Before they spearheaded the musical phenomenon called the British Invasion, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were just four kids from Liverpool. Throughout the 1960s, however, they embodied, as the Beatles, the musical, artistic, social, and spiritual promise of an entire generation. After their stormy breakup in 1970, the Fab Four became four solo artists, at times even appearing on each others recordings. In addition to the millions of records each band member has sold on his own since their breakup, more than 40 Beatles compilation albums have been released and continue to sell millions of copies. To this day, more than one billion Beatles recordings have sold, and thousands of books, academic papers, blogs, and websites are dedicated to the group. Despite being the Beatles for only a decade, John, Paul, George, and Ringo together formed the most successfuland arguably the most influentialmusical group in history.
Calvin Klein, a boy from the Bronx, took his first clothing line of three dresses and six coats to an appointment at Bonwit Teller, New York's department store for the wealthy. Before long, he had designed a line of jeans that sold 200,000 in a week, and he was called the "King of Clothes" by People magazine. Along the way, he became known throughout the world for the beauty of his elegantly uncluttered clothing. In partnership with childhood friend Bernie Schwartz, he built an empire around his ideas that came to include fragrances, cosmetics, underwear, and home decor. Today his clothes are recognized as classics, and his style represents the best in American design.
When Hollywood stars get married, they call on Vera Wang to dress them for their big day, because Vera makes the most beautiful wedding gowns in the world! Jennifer Lopez, Kate Hudson, Mariah Carey, and Jessica Simpson are among the thousands of brides this American designer has dressed. Born and raised in New York City where her parents fled from the Chinese Revolution, Vera has been in the fashion industry her whole adult life. After working for Vogue magazine as a fashion editor, she opened her own store, where she sold the wedding dresses that have made her famous. Today her brand name is on perfumes, home goods, jewelry, shoes, and eyeglasses, and her delightful style is available to everyone through her lower-price line, called Simply Vera.
Wayne Gretzky, known to millions of hockey fans as "The Great One," wasn't the biggest, fastest, or strongest hockey player ever, but he was without a doubt the best so far. When he retired from play in 1999, the National Hockey League retired his jersey number as well and inducted him into the NHL Hall of Fame immediately, without the customary waiting period. Wayne's great talent was his ability to read the game and consistently make the right moves, earning him records for scoring year after year. The Great One started playing hockey on an ice rink in his backyard as a little boy in Canada, practicing before and after school and even after eating dinner with his skates on! His life tells the story of how far hard work and smart thinking can take a kid from Brantford, Ontario.
Born in Romania in 1928, Eliezer (Elie) Wiesel had a childhood steeped in the traditions of his Orthodox Jewish family. From the moment of his familys deportation to the death camp at Auschwitz and the horrors that awaited there, the teenaged Elie focused all his energies on staying alive. Elie has dedicated his life to the pursuit of peaceful, humanitarian goals as a writer and activist. He is a Holocaust survivor, Nobel Laureate and the author of 57 books, including the Night trilogy, based on his experiences as a prisoner. In 1986 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and called, a messenger to mankind.
Throughout his life, basketball superstar Earvin “Magic” Johnson has met both challenges and opportunities with perseverance and leadership. Dubbed "Magic," Johnson blazed a spectacular career in basketball. His play with the Los Angeles Lakers as point guard alongside center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as well as his epic rivalry with the Boston Celtics’ forward Larry Bird, marked a legendary era in the NBA. In 1991, Magic announced he had tested positive for HIV, a virus that can lead to the life-threatening disease AIDS, and was retiring from basketball. Little was known then about HIV/AIDS and its prevention. His declaration shocked the public but succeeded in putting a familiar and much-admired face on a disease that was shrouded in fear and prejudice. Magic Johnson's legacy includes his inspirational work as an advocate for the prevention of HIV and the still-incurable disease AIDS through his own foundation, which provides programs for HIV/AIDS education and prevention, including testing and safe sex practices.
Perhaps no two people in history exemplify the spirit of invention better than brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright. Born in the Midwest in the late 1800s, Orville was exceptionally good at creating mechanical devices, and Wilbur had a genius for ideas. The turn of the 20th century came during an age of invention and technological development. Inspired by a fierce worldwide competition to be the first to invent a machine that could fly and be controlled by a pilot, the Wright brothers tested and refined several prototypes. At last, on December 17, 1903, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, they achieved their pioneering flight. The brothers went on to develop machines and controls that made possible powered, fixed-wing flights and laid the foundation for pilot-controlled aviation as we know it today. They also founded the Wright Company, which built airplanes for the rising new industry of commercial aviation. Had Wilbur not died at the early age of 45, who knows what else the innovative pair might have accomplished.