Famous People That Never Existed


Fame is usually associated with actual living people. You do something in life that sets you apart from the mediocrity that plagues us all, and you become recognized, adored and remembered. It’s a fairly natural process.
Sometimes however, you get a famous name that turns out to not be a real person. So while it might be seen as cheating, there can be powerful messages and images in these stories, which we can usually only describe as nothing more than folklore or legends. Let’s take a look at some of them.



Uncle Ben
I’m not talking about Spider-Man’s uncle here. I mean the guy from the rice and stuff. He wasn’t real, and the black man depicted on the product packaging isn’t even real. It’s just a random guy with no ties at all to the product.

Robin Hood
Well, we’re not sure if Robin Hood did or didn’t exist, all we know is that we only know him from folk stories back in the olden days of England. The further back you go, the more it becomes apparent that Robin Hood was simply a term loosely translated as “someone with criminal ties” or a “sneak”. Some stories would go even further and describe ol’ Robin more as a cutthroat.

William Tell
I think we can all be happy that someone that’s mostly known for shooting a crossbow bolt at his child isn’t real, right? He’s pretty much the Swiss version of Robin Hood, in every sense – including the one where he probably didn’t exist.

King Arthur
Like most English heroes (Robin Hood, Harry Kane, …), this one didn’t quite live up to expectations either. While there is some historical truth to the stories his legend is based upon, there’s no real way to know who this Arthur was and if he was even real in the first place. He could’ve either been Roman commander Lucius Artorius Castus, British king Riothamus or just … made up.

John Henry
The story of the black slave named John Henry who challenged a steam drill in a wicked railroad laying challenge and won might just be nothing more than that – a story. By the way, John Henry died of exhaustion shortly after beating the steam drill in his weird productivity challenge.

Kunta Kinte
The story of Kunta Kinte was a powerful one. It’s a story about a slave who had his body bound by shackles, but managed to keep his head and spirit free. Quite powerful imagery. But sadly, at the time when Kunta Kinte was apparently fighting off his captors and making one escape attempt after the other, his village was already a British trading post – meaning he wouldn’t have been bound in the first place but would’ve worked alongside the British as a free man. Considering how the author of Kinte’s story had a singular source – a really unreliable villager – it’s safe to assume Kinte probably didn’t exist.