People are often remembered for the things they do that set them apart. Visionaries think of ideas that are brand new, exciting and perhaps even a little bit unusual, and those who think and act completely outside of the box have often made some of the most lasting legacies in the entertainment industry.
It’s difficult to define what, exactly, makes someone “eccentric.” They are typically unique, versatile, and draw ideas from a multitude of sources of inspiration. Above all, someone who is eccentric usually has a very individual style, vision and is comfortable stepping outside the boundaries of convention.
Over time, such unconventional individuals have left a lasting mark on both the entertainment world – and in both our collective culture and minds. From actor Charlie Chaplin to animator Walt Disney, to present-day cultural icons such as Madonna or filmmaker Tim Burton, a history of modern entertainment has been punctuated by eccentric personalities such as these. The following are ten of the most eccentric personalities of all time in entertainment.
10. Lady Gaga
Stefani Germanotta, known best as Lady Gaga, was raised in New York and attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She dropped out to pursue a musical career, though clearly her earlier interest in art has carried into her music and stage career. She has extremely eccentric fashion choices and all of her live performances and music videos seem to contain a message or commentary on social issues. Her concerts and live performances are often compared to performance art. Gaga has said that when she writes music, she also considers the song’s corresponding clothes and performance on stage and everything comes together as a story. Lady Gaga’s music experiments with a range of sounds and ideas, which generates scrutiny from fans and critics alike. Overall, her performances are often bizarre and confusing, and even the music she sings is difficult to classify; it is most often described as “electropop.”
9. Angelina Jolie
Jolie has adopted several personas throughout her career, embracing images ranging from a serious Hollywood actress and philanthropist, to a sexy bombshell heroine in movies. Jolie is versatile on-screen with a willingness to take on roles in everything from thrillers such as “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” to the protagonist in Disney’s “Maleficent.” Jolie has received an Academy Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and three Golden Globes, testament to her talent on screen. Off screen, she is a well-known humanitarian, especially noted for her work with refugees. Her red-carpet fashion, which is often daring and perhaps even a little audacious, is highly anticipated on awards show carpets. She has had several high-profile personal relationships, including with Billy-Bob Thornton and then later Brad Pitt, with whom she has several adopted children.
8. Marilyn Manson
Brian Warner, best known by his stage name Marilyn Manson, is a controversial musician and songwriter and the lead singer of the band Marilyn Manson. His stage name was created when he juxtaposed the name of Marilyn Monroe and the Manson Family leader Charles Manson, though he has become an American icon in his own right thanks to his distinct musical style, stage presence and unique artistic vision. He also is an actor; his film debut was in the movie “Lost Highway.” Manson is also an artist in a more classical sense: he held an art show in 2002 in Los Angeles and in 2010 he revealed a series of paintings in Vienna.
Actor, singer-songwriter and musician Prince has written hundreds of songs and has a distinct voice and musical style. He has sold over 100 million records worldwide, and his critically acclaimed music was a hallmark of the 1980s and 1990s. Prince continues to be a noteworthy artist for his unusual on-stage personality and trademark musical style. In 1993, he made an especially memorable choice when he decided to change his name to an unpronounceable symbol, also known as the “Love Symbol.” (He began to refer to himself as Prince again in 2000.) In addition to singing and dancing on stage, Prince plays the guitar, keyboard and synthesizer.
6. Tim Burton
Tim Burton is an American film director and producer who is known for quirky horror and fantasy films such as “Beetlejuice,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and many more. His work is often characterized as dark, gothic and macabre. Many of his films have become iconic for their unusual vision and style. He is in a domestic partnership with Helena Bonham Carter, whom often works with him in his film projects.
5. Helena Bonham Carter
The English actress Helena Bonham Carter made her acting debut at a young age in a television adaptation of a classic novel and in the film “Lady Jane.” She has starred in dozens of films, and is well known for her work in “A Room with a View,” “Fight Club,” “The King’s Speech, and playing Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter films. She also often works on films with her domestic partner, Tim Burton. Many of her characters on screen are dark and extremely eccentric, such as playing Madam Thénardier in the film adaptation of “Les Misérables.” Bonham Carter’s distinct, often bizarre roles onscreen seem to seamlessly blend with her unique off-screen persona: she is known for wearing unusual red carpet styles and even started her own fashion line in 2006 called “The Pantaloonies,” which included a collection of bloomers, Victorian-style camisoles, caps and more. Despite the fact that her fashion choices are often controversial, she has often been considered one of the best dressed actresses and has been featured in a Marc Jacobs advertising campaign. Fiction and reality are a little blurred with this actress, as her characters on screen appear to be as eccentric as her real-life personality.
Madonna is easily one of the most iconic pop artists of the 20th and 21st century. She influenced countless other musical artists around the world after she first rose to prominence in the 1980s with iconic songs including “Like a Virgin” and “Papa Don’t Preach.” Her controversial and distinct style and outlandish outfits on stage have helped ensure her lasting impact. Things she has advocated both on and off stage throughout the years have made her an activist of sorts, frequently (especially during her early years) provoking discourse on sex and sexual provocativeness and often putting forth thinly veiled criticisms of religion. Madonna has also acted in several films, most notably the rock musical “Evita,” in which she portrayed the controversial historical figure. Eccentric, controversial and evocative, she nonetheless has consistently maintained her clout with fans and audiences around the world, allowing her to share her unique vision over several decades.
Another music legend, Cher has also maintained a career that has spanned several decades, allowing her to make waves with her unique vision (and unforgettable costumes) with several generations of fans. Cher has worked in various areas of entertainment, from her early years as a television personality, to an Academy Award-winning actress in film, to a successful recording artist. Cher is known for her outlandish fashion style (her Oscar outfits have been some of the most memorable ever) and wild stage performances that blur the lines between performance art and music. The popularity of her work has ebbed and flowed over the years, but she seems to always enjoy a renaissance as a successful recording artist and an actress. Her ability to reinvent herself through various personas, tailored to the audiences and their changing tastes but still remaining true to herself, undoubtedly assist in her ability to always make a come back. One thing remains consistent: Cher has always attracted a lot of media attention for her distinct physical appearance, thanks to her tall, confident look, trademark long hair and unique facial features – including a relatively youthful appearance – and her tattoos, which have been revealed in her shockingly revealing outfits.
2. Charlie Chaplin
The career of silent film star Charlie Chaplin spanned over 75 years: he had a difficult childhood in the Victorian era and died in the 1970s. During that time, he was controversial and also iconic, helping to establish and forever have an impact on the film industry. Chaplin rose to fame in the silent film era and was best known for his onscreen persona “the Tramp,” who is still considered one of the most important figures in film. Chaplin wrote, directed, produced, edited, starred in and even composed the all-important music for most of his films. He was known for being an extreme perfectionist and he would spend years on the development and production of a film. Many of his movies featured a struggle against adversity and social and political themes. He was extremely creative and his characters were characterized by a slapstick comedy style. He continues to be called one of the most iconic figures in the film industry thanks to his revolutionary and unique vision for motion pictures.
1. Walt Disney
It goes without saying that Walt Disney is one of the greatest cultural icons of the 20th century for his animated characters, movies and theme parks. Disney and his staff created some of the most iconic characters of the century, including Mickey Mouse (he was the original voice of Mickey), Donald Duck and Goofy. He also has received more Academy Award nominations and awards than anyone else in history. As a child, he worked brutal hours delivering newspapers. As a student, he drew for his school newspaper and then struggled for many years to realize his dream of opening an animation studio and producing cartoon movies. After a move to Hollywood, his first movie was based on Alice in Wonderland. Years later, after finally achieving commercial success for his animated family films, he began to sketch plans for a railroad in his backyard. That idea developed into a concept for an amusement park, where he envisioned his employees spending time with their children. He planned and produced the park, Disney Land, in California and eventually drew up plans for another theme park in Florida. Disney was obsessed with making the theme parks impeccably clean and the experience flawless and magical, with hidden passageways and elaborately planned secret clubs and areas within the theme parks, allowing visitors to feel as though they were a part of one of his movies. The legacy he left, thanks to his unconventional vision, is still enjoyed by millions today.