This week’s post is something a little different. In celebration of all things Greek we’ve come up with a list of 5 people who are at least part-Greek and whose heritage may not be immediately obvious. Do please let us know who we’ve missed from our list!
1. Telly Savalas
Known to an entire generation as Kojak, he was everybody’s favourite bald New York TV detective. While Telly may not given away too many Greek clues, his full name Aristotelis Savalas leaves no doubt as to his Greek parentage. His father owned a Greek restaurant in New York and by all accounts young Telly did not speak English until he entered high school.
Always proud of his heritage, he was known to say to his TV colleagues “Everybody should have a little Greek in them.”
Not such as surprise perhaps, but Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou may have held young George back in his early quest for fame and fortune. Fortunately for his career George’s father Kyriacos Panayiotou changed his name to Jack Michael when he arrived in London.
George has been more open about his Greekness than about certain parts of his private life and he received an overwhelming welcome when he played a concert in Athens.
3. Jennifer Aniston
Born as Jennifer Joanna Anastassakis, her father quickly changed americanised the family name to Aniston before moving from California to his native Crete for a year. They then settled in New York City. A little known fact is that Jennifer’s father was best friends with Telly Savalas and Savalas is in fact her godfather.
4. Tina Fey
While her name doesn’t look that Greek on first inspection, Tina is short for Stamatina (Elizabeth Stamatina Fey) and her mother was American born but of Greek descent. Tina is very well known in the US as a actress and comedian and shot to international stardom following her performance as a Sarah Palin double. Presumably we’ll be seeing more of her in that role soon..
5. Nicky Clarke
Hairdresser to the stars, blond haired Nicky may not strike immediately as the son of a Greek mother. His parents met during the war when his British father was stationed in Athens. His mother was Greek Orthodox and they married in Greece before coming to England. Nicky had already made up his mind on his future career by the age of 12 when his father bought him a barber’s kit.
by Andy Jarosz
Thanks to Honestmum for her previous listing of well-known Greeks; other reference sources include The Independent, IMDB, Wikipedia.