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10 People You Would Not Expect to Be Alive at the Same Time

by Makayla Bezuidenhout
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

In the vast tapestry of human history, certain figures have left an indelible mark on their respective fields, influencing generations to come. Yet, when we consider the span of time and the vastness of historical periods, it can be surprising to discover that some of these remarkable individuals actually coexisted.

In this list, we explore ten pairs of individuals who, due to disparities in lifespans or contrasting historical contexts, may not have been expected to be alive at the same time. These unexpected intersections of lives across art, science, politics, and culture offer a fascinating glimpse into the intricate web of human existence.

Related: 10 People Who Only Found Fame After Their Death

10 Orville Wright & Neil Armstrong

First in Flight: The Wright Brothers/Apollo 11 Moon Landing (S01EP00)

Orville Wright: 1948 death
Neil Armstrong: 1930 birth

Orville Wright was an American aviation pioneer who, along with his brother Wilbur, is credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful airplane. He died in 1948, leaving behind a legacy that revolutionized the way people travel.

Neil Armstrong, on the other hand, was born in 1930 and went on to become the first person to walk on the moon in 1969. His iconic words, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” are forever etched in history. Armstrong’s life was full of adventures and accomplishments, from serving as a naval aviator to becoming a test pilot for NASA.

Despite the 18-year overlap between the lives of these two aviation legends, their contributions to aerospace history were vastly different. While Wright’s invention of the airplane paved the way for modern air travel, Armstrong’s journey to the moon inspired a new generation of space exploration. Their legacies continue to shape the world of aviation and inspire countless individuals to pursue their dreams of flight.[1]

9 William Shakespeare & Pocahontas

Uncovering Shakespeare’s Mysterious Life (Full Documentary) | Perspective

William Shakespeare: 1616 death
Pocahontas: 1617 death

William Shakespeare, widely regarded as one of the greatest playwrights in history, died in 1616 at the age of 52. He left behind a legacy of timeless works, such as Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth, that continue to captivate audiences around the world to this day.

Pocahontas, a Native American woman who played a significant role in the early colonial history of the United States, passed away just a year after Shakespeare in 1617. She was known for her involvement in the relationship between her tribe and the English settlers, particularly her efforts to negotiate peace between them.

It is remarkable to consider that these two historical figures, who lived vastly different lives, both died within such a close overlap of time. Their legacies continue to be remembered and celebrated to this day, serving as a reminder of the rich history and diverse cultures that have shaped our world.[2]

8 Anne Frank & Martin Luther King Jr.

Anne Frank’s capture and her diary with Miep Gies

Anne Frank: 1929 birth
Martin Luther King Jr.: 1929 birth

Anne Frank and Martin Luther King Jr. were both born in 1929, a year marked by significant social and political changes around the world. Anne Frank is best known for her diary, which serves as a powerful reminder of the atrocities committed during the Holocaust in WWII. On the other hand, Martin Luther King Jr. was a key figure in the American Civil Rights Movement, advocating for racial equality and justice for all.

Despite being born in different parts of the world and experiencing vastly different circumstances, Anne Frank and Martin Luther King Jr. shared a common goal: to fight for a better future for themselves and others. Anne Frank’s diary represents a testament to the human spirit, documenting the struggles and triumphs of a young girl who refused to give up hope in the face of unimaginable adversity. Martin Luther King Jr.’s eloquent speeches and peaceful protests inspired millions of people around the world to stand up for their rights and demand change.

Although Anne Frank’s life was tragically cut short at the age of 15, her legacy lives on through her diary, which has been translated into more than 70 languages and continues to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds. Similarly, Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of love, unity, and justice is still relevant today, reminding us that the fight for equality is ongoing and that we must continue to work towards a better future for all.[3]

7 Charlie Chaplin & The Rock

CHARLIE CHAPLIN | The life of an Artist

Charlie Chaplin: 1977 death
The Rock: 1972 birth

Charlie Chaplin, the legendary actor who rose to fame during the silent film era, passed away in 1977, leaving behind a legacy that would continue to inspire future generations in the world of cinema. Interestingly, just a few years before, in 1972, a new star was born—Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who would go on to become a professional wrestler and prominent actor in his own right.

Despite the fact that their lives only overlapped for a brief period of five years, it’s fascinating to think about how their paths might have crossed if they had been born in the same era. Perhaps Charlie Chaplin would have been a fan of The Rock’s action-packed movies, or maybe The Rock would have taken inspiration from Chaplin’s iconic slapstick comedy. Regardless, it’s clear that both of these individuals have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment, and their legacies will continue to be celebrated for years to come.[4]

6 Helen Keller & Barack Obama

Helen Keller: Beating Incredible Odds

Helen Keller: 1968 death
Barack Obama: 1961 birth

Helen Keller, an American author, political activist, and lecturer, passed away on June 1, 1968, at the age of 87. She was a deaf-blind person who overcame her physical handicaps and became an inspiration to many people around the world. She wrote several books, including The Story of My Life, which was translated into 50 languages.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, was born on August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is an American politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. Obama was the first African American to hold the presidency. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School and has worked as a community organizer, civil rights attorney, and law professor. He was also a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.

Despite the fact that Helen Keller and Barack Obama were born in different decades, they share a common era of seven years, when Keller was still alive during Obama’s early childhood.

Their lives and accomplishments continue to serve as a reminder of the power of perseverance, determination, and hard work.[5]

5 Joe Biden & Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler: The Last Days of the Dictator | Documentary

Joe Biden: 1942 birth
Adolf Hitler: 1945 death

Joe Biden was born on November 20, 1942, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He served as the 47th vice president of the United States from 2009 to 2017 under President Obama and is currently the 46th president of the United States. Prior to his presidency, he represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 2009. In April 2023, Joe Biden announced his plan to run for president again in 2024.

Adolf Hitler, on the other hand, was born in Austria in 1889 and rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party in Germany in the 1930s. He was responsible for the deaths of millions of people during World War II, including six million Jewish people who were killed in the Holocaust. Hitler committed suicide in his bunker in Berlin in 1945.

Although Biden and Hitler never met, their lives did overlap for a brief period of time. Biden was born three years after Hitler’s death and was just a child when World War II ended. Though leaders of nations, they differed in so many ways, with only their shared years of life overlapping.[6]

4 Abraham Lincoln & Napoleon Bonaparte

History vs. Napoleon Bonaparte – Alex Gendler

Abraham Lincoln: 1809 birth
Napoleon Bonaparte: 1821 death

Abraham Lincoln was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th President of the United States from 1861 until his tragic assassination in 1865. He is widely regarded as one of America’s greatest heroes due to his leadership during the Civil War and his commitment to ending slavery in the United States. Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, to Nancy and Thomas Lincoln in a one-room log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky. In 1916, they moved to Indiana in 1916 and then to Illinois in 1830.

Lincoln was a self-taught lawyer, passing the bar in 1836. He married his wife, Mary Todd, in 1842, and the couple had four children, only surviving into adulthood. Not long after, Lincoln was elected into the U.S. House of Representatives, beginning his historic—and ultimately lethal—journey into politics.

On the other hand, Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and went on to conquer much of Europe. He died in 1821, leaving a legacy of military strategy, political reform, and cultural influence. [7]

3 Betty White & Alexander Graham Bell

Betty White Lifetime Achievement 2015

Betty White: 1922 birth
Alexander Graham Bell: 1922 death

Betty White, the renowned American actress and comedian, was born in 1922, a year that marked the end of one era and the beginning of another. It was the same year that Alexander Graham Bell, the famous inventor of the telephone, passed away, leaving behind a legacy that would change the world forever.

Although Betty White and Alexander Graham Bell never crossed paths, their lives were intertwined in a way that is both fascinating and unique. Despite being born in different parts of the world and belonging to different fields, they were both pioneers in their own right, pushing the boundaries of what was possible in their respective fields. While Alexander Graham Bell revolutionized communication with his invention, Betty White’s contributions to the entertainment industry have been equally significant, entertaining audiences for over eight decades.[8]

2 Thomas Edison & Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel: The Real Dr. Seuss

Thomas Edison: 1931 death
Dr. Seuss: 1904 birth

Thomas Edison was an American inventor who is well known for his numerous inventions and contributions to science. He passed away in 1931, leaving behind a legacy that has inspired many. On the other hand, Dr. Seuss—Theodor Geisel—was a beloved children’s book author. He was born in 1904, and his books have entertained and educated children for generations.

Interestingly, there was a substantial overlap of 27 years between the time of Edison’s death and Seuss’s birth. During this time, the world saw significant changes in technology, society, and culture. The world was still reeling from the effects of World War I, and the Great Depression was beginning to take hold.

Despite these challenges, there were also many positive developments during this time. The field of aviation was advancing rapidly, and the first commercial airline flights were taking place. Jazz music was becoming increasingly popular, and Hollywood was producing some of its most iconic films.[9]

1 Picasso & Eminem

The Turbulent Life Of Pablo Picasso (Art History Documentary) | Behind The Artist | Perspective

Picasso: 1973 death
Eminem: 1972 birth

Pablo Picasso, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, passed away in 1973, leaving behind a legacy of groundbreaking art and a lasting influence on the art world. His passing was mourned by many, but his contributions to the world of art continue to be celebrated today.

Meanwhile, in 1972, Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, was born. He is one of the most successful and controversial rappers of all time. With his unique style, raw lyrics, and undeniable talent, Eminem quickly rose to fame and became a cultural icon.

Despite their vastly different backgrounds and fields of work, Picasso and Eminem share a brief overlap of just one year. Nevertheless, their respective legacies continue to inspire and influence generations of artists and fans alike.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen