The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary American Presenters of all time. This list of famous American Presenters is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of American Presenters.
With an HPI of 76.83, Jay Leno is the most famous American Presenter. His biography has been translated into 59 different languages on wikipedia.
James Douglas Muir Leno (; born April 28, 1950) is an American television host, comedian, and writer. After doing stand-up comedy for years, he became the host of NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno from 1992 to 2009. Beginning in September 2009, Leno started a primetime talk show, titled The Jay Leno Show, which aired weeknights at 10:00pm ET, also on NBC. Two months after it's debut, The Jay Leno Show was moved to the 11:35 timeslot due to poor ratings, pushing The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien to 12:05am ET, causing O'Brien to leave two months later. After The Jay Leno Show was canceled in January 2010 amid a timeslot and host controversy, Leno returned to host The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on March 1, 2010. He hosted his last episode of The Tonight Show on February 6, 2014. That year, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. Since 2014, Leno has hosted Jay Leno's Garage. Leno also hosted the 2021 revival of You Bet Your Life. Leno writes a regular column in Popular Mechanics showcasing his car collection and giving automotive advice. He also writes occasional "Motormouth" articles for The Sunday Times.
With an HPI of 73.56, Oprah Winfrey is the 2nd most famous American Presenter. Her biography has been translated into 90 different languages.
Oprah Gail Winfrey (born Orpah Gail Winfrey; January 29, 1954) is an American talk show host, television producer, actress, author, and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, broadcast from Chicago, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history and ran in national syndication for 25 years, from 1986 to 2011. Dubbed the "Queen of All Media," she was the richest African American of the 20th century was once the world's only Black billionaire and the greatest Black philanthropist in U.S. history. By 2007, she was sometimes ranked as the most influential woman in the world.Winfrey was born into poverty in rural Mississippi to a single teenage mother and later raised in inner-city Milwaukee. She has stated that she was molested during her childhood and early teens and became pregnant at 14; her son was born prematurely and died in infancy. Winfrey was then sent to live with the man she calls her father, Vernon Winfrey, a barber in Nashville, Tennessee, and landed a job in radio while still in high school. By 19, she was a co-anchor for the local evening news. Winfrey's often emotional, extemporaneous delivery eventually led to her transfer to the daytime talk show arena, and after boosting a third-rated local Chicago talk show to first place, she launched her own production company. By the mid-1990s, Winfrey had reinvented her show with a focus on literature, self-improvement, mindfulness, and spirituality. Though she has been criticized for unleashing a confession culture, promoting controversial self-help ideas, and having an emotion-centered approach, she has also been praised for overcoming adversity to become a benefactor to others. Winfrey had also emerged as a political force in the 2008 presidential race, with her endorsement of Barack Obama estimated to have been worth about one million votes during the 2008 Democratic primaries. In 2013, Winfrey was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama and received honorary doctorate degrees from Duke and Harvard. In 2008, she formed her own network, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Credited with creating a more intimate, confessional form of media communication, Winfrey popularized and revolutionized the tabloid talk show genre pioneered by Phil Donahue. In 1994, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame. Winfrey has won many accolades throughout her career which includes 18 Daytime Emmy Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Chairman's Award, two Primetime Emmy Awards, including the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, a Tony Award, a Peabody Award and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, awarded by the Academy Awards and two additional Academy Award nominations. Winfey was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2021.
With an HPI of 68.40, Henry Rollins is the 3rd most famous American Presenter. His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.
Henry Lawrence Garfield (born February 13, 1961), known professionally as Henry Rollins, is an American singer, actor, presenter, comedian, and activist. He hosts a weekly radio show on KCRW, is a regular columnist for Rolling Stone Australia, and was a regular columnist for LA Weekly.After performing in the short-lived band State of Alert in 1980, Rollins fronted the California hardcore punk band Black Flag from 1981 to 1986. Following the band's breakup, he established the record label and publishing company 2.13.61 to release his spoken word albums, and formed the Rollins Band, which toured with a number of lineups from 1987 to 2003 (and again in 2006). Rollins has hosted numerous radio shows, such as Harmony in My Head on Indie 103, and television shows such as The Henry Rollins Show, 120 Minutes, and Jackass. He had recurring dramatic roles in the second season of Sons of Anarchy, in the final seasons of the animated series The Legend of Korra as Zaheer, and has also had roles in several films. He has campaigned for various political causes in the United States, including the promotion of LGBT rights, World Hunger Relief, the West Memphis Three, and an end to all war.
With an HPI of 68.29, Fred Rogers is the 4th most famous American Presenter. His biography has been translated into 66 different languages.
Fred McFeely Rogers (March 20, 1928 – February 27, 2003), also known as Mister Rogers, was an American television host, author, producer, and Presbyterian minister. He was the creator, showrunner, and host of the preschool television series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 to 2001. Born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, Rogers earned a bachelor's degree in music from Rollins College in 1951. He began his television career at NBC in New York, returning to Pittsburgh in 1953 to work for children's programming at NET (later PBS) television station WQED. He graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary with a bachelor's degree in divinity in 1962 and became a Presbyterian minister in 1963. He attended the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Child Development, where he began his 30-year collaboration with child psychologist Margaret McFarland. He also helped develop the children's shows The Children's Corner (1955) and Misterogers (1963). In 1968, he created Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, which ran for 33 years. The program was critically acclaimed for focusing on children's emotional and physical concerns, such as death, sibling rivalry, school enrollment, and divorce. Rogers died of stomach cancer on February 27, 2003, at age 74. His work in children's television has been widely lauded, and he received more than 40 honorary degrees and several awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 and a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 1997. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999. Rogers influenced many writers and producers of children's television shows, and his broadcasts have served as a source of comfort during tragic events, even after his death.
With an HPI of 68.04, Larry King is the 5th most famous American Presenter. His biography has been translated into 50 different languages.
Larry King (born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger; November 19, 1933 – January 23, 2021) was an American television and radio host, whose awards included two Peabodys, an Emmy and ten Cable ACE Awards. Over his career, he hosted over 50,000 interviews.King was a WMBM radio interviewer in the Miami area in the 1950s and 1960s, and gained prominence in 1978 as host of The Larry King Show, an all-night nationwide call-in radio program heard on the Mutual Broadcasting System. From 1985 to 2010, he hosted the nightly interview television program Larry King Live on CNN. King hosted Larry King Now from 2012 to 2020, which aired on Hulu, Ora TV, and RT America. He hosted Politicking with Larry King, a weekly political talk show, on the same three channels from 2013 to 2020. King also appeared in television series and films, usually playing himself.
With an HPI of 67.19, Alex Jones is the 6th most famous American Presenter. His biography has been translated into 37 different languages.
Alexander Emerick Jones (born February 11, 1974) is an American far-right radio show host and highly prominent conspiracy theorist. He hosts The Alex Jones Show from Austin, Texas, which the Genesis Communications Network syndicates across the United States and online. Jones' website, InfoWars, promotes conspiracy theories and fake news, as do his other websites NewsWars and PrisonPlanet. Jones has provided a platform and support for white nationalists, as well as serving as an "entry point" to their ideology.Jones has promoted conspiracy theories alleging that the United States government either concealed information about or outright falsified the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the September 11 attacks, and the 1969 Moon landing. He has claimed that several governments and big businesses have colluded to create a "New World Order" through "manufactured economic crises, sophisticated surveillance tech and—above all—inside-job terror attacks that fuel exploitable hysteria".Mainstream sources have described Jones as a conservative, far-right, alt-right, and a conspiracy theorist. Jones has described himself as a paleoconservative and a libertarian.A longtime critic of Republican and Democratic foreign and security policy, Jones supported Donald Trump's 2016 presidential bid and continued to support him as a savior from an alleged criminal bipartisan cabal controlling the federal government, despite falling out over several of Trump's policies, including airstrikes against the Assad regime. A staunch supporter of Trump's reelection, Jones supported the false claims of electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential election, and on January 6, 2021, was a speaker at a rally in Lafayette Square Park supporting Trump, preceding an attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters.
With an HPI of 67.19, David Letterman is the 7th most famous American Presenter. His biography has been translated into 66 different languages.
David Michael Letterman (born April 12, 1947) is an American television host, comedian, writer, and producer. He hosted late night television talk shows for 33 years, beginning with the February 1, 1982, debut of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC, and ending with the May 20, 2015, broadcast of Late Show with David Letterman on CBS. In total, Letterman hosted 6,080 episodes of Late Night and Late Show, surpassing his friend and mentor Johnny Carson as the longest-serving late night talk show host in American television history. In 1996, Letterman was ranked 45th on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time. In 2002, The Late Show with David Letterman was ranked seventh on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.He is also a television and film producer. His company, Worldwide Pants, produced his shows as well as The Late Late Show and several prime-time comedies, the most successful of which was Everybody Loves Raymond, now in syndication. Several late-night hosts have cited Letterman's influence, including Conan O'Brien (his successor on Late Night), Stephen Colbert (his successor on The Late Show), Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, John Oliver, and Seth Meyers. Letterman currently hosts the Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman.
With an HPI of 65.91, Anna Moffo is the 8th most famous American Presenter. Her biography has been translated into 22 different languages.
Anna Moffo (June 27, 1932 – March 9, 2006) was an American opera singer, television personality, and actress. One of the leading lyric-coloratura sopranos of her generation, she possessed a warm and radiant voice of considerable range and agility. Noted for her physical beauty, she was nicknamed "La Bellissima".Winning a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Italy, Moffo became popular there after performing leading operatic roles on three RAI television productions in 1956. She returned to America for her debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on October 16, 1957. In New York, her Metropolitan Opera debut took place on November 14, 1959. She performed at the Met for over seventeen seasons. Moffo's earliest recordings were made for EMI Records; she signed an exclusive contract with RCA Victor in 1960, recording for the company until the late 1970s. In the early 1960s, she hosted her own show on Italian television and appeared in several operatic films along with other non-singing roles. In the early 1970s Moffo extended her international popularity to Germany through operatic performances, TV appearances, and several films, all while continuing her American operatic performances. Due to an extremely heavy workload, Moffo suffered a serious vocal-breakdown from which she never fully recovered. Her final appearance at the Metropolitan Opera was in 1983.
With an HPI of 65.54, Christine Chubbuck is the 9th most famous American Presenter. Her biography has been translated into 25 different languages.
Christine Chubbuck (August 24, 1944 – July 15, 1974) was an American television news reporter who worked for WTOG and WXLT-TV in Sarasota, Florida. She was the first person to die by suicide on a live television broadcast.
With an HPI of 64.90, Johnny Carson is the 10th most famous American Presenter. His biography has been translated into 41 different languages.
John William Carson (October 23, 1925 – January 23, 2005) was an American television host, comedian, writer, and producer. He is best known as the host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962–1992). Carson received six Primetime Emmy Awards, the Television Academy's 1980 Governor's Award, and a 1985 Peabody Award. He was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987. Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1993.During World War II, Carson served in the Navy. After the war, Carson started a career in radio. He moved from radio to TV and followed Jack Paar as the host of the late night talk show, Tonight. Although his show was already successful by the end of the 1960s, during the 1970s, Carson became an American icon and remained so even after his retirement in 1992. He adopted a casual, conversational approach with extensive interaction with guests, an approach pioneered by Arthur Godfrey and previous Tonight Show hosts Steve Allen and Jack Paar. Former late-night host and friend David Letterman has cited Carson's influence.
Pantheon has 65 people classified as presenters born between 1894 and 1996. Of these 65, 43 (66.15%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living presenters include Jay Leno, Oprah Winfrey, and Henry Rollins. The most famous deceased presenters include Fred Rogers, Anna Moffo, and Christine Chubbuck. As of October 2020, 7 new presenters have been added to Pantheon including Marc Maron, Andy Cohen, and Sam Berns.
1950 - Present
1954 - Present
1961 - Present
1933 - Present
1974 - Present
1947 - Present
1944 - Present
1954 - Present
1963 - Present
1929 - Present
1950 - Present
1923 - Present
1928 - 2003
1932 - 2006
1944 - 1974
1925 - 2005
1901 - 1974
1916 - 2009
1924 - 2009
1931 - 2020
1932 - 2014
1921 - 2000
1918 - 2007
1897 - 1972
Which Presenters were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 23 most globally memorable Presenters since 1700.