• Weird History

The Most Influential People of the Cold War

List RulesVote up the people you feel had the biggest impact during the time of the Cold War.

The Cold War was a period of confrontation between the two superpowers of the world, the United States and the Soviet Union. During the war, which simmered from 1947 to 1991, the USA and the USSR used different methods and tactics to expand their own global influence and reduce the other's.

The impact and effects of this "war" - although not a violent one - continue to have repercussions well into the 21st Century. Many politicians and political leaders played roles in the Cold War, both from the Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies) and the Eastern Bloc (including USA and members of NATO). Among them, which people were the most important?

If you've been wondering about who was president during the Cold War, or who was involved in the Cold War, this list is sure to help. For example, Joseph Stalin was certainly one of the key people in the Cold War. Other Cold War figures include Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Harry S. Truman. 

Scroll through all of the famous people in the Cold War below, and vote up the ones you think had the biggest impact. 

  • 1

    Joseph Stalin

    Dec. at 74 (1878-1953)
    716
    276

    BirthplaceGori, Georgia

    Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili; 18 December [O.S. 6] 1878 – 5 March 1953) was a Georgian revolutionary and Soviet politician who led the Soviet Union from the  ...more
  • 2

    Ronald Reagan

    Dec. at 93 (1911-2004)
    690
    294

    BirthplaceTampico, Illinois, USA

    Ronald Wilson Reagan (; February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Prior to his presidency, he was a  ...more
  • 3

    Mikhail Gorbachev

    Age: 90
    561
    261

    BirthplacePrivolnoye, Krasnogvardeysky District, Stavropol Krai

    Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev (born 2 March 1931) is a Russian and formerly Soviet politician. The eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, he was General Secretary of its governing Communist  ...more
  • 4

    Harry S. Truman

    Dec. at 88 (1884-1972)
    413
    165

    BirthplaceLamar, Missouri, United States of America

    Harry S. Truman (May 8, 1884 – December 26, 1972) was the 33rd president of the United States from 1945 to 1953, succeeding upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt after serving as vice president. He  ...more
  • 5

    Nikita Khrushchev

    Dec. at 77 (1894-1971)
    411
    180

    BirthplaceKalinovka, Russia

    Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev (15 April 1894 – 11 September 1971) was a Soviet statesman who led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the  ...more
  • 6
    Dec. at 78 (1890-1969)
    344
    154

    BirthplaceDenison, Texas, United States of America

    Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower ( EYE-zən-how-ər; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American army general and statesman who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961.  ...more
  • 7

    Mao Zedong

    Dec. at 82 (1893-1976)
    281
    167

    BirthplaceShaoshan, China

    Mao Zedong (; December 26, 1893 – September 9, 1976), also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who became the founding father of the People's Republic of China (PRC), which  ...more
  • 8

    John F. Kennedy

    Dec. at 46 (1917-1963)
    715
    294

    BirthplaceUSA, Massachussetts, Brookline

    John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), often referred to by initials JFK and Jack, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States from January  ...more
  • 9
    346
    174

    BirthplaceBirán, Cuba

    Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (American Spanish: [fiˈðel aleˈxandɾo ˈkastɾo ˈrus]; 13 August 1926 – 25 November 2016) was a Cuban communist revolutionary and politician who governed the Republic of Cuba  ...more
  • 10

    Leonid Brezhnev

    Dec. at 75 (1906-1982)
    190
    107

    BirthplaceDniprodzerzhynsk, Ukraine

    Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev (; Russian: Леонид Ильич Брежнев, IPA: [lʲɪɐˈnʲid ɪˈlʲjidʑ ˈbrʲeʐnʲɪf] (listen); Ukrainian: Леонід Ілліч Брежнєв, 19 December 1906 (O.S. 6 December 1906) – 10 November  ...more
  • 11

    Richard Nixon

    Dec. at 81 (1913-1994)
    274
    149

    BirthplaceYorba Linda, California, United States of America

    Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was an American politician who served as the 37th president of the United States from 1969 until 1974. The only president to resign the  ...more
  • 12

    Winston Churchill

    Dec. at 90 (1874-1965)
    268
    152

    BirthplaceBlenheim Palace, United Kingdom

    Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British politician, army officer, and writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he  ...more
  • 13

    Henry Kissinger

    Age: 98
    206
    124

    BirthplaceFürth, Germany

    Henry Alfred Kissinger (; German: [ˈkɪsɪŋɐ]; born Heinz Alfred Kissinger; May 27, 1923) is an American politician, diplomat, and geopolitical consultant who served as United States Secretary of State  ...more
  • 14

    Margaret Thatcher

    Dec. at 87 (1925-2013)
    214
    131

    BirthplaceGrantham, United Kingdom

    Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, (née Roberts; 13 October 1925 – 8 April 2013) was a British stateswoman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and Leader of  ...more
  • 15

    George Marshall

    Dec. at 78 (1880-1959)
    214
    140

    BirthplaceUniontown, Pennsylvania, United States of America

    George Catlett Marshall Jr. (December 31, 1880 – October 16, 1959) was an American soldier and statesman. He rose through the United States Army to become Chief of Staff under presidents Franklin D.  ...more
  • 16

    Ho Chi Minh

    Dec. at 79 (1890-1969)
    195
    122

    BirthplaceKim Lien, Vietnam

    Hồ Chí Minh (; Vietnamese: [hò cǐ mīŋ̟] (listen), Saigon: [hò cǐ mɨ̄n] (listen); Chữ nôm: 胡志明; 19 May 1890 – 2 September 1969), born Nguyễn Sinh Cung, also known as Nguyễn Tất Thành, Nguyễn Ái Quốc,  ...more
  • 17

    Josip Broz Tito

    Dec. at 87 (1892-1980)
    177
    136

    BirthplaceKumrovec, Croatia

    Josip Broz (Cyrillic: Јосип Броз, pronounced [jǒsip brôːz]; 7 May 1892 – 4 May 1980), commonly known as Tito (; Cyrillic: Тито, pronounced [tîto]), was a Yugoslav communist revolutionary and  ...more
  • 18

    Lyndon B. Johnson

    Dec. at 64 (1908-1973)
    157
    113

    BirthplaceStonewall, Texas, United States of America

    Lyndon Baines Johnson (; August 27, 1908 – January 22, 1973), often referred to as LBJ, was an American politician who served as the 36th president of the United States from 1963 to 1969. Formerly  ...more
  • 19

    Pope John Paul II

    Dec. at 84 (1920-2005)
    234
    160

    BirthplaceWadowice, Poland

    Pope John Paul II (Latin: Ioannes Paulus II; Italian: Giovanni Paolo II; Polish: Jan Paweł II; born Karol Józef Wojtyła [ˈkarɔl ˈjuzɛv vɔjˈtɨwa]; 18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005) was the Pope of the  ...more
  • 20

    Yuri Gagarin

    Dec. at 34 (1934-1968)
    138
    107

    BirthplaceKlushino, Russia

    Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin  (9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968) was a Soviet Air Forces pilot and cosmonaut who became the first human to journey into outer space, achieving a major milestone in the Space  ...more
  • 21
    Dec. at 39 (1928-1967)
    144
    111

    BirthplaceRosario, Argentina

    Ernesto "Che" Guevara, commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist. A major figure of the  ...more
  • 22

    Neil Armstrong

    Dec. at 82 (1930-2012)
    151
    127

    BirthplaceOhio, United States of America

    Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was an American astronaut and aeronautical engineer who was the first person to walk on the Moon. He was also a naval aviator, test pilot, and  ...more
  • 23
    Dec. at 84 (1880-1964)
    119
    97

    BirthplaceLittle Rock, Arkansas, United States of America

    General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (January 26, 1880 – April 5, 1964) was an American five-star general and Field Marshal of the Philippine Army. He was Chief of Staff of the United States Army  ...more
  • 24

    Kim Il-sung

    Dec. at 82 (1912-1994)
    98
    85

    BirthplacePyongyang, Pyongan, North Korea

    Kim Il-sung (officially transcribed Kim Il Sung; English pronunciation: ; Korean: 김일성; Korean pronunciation: [kimils͈ʌŋ]; born Kim Sŏng-ju (김성주); 15 April 1912 – 8 July 1994) was the first leader of  ...more
  • 25

    George H. W. Bush

    Age: 97
    117
    117

    BirthplaceMilton, Massachusetts, United States of America

    George Herbert Walker Bush (June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018) was an American politician and businessman who served as the 41st president of the United States from 1989 to 1993 and the 43rd vice  ...more