by Brett Leveridge
Left-handers are said to make up 7-10% of the population, but for such a small minority, they've certainly had a impressive impact on our lives. For instance, eight of the 45 men who have served as the President of the United States have been left-handed (including five of the past eight Chief Executives: Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama).
It hasn't always been so easy for left-handers, though. The ancient Greeks associated the right hand with good and the left with evil. In North America and western Europe, left-handed children were often forced to write and perform tasks with their right hands, sometimes with their left hands tied behind their backs—even into the 20th century.
Today, we're a bit more enlightened about left-handers. In fact, they have their own special day: August 13 was first designated International Left-Handers Day in 1976, and it's still celebrated today. So click through to meet some of our favorite inspiring southpaws!
Actor, director and producer Michael Landon enjoyed a long and successful career in television, thanks to his involvement in three popular, family-friendly series: Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven. So successful was Landon that he appeared on the cover of TV Guide 22 times. Read Landon's story.
Singer Natalie Cole followed in the footsteps of her famous father, Nat "King" Cole, from an early age; she sang on his Christmas album at 6 years old and began performing publicly at 11. She went on to great success in her own right, selling more than thirty million records worldwide and earning nine Grammy awards. Read Cole's story.
Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin is a former U.S. Air Force officer who went on to join the space program as an astronaut. He took part in the Gemini 12 mission, spending five hours walking in space while orbiting the earth, and as the lunar module pilot on Apollo 11, he was the second man, after mission commander Neil Armstrong, to set foot on the moon. Read Aldrin's story.
Actress, comedienne and author Carol Burnett has achieved success in film, on stage and in television. Overcoming a difficult childhood—her parents were both alcoholics and she was raised by her grandmother—Burnett has forged an award-winning career that's spanned seven decades and shows no sign of slowing down. Read Burnett's story.
At age seven, George Herman "Babe" Ruth was sent to live at Baltimore's St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, a reform school and orphanage. The school's Prefect of Discipline, Brother Matthias Boutlier, recognizing Ruth's abilities, encouraged the young athlete in his athletic pursuits, and the astonishing heights the Babe would go on to achieve on the diamond to attain are the stuff of baseball legend. Read Ruth's story.
Talk show host, actress, producer, humanitarian and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Oprah Winfrey is one of the world's most influential people. Born in poverty in rural Mississippi to a single mother in her teens and raised in inner-city Milwaukee, the woman dubbed the "Queen of All Media" began working in radio as a teenager and hasn't looked back. Read our interview with Winfrey.
Actor Dick Van Dyke's career has spanned seven decades, beginning in radio and legitimate theatre and expanding into television and films in the 1960s. A Television Hall of Fame inductee, Van Dyke has won five Emmys, a Tony and a Grammy Award, received the Screen Actors Guild's Life Achievement Award in 2013, and continues to perform today. Read Van Dyke's story.
Actor Steve McQueen's childhood was a difficult one; his mother battled substance abuse and McQueen butted heads with a series of stepfathers. A former gang member, he spent time on the streets and in reform school before joining the Marines, where he acquired a sense of discipline. Thereafter, he studied acting in NYC and by 1974, he was the highest paid movie star in the world. Read our story of how McQueen found faith late in life.
Helen Keller, stricken with an illness as a child that left her blind and deaf, overcame many obstacles in her life, but not everyone knows that she was also lefthanded in an era when that was viewed as problematic. Keller was an activist on behalf of many causes and in 1915 co-founded an organization called Helen Keller International to combat the causes and consequences of blindness and malnutrition.
Glen Campbell sold 45 million records and earned 12 Gold, four Plantinum and one Double-Platinum albums over the course of his storied career, and though he was left-handed, like many musicians before him, he learned to play the guitar right-handed. Read Campbell's story.
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