With Mother's Day this weekend, we wanted to shed a light on 15 of history's greatest moms. From the silver screen, to writers and politicians, these women made their mark in history while mastering motherhood.
1. Mary Tyler Moore
Moore is known most famously for her beloved role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. This was inspirational, because for the first time in television, her character portrayed a positive image of a single working woman and challenged gender stereotypes. Moore quickly became an inspiration for women in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This beloved actress also dedicated her life to raising awareness for animal rights and type 1 diabetes.
2. Lucille Ball
Although Ball is infamous for co-creating and starring in one of the most loved sitcoms in television history, I Love Lucy, she was also the first woman to head a major TV studio in 1950: Desilu Productions. The same year I Love Lucy premiered, she welcomed her first child and when she was expecting her second child, Ball decided to write her pregnancy into the show, despite push-back from the studio. Because of her boldness and confidence, it became the first pregnancy storyline on a major network show.
3. Lucretia Mott
Mott was an active minister and mother of six children who is known best for her dedication to fight for women’s rights. She devoted her life to the anti-slavery movement, as one of the leading abolitionist voices of the time. She was such an inspiration, many of her six children became advocates for civil rights and women’s issues, too.
4. Audrey Hepburn
Hepburn will always be remembered as the star of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Roman Holiday, but the actress also devoted her life to service and philanthropy. Hepburn worked as a Godwill Ambassador for UNICEF, and launched her own charity, The Audrey Hepburn Society, which still works with UNICEF to provide child survival programs worldwide. Sadly she endured four miscarriages, but was also the devoted mother to her two sons, Luca and Sean.
5. Diane von Furstenberg
Furstenberg is the creator of the infamous “wrap dress,” the practical yet fashionable wardrobe staple. Furstenberg created the iconic dress two years after her divorce from Prince Von Furstenberg of Germany and while raising her two children, Prince Alexander and Princess Tatiana. Now the designer serves as the director of her charitable foundation that helps support non-profit organizations.
6. Rita Moreno
Puerto-Rican American actress Rita Moreno has a celebrated film career that has spanned 70 years. Mother to her daughter, Fernanda Luisa Fisher, Moreno remains one of only 12 people who carry the distinction of winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and a Tony (EGOT). Rita is known best for her supporting roles in major hits like West Side Story and The King and I.
Hoelun was the mother of the infamous Genghis Khan. She survived getting kidnapped, widowhood and being excommunicated-all of which lead her to become the mother and advisor to one of the largest empires the world has ever known. Story has it that Genghis was planning to execute his brother for treason and when Hoelun found out, she traveled to and begged Genghis to be merciful. When that didn’t work, “Hoelun grew angry, got to her feet and roundly rebuked the khan for thinking to execute his brother … Genghis raised her up and said he would grant the boon because of his love and deference for his mother.”
8. Maya Angelou
Regarded as one of the most talented and poetic American writers of all time, Angelou received more than 50 honorary degrees and was awarded the prestigious National Medal of Arts as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She became a single mother at just 16 years old after giving birth to her son Guy, which is why much of her writing reflects her experience of motherhood, as well as the impacts of raising children. “Mothers have the ability to liberate by love or, by neglect, to imprison,” she once said. “They’re our first teachers; they are our first loves.”
9. Margaret Thatcher
Thatcher made history when she was elected the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1979. She then went on to become the longest serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century. The mother of two would later be ranked as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century by Time Magazine and was voted the 16th greatest Briton in history.
Cleopatra was the last true ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt, reigning from 51 to 30 BC. She raised four children before her death at age 39, and never hid their paternity which was actually uncommon during those times. Cleopatra had a son with Julius Caesar, and three children (including twins) with Mark Antony. Centuries later, her tragic love story with Mark Antony would be forever immortalized in Shakespeare’s play, Antony & Cleopatra.
11. Eleanor Roosevelt
During Roosevelt's role as FLOTUS she was considered a slightly controversial figure of the time for her involvement in and support of civil rights issues, WWII refugees and women’s rights policies. Eleanor was also the first FLOTUS to write a daily newspaper column, host her own weekly radio show and partake regularly in press conferences-all while being a mother to six children. She was later named by President Truman “the First Lady of the World.”
12. Diana, Princess of Wales
It was only shortly after Princess Diana stepped into the limelight that she became the most famous woman in the world. She used her new-found fame to garner support for initiatives like landmine eradication, HIV/AIDS advocacy and children’s health. Diana’s humanitarianism influenced her two sons, William and Harry, who are both involved in supporting the charities she established, some 20 years after her death.
13. Anne-Marie Slaughter
Anne-Marie Slaughter was the first woman to serve as director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department, after working as a law professor and academic dean. In 2012, she wrote an article for The Atlantic, called “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” In this article spoke about her decision to leave her government job so she could take better care of her two sons. Slaughter's words sparked a national discussion about how mothers balance work and home life and the need for society and the workplace to better facilitate working mothers.
14. Nancy Edison
Nancy Edison was the mother of seven kids, the youngest being Thomas Alva Edison. Her son's teachers labeled him "addled" (incompetent), so Nancy took matters into her own hands and decided to homeschool her son. Edison, who may have just been dyslexic in a time before that learning disorder was studied or understood, was forever grateful of his mom saying: “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”
15. Erma Bombeck
Comedic writer Erma Bombeck wrote books and syndicated newspaper columns about life as a suburban housewife in the Midwest. Bombeck drew inspiration from her personal experiences as mother of an adopted daughter and two biological sons. Her stories helped a generation of stay-at-home and newly working mothers find humor in the messiness of their lives.