Like anyone else who is Greek American, some peoples’ names don’t immediately give them away as being of Greek heritage. There are many prominent Greek American celebrities who you might not have guessed are Greek. They are talented, philanthropic, visionary, and best of all, fellow Greeks!
1. Tina Fey: The 30 Rock actress was actually born Elizabeth Stamatina Fey to a Greek American mother and a Scottish father. She is a widely successful comedic actress and writer.
2. Hank Azaria: This popular actor’s grandparents on both his mother and father’s sides came from Greece. He has portrayed Italian and Spanish characters, as well as done extensive voice acting for The Simpsons.
3. Jennifer Aniston: Most people know that Jennifer Aniston is Greek, thanks to her father being a famous actor on the soap Days of Our Lives, but still- that’s a pretty powerful Greek American actress to add to our list!
4. Zach Galifianakis: This Greek American actor got a great deal of attention for his role in The Hangover films. His comedy show, Between Two Ferns, has become a hit, interviewing people of all kinds, including President Obama. Zach was baptized in the Greek Orthodox church and his grandparents came to the US from Crete.
5. Betty White: The Golden Girls alum (and only living Golden Girl) is ¼ Greek. Her recent popularity has sky-rocketed, and she stars on Hot in Cleveland on TV Land, making countless appearances in films and on television.
6. Billy Zane: Probably best known for playing Cal, Rose’s fiancé, in James Cameron’s Titanic, Billy Zane was born of two Greek American parents.
7. Criss Angel: Arguably the most popular and well-known magician in the US, Criss Angel was born Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos and with that last name, quite clearly a Greek American from his father’s side. He currently has a residency in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Luxor Hotel & Casino.
8. Alexander Payne: This Greek American director was born to two parents who both have Greek ancestry, and has directed many successful, award-winning films. Originally from Nebraska, Alexander Payne won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his films Sideways (which also won best picture in 2005) and the same award for his film The Descendants (which also won best picture in 2011), starring George Clooney. He was nominated for Best Director for his 2013 film, Nebraska, starring Bruce Dern.
9. Tommy Lee: Best known for being the drummer of the band Motley Crue, Tommy Lee was actually born in Athens. Born Thomas Lee Bass, Tommy grew up in California, and went on to play drums on all of Motley Crue’s multi-platinum albums and have a successful solo career as well.
10. David Sedaris: This New York Times Best-Selling writer, most recently noted for his book Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris is Greek from his father’s side. He has been nominated for a Grammy Award for reading his books, and has written about his experiences growing up as a Greek American.
It’s always exciting to see Greek Americans doing great things, especially when they turn out to be some of our favorite celebrities and we didn’t even know the heritage we share with them!