89% of People Can't Identify These Iconic People Throughout History. Can You?

By: Jody Mabry
Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

Have you ever dreamt of becoming an iconic person in history? When most people think of those iconic figures they often forget that iconic can mean both good and bad. Yes, that means that Billy the Kid and Clyde Barrow are as iconic as let's say, George Washington and Nelson Mandella. These are historical figures who led a life so significantly different from others that they are recognizable decades, centuries, and even millennia later. Don't believe us? Well, you could probably pick out Leonidus of Spartan lore, Aerostotle and Plato. You might even be able to figure out the difference between Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. 

From criminals like DeSalvo - the Boston Strangler, to world leaders such as Thomas Jefferson and influential figures such as Gandhi, you have the chance to test your knowledge of the world and those who molded it. You may have been out of school for some time now, but we have faith in your abilities to recognize some of these iconic people. 

Jesus was a carpenter who over the course of 2000 years inspired billions of people and we're sure you can pick him out of an image. But, how many of these other iconic figures can you identify? Well, there's only one way to find out. Roll up those sleeves, massage your eyes and let's get going. 

"Scarface." Perhaps one of the most famous criminals in U.S. history. Al Capone came from an immigrant Italian family. After he was expelled from school at the age of 14, Capone fell under the win of gangster Johnny Torrio. Capone moved up through Torrio's gangs, eventually becoming a member of the Five Points Gang. During a fight in a saloon, Capone was cut on the cheek and earned his nickname. Torrio went to Chicago to expand his racketeering empire and Capone went with. He eventually succeeded Torrio as boss and built up his huge criminal empire, taking out rivals along the way. Capone was eventually arrested for tax evasion and spent seven years in jail. He was paroled in 1939 and died in 1948.

George Washington was made an honorary citizen of France in 1792. In 1976 Washington was awarded the highest rank in the U.S. military, ever. No one will ever outrank him in the military because of this. In 1789, his presidential salary was 2 percent of the total U.S. budget.

When Confederate troops attacked Washington, D.C., in July 1864, Abraham Lincoln visited the front lines at Fort Stevens on two days of the battle, which the Union ultimately won. Illinois is known as the Land of Lincoln, but Indiana is where this president spent his formative years.

Charles Manson was responsible for one of the most notorious killing sprees in American history, although he did not commit the murders himself. In the late 1960s, Manson became the leader of a cult known as the Manson family, and he convinced them that he was Jesus. He was obsessed with the Beatles song, "Helter Skelter" and determined to try and start a race war in America. To do this, he had his followers kill Hollywood actress Sharon Tate, who was pregnant at the time, as well as a number of other victims. They then wrote the word "Pig" on a door in the victim's blood. Other murders followed. Manson and his gang were arrested, not for the murders but for vandalizing Death Valley National Park, where they lived. One member of the Manson family, Susan Atkins, confessed and Manson and the others were jailed. Manson was sentenced to life imprisonment and has been denied parole 12 times, as of 2012.

Did you know that Jesus got his name from an angel of God who appeared when Joseph was planning to break his engagement with Mary? The angel said that Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit and not by a human. In the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel told Mary that her child's name would be Jesus. Jesus did not have a last name, like we do. In fact, Christ is not his last name, but a title that means “the anointed one.”

Napoleon Bonaparte had formal military training, but he was born to a family with a bit of wealth and royalty and was originally a Corsican nationalist. He wrote a romance novel at one point in his life. Although many thought he was afraid of cats, this isn't true.

Born William Henry McCarty, Jr., Billy the Kid had many other aliases, including William H. Bonny. After the death of his parents while a teenager, Billy became a petty thief. He eventually became a gunfighter for a gang and legend has it that he killed 21 people. On further investigation over the years, this number is probably far lower. Billy was eventually killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett. He was just 21 when he died.

Widely known as the greatest writer in the English language, William Shakespeare is often called England's national poet, or the "Bard of Avon." The greatest dramatist of all time, he invented thousands of new words in his poems and plays.

Charles Darwin's theory of evolution changed the way we understand the world. His idea that humans share a common ancestor with apes was met with a lot of criticism and challenged the foundations of Western civilization.

Although he was connected to over 30 murders, Ted Bundy could have been involved in much more. It is widely believed that Bundy started his killing spree around 1974. Bundy would sit in his car, a VW Beetle, pretend to be injured and lure his victims in. He would then rape them and beat them to death. Bundy was arrested for kidnap in 1975 and jailed. While in jail, he was accused of the murder of another victim. After appearing in court, where he defended himself, Bundy escaped but was caught a little over a week later. He then escaped from jail, managing to get all the way to Florida before he was caught again, but not before committing two more murders. He was eventually executed in 1989.

John F. Kennedy wrote his first book, Why England Slept, at the age of 22. In 1945 he worked as a journalist for William Randolph Hearst’s newspaper, covering the United Nations conference and the aftermath of World War II. In 1957, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Profiles in Courage.

Aristotle, together with other philosophers, such as Socrates and Plato, laid the groundwork for Western philosophy. His works shaped centuries of philosophy, from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance, and are still studied with keen interest.

The "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez would break into the homes of his victims, torture and rape them. He ended up killing 13 of his 25 known victims. He started his spree in 1984, which lasted until 1985. He was eventually tracked down, thanks to the police identifying his stolen car and finally getting some positive identification on him which was circulated to the public. He was arrested and saved from a mob after a failed carjacking. His trial took four years, but eventually he was convicted of 43 charges and received 19 death sentences. He remained on death row for 23 years before dying of cancer-related complications.

Albert Einstein is the famous theoretical physicist who developed the general theory of relativity. His ideas turned classical physics on its head, revolutionizing scientists’ understanding of everything - from space and time to gravity and energy.

Julius Caesar's ancestry could be traced to the first king of Rome. Julius introduced the Julian calendar. When Julius was young and on his way to study oratory, he was kidnapped by pirates. He made friends with the pirates and he was later freed when Caesar's uncle paid the ransom. Once he was freed, he had the pirates executed.

Isaac Newton is a key figure in the scientific revolution of the 17th century. He was an established physicist and mathematician, who developed the core principles of modern physics.

The former head of the Gambino crime family, John Gotti came into power by having his then boss, Paul Castellano, killed, which allowed him to seize power. Under Gotti's control, the family grew in power, raking in over $500 million during his reign. Gotti ruled with an iron hand and is said to have killed at least 40 people himself while ordering the death of anywhere from 600 to 1,100 others. Gotti was eventually sold out by his underboss, Sammy Gravano, and received a life sentence. He died in jail in 2002 from cancer.

A notorious criminal from the Old West, Jesse James was part of the James-Younger gang in Missouri. James and his brother Frank left the Confederate Army to become outlaws, robbing banks, stagecoaches and trains. Over a period of more than twenty years, they were responsible for a host of robberies amounting to around $200,000. Their notoriety led to a massive reward for their capture and, in 1882, James' own gang members turned on him. James was shot in the back of the head by henchman Bob Ford and died instantly.

Thomas Jefferson first tasted ice cream while traveling in France. He brought home a recipe for it, which is now in the Library of Congress. He kept pet mockingbirds. He loved their singing and often had at least four at a time. HIs favorite one was named Dick.

The famous explorer, navigator, colonizer and sailor, Christopher Columbus, made four trips across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain. His main goal was to find a direct water route west from Europe to Asia, but instead he accidentally stumbled upon the Americas. Even though he did not really “discover” the New World – a lot of people already lived there –with his famous journey began centuries of trans-Atlantic travels and colonization.

Jeffrey Dahmer was one of the United States’ most notorious criminals. In a 13-year span, from 1978 to when he was captured in 1991, Dahmer murdered 17 male victims. Not only that, but he often dismembered his victims or performed sexual acts on them. In some cases, he even kept body parts of his victims and cannibalized them. There was a 9-year gap between his first and his second victim. In this time, Dahmer was arrested twice for indecent exposure and had numerous other close calls with the police before he was finally caught in 1991 after an intended victim, Tracey Edwards had escaped from his clutches. He was convicted and was sent to jail to serve 16 life terms but was killed in prison in 1994 by a fellow inmate.

Ludwig van Beethoven was a genius, an innovator, who was combining vocals and instruments in a new way and creating a new type of classical music. He was also struggling against deafness, and some of his most important works were composed during the last 10 years of his life, when he was almost unable to hear his own music.

Half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde, Bonnie Parker fell in love with criminal Clyde Barrow in 1930, later even helping him to break out of jail by smuggling in a gun. Soon she entered a life of crime with Barrow when the pair formed a gang and went on a crime spree, mostly involving armed robbery. Parker was captured during a failed robbery attempt in 1932 but released after she said she was kidnapped and before anyone had worked out she was part of the gang. Parker loved writing poetry and penned many pieces while awaiting trial. She eventually died with Barrow in a hail of bullets during a police ambush in 1934.

Thomas Edison was a real genius and America's greatest inventor. The father of the practical incandescent electric light bulb and the phonograph, he was also a smart businessman, who held more than 1,000 patents for his various inventions.

Along with serving as one of the architects of American independence, Benjamin Franklin was also a scientist, inventor, printer, writer, newspaper owner, and philosopher. Although he was highly intelligent and acomplished, he only had two years of formal education.

One-half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde, Clyde Barrow was born into a poor family. Influenced by his brother, Barrow entered a life of crime after leaving school at 16. Starting with thievery, Barrow quickly moved onto stealing vehicles and then armed robbery. By the time he was 20, he was a wanted fugitive. After meeting Bonnie Parker and falling in love, Barrow was arrested but with Parker's help, he escaped jail only to be arrested again. This time, his mother had arranged for his parole. Reunited with Parker, the pair formed a gang and went on a crime spree which eventually ended in both their deaths in 1934.

James Madison, like any good politician, was concerned by the idea that someone might intercept one of his private letters. Along with Jefferson and many mutual allies, Madison used complicated encryptions when relaying delicate information. Both of his vice presidents died while in office.

As the head of the Barker-Karpis Gang, Kate Barker, or "Ma" as she was known, was responsible for kidnappings, bank robberies and even murders over a four-year period from 1931 to 1935. She formed the gang with her four sons, all notorious criminals for much of their lives. Barker was eventually killed in a shootout with the FBI in Florida.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was learning to play clavier, violin and organ when he was around three years old. About at the same time, he gave his first concerts, learned several of the pretty advanced pieces at the age of four, and wrote his first compositions, a small Andante (K. 1a) and Allegro (K. 1b), when he was just five years old.

It was under the leadership of Lucky Luciano that the Mafia as we know it today started to take shape. Luciano helped turn small, petty crimes into a larger, organized enterprise capable of bringing in some serious cash. He also helped set up five crime families in New York, with himself at the head. This brought him to the attention of the authorities and, in 1936, Luciano was arrested and slapped with 62 charges against his name. He was sentenced to between 30 and 50 years in prison and deported in 1946. The following year he tried to set up a base of operations in Cuba, but he didn't have the same influence as earlier. He returned to his homeland and died in Naples in 1962.

During Mahatma Gandhi's influential years, he used to walk around 18 km every day, for almost 40 years. From 1913 to 1938, while he was campaigning, he walked around 79,000 km, which is equivalent to circling the Earth twice. He also experimented with eating meat and smoking, before deciding to abstain.

Born in Indiana in 1903, John Dillinger entered a life of crime early, first through petty theft. At the age of 21, Dillinger robbed a grocery store but was apprehended by authorities. He spent time in jail for his crime and, upon his release, he moved to Chicago. Dillinger set up a crime syndicate that operated in numerous states over the next couple of years. He became a national celebrity, with brands such as Ford and Hudson using his fame to drive sales. Dillinger underwent facial reconstruction surgery to try to hide his identity and even burnt off his fingerprints. He was eventually killed in an ambush in 1934 with the FBI, after they received information from Dillinger's friend, Ana Sage.

Joan of Arc's real name was Jehanne d’Arc, Jehanne Tarc, Jehanne Romée, or possibly Jehanne de Vouthon. In modern times, some doctors and scholars have “diagnosed” Joan of Arc with disorders ranging from epilepsy to schizophrenia, because of the wild tales and stories told about her.

Many from his community were shocked when John Wayne Gacy was arrested for the disappearance of Robert Piest in 1978, Gacy, who owned a construction company, was a respected person in his community. But Gacy had a dark side no one knew about. After a previous conviction for sexual assault in 1968, he went on to kill 33 young men or boys in the next decade, burying them under his house. He was found guilty in 1980 and sentenced to death. Gacy was executed in 1994.

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote on truth, morality, language, aesthetics, cultural theory, history, nihilism and the meaning of life. His ideas have exerted an enormous influence on Western philosophy and intellectual history.

Involved in organized crime in the Boston area in the 1970s, '80s and '90s, Whitey Bulger also acted as a police informant. He was forced to flee the area in 1995 and was eventually captured in 2011. It is alleged Bulger was involved in 19 murders as well as other organized crime dealings, including money laundering, extortion and drugs. After his capture, he was convicted of 11 murders and a host of other charges. He was sentenced to jail to serve two life sentences. Incidentally, Bulger hated his nickname and preferred to be called "Boots."

Robert Kennedy was the seventh child of Joseph and Rose Kennedy. The Kennedys had nine children. He traveled to England when he was 12. As the son of a U.S. ambassador, Robert was in Great Britain just before World War II started in Europe. He also enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve just before his 18th birthday.

H.H. Holmes is widely regarded as one of the first serial killers in the United States. Referred to as the "Beast of Chicago," Holmes admitted to killing 27 people, although the number is thought to be over 100 and could even be close to 200. He moved to Chicago in 1886 and worked in a pharmacy. Holmes took over the practice when the owner of the establishment suddenly vanished. In this building, Holmes would torture his victims. He used the building as a residence for visitors to the 1893 Columbian Exposition. Many of these visitors simply disappeared. Holmes also ran insurance scams and this led to his capture. He was tried for insurance fraud and later for the murder of his accomplice, Benjamin Pitezel. It was during his time in jail that he admitted to 27 murders. He was hanged in 1896.

The empire that Charlemagne built included almost all of western and central Europe. Modern-day France and Germany emerged from Charlemagne’s empire, the former as West Francia and the latter as East Francia. Charlemagne introduced many reforms in his empire, including judicial and legal reforms.

Together with his brother Jesse, Frank James served with the Confederates during the American Civil War. It was after the war that the pair became notorious outlaws, responsible for a number of bank and stagecoach robberies. Most of the gang were killed during an ill-fated robbery in Northfield, Minnesota, but the brothers escaped until Jesse was killed by a new henchman. Frank eventually gave himself up to authorities. After spending time in jail awaiting trial, Frank was acquitted and worked a number of jobs before his death in 1915.

The famous founder of psychoanalysis - a clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a doctor - Sigmund Freud devoted all his life to exploring the human mind. He also defined the concepts of the unconscious, infantile sexuality and repression. He developed the theory that the mind is a complex energy-system.

Nelson Mandela has some unusual name tributes. Scientists named a prehistoric woodpecker after him: Australopicus nelsonmandelai, and in 1973, the physics institute at Leeds University named a nuclear particle the Mandela particle. Mandela loved eating tripe... yes, the stomach lining of farm animals.

Often describing himself as a venture capitalist, Joseph Bonnano became a Mafia boss at the tender age of 26, leading one of the original five crime families in New York. After involvement in bootlegging in the 1920s, Bonanno joined the Maranzano crime family, where he quickly jumped up the leadership ladder. Eventually Bonnano would have his own crime family, with involvement in numbers, prostitution, bookmaking and loan shark activities. His legitimate enterprises included a cheese factory, coat factories, a funeral home and a trucking company. He was removed from power in the 1960s and his crime family split in two. After suffering a heart attack in 1968, he retired from family life. He died in 2002.

Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most intriguing people in the history of Western art. His natural genius crossed so many disciplines that it's hard to determine his main area of interest. Leonardo’s curiosity and hunger for knowledge made him a famous painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, inventor and engineer, whose genius epitomized the term “Renaissance man.”

Leif Erikson is often referred to as being from Norwegian blood, but he was actually born in Iceland (around 970 CE), and both his father and his grandfather spent a bulk of their time in Norway and then Greenland. Leif encountered Christianity after a trip to Norway, which resulted in his becoming a consultant to King Olaf Tryggvason.

The "Boston Strangler" Albert DeSalvo admitted to killing 13 women in the 1960s. Most of his victims were elderly women who lived alone. DeSalvo, who had a history of breaking and entering, was arrested on a similar charge as well as tying up a victim who pointed him out during an identification parade. It was then that DeSalvo admitted to the other killings associated with the strangler. Although police didn't believe him at first, DeSavo knew details about victims and could describe their homes. In 1973, while serving time in jail, DeSavo wanted to meet with authorities to discuss important information. He was killed in prison the night before the meeting. Interestingly, the 'Boston Strangler' case was never officially closed.

Mother Teresa is also known as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, and her original name was Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. The word “Anjeze” means "a little flower" in Albanian. Prior to her move to India, Mother Teresa left for Ireland to learn English in 1928. After that, she never saw her mother or her sisters again.

Leonidas I was a Spartan king, immortalized in Greek literature and legend because of his heroic last stand against Persian invaders. Leonidas was born on Spartan territory, on the Peloponnesian Peninsula in south Greece, between the years 530-500 B.C. He was the son of the Spartan King Anaxandrides and was descended from the Greek cult hero, Heracles.

James Earl Ray assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr, the leader of the civil rights movement, in 1968. Ray, a minor criminal, shot him from a house near the balcony of the motel where King was staying. Ray fled to Canada, flew to London and was apprehended by police officers as he was about to fly to Brussels. He pleaded guilty, meaning a trial was not necessary, and received a 99-year sentence. He later recanted his confession and escaped from jail, but he was caught after three days on the run. Ray died from complications caused by Hepatitis C in 1998, at age 70.

With a victim count of between 138 and 300-plus Luis Garavito was once described as the world's most deadly serial killer by local Colombian newspapers. Garavito went about his dark deeds between 1992 and 1999, with his victims being boys between the ages of 6 to 16, mostly peasants or street kids. He would rape his victims and sometimes torture them. Garavito was captured in 1999 and could only be sentenced to 30 years in jail, the maximum allowed in Colombia. Garavito was dubbed "The Beast" by local Colombian media. He could be released in 2021.

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