In this special issue, LIFE.com looks at 20 legendary figures — in the arts, politics, science and sports — who have appeared in the pages of LIFE magazine.

Their status as legends was in no small part the result of personal struggles against prejudice or poverty or whatever their peers and rivals warned were the absolute limits of human potential. In the end, it’s that tenacity in the face of doubt and rejection; the drive to accomplish something breathlessly new something that changes the way we live, think and dream — that we honor and remember.

Pictured: Margaret Bourke-White logged a staggering number of firsts. As a pioneering photojournalist, she was among the first staff photographers hired at LIFE and she took its first cover photo. (read more here)

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Happy Birthday Jimi Hendrix.

On October 15, 1965, Hendrix signed his first recording contract with PPX Enterprises for $1.00 and 1% royalties for three years, in a controversial deal that would complicate Hendrix’s future success. Now, the contract is displayed at the Gotta Have It! Rock & Roll Pop Art Auction Press Preview at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex NYC in New York City, though it is the source of legal disputes to this day.

(see moreThe Jimi Hendrix Experience)

When LIFE magazine’s premiere issue hit newsstands on November 23, 1936, a star was born — LIFE’s cover was soon as recognizable an American icon as the spire of the Empire State Building.

As we are approaching the 75th anniversary of the magazine’s debut, LIFE presents, in chronological order, the 75 most moving, most striking, most beautiful LIFE covers of all time, as chosen by the site’s editors.

Pictured: April 30, 1965: The Days Before Birth

Sixteen photos excerpted from Swedish photojournalist Lennart Nilsson’s book A Life Is Born were published in the April 30, 1965, issue of LIFE — but perhaps none as breathtaking or memorable as this cover image. Every one of the 8 million copies of LIFE printed sold out with four days.  

(see more The 75 Best LIFE Covers of All Time)

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22 days left! Support Harold Feinstein’s photobook retrospective on Kickstarter.

For over 60 years, New York photographer Harold Feinstein has been documenting American life from the integration of the U.S. military to love and fun on the boardwalk of Coney Island. His photos have been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, the International Center of Photography, the George Eastman House, the Museum of Photographic Arts, the Musee d’Art Moderne, and the Museum for the City of New York, among other places of note.

Have a look at a preview of the book on our site here. You will be amazed. Then head on over to his kickstarter page and donate!

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