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The Century's Top Entertainers

Selecting the twenty most influential artists and entertainers of the 20th century is sure to create debate.

Is talent measured in greatness or in the number of people impacted by the books, television programs, film, music and art created by the extraordinary candidates which include:

  • Lucille Ball - the poor kid from a factory town in western New York state - along with her husband virtually invented modern television comedy. Not only did she became television's biggest star, she wound up owning the studio where I Love Lucy was filmed.
  • Louis Armstrong was an absolute original with a heart as big and true as the sounds that came from his horn.
  • Bob Dylan and the Beatles were the spear-carriers for a new generation - the baby boomers. It was a generation that demanded freedom, sexual liberation, drugs and, most especially, rock 'n' roll music.
  • CoCo Chanel made clothes, hair and makeup simple. She invented both the little black dress and Chanel number 5.
  • As the century's ultimate superstar, Frank Sinatra outperformed them all. He had a song on the charts every year from 1945 to 1995 - half a century. He knew his way around the lyrics to America's great popular songs like nobody else.
Rounding out the list are Marlon Brando, Charlie Chaplin, LeCorbusier, T.S. Eliot, Aretha Franklin, Martha Graham, James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Bart Simpson, Steven Speilberg and Igor Stravinsky.

As expected, there was some disagreement as to the names selected for the final list. 60 Minutes Correspondent Mike Wallace said Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney deserve to be on the list as much as Jim Henson and Kermit do.

Time Magazine Managing Editor Walter Isaacson said Oprah Winfrey's impact on political campaigns qualifies her for the list.

"Everybody has to reveal character, reveal self," Isaacson said. "A lot of that came from Oprah."

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