'Person of the Century' Ideas Are All Over the Map

A week ago, I asked readers to submit their suggestions for Person of the Century. This followed a report that Time magazine's top vote-getters for such an honor were Elvis, Hitler and Gandhi, two of whom couldn't sing a lick.

"You're a bit behind on the current standings," Guillermo Perez-Arguello e-mails me from the Dominican Republic. "The top eight are now Elvis, Rabin, Hitler, Billy Graham, Einstein, Pope John Paul II, Martin Luther King and Gandhi."

What, no FDR? No JFK? No Ricky Martin?

OK, I believe in letting others have their say. So I'll clam up and do just that.

Thanks to the hundreds who checked in. That includes the one who wrote: "The choice is obvious--Iggy Pop."


"Albert Einstein. Who else changed the world as much as he did?"--George Zvers, Laguna Niguel

"The person who should be on the cover of Time is Albert Einstein. If Hitler (or even Elvis) makes it, cancel my subscription."--Bob Ralls, Mission Viejo

"One vote for Hitler, regretfully."--Michele Yepiz, Lemon Grove

"Sad to say, just as the 5th century was dominated by Attila the Hun, so too the 20th century was dominated by Hitler."--Andrew Scott, Huntington Beach

"Certainly Madonna will be in the running."--Daniel T. Veza, San Dimas

"What do Elvis, Hitler and Gandhi have in common, you ask? They're all men."--Khris Tovar, Glendale

"Gandhi would be the best of the three names you mentioned. I'd vote for Albert Schweitzer."--Elaine Abraham, Culver City

"Bill Gates is worthy of consideration, but no more so than Henry Ford or the person who invented air conditioning."--Jay Bartos, Las Vegas

"Either Einstein or [J. Robert] Oppenheimer, the theoretician and the artificer, respectively, of the Bomb (surely the most important Thing of the Century)."--Dave Kase, Palos Verdes

"You might also suggest that the picture on the cover be the one of Einstein sticking his tongue out."--Ken Klein, L.A.

"Harry Truman."--Howard Bryden, Brea

"FDR."--Joan Beddoe, Palm Springs; Dorothy Burke, Alta Loma

"Ronald Reagan."--Mary E. Carsten, L.A.; William Bowers, Thousand Oaks

"Churchill was named Time's man of the half-century. Question: In the last 50 years, has anyone eclipsed his position?"--Martin Cooper, Woodland Hills

"George Marshall."--Barbara and Bob Leith, Newport Beach

"I believe the criteria for this honor should be one who acts alone, changed the course of history and sought no personal gain or honor. My vote goes to Rosa Parks."--Rex Myles, Huntington Beach

"There should be a woman of the century--Anne Frank."--Grace E. Hampton, Burbank

"1. FDR. 2. Hitler. 3. Einstein. 4. Louis B. Mayer."--Maureen Driscoll, Toluca Lake

"Alexander Fleming, a Scot who invented penicillin."--Rossie Taylor, North Whittier

"J. Edgar Hoover."--John Turnester, Pasadena

"Kaiser Wilhelm."--Fred Childs, Redlands

"The trio of the century . . . John Bardeen, William Shockley and Walter Brattain, who [together] in 1947 invented the transistor."--Bernard A. Spear, Anaheim

"If it reflects on the world, it's Adolf Hitler. If it reflects on the United States, it's Henry Ford."--Tom Cosgrove, Pinon Hills

"Henry Ford? No! He created smog."--Florence Smith, Glendale

"1. Martin Luther King. 2. Gandhi. How disgusting anyone would even consider Hitler."--Mildred Kordan, L.A.


"Like it or not, as downright silly as it may at first seem, Elvis Presley was and is the 'single most dominant presence' of the 20th century."--Brynne Chandler Reeves, Woodland Hills

"Of the top three you mention, Elvis wins, hands down."--Alexa Smith Maxwell, L.A.

"On a scale of 10, Elvis was a 12."--Sue Wiegert, L.A.

"Elvis. A mythic figure!"--Phora Craigh, Pasadena

"Instead of Elvis, definitely Jimmy Page for his 'Stairway to Heaven.' "--Sonia Gomez Paratcha, L.A.

"How could you have missed mentioning Frank Sinatra?"--Gregorio S. Manabat, Buena Park

"Your column was an eye-opener, as to how many people have mistaken 'fame' for true achievement."--Curt Feese, Covina

"My choice for Person of the Century is George Burns. He put in the most time."--Stanley Kaplan, Garden Grove


Mike Downey's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Write to him at Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. E-mail: mike.downey@latimes.com

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