In 2013, Time Books published “The 100 Most Influencial People Who Never Lived.” Guess what: Donald Trump, George Clooney, and Billie Jean King are not among them. Of course not. The point is: the most important people in an event or story may not ever have drawn a breath. Here are some examples. Who is real and who is not?
A Middle East “Strongman” makes horrible news = Darth Vader.
Rosie the Riveter = A woman CAN do a man’s job.
Achilles = a heroic warrior.
Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy = Donald Trump and Melania
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde = someone REALLY bi-polar
A (Russian) secret agent eliminates a threat = Bond; James Bond
An abused woman seeks revenge = Lisbeth Salander
A woman goes to the big city, and makes it there = Mary Richards
An unemployed farmer fights to find work, somewhere = Tom Joad
And my favorite: Jim Rockford, or ANY private eye working on cases alone = Sherlock Holmes. Guinness World records lists him as “the most portrayed movie character in history.” “This character and his stories have had a profound and lasting effect on mystery writing. Stories about him and his cases have been radio plays, televisions shows, films, etc. for over 100 years.”
Actors I’ve seen perform Holmes: Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, Nicole Williamson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jonny Lee Miller (see below; Holmes in modern NYC), Robert Downey, Jr.
Perhaps the question should be: Is Sherlock Holmes The Most Important Person Who Never Lived?