Maradona and Jesus: shifts in global fame through the ages FEB 25 2016
From Pantheon at MIT, an adjustable graph of which kinds of people were globally famous in different eras. Up until the Renaissance, the most well-known people in the world were mostly politicians and religious figures, with some writers and philosophers thrown in for good measure:
Starting with the Renaissance through the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, politicians, writers, painters, and composers become more prominent:
For the past 50 years, athletes and entertainers dominate the list, with footballers making up almost a third of the most known. (If you only go back to 1990, actors dominate.)
Politicians rate slightly behind tennis players (but ahead of pornographic actors) and religious figures are not represented in the graph at all.
If you're curious about the data, you can read about their methodology and sources.