HIstorical figures best known for their use in modern media

Inspired by the thread on Peanuts. When someone mentions The Red Baron, I bet most people get an image of Snoopy in goggles and scarf, sitting on his dog house. Similarly, mention “Eva Peron” and there she is, singing and dancing through Argentina!

What other real people are best known for being characters in modern productions?

William Wallace, in most of the world anyway.

Well, Che Guevara is best known as an image on a T-shirt.

How well-known is he in Scotland? I consider myself fairly educated, and I had never heard of him prior to the rather thoroughly fictionalized account in Braveheart.

King Arthur. (Maybe. If there was a real King Arthur.)

Paul Revere
The image of him, riding his horse and shouting The British are coming is not only pretty much wrong. It does not show the key role he had in American Independence.


Richard III.


He and Robert the Bruce are our “national heroes” so tend to be taught in primary school. At least the stories were at my school, in the 1970’s. The Wallace Monument, near Stirling, is one of our better known landmarks (although people tend to think it’s a lot older than it actually is - it was completed in 1869).

Adolf Hitler in The Producers.

King Tut. I’'m sure most people only know him because of his famous tomb and the Steve Martin song (which, as Martin himself once tongue-in-cheekly pointed out, is filled with historical inaccuracies).

It should be pointed out that Snoopy was not the Red Baron, as some people believe- he was an unnamed “WWI Flying Ace” attempting to shoot down the Red Baron. (He never could.)

Do you honestly believe that Adolph Hitler is “best known” for being portrayed in The Producers? Do you truly think that anyone on the face of the Earth who knows who Hitler is thinks of him first and foremost as a Producers character?

Antonio Salieri, from the grossly fictionalized version of him in the movie Amadeus.

Similarly, but to a much lesser degree, Mozart himself, from the same movie.

As a kid I only knew Nellie Bly and Lowell Thomas because of their travel board games that were handed down. I thought they were made up, like Unkle Wiggly

I suppose lots of outlaws and gunslingers would fall into this category, from Rob Roy right on down through Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Jesse James, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Bonnie and Clyde.

Either you got whooshed, or you’re whooshing us.

I’m surprised we got to Post #17 without a mention of Samuel Adams… most people immediately think of him as only a brewer, mug raised in outstretched hand, thanks to the Boston Beer Company.

In fact, Samuel Adams was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, with accomplishments ranging from… uh… ranging from… wait. Samuel Adams was instrumental in… hmmmm…

I guess I one of those people who thinks of him as a brewer. But I’m sure he also did a bunch of other stuff.

Speaking of Nellie Bly, just how accurate is the verse in the song “Frankie and Johnny” about the way she was viewed at the time?
The verse in question:

I don’t want to cause you no trouble,
Ain’t gonna tell you no lies,
I saw your lover an hour ago,
With a girl namd Nellie Bly,
He was your man,
But he’s doing you wrong.

Spanish Inquisition (If that counts)

Oskar Schindler from the fame of his ‘list’.

The platoon or company commander of every war movie.

Since the Spanish Inquisition isn’t a person (unless you’re Homestar Runner), I actually didn’t expect that. Seriously. And I know what you’re going to say now.