You’re sitting with your friends watching a movie, and all of a sudden, a Greek actor pops up and you get all excited. I know you’ve experienced this before. We Greeks get excited when we see a famous Greek on the big screen, and why shouldn’t we? We’re supporting our people!
The idea for this blog came to be as I was watching Dancing with the Stars, which stars Maria Menounos competing on the ballroom dance floor. I thought to myself, “There’s actually A LOT of Greeks in the Entertainment business now.” So what do I do? I wikipediad (verb- the act of searching something on Wikipedia) “Famous Greeks.” I thought I would know most of them, but I was really shocked when hundreds of –opoulos,- ides, -as, -os (you get the idea) came on the screen! Now, I won’t go through the whole list of them, because let’s be real, some of them are more famous than others!
Let’s start with the Actors because most of the Greeks are on the big screen. Obviously, we all know those really famous ones like Jennifer Aniston, her father, John Aniston, Telly Savalas (who is Aniston’s Godfather,) Irene Pappas, star of Zorba the Greek and Ifigenia, Maria Menounos (Extra co-host whom I’ve mentioned above,) John Stamos from Full House, Billy Zane from Titanic, and Nia Vardalos , creator of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. But there are some new-comers and actors that you might now that aren’t Greek! Magician/ illusionist Criss Angel (Christopher Sarantakos,) Tina Fey (who is from Upper Darby) starred on Saturday Night Live and is the creator of the movie Mean Girls, which was based on Upper Darby High School. My Thia went to school with her and hung out with her a few times!
Other famous Greek actors include Zach Galifianakis from The Hangover and Elias Koteas who starred in many movies and shows, and Michael Constantine from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. An actor by the name of Hank Azaria is Greek, who plays many voices in the popular cartoon, The Simpsons. Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks’ wife, supermodel Angie Harmon (didn’t know that one!) Olympia Dukakis and Mina Suvari are all “Greek actress goddesses.” America’s favorite Golden Girl, Betty White, is even of Greek descent! So, when people go crazy over Betty White saying how cute she is, you can tell them it’s because she’s an Ellinida!
There are also famous Greeks in the music business like first American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, and Constantine Maroulis, who was a contestant on American Idol. Who else remembers that all girl band from the early 2000s, B*Witched?? One of the group members, Lindsay Armaou, was half Greek half Irish! Pop group’s, Franz Ferdinand, front man is also Greek, Alex Kapranos. Motley Crue’s drummer, Tommy Lee, and singer Tony Orlando are well known for their musical talent. Professional ballroom dancer, Mark Ballas, competes on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Does anyone know who Leo Fender is? Does the last name sound familiar? He’s the inventor and founder of Fender Musical Instrument Company. And is Greek.
Greek-American political figures are also very important here in the States. Spiro Agnew served as Governor of Maryland from 1967-69, and served under Richard Nixon as Vice-President from 1969-73. Arianna Huffington (nee Stassinopoulos) is founder of the Huffington Post, and who could forget about Michael Dukakis? He was Governor of Massachusetts from 1975-79 and 1983-91, and was also a Democratic Party president candidate, losing to George H.W. Bush. Even our own beautiful state of Pennsylvania had many Greek Political figures. In Congress, we had George Gekas, Ron Klink, and Gus Yatron.
Don’t think that Greeks didn’t hop into the fashion industry as well. John Varvatos is a haute couture men’s fashion designer that has been awarded for his beautiful designs. Peter Speliopoulos is vice President of DKNY design. Jewelry designer brand “Lagos” is Greek, and the family is from this area! And don’t forget those famous Greek last names of Entrepreneurs like Onassis, Livanos and Latsis!
Some of these people may be half Greek or quarter Greek, but they’re still Greek!