#2. Marjoe Gortner: Baby Preacher
Seven out of 10 Americans agree that the one thing we're missing in this country is a pint-sized Pentecostal preacher who is capable of twirling batons while condemning our souls to an eternity of raging hellfire. But mid-century Americans were blessed, because along with the constant fear of nuclear annihilation, they had Marjoe, the world's youngest ordained minister.
Born to a third generation preacher and his psychotic wife, Marjoe was named after Mary and Joseph, so right away you knew something was going to be up with this family.
Marjoesus would have just sounded silly.
Marjoe's parents immediately realized he wasn't just any run of the mill toddler. For one thing, he had a gift for mimicry. So, after presumably nixing the first idea that comes to mind with that combination of talents...
Claiming to be the reincarnated president.
...they went with the next best thing: pumping him full of memorized sermons and choreographed gestures and turning him into a four-year-old preacher. Then the family spent his childhood blasting the Bible Belt with the evangelical stylings of Marjoe Gortner.
So How Powerful Was This Kid, Exactly?
Powerful enough to bamboozle about three million dollars out of thousands of grown-ass adults, with the sheer force of his personality.
At a time when the average salary was $3,319, this tyke was capable of using his own charisma and cojones to raise thousands of dollar a night. And here's the kicker: Even as a kid he didn't believe any of the stuff he was selling. So he was also a terrifyingly good actor.
And it wasn't just about the novelty of watching a kid preach either, because he successfully revived his career as an adult. Only this time he recorded his chicanery in an Academy Award winning documentary.
#1. Iqbal Masih Makes You Look Like the Devil
Every now and then a person comes along who just makes you look bad. No matter who you are, or what you do... you could be a doctor who corrects cleft palates on Third World babies for free, it doesn't matter. Pakistani Iqbal Masih was that kind of person... by the age of 10.
Indentured at the age of five to a carpet factory, Iqbal was chained to his loom and forced to work 12 hours a day. And when he tried to escape, he was beaten. And because the carpet bosses didn't feed him well enough, he never grew. And he shuffled when he walked, no doubt because he spent his childhood on his feet and chained to a freaking loom. Life was hard for Iqbal.
Yet, at the age of 10, the pint-sized Cool Hand Luke escaped and joined the Bonded Labor Liberation Front of Pakistan, a group that was dedicated to freeing child slaves.
So How Powerful Was This Kid, Exactly?
In two years, Iqbal liberated 3,000 kids from slavery.
Iqbal didn't just join the BLLF, he pretty much became their spokesman. Which is a pretty audacious thing to do, when you think about it. While most of us would have just sauntered back home and caught up on eating and Wii, this kid actually went back into trenches, even disguising himself and sneaking into factories to interview kids about their working conditions.
In fact, Iqbal was so effective in his crusading that Pakistani carpet exports actually dropped by over $200,000,000 during the years he worked for the BLLF. Sadly, it also made him a high profile target of the alleged "carpet mafia" and the boy was murdered at the age of 13 in 1995. Which means that he helped liberate all those kids in just two short years of work.
Two years work in America can get you out of the mail room and into a cubicle.
We told you he'd make you look bad.
Read more from Kristi at here-in-idaho.com.
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If you want your kid to be the next Wunderkind then be sure to avoid doing the things listed in 7 Things "Good Parents" Do (That Screw Kids Up for Life). Or if you really want to screw them up, take a cue from the celebrities in The 20 Most Bizarre Celebrity Baby Names.
And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 4.19.10) to see which of our columnists was actually going places when he was a kid.