17 Historical ‘Mosts’ That Made Our Jaws Drop

March 11, 2023 People's Tonight 324 views

Melissa Sartore

Vote up the mosts from history that impress you the “mostest.”

Understanding history often means categorizing or quantifying it. Sometimes we establish something as a historical “first” or historical “last.” At other times, we label people, places, or time periods as the “worst” because, honestly, they sound kind of awful.

When a number is involved, finding the “most” can also put historical happenings into perspective. We found some historical “mosts” that not only offered insight into the past, but also took us by surprise. Some of these “mosts” are genuine testaments to human strength, endurance, creativity, and spirit, while others are a little frightening or disheartening.

Vote up the “mosts” from history that impress you, well, the “mostest.”


• Photo: Christopher Hollis / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain


Most Lightning Strikes Survived By A Single Person: 7

Roy Sullivan worked as a US national park ranger in Virginia and was struck by lightning (at least) seven times. Sullivan was first hit by lightning in 1942 as he ran away from a fire lookout tower that had just been struck, as well. Subsequent strikes in 1969, 1970, 1972, and 1973 took place while Sullivan was in his truck, his yard, at work, and in a car.

The remaining strikes occurred in 1976 (while he was out in a storm) and 1977 (while he was out fishing). An eighth incident might have occurred when Sullivan was a child, but it remains unclear.

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Most impressive?

• • • Photo: Gene Hester / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

Most Acting Credits: 1,069

Called “The Man of 1,000 Voices,” Mel Blanc actually has more than 1,000 credits to his name.

The exact number is 1,069, according to a data analysis of the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

Most impressive?

• • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

Most Sniper Kills: 542

During the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union (1939-1940), Simo Hayha had 505 confirmed sniper kills – although the number could be as high as 542.

Hayha earned the nickname “The White Death,” spent days in subzero temperatures targeting Russian combatants, and used an iron sight instead of a scope. According to Hayha, “shooting with a scope seemed to be slow” and the reflection could potentially make him visible to the enemy.

In March 1940, Hayha was shot in the face by a Soviet sniper and went into a coma, only to regain consciousness the day the conflict ended.

Most impressive?

• • Photo: Rob Bogaerts / Anefo / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

Most Money Earned Posthumously: $513 Million

Since author Roald Dahl’s passing in 1990, his estate has earned $513 million (as of 2021 – ousting the previous record-holder Michael Jackson). Dahl wrote 49 books during his life, several of which were published posthumously.

Adaptations of his works onto small and large screens – which require purchasing the rights, and show no signs of ending – have contributed heavily to Dahl’s continued accumulation of wealth.

Most impressive?

• • Photo: Pieter Bruegel the Elder / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

Most Children To One Couple: 69

Russian peasant Feodor Vassilyev and his first wife (name unknown, but perhaps Valentina) had 69 children from 27 different births.

Mrs. Vassilyev reportedly birthed 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets, and four groups of quadruplets from 1725 to 1765.

Most impressive?

• • Photo: NASA / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

Most Days Spent In Space: 878

From 1998 to 2015, Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka accumulated a record number of days in space with 879 (or 878, depending on the source). During his career, Padalka made five trips to space, including multiple visits to the International Space Station.

Padalka resigned from his position in 2017 because there were no indications he would be going back.

Most impressive?

• • Photo: UCLA Library Special Collections / Flickr / CC-BY 2.0

Most Academy Award Nominations: 59

Animator and producer (as well as theme park founder) Walt Disney earned 59 Academy Award nominations, the first of which came for the short-subject cartoon Flowers and Trees in 1932 (which he won).

Disney went on to win 22 competitive Oscars during his career. If one adds special awards and honors, Disney personally has received 32 Academy Awards.

Most impressive?

• • Photo: Fernando Frazão / Agência Brasil / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 3.0 BR

Most Olympic Medals Won By An Individual: 28

Swimmer Michael Phelps of the US became the winningest Olympian after taking home one silver and five gold medals during the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. That brought his total up to 28 (23 gold, three silver, and two bronze).

The female athlete with the most medals is Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina. From 1956 to 1964, she won nine gold, five silver, and four bronze medals.

Most impressive?

• • Photo: Ibu007 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

Most Land Held By An Empire: 13.7 Million Square Miles

The Mongol Empire is estimated to have spread from 11 million to 12 million square miles across Asia and into Europe. While this is the most land held by a contiguous empire, the most land controlled by any empire in history is roughly 13.71 million square miles. This was the size of the British Empire at its height (around 1920).

The spread of the British Empire throughout the world is why it was said “the sun never sets on the British Empire”: Regardless of the time of day, the sun was always shining on some part of the world that the British controlled.

•Most impressive?

• • Photo: Peter Bond / Flickr / CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

Most Baseball Games Played By A Single Professional Player: 3,562

Pete Rose holds several records in Major League Baseball, including most games played at 3,562. Rose has the most at bats (14,053) and most hits (4,256), as well as the most singles (3,215). Rose was also banned for life from baseball in 1989 for gambling on the sport.

For the sake of comparison, Robert Parish played the most regular-season National Basketball Association games (1,611); Morten Andersen tops the list in the National Football League (382); and Patrick Marleau has the most games in the National Hockey League (1,779).

Most impressive?

• Photo: Warren K. Leffler / Damiens / Wikimedia Commons / No known copyright restrictions

Most Survivals Of Assassination Attempts: 638

According to Fabian Escalante, he helped Cuban leader Fidel Castro survive more than 600 assassination attempts. Escalante, the head of the Cuban State Security Department and founder of the Cuban intelligence services, said the US government was behind the attempts, with varying levels of intensity, from the Eisenhower administration to that of Bill Clinton.

The title of Escalante’s book detailing the events is 634 Ways to Kill Fidel Castro, but he’s also gone on record with the number 638. Either way, it appears to be the most assassination attempts on record.

Most impressive?

• • Photo: School of Leonardo da Vinci / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

Most Money Paid For A Piece Of Art: $450.3 Million

Attributed to Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi depicts Jesus Christ. The painting was reportedly commissioned by King Louis XII of France around 1500 CE.

In 2017, Christie’s auction house in New York City sold Salvator Mundi for $450.3 million to an anonymous buyer. The purchaser was later revealed to be Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In 2021, however, the painting’s authenticity was called into question.

Most impressive?

• • Photo: Attributed to Samuel Theodor Gericke / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

Most Children Born To A Man By Women Who Weren’t His Wife: 354

Augustus II, also called Augustus the Strong, held positions as the Elector of Saxony, King of Poland, and Grand Duke of Lithuania during the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Described as running a “luxurious, wanton court” with dozens of mistresses, Augustus purportedly had “gross appetites” that resulted in 354 children born to women who weren’t his wife by the time he passed in 1733.

Most impressive?

• • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

Most Expensive Party: $22 Million

In 1971, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran held a massive party at the city of Persepolis. The event, to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire, was beyond extravagant.

Hundreds of cooks and waiters prepared and served 22 tons of food, and guests (comprising “10 kings, 21 princes and princesses, nine sheiks, two sultans, a grand duke, a cardinal, 16 presidents, three prime ministers, and four vice presidents” from around the world) enjoyed 5,000 bottles of wine and Champagne. The 5.5-hour feast included quail eggs stuffed with caviar and fresh raspberries flown in from France.

Organizers also offered elaborate “tents” that were actually two-bedroom apartments, plus servants’ quarters, with marble bathrooms; set up casino and gaming tables; and spared no expense in providing attendants and finery for guests, including 16 hair salons.

The lowest estimates for the affair were $4 million, while high numbers reached more than $100 million. One member of the Iranian elite, Abdolreza Ansari, told The Iranian in 2002 that the actual amount was closer to “160 million tomans [a unite of Iranian currency]… That’s about $22 million dollars in those days.”

Most impressive?

• • Photo: Yogita / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 3.0

Most Wives: 39

Biblically, the individual with the most wives was King Solomon – with 700. As spouses accumulated as part of diplomatic alliances, Solomon’s wives differ from the 39 wives of Indian Ziona Chana.

As of 2014, Chana, his wives, 94 children, and 33 grandchildren were considered the “world’s largest family.” About his circumstances, Chana said, “I consider myself a lucky man to be the husband of 39 women and the head of the world’s largest family.” Chana passed in 2021.

Most impressive?

• • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

Most Deaths Attributed To A Single Monarch: 10 Million

Determining the exact number of people slain by a single monarch presents challenges (Henry VIII’s totals range from 57,000 to 72,000, by some estimates), but one king is considered the deadliest: Leopold II of Belgium.

In 1885, King Leopold took control of the Congo, and under his authority, as many as 10 million Africans lost their lives. The large number of deaths resulted from both the enslavement of millions and the exploitation of resources.

Most impressive?

• • Photo: Uncredited photographer for Los Angeles Daily News / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

Most Works Published: 1,084

In 2006, L. Ron Hubbard was credited by Guinness World Records with the most works published: 1,084. Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, wrote both fiction and nonfiction.

This doesn’t mean Hubbard is the most prolific writer ever, nor does it take into account pseudonyms and ghostwriting, self-publishing, or works that never got published.

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Most impressive?