If you feel unprepared for water cooler conversation, gather facts here about politicians, business leaders, athletes, entertainers and anyone else in the headlines. It has more than 30,000 detail-packed profiles, some lengthy and some minimal. There are also full-length articles about recent newsmakers.

Who doesn’t wonder how people such as Bill Gates, George Lucas and Wal-Mart’s Walton clan live? With more money than they can spend, the super-rich are natural curiosities. Forbes magazine’s annual ranking is magnetic—you can’t help but scan the list for familiar names. Unfortunately, some lack bios.

Known for top-notch documentaries, PBS continues its work online with creative, interactive articles about a variety of famous folks, including Joe DiMaggio and Buckminster Fuller and Eleanor Roosevelt. Production notes, detailed timelines and virtual tours abound. Among the highlights: South African President Nelson Mandela’s profile includes old letters to his then-wife, Winnie, and video clips of the former prisoner.

This intriguing feature from Time magazine highlights the lives of 100 people who “most influenced the last 100 years.” Included are essays, timelines, poll results and the Time 100 Challenge, a Shockwave name-that-person quiz.

This site has over 25,000 personalities of lives past and present available to look up in its simple biosearch engine. It is sponsored by A & E, History and Biography Channels. Lots of cool stuff to look at.

This site is maintained by the Internet Public Library~Presidents of the United States offers background information, election results, cabinet members, notable events, and points of interest on each of the presidents.

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