Famous Short People

Though short in stature, these people ensured that their height didn't restrict them from performing to the best of their ability. We are talking about the famous short people in the world who are remembered today for their 'tall' achievements.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Gul Mohammed, hailing from New Delhi, India, was the shortest person in the world with a height of 1 ft. 10 inches.
Short stature has always been looked upon as a negative trait in humans, which is kind of surprising considering that an individual's height has nothing to do with his ability. Our history has quite a few examples of people who were short in height, but became famous because of their sheer talent, achievements, and illustriousness. While none of these people were as short as Gul Mohammed, they can be definitely referred to as short if the average height for the world is taken into consideration.

Exactly How Short is Short?

There is an outright disagreement as to what height can be referred to as 'short'. The average human height varies in accordance to the region as well as ethnicity. The term 'short stature' is a vague term with no concrete definition to support it. A pygmy from the Congo Basin may come across as a short person for the whole world. Similarly, a person who is 5 ft. 5 inches is also likely to come across as a short-statured person for someone who is 6 ft. in height. With no concrete definition, the term 'short stature' is more often used to refer to a person whose height is below expected.

Famous Short People in the World

The average height for men in the United States is 5 ft. 9.2 inches and therefore, while compiling this list of famous short-statured people, we decided to take the height of 5 ft. 5 inches as the benchmark; that's considerably short when equated for the whole world.

Yuri Gagarin
Gagarin Monument Moscow

Height: 5 ft. 2 inches

Who: A Soviet cosmonaut

Claim to Fame: On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first person to travel in space (and also the first person to orbit the Earth.) The heroic feat didn't just give Soviet a lead in the much-touted space race, but also made Gagarin an international celebrity, earning him numerous awards and accolades. On April 14, 1961, he was honored with the Soviet's highest distinction, the Hero of the Soviet Union.

Yasser Arafat

Height: 5 ft. 2 inches

Who: A Palestinian statesman

Claim to Fame: One man's freedom fighter, they say, is another man's terrorist. That, perhaps, is the best possible way you can put the legacy of Yasser Arafat. A Palestinian leader and the chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Arafat was a freedom fighter for the Palestinians and a terrorist for the Israelis. A true international leader, he devoted his entire life for the Palestinian national aspirations.

Voltaire
voltaire

Height: 5 ft. 3 inches

Who: A French writer, philosopher

Claim to Fame: Fran├žois-Marie Arouet, more popular as Voltaire, was widely known for his witty writing, which he used throughout his lifetime to advocate civil liberties--freedom of religion and expression in particular. He seldom hesitated in taking on the established Catholic Church, and even advocated the separation of the Church and state. An ardent supporter of social reforms, Voltaire had a major influence on many thinkers involved in the American and French revolutions.

Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven Monument

Height: 5 ft. 3 inches

Who: German composer and pianist

Claim to Fame: Beethoven's compositions marked the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras in the Western art music. When Beethoven was 26 years old, his hearing began to deteriorate, and he eventually became completely deaf. As unbelievable as it may sound, he came up with some of his best compositions during this phase of his life. If Beethoven is widely considered the most famous and influential of all composers, it's for a reason.

Pablo Picasso

Height: 5 ft. 4 inches

Who: Spanish painter and sculptor

Claim to Fame: Known to work wonders with his paint brush, Picasso has some of the best works of the 20th century to his credit. He also came up with some of the finest sculptures of this period. Picasso was the co-founder of the Cubism artistic movement which began in France in 1907. It would rather be surprising if a person of Picasso's stature, with such exceptional aesthetic skills, doesn't find a place among the most famous people in the world.

Harry Houdini
Houdini's portrait

Height: 5 ft. 4 inches

Who: American stunt performer

Claim to Fame: Houdini was perhaps best known for his astounding escape acts wherein he would free himself from handcuffs, chains, and even straitjackets. It was his ability to escape from handcuffs that earned him the title, 'The Handcuff King'. Such was his confidence that wherever he went, he would challenge the local police to lock him in jails and then miraculously escape from there. An ardent skeptic and a member of the Scientific American committee, Houdini also took on several spiritualists and psychics and exposed them.

James Madison

Height: 5 ft. 4 inches

Who: The 4th President of the United States

Claim to Fame: James Madison--the shortest of the U.S. presidents--held the office from March 4, 1809 to March 4, 1817. One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, he is widely regarded as the Father of the Constitution for his role in the drafting of the US Constitution. Madison played an important role in several events of the American history, prominent ones being the Louisiana Purchase, which he himself supervised, and the War of 1812 against Great Britain.

Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi statue

Height: 5 ft. 5 inches

Who: An Indian statesman

Claim to Fame: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi played an important role in gaining India independence from the British rule. It was his contribution to the Indian freedom struggle which made him popular among the masses and earned him the title of the Father of the Nation. He was an ardent advocate of non-violence, which becomes evident from the several agitations he led in pre-independence India and South Africa.

Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin

Height: 5 ft. 5 inches

Who: A Russian communist revolutionary

Claim to Fame: Vladimir Lenin was a leader of the Bolsheviks party, who acted as the first Head of State of the Soviet Union. He was the mastermind of the Bolshevik takeover of power in Russia in 1917. On one hand he was considered the champion of the working class and on the other, he was widely criticized as a dictator. Lenin played a crucial role in the propagation of Leninism--an adaptation of Marxism for the age of imperialism.

Charlie Chaplin

Height: 5 ft. 5 inches

Who: An English comic actor

Claim to Fame: It's very difficult to come across someone who is not familiar with the name Charlie Chaplin, or The Little Tramp; the on-screen character that Chaplin is best known for. He ruled the silver screen for the first half of the 20th century. One of the key figures in the history of the film industry, Chaplin was honored for "the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century" at the 44th Academy Awards (1972). His sense of humor and slapstick comedy made him a cult figure, who is revered by millions of people around the world even today.

Honorable Mentions*
Diego Maradona
Argentine football player
5' 5" (1.65 m)
Bernie Ecclestone
British business magnate
5' 3" (1.59 m)
Danny DeVito
American actor
5' 0" (1.52 m)
Prince Rogers Nelson
American singer-songwriter
5' 2" (1.58 m)
Nikita Khrushchev
Soviet leader
5' 3" (1.59 m)
Andrew Carnegie
Steel tycoon
5' 3" (1.60 m)
Gary Coleman
American actor
4' 8" (1.42 m)
Dolly Parton
American singer-songwriter
5' 0" (1.52 m)
Kylie Minogue
Australian singer
5' 2" (1.57 m)
Charlotte Bronte
English novelist and poet
4' 10" (1.24 m)
*In random order

These were some short-statured individuals who carved a niche for themselves and made sure that their presence was felt in the big bad world out there. These individuals proved that a person's deed matter more than who he is, and to do that something for which the world will remember you, you need determination and will power, not height.
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