The list of famous greek american people actors in Hollywood is long but let’s see their family immigration history timeline to America and see how from greek immigrants they became rich celebrities.
There are 1,500,000 people of Greek ancestry in the U.S. Greek Americans are mostly in the NYC, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Baltimore and Florida. 450,000 Greeks arrived to the States between 1890 and 1917, most working in the cities of the Northeast. From 1946 until 1982, approximately 211,000 Greeks emigrated to the United States.
Here are below some famous greek people who became celebrities in Hollywood.
1 .Elia Kazan biography (1909-2003) -his photo above- He was a Greek-American director, producer, writer and actor. He was born in Constantinople in Turkey. His parents, George and Athena Kazantzoglou (born Shishmanoglou) were Greeks from Kayseri in Anatolia (back country of Turkey) and they emigrated to the United States when he was four years old because his family wanted to escape the oppressive tyranny of the Mohammedans. His father became a merchant of rugs in New York City but his uncle transformed him into an American with dreams. He went to Williams College in Massachusetts and studied at Yale Drama School. Elia became one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history. Director Elia Kazan introduced a new generation of unknown young actors to the movie audiences, including Marlo Brando and James Dean. He got Academy Awards for the film « Gentleman’s Agreement » 1948 (Best Director). For the On the waterfront movie Kazan Oscar in 1955 as Best Director
2. Telly Savalas bio -his photo above-: Aristotelis Savalas (1922 – 1994) was a Greek American film and television actor and singer. He was born in NYC to Greek American parents Christina Kapsalis (from Apogia of Sparta) an painter and Nick Savalas (from Geraka of Sparta), a Greek restaurant owner. When he entered Columbia University School of General Studies, Savalas took courses including English language, radio and psychology. At that time he fell in love with radio and television, which led to his interest in acting. In 1950, Savalas hosted a popular radio show called The Coffeehouse in NYC. Seem on the TV, Burt Lancaster choose him for his next film. I became Feto Gomez in «Birdmen of Alcatraz» with an nomination for Academy Award for 2nd actor. However, Savalas’s best-known role was as the star of the television series Kojak.
Other famous greek american actors of Greek « recent » descends are:
1. Nick Cassavetes -his photo above- is an American film actor, screenwriter, and filmmaker. His Father was the actor John Cassavetes and his grandparents were the Nicholas and Katerine Cassavetes born Demetre (actress) whose father was born in the Ottoman Empire. Nicholas from Larissa in Greece immigrated in the U.S in 1908. Nicholas move to California to stay close to his son John. Nick decided to attend his parents’ alma mater, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.
2. Jennifer Aniston’s father is John Anthony Aniston born Yannis Anastasakis. He angliced his name when he emigrated to the US when Aniston was two, in 1971. John Aniston is born in Chania in Creta Greece. Graduated from Pensylvania State University as bachelor in Theater Arts, he became an actor. Aniston graduated from Manhattan’s Fiorello H. LaGuardia to be an actress. She played the character of Rachel in the serie « friends » from 1994 until the show ended in 2004. In 2003, she won a Golden Globe for best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy.
3. Billy Zane is an American actor and producer. Both of his parents are of Greek descents : Thalia Zane from Chios island and William George from Mani in Peloponnese. Both of his parents ran a medical technical school. His original surname, « Zanetakos » was anglicized »Zane » by his parents. Soon after graduating high school, Billy decided to venture out to California to try his hand at acting. Within three weeks, he won his very first big screen role in Back to the Future (1985). Then, later, he played Hughie in Dead Calm and Caledon Hockley in Titanic
4. Zach Galifianakis is an actor and was born in north Carolina. His mother, Mary Frances (née Cashion) ran a community center for the arts, and his father, Harry Galifianakis immigrated to American at the age of three and as an adult he became a heating oil vendor. Galifianakis’ paternal grandparents emigrated from Creta, Greece. After more than a decade performing stand-up comedy and making both television and film appearances, Zach Galifianakis broke through to wider recognition with his co-starring role as « Alan Garner », in the comedy mega-hit The Hangover.
5. Here we are, I add today 21th of July 2013 the name of John Stamos. Stamos was born in the U.S. His is the son of Loretta Phillips) swimsuit model raised in England and Bill Stamos, a restaurateur of Greek descent. His name is originally John Philip Stamatopoulos. Young Stamos worked for the family’s fast-food eateries but finally his parents supported his artistic aspirations. His father agreed that Stamos should skip his first semester to take a legitimate shot at a professional acting career. Three weeks later, Stamos was cast as Blackie Parrish on ABC’s soap opera, General Hospital.
6. Nia Vardalos is an actress, screenwriter, director, singer and producer. She was born in 1962 in Canada. She is the daughter of Greek Canadian parents : Doreen, a bookkeeper and homemaker, and Constantine Vardalos, a land developer Her most notable work is the 2002 (Academy Award nominated film for writing) with My big fat Greek wedding (if you wish, by the DVD here on Amazon.com). You will see how Greek families live in the U.S.