Unlikely heroes are characters who, at first glance, may not possess the typical qualities or traits associated with heroism. Yet they rise to the occasion and prove themselves in extraordinary ways. And their stories inspire artists of all types.
Authors, film-makers, songwriters, photographers and painters spin the tales of the underdogs. Indeed, artists take note of the quiet caregivers and teachers who teach life lessons. They’re not aware that they are heroes. They just do what they do daily to serve and inspire others. True-life stories of unlikely heroes may not be significant enough to make the history books. But they often provide inspiration for a best-seller. Adoration for overcoming adversity is put to paper or lyrics. Both close encounters with loved ones and chance encounters with strangers become an inspiration.
Encounters with Unlikely Heroes Become an Author’s Catalyst
Leo Buscaglia worked in a dental hospital helping to reconstruct the shattered faces of injured World War II soldiers. Later, when Buscaglia was teaching at USC, he was deeply moved by a student’s suicide. These life experiences led Buscaglia to contemplate human disconnectedness and the meaning of life. So, Buscaglia taught a noncredit class he called Love 1A. Then the class became the basis for his first book, titled simply Love.
Unlikely Heroes Inspire Movie-makers
Forrest Gump, the a movie based a 1986 novel, was a box office hit. It starred the fictional Forrest Gump. Forrest started life as an ordinary and physically challenged boy. And no one would expect him to turn out a hero. But the artists in the film studio spin the tale through the eyes of this boy. In fact, Forrest and other characters in the book overcome all the odds to become the unlikely heroes shedding light on the Vietnam War, U.S. China diplomacy and Watergate. And then Forrest finds himself entangled with the likes of Elvis Presley and John Lennon. Then next, he earns a spot on the National Football Team. So that gets him a meeting with John F. Kennedy. The political symbolism and cultural significance of Forrest Gump led to it being selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
A Painter Tells Her Autobiography on Canvas
“Artemisia Gentileschi turned the horrors of her own life – repression, injustice, rape – into brutal biblical paintings that were also a war cry for oppressed women,” said an article in The Guardian about the artist.
A Book Series Dedicated to An Unlikely Hero
The authors of the Anna book series drew inspiration from a real-life hero. Anna was a caregiver–albeit not the typical shy or quiet caregiver.
The Song Honoring Teachers, Parents, Mentors and Spouses Takes Home a Grammy
Bette Midler won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year for “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Its lyrics pay homage to the unlikely heroes. Indeed, they are quite often the ones who stay in the shadows, content to allow others to bask in the glory and shine.
"It must have been cold there in my shadow To never have sunlight on your face You were content to let me shine, that's your way You always walked a step behind.
So I was the one with all the glory While you were the one with all the strength A beautiful face without a name for so long A beautiful smile to hide the pain
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ”
–American author Leo Buscaglia.
“My mama always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”–Forrest Gump
“Gentileschi achieved something so unlikely, so close to impossible, that she deserves to be one of the most famous artists in the world.” –The Guardian
“Fritzy is like a cake that didn’t rise jes’ right. He’s destined never to get out of the pan.” — an excerpt from Anna from Atlanta.