Six degrees

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 July, 2012, 12:00am
 

Didier Drogba received a rousing welcome from mainland soccer fans this month when the former Chelsea striker (below) arrived to take his place on the Shanghai Shenhua team. Top footballers are often feted as heroes but few can claim to have ended a civil war, which is what Drogba did in his native Ivory Coast. After leading the national team to the World Cup, Drogba dropped to his knees in front of a camera in the dressing room and begged his countrymen to put down their weapons. Astonishingly, they agreed. Perhaps he was destined for greatness; as a child he was called 'Tito', a name his mother bestowed upon him out of a deep admiration for Josip Broz Tito ...

The Yugoslav leader was widely considered a benevolent dictator and was the first communist leader of an East European country to abolish visa requirements for foreigners and allow citizens to travel overseas freely. His rejection of Soviet doctrine put him on a collision course with the Soviet Union's Stalin, who sent numerous assassins to 'take care' of him. In response, Tito wrote to Stalin with the curt demand, 'Stop sending people to kill me.' His funeral, in 1980, was attended by four kings, 31 presidents and 22 prime ministers from both sides of the cold war. His mausoleum is now a tourist attraction and includes a display of priceless artworks by Francisco Goya ...

Goya's art was a commentary of the times and his Disasters of War series depicting atrocities that occurred during the 1808 Dos de Mayo Uprising is considered by many modern critics to be an anti-war protest. The hinge between the Old Masters and those of the modern era, Goya was painter to the Spanish crown before illness left him deaf and he spiralled into depression. Hollywood movie Goya's Ghosts (2006) was based on the artist, with the director choosing a leading lady, whom he had never seen act, solely because she reminded him of paintings by Goya. That actress was Natalie Portman ...

Saying she would 'rather be smart than a movie star', Israeli-born Portman put her career on hold to earn a psychology degree from Harvard University, having previously missed the premiere to her first Star Wars film to study for high-school exams. The clean-living, multilingual, vegan shocked fans with a foul-mouthed rap video aired on Saturday Night Live, in which she claimed, 'When I was in Harvard, I smoked weed every day ... I cheated every test and snorted all the yay.' Portman got her first break aged 12 in the excellent Leon: The Professional opposite the super sexy Jean Reno ...

The six-foot two-inch Moroccan-born actor, who seems to have a penchant for playing psychotic cleaners, has had three weddings, the last of which saw him attended upon by five-foot five-inch best man Nicolas Sarkozy. Reno's perhaps dubious judgment also saw him turn down the role of Agent Smith in The Matrix franchise, preferring instead to do Godzilla. The actor's career has been just as varied as his cast of leading ladies, as evidenced in the 1995 film Les Truffes, in which he starred alongside porn star Julia Channel ...

With a movie CV that lists such prestigious projects as Butt Bongo Bonanza and Whore'n, Channel earned her stripes as the adult film industry's first famous female black star. That career came to an abrupt halt when she visited the Congo to document the plight of Aids victims for French magazine Hot Video. Nowadays her passion lies in singing and earlier this year saw the launch of her song Forever in a Day, along with a video starring father of three Didier Drogba.

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