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The Top Nine People Who Turned Away Greatness

by DannyGallagher   March 15, 2010 at 10:00AM  |  Views: 1,499

4. Surgeon and Professor Pierre Pachet

Science, scientists, and scientific minds should be unexcused from ridicule for passing on ideas and theories that now shape the most basic realms of human thought. Sure, the world once thought that the entire Earth was being held up by a giant space tortoise, but science allows us to get past such abnormal ways of thinking and usher in a new age of enlightenment.

Still, absolutely no thought went into surgeon and physiology professor Pachet's exclamation that "Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction." Not only was Pachet proven wrong and we have Pasteur to thank for saving countless lives from needless deaths due to bacteria and infection, but millions of germ-fearing mysophobes have him to thank for giving them something to do with their empty lives, such as washing their hands until they strike bone and striving for levels of cleanliness that even God can't achieve.

3. Boston Red Sox Owner Harry Frazee

Source: Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Frazee wore several caps in his time. He was a consummate theatrical agent and producer, a groundbreaking ball club owner, and even a fierce fighter for his team and various causes. History, however, has slapped a big red "L" on his forehead as the guy who sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees.

Despite the legend that Frazee sold the Bambino to front one of his musicals, the truth goes much deeper than that. Frazee was being jerked around on all sides by commissioner and professional a-hole Ban Johnson (a tradition that still continues in baseball to this day), who Frazee attempted to thwart and fall out of line with despite the power he held over other owners. Also, Ruth himself kept making outrageous demands for salaries and other perks (a tradition that still continues in baseball to this day). So Frazee got fed up and the Yankees used their vast wealth to buy Ruth for $100,000, a ridiculously high amount for a ballplayer (a tradition that still continues in baseball to this day).

Ruth became, as they say, a legend. Frazee also become a legend but for the wrong reasons. If anyone else was in Frazee's shoes, Frazee would have been known as the first man who ever tried to strangle Ruth with his bare hands.


2. Universal Pictures Executive Ned Tanen

Source: David Livingston/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

To be fair, without the open and inventive mind of this movie executive, the world would never have seen the films of such notables as John Hughes, Robert Zemeckis, and even Steven Spielberg. However, if Tanen was overseer of all of movie land, we would never have gotten to see a then little-known film called Star Wars.

George Lucas brought his long epic space vision to life in the early 1970s and since he was on a hot streak with American Graffiti (another film that almost didn't see the light of day under Universal), he brought Star Wars to their attention. Tanen insisted he turned down the project because the company couldn't understand it through the treatment. Nevertheless, 20th Century Fox picked up Lucas' script and turned it into a worldwide financial and marketing success that has lasted for over 30 years and earned more than $22 billion in revenue.


1. Publisher Alfred A. Knopf

Source: Ernest Sisto/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The man whose name graces the publishing firm he founded has brought a great deal of enlightenment to the world. His book factory gave the world stories and tales by some of the world's most thought-provoking and sharpest minds. He also turned away just as many.

Knopf's publishing house not only rejected authors who went on to produce cult classics and required reading for every drooling high school senior in the country such as George Orwell's Animal Farm and Jack Kerouac's On the Road, but he and his wife Blanche also personally read and rejected some of the biggest books of all time such as The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank that was dubbed "too dull."

Too dull?!? He called the story of a young girl's emotional and physical journey through the reign of terror of the Third Reich...dull?!? Did it not have enough pictures? Did the story need more reanimated dinosaurs? It's a shame he didn't have a chance to drive a stake through the heart of the The Da Vinci Code, a book so dry you can smooth wood with it.


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