9 Famous Men In History Who Almost Died Before They Became Famous

Imagine a world without these nine famous people on the list making a huge impact. We simply can’t, right?

But these influential men nearly perish before they can even get started changing the world with their great ideas and heroic acts. Let’s start with…

9. Gene Roddenberry’s plane crash-landed in Syrian Desert



He was famous for his classic Star Trek television series, which set the rules for modern sci-fi. But years before Gene Roddenberry became a TV legend, he was nearly killed when his plane lost two engines in mid-flight and burst into flames. It crash-landed in the Syrian Desert.

His story should have ended there had he not saw a light in the distance. He sent two men there while he tended the wounded. It turned out the light belonged to a Syrian military outpost. They were later rescued.

8. Martin Scorsese nearly died on cocaine overdose



He’s one of the greatest American film directors. But in 1970s, cocaine overdose nearly killed Scorsese. Thanks to Robert de Niro’s intervention, he finally kicked the deadly habit and returned to film the classic Raging Bull.

7. Clint Eastwood survived one of the strangest plane crashes in history


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In 1950, Eastwood hitched a ride on a Navy plane. During the flight, the door below him suddenly sprang open nearly flinging him from the plane. He nearly died from lack of oxygen and passed out.

The pilot was able to save him by crash-landing into the sea, but the impact jettisoned Eastwood into the ocean with its vicious current that almost dragged him to his death. Eastwood had no choice but to summon all his strength and swim like hell to the nearest shore.

6. Everyone around Nostradamus died of the Black Death


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In early 16th century, thousands died every week from the Black Death. People stayed away from infected towns. Not Nostradamus. The young prophet visited plague homes and helped treating the victims. Although his entire family died of the plague, it didn’t seem to affect him.

Nostradamus also survived the Inquisition.

5. Hernan Cortes was nearly sacrificed to the Aztec god of war


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Without Hernan Cortes, modern Mexico would be a much a different place today. But he was off to a bad start not long after landing when he lost 68 men during a raid, in which all them were dragged away to the temple and sacrificed to the Aztec god of war. Cortes luckily escaped.

After a series of skirmishes against the Aztec warriors, the Spanish Conquistador was penned and was on the cusp of death when a loyal soldier, Cristobal de Olea, did a heroic act to save him. Cortes managed to escape at the cost of Cristobal’s life.

4. George Orwell nearly killed in Spain (twice)


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When the civil war broke out in Spain, George Orwell went to fight against the Fascist. He was shot through the neck by a fascist sniper that nearly killed the writer. He luckily survived and went on to write the classics Animal Farm and 1984.


3. Fyodor Dostoyevsky came within seconds of execution


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He’s one of the most influential and greatest writers of our time. But at 28, he was accused of being a part of a revolutionary group and was condemned to death by firing squad.

The soldiers were already aiming their rifles and were seconds to firing when an order from the Tsar came through to spare the young writer’s life. He was sent to do hard labor in Siberia for eight years.

He later wrote the great classical novels such as Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.

2. Franklin D. Roosevelt almost died of Spanish flu


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The Spanish Flu killed 50 million people worldwide. It also nearly claimed the life of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1918. He was assistant secretary to the Navy at that time when he contracted the killer flu. Fortunately, he survived the scary infection.

1. Gandhi was nearly lynched


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We know him today as one of the greatest leaders in history. But when he was a young lawyer working in South Africa, an angry mob nearly lynched him after he wrote the Green Pamphlet, a controversial treatise that criticized South Africa’s ruling white minority.

After his trip home to India, Gandhi returned to Durban, South Africa, with the mob waiting for him. They battered him with stones and brickbats, and were on the verge of lynching him when the wife of the local Police Superintendent intervened.

She managed to hold the attackers at bay until the police arrived. Thanks to her, Gandhi survived the ordeal and went on to become one of world’s greatest leaders of men.

via List Verse