Who’s the all-time greatest icon in popular culture? Oprah Winfrey, according to VH1.
The cable channel is counting down the top 200 popular culture icons this week, and the talk-show host bested superhero Superman to win the top slot.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
Rounding out the top 10, starting with No. 3, were Elvis Presley, Lucille Ball, Tom Cruise, Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Michael Jordan, Princess Diana and Michael Jackson.
“The 200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons” is part of VH1’s “Greatest” series, which compiles “greatest lists” in entertainment: love songs, TV moments, hip hop artists and more.
“In this always-expanding pop culture of ours, there are plenty of stars, but precious few icons,” reads VH1’s Web site for the series.
Icon status requires more than fame, according to VH1. It requires meeting other criteria, such as: being recognized by one name; blazing a trail in popular culture; being satirized by “Saturday Night Live”; and creating a signature character.
The list includes TV characters (Gilligan, The Brady Bunch), Hollywood legends (James Dean, Rock Hudson), rock stars (the Beatles, Rolling Stones), politicians (Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy) and other celebrities—like Oprah.
Some of the list’s more intriguing highlights: John F. Kennedy ranked No. 32, but John F. Kennedy Jr. ranked 24. Audrey Hepburn ranked No. 34, but Katherine Hepburn ranked 84. Mister Rogers, who died in February, ranked No. 148.
The series is hosted by actress Kristin Davis and features interviews with Katie Couric, Jay Leno, William Shatner, Britney Spears, Ringo Starr and many other celebrities.
VH1 calls the list “a celebration of the people and the moments that live immortally in pop culture.”
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.