Bushes hold sway on list of people Americans admire

May 30, 1993|By George H. Gallup Jr. and Robert Bezilla | George H. Gallup Jr. and Robert Bezilla,Contributing Writers Princeton Religion Research Center New York Times Syndicate

Question: What do Billy Graham, Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa have in common with Michael Jordan?

Answer: They are all among the people Americans say they most admire.

In a survey last December by the Gallup organization, Mr. Graham placed fifth among men who are most admired by American adults, ranking one place above Pope John Paul and four places above Mr. Jordan, who was ninth.

Mr. Graham's appearance on the list is his 36th in the regular surveys, making him by far the most durable figure in the more than 40 years that the Gallup organization has asked Americans to name the people they most respect.

Mother Teresa is also holding her own, although her debut as a favorite of Americans came much later than Mr. Graham's. The 82-year-old nun was second on the latest list of most-admired women. She had claimed that position previously, in several polls during the 1980s and also in 1991.

Mother Teresa also gets high marks from American teens, who ranked her seventh among women last year. The only other religious figure that teens esteemed almost as highly is the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, who came in eighth place on their list of most-admired men.

The other most-admired figures include political and military leaders, as well as entertainment and sports figures.

In the latest polling, adults favored men in this order: George Bush, Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Mr. Graham, the pope, Ronald Reagan, Colin L. Powell, Mr. Jordan and Boris N. Yeltsin.

Teens also liked Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton best, but gave the top spot to Mr. Clinton. In third place is Mr. Jordan, followed by Magic Johnson, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Nelson Mandela, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Perot. Tom Cruise and Luke Perry tied for 10th place.

Clearly Pope John Paul's star is fading among American teens, and Mr. Graham's never rose enough to place him among the top 10. The pope placed first with teens in 1979, but his standing has since declined. By 1988, he ranked 10th, and after that, he received only spotty notice from the younger set.

Among women, adults favored only Barbara Bush over Mother Teresa. After the nun, they listed Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II, Oprah Winfrey, Katharine Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Princess Diana and Elizabeth Taylor.

Teens gave Mrs. Clinton the top spot, followed by Cindy Crawford, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Mrs. Bush, Julia Roberts, Mother Teresa, Reba McEntire, Paula Abdul and Maya Angelou.

The results of adults are based on telephone interviews with a random national sample of 1,005 men and women, 18 and older, conducted in December 1992. Teen results, based on 505 interviews with young people 13 to 17, were obtained in January. In this survey, the margin of error is 3 percentage points in either direction for the adult sample; 4 percentage points for the teens.

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