American actor James Dean had a short-lived but intense acting career that began in 1952 and ended tragically with his death in September 1955. After his death he became a cult figure (a legendary person), and fans have marveled for decades at his ability to duplicate their adolescent (teenage) agony on screen.
The French composer (writer and arranger of music) Claude Debussy developed a strongly individual style and went against the methods of classical composing by using uncommon arrangements that created a new language of sound.
Ruby Dee's acting career has spanned more than fifty years and has included theater, radio, television, and movies. She has also been active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).
Daniel Defoe was the first of the great eighteenth-century English novelists. He wrote more than five hundred books, pamphlets, articles, and poems.
The French painter and sculptor Edgar Degas is classed with the impressionists (a painter who tries to represent a scene using dabs and strokes of paint) because of his concentration on scenes of contemporary life and his desire to capture the transitory (lasting a short time) moment, but he surpassed other impressionists in compositional (arrangement) sense.
The French general and statesman Charles de Gaulle led the Free French forces in their resistance of Germany during World War II (1939–45). A talented writer and spirited public speaker, he served as president of France from 1958 to 1969.
Cecil Blount DeMille was born on August 12, 1881, in Ashfield, Massachusetts, the second of Henry Churchill de Mille and Beatrice Samuel DeMille 's three children. His father wrote several successful plays with David Belasco (1853–1931), a famous writer of that time.
Deng Xiaoping became the most powerful leader in the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the 1970s. He served as the chairman of the Communist Party's Military Commission and was the chief architect of China's economic improvements during the 1980s.
The French thinker René Descartes is called the father of modern philosophy (the study of the universe and man's place in it). His Discourse on Method and Meditations defined the basic problems of philosophy for at least a century.
The Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto participated in the conquests of Nicaragua (in Middle America) and Peru (in South America). De Soto explored parts of nine states in the southeastern part of the United States, and he was the first white man to cross the Mississippi River.
During the first half of the twentieth century, John Dewey was one of America's most famous teachers of philosophy (the study of the universe and man's place in it). He also made some controversial suggestions for changes in the American educational system.
Lady Diana Frances Spencer married Prince Charles (1948–) in 1981 and became Princess of Wales. Retaining her title and her popularity after the royal couple divorced in 1996, Diana continued her charitable work.
English author Charles Dickens continues to be one of the most widely read Victorian (nineteenth-century) novelists. Scrooge, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, and Nicholas Nickelby remain familiar characters today.
One of the finest poets in the English language, the American poet Emily Dickinson was a keen observer of nature and a wise interpreter of human passion. In the privacy of her study, Dickinson developed her own forms of poetry and pursued her own visions, not paying attention to the fashions of literature of her day.
The French philosopher (seeker of wisdom), playwright, and novelist Denis Diderot is best known as the editor of the Encyclopédie, a summary of information on all subjects that also questioned the authority of the Catholic Church.
Joe DiMaggio was named the "Greatest Living Player" in a 1969 poll of sportswriters. He took the great American pastime of baseball to new heights during his career, and he was the epitome (the perfect example) of the sports hero of the 1940s and 1950s.
An American filmmaker and businessman, Walt Disney created a new kind of popular culture with feature-length animated cartoons and live-action "family" films.
Elizabeth Dole's work as a lawyer, White House aide, cabinet officer, and president of the American Red Cross has made her one of the most recognizable faces in the American political landscape.
Spanish-born tenor (the highest natural male voice) Placido Domingo's performances are intelligent and dramatic. He is also a conductor and an accomplished pianist.
The Italian sculptor Donatello was the greatest Florentine sculptor before Michelangelo (1475–1564), and was certainly the most influential individual artist of the fifteenth century in Italy.
John Donne—English poet, Anglican (Church of England) minister, and public speaker—is ranked with John Milton (1608–1674) as one of the greatest English poets. He was also a gifted artist in sermons and devotional writing.
The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky was well known in his country during his life and has since been praised around the world as a writer. He is best known for writing novels that had a great understanding of psychology (the study of how the human mind works), especially the psychology of people who, losing their reason, would become insane or commit murder.
The most important African American abolitionist (opponent of slavery) in pre–Civil War America, Frederick Douglass was the first nationally known African American leader in U.S. history.
Arenowned English author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best remembered as the creator of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes.
The English navigator Sir Francis Drake was the first of his countrymen to sail around the world. His daring adventures at sea helped to establish England's naval supremacy over Spain and other European nations.
Alexandre Dumas was born on July 24, 1802, near Soissons, France, the son of a Creole general of the French Revolutionary armies. His grandfather was from a noble family, and his grandmother had been a Dominican slave.
Paul Laurence Dunbar, a poet and novelist, was the first African American author to gain national recognition and a wide popular audience. His writings portray the African American life of his era.