The Top 3 Famous People Who Made Me Who I Am

Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have influences who have shaped our views and made us who we are.  You really don’t think you got to where you are in life all on your own, did you?  Someone somewhere said or wrote something that influenced how you behave and what you believe.   These people  could be your friends, family members, or someone who has made the news for one reason or another.

There are many influences in my life, starting with my parents and grandparents.  But (no offense to my family who doesn’t even read this blog….)  I am not going to talk abut mama and granny today.  I am going to talk about the top 3 famous people who have made an impact on the way I think and behave.  Are any of your influences on this list?

1.  Howard Zinn

Howard 'n Roslyn Zinn at BU

Howard Zinn and his wife Roslyn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Howard Zinn began his life in tenements in Brooklyn, New York, then he fought in World War II as a bombardier, and got a college education through the G.I. Bill of Rights.  He used that education to become a world renown historian, author, educator, and social activist (taking up causes such as civil rights and demonstrations against war.)

His best known work to general audiences is the history book, A People’s History of the United States, originally published in 1980.  Fans of the book think that it should replace other history books in the classroom.  And there are some people who consider it a terrible piece of revisionist rubbish.  Whatever your view might be on it, you can’t deny that it is still highly influential, more than 30 years after its original release.  His views on war, social classes, and pretty much everything else that came out of his mouth influenced me a great deal.  I agree with everything he said.

2.  Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky. The photo is taken in April 2002...

Noam Chomsky in April, 2002. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Noam Chomsky (who was a great friend of Howard Zinn for more than 40 years) is one of the world’s best known political dissidents and intellectuals.  He is also a highly respected linguist and professor at MIT since 1955.  He has described his political philosophy as leaning toward traditional anarchism, though he doesn’t use that term a whole lot.  So for all of you people out there who think that all anarchists throw bombs and have liberty spikes that are 20 feet high…you’re wrong.  We tend to look and act like Noam Chomsky more often than not.

And I can’t talk about Noam Chomsky without posting this interview with Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Ali G.  Kudos to Noam for having a sense of humor.

Ali G:  How’d you like it if I called YOU bilingual?
Noam:  I’d love it….

3.  Stan Laurel

English: Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy as Frenc...

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in The Flying Deuces (1939). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People often ask me if I am related to Stan Laurel.  No, I am not.  My surname is actually Schaffer, but I began using the name Hottentots-Laurel several years ago online and some people in real life know me by this name as well these days.

Anyway, back to Stannie….

Stan was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson to a theatrical family in Ulverston in north-west England.  By 1910 he changed his name to Stan Laurel and came to the United States with Fred Karno’s pantomime troupe, mostly working as an understudy for Charles Chaplin.  After he left Karno, he continued working on the stage, and eventually wandered into motion pictures.  He made well over 50 short subjects in the late teens through 1920s.  But he didn’t become a household name until he was officially teamed with Oliver Hardy in 1927.

Stan may have played a doof onscreen, but he was actually the genius behind most of the plots and gags used in Laurel and Hardy’s pictures.  He was a comedy genius who has influenced generations of comedians.

Now it’s your turn, my babies.  What famous people have had a great impact in your life?  Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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