert and communicator, Neil deGrasse Tyson has become America’s Mr. Know-It-All, particularly regarding astronomy, cosmology and astrophysics - yet he seems to know a little about virtually everything. Since astronomer Carl Sagan died in 1996, Tyson is the person who appears on talk shows and regales the masses about the wonders of the cosmos, and he does this in a very appealing way, showing an excellent sense of humor. And, accordingly, the size of Tyson’s list of honors, awards and honorary doctorates is, well, astronomical! Moreover, in 2015, Tyson was awarded the Public Welfare Medal, given to those who excite the public’s interest regarding the wonders of science. Tyson has also written many books about science, including Death by Black Hole (2007), The Pluto Files (2009) and Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier (2012).
5. Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett, considered one of the most successful investors in the world, lives a modest, frugal existence, having a base salary of $100,000, even though he worth tens of billions of dollars! Since 1970, Buffett has been the chairman and largest shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway, a holding company for many enterprises, and his prowess in the business arena has earned him the nicknames of “Oracle,” “Wizard” or “Sage.” But Buffett is also a philanthropist of great renown, pledging that he will eventually give to charity 99 per cent of his fortune, primarily utilizing the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Interestingly, Buffett lost $25 billion during the Great Recession. And in 2011, Buffett, a Democrat, revealed that he paid only 19 per cent ($48 million) of his total income for federal income taxes, while his employees paid 33 per cent of theirs for taxes. President Obama, reacting to this revelation, proposed the Buffet Rule, which would establish a minimum effective tax rate for the nation's richest citizens.
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6. Daryl Davis
Daryl Davis is an African-American blues pianist and singer, emphasizing the boogie-woogie style, but also plays R&B and soul, having performed with such artists as Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bruce Hornsby, Bo Diddley, Percy Sledge and Muddy Waters. But Davis is also known for an activism that’s decidedly unusual: He befriends members of the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups. Davis thinks that by initiating and maintaining a dialogue with such people he can combat racism. It appears his quest has been successful, because he’s persuaded 20 members of the KKK to leave that group, many of whom donated their robes and hoods to Davis’ collection. Davis wrote about such experiences in his book, Klan-Destine Relationships: A Black Man’s Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan (1998). Also, PBS produced a documentary about Davis entitled, Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America (2016).
7. Jeff Koons
Jeff Koons is certainly one of the most well-known and popular American artists of the current era. Specializing in the production of paintings and sculptures, Koons’ work emphasizes pop culture icons (including cartoon characters), conceptual themes and banal imagery, such as shown with the porcelain sculpture, Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988). Thus, most of Koons’ artwork is very easy to look at, evincing nothing edgy, political or ironic - just as Koons wants it. “A viewer might at first see irony in my work,” he said. “But I see none at all. Irony causes too much critical contemplation." It seems Koons wants his work to appear exactly as it is! Understandably, Koons’ oeuvre has found many detractors, who may call his work artificial, cheap and/or catering to the undiscerning rich. Interestingly, Koons has scores of assistants who help produce his numerous artworks, some of which sell for many millions of dollars.
8. Dr. Oz
Dr. Oz is a TV star on daytime, network TV. (Perhaps you’ve seen his show.) The doctor is a Turkish-American, born in Cleveland, Ohio, whose birth name is Mehmet Cengiz Oz. He’s also a cardiothoracic surgeon, whose medical and health advice is not endorsed by all physicians; in fact, some think he promotes pseudoscience. Be that as it may, Dr. Oz is certainly an advocate of alternative medicine, particularly as it relates to the benefits of consuming healthy foods, herbs and various supplements such as fish oil. For example, the doctor has called green coffee bean extract a “miracle” as it relates to weight loss benefits, even though researchers have found no such healthful properties. Nevertheless, Dr. Oz has collected many awards and honors. But is he doing little more than pushing New Age BS in order to make millions of dollars? Overall, it seems safe to suggest that many people consider this contemporary health guru one who puts on a good show.
9. Carlos Santana
Born in Mexico, rock guitarist Carlos Santana moved to San Francisco in the middle 1960s, where he graduated high school and became a US citizen. Soon, Carlos started the rock group, Santana, which has become one of the greatest rock bands of all time. In the 1970s, Santana pumped out many hit albums, and in 1999 the band experienced a resurgence in popularity, releasing Supernatural, which won nine Grammy Awards. Interestingly, Carlos has always been a spiritual person interested in transcendental meditation, Eastern religion, metaphysics and ontology. Carlos is so interested in such subject matter that he urges people in audiences to explore such options and maximize their unlimited potential! Carlos chronicled his life in his autobiography, The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light (2014). Without a doubt, Carlos Santana is a legendary figure in the world of music, as well as one who continually journeys into the expansion of one’s consciousness.
10. Tom Brokaw
10. Tom Brokaw
Tom Brokaw was a famous television news anchor in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Appearing on the NBC Nightly News, Brokaw, along with Dan Rather (CBS News) and Peter Jennings (ABC News), comprised a TV news trio that dominated network nightly news broadcasts until they all retired at about the same age. But Brokaw continues to work; he wrote The Greatest Generation (1998), a book about America’s World War II veterans; and he continues working as a Special Correspondent for NBC News and also appears in documentaries for other news organizations. Interestingly, while covering the 9/11 attacks on TV, Brokaw declared, “This is war. This is a declaration and an execution of an attack on the United States.” To conclude, it appears safe to suggest that Tom Brokaw, polite, suave and debonair, is one of the nicest guys around. Who wouldn’t want him coming to their house for dinner?
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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2017 Kelley Marks
Kelley on March 11, 2017:
Thanks for the comment, Genna East, I'm glad I picked some of your favorites. Later!
Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on March 10, 2017:
Very interesting list, Kelly. We all have our opinions regarding who we would choose, but you've picked a few of my favorites. Thank you for the enjoyable read.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on March 07, 2017:
Thanks for the comment, Jacklee. Fortunately, there are plenty of good guys out there, so I'm sure I could have added a few more. Later!
Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on March 07, 2017:
You have an interesting list here. Though I could think of many others that top this list.