A Greek American is a citizen of the United States of Greek heritage or descent. According to the 2000 U.S. Census Report, there were 1,153,295 people of Greek heritage living in the United States that year, while according to the State Department in 2005 an estimated 3,000,000 Americans residents in the United States claim Greek descent. 365,435 Americans spoke Greek at home. Greek Americans have a heavy concentration in New York City (most notably in Astoria, in the NYC borough of Queens), Detroit, and Chicago. Tarpon Springs, Florida is also home to a large Greek-American community.
A young Greek-American immigrant on Ellis Island, New York late 19th early 20th century – Hulton ArchiveThe first Greek known to have arrived on U.S. soil was a man named Don Theodoro, who landed on Florida with the Narváez expedition in 1528 . He died during the expedition, as did most of his companions.
In 1592 Greek captain Juan de Fuca ( Ioannis Fokas or Apostolos Valerianos,) sailed up the Pacific Coast in search of the fabled Northern Passage between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. He reported discovering a body of water that was later identified as the strait that today bears his name. The Juan de Fuca Strait forms part of the International Boundary between the United States and Canada.
In 1768, about 500 Greeks from Smyrna, Crete and Mani settled in New Smyrna, Florida (near present-day New Smyrna Beach). The colony was unsuccessful, and the settlers moved to St. Augustine, Florida in 1776, where their traces were lost to history.
The first significant Greek community to develop was in New Orleans during the 1850s. By 1866 the community was numerous and prosperous enough to have a Greek consulate and the first Greek Orthodox church in the United States.. During that period, most Greek immigrants to the New World came from Asia Minor, and those Aegean islands still under Ottoman rule. By 1890, there were almost 15,000 Greeks living in the U.S.
Immigration picked up in the 1890s, mostly because economic opportunity in the U.S., displacement caused by the hardships of Ottoman rule, the Balkan Wars and World War I. 450,000 Greeks arrived to the States between 1890 and 1917, most working in the cities of the Northeast and smaller numbers hired labor for the railroads and mines of the American West; another 70,000 arrived between 1918 and 1924.
Greek immigration, contrasted with most other European immigrantion to the US, at this time was over 90% male (Italian and Irish immigration which averaged 50% to 60% male). Many Greek immigrants expected to work and return to their homeland after earning capital and dowries for their families. Two factors changed attitudes and facilitated permanent immigration. 1) Loss of homeland: In 1913 at the conclusion of the Balkan Wars, the home towns of 60,00 Greeks in America were converted to Bulgarian territory, and in 1923 the homes of approximately 250,000 Greeks in America were converted from Ottoman to Turkish territory and in both cases these Greeks were de jure denaturalized from those homelands and lost the right of return and their familes were made refugees. 2) The first widely implimented US immigration limits against Europeans were made in 1923, creating an impetus for immigrants to apply for citizenship, bring their families and permanently settle in the U.S. Less than 30,000 arrived between 1925 and 1945, many of whom were “picture brides” for single Greek men.
The events of the early 1920’s also provided the stimulus for the first permanent national Greek American religious and civic organizations.
Greeks again began to arrive in large numbers after 1945, fleeing the economic devastation caused by World War II and the Greek Civil War. From 1946 until 1982, approximately 211,000 Greeks emigrated to the United States. These later immigrants were less influenced by the powerful assimilationst pressures of the 1920’s and 1930’s and revitalized Greek American identity, especially in areas such as Greek language media.
After the 1981 admission of Greece to the European Union, numbers fell to an average of less than 2,000 annually. In recent years, Greek immigration to the United States has been minimal; in fact net migration has been towards Greece. Over 72,000 U.S. citizens currently live in Greece (1999); most of them are Greek Americans.
The predominant religion among Greeks and Greek-Americans is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. There are also a number of Americans who descend from Greece’s large Sephardic and Romaniote Jewish communities.
The popular 1970s show Kojak featured Telly Savalas as Greek-American police detective Theo Kojak, and his brother George as Detective Stavros. Kojak was originally supposed to be Polish (hence the name), but this was changed to match Savalas’ profile.
The 2002 comedy film My Big Fat Greek Wedding portrayed the love story of a Greek-American woman (portrayed by Greek Canadian Nia Vardalos) and a non-Greek-American man. It also examines the protagonist’s troubled love/hate relationship with her cultural heritage and value system. The movie spawned an unsuccessful TV series, My Big Fat Greek Life.
The Famous Teddy Z was an acclaimed but short-lived TV series about a fictional talent agent named Teddy Zakalakis, portrayed by Jon Cryer.
The TV series Full House was about a family that included Greek-American Uncle Jesse, portrayed by John Stamos. Jesse’s Greek dad was also recurring character.
The Greek Restaurant was a recurring sketch in the early years of Saturday Night Live. More recently, Tina Fey has often joked about her Greek heritage on the show.
Tom’s Restaurant, a Greek-American owned business, has become one of the symbols of urban New York life.
Elektra Natchios is a Marvel Comics superhero, portrayed by Jennifer Garner in the 2005 movie Elektra.
In the 1973 blockbuster The Exorcist, Jason Miller starred as Greek-American Father Damien Karras, one of the priests who exorcised young Regan. In one scene, Karras’ mother, played by Greek actress Vasiliki Maliaros, is listening to a Greek radio station broadcasting the song Ιστορία μου αμαρτία μου (My Story, My sin) by the late popular Greek singer Rita Sakellariou.
Tommy Lee, drummer for Motley Crüe, is Greek-American.
There are hundreds of regional, religious and professional Greek-American organizations. Some of the largest and most notable include:
AHEPA — the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, is the largest community organization of Greek Americans. It was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1922 during a period of anti-Greek attacks by the Ku Klux Klan. Its current membership exceeds 18,000.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is the religious organization most closely associated with the Greek-American community. It was established in 1921, and is under the leadership of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople. The church operates the Greek Orthodox Youth of America (GOYA), the largest Greek youth group in the United States.
The American Hellenic Institute, a lobbying group for Greek Americans.
The Council of Hellenes Abroad is a Greek government sponsored umbrella organization for Greek immigrant organizations worldwide.
The PAIDEIA organization- USA is an organization promoting the preservation of Hellenic education and culture in the United States.
The National Hellenic Student Association is a PAIDEIA sponsored University based organization promoting Hellenic culture on university campuses.
Many topika somatea or clubs representing the local regional homeland of Greeks in America. Among the scores of such clubs, larger ones include the Pan Macedonian Association, the Panepirotic Federation, the Pan Cretan Association, the Pan Pontian Federation of U.S.A-Canada and several associations of refugees from areas in the former Ottoman territories.
Jennifer Aniston (1969 – ) Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning film/television actress, perhaps best known for her role on the sitcom Friends
Alexander Scourby, actor and narrator
Mena Suvari (1979 – ) film actress (“American Pie”, “American Beauty”)
Kary Antholis, Senior Vice President for Miniseries at HBO
George Argyros, founder of real estate company Amel & Affiliates
Elias Betzios Born June 21, 1926, founder and CEO of Betzios Pizza, Ellios Petsapayia Don’t tell the Chancellor to cancel lunch with young investment bankers for you. Don’t tell Archbishop Anastasios what to do. Don’t leave just because speaker has no tie. Don’t call a low interest loan to the church a donation.
Jason Calacanis, young entrepreneur & founded of Weblogs, Inc.
John Calamos, founder of Calamos Investments
Michael Capellas, (Greek Father) terminal CEO of MCI & Compaq
John Catsimatidis, USA 34th wealhtiest, Red-Apple, Gristides, Refineries, Banks
Tom Carvel1, founder of the Carvel franchise
Philip Christopher, President of Audiovox Communications Corp
Christos Cotsakos, co-founder of E*Trade
Nicholas Davatzes, president and CEO of A&E Television Networks
Demoulas Brothers, founders of the DeMoulas’ Market Basket
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase
Peter Diamandis, magazine entrepreneur, founder of the International Space University
Elena Ford, Ford Motor Company executive. (Greek Father)
Jim Gianopoulos, Fox President
Bill Jemas, former publisher of Marvel Comics & former executive vice president of Marvel Entertainment Group
Peter Karmanos, Jr., founder, president & CEO of Compuware and owner of the NHL team Carolina Hurricanes
Ted Leonsis Vice Chair of AOL
George P. Mitchell, original developer of The Woodlands,
Peter M. Nicholas Cofounder Boston Scientific Corporation
Alexander Pantages, vaudeville and early motion picture producer and impresario
Constantine Papadakis, president of Drexel University
Greg Papadopoulos, senior vice president and CTO officer of Sun Microsystems Inc.
Peter Peterson, (Petropoulos) ex CEO Bell&Howell, Lehman Bros, Chair Council on Foreign Relns, chair BlackStone, Nixon Commerce Scy
Ted Phillips, president & CEO of the NFL team Chicago Bears
John Rigas, founder of Adelphia Communications Corporation
Peter Scalchunes, founder and EVP of Scales Industrial Technologies
William Scalchunes, founder and CEO of Scales Industrial Technologies
Stratton Sclavos, president & CEO of Verisign
Charles Skouras1, movie magnate, president of Fox Coast West & National Pictures
George Skouras1, movie magnate, president of United Artists
Spyros Skouras1, movie magnate, president of 20th Century Fox
Alex Spanos, California realty magnate, chaired Amer Bible Society
Leo Stefanos, inventor of DOVEBAR®
William Tavoulareas, president of Mobil Oil Corporation
Anthony Thomopoulos, Television Executive
Chris P. Tomaras, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, President of the Council of Hellenes Abroad (Americas)
Georgios Tsaoussis, founder and past CEO of Scales Industrial Technologies
Munelaos Tzurlios, Born December 21,1935. Skoplje blue eyes. founder and past CEO of Allocca Pizza current CEO Astron 15-59-144 Candles Bring back Fr Nikolaos Kouvaris
P. Roy Vagelos, former Chairman and CEO of Merck “Most Admired USA CEO”
Ed Zander, CEO of Motorola and former president of Sun Microsystems (Greek Mother)
Patricia Field – fashion designer
James Galanos – fashion designer
Peter Speliopoulos – vice President, DKNY design
Patrick Tatopoulos – special effects & creature designer
Dean Tavoularis – Academy Award winner for Best Art Direction (“Godfather ΙΙ”)
John Varvatos – fashion designer
Nick Verreos – American fashion designer
Alexandra Cassavetes, director, daughter of John Cassavetes
John Cassavetes1, movie director
Nick Cassavetes – movie director
George Pan Cosmatos1, film director, Tombstone, Rambo: First Blood Part II
Milton Katselas, director & Hollywood acting teacher
Elia Kazan1, movie director, two times Academy Award winner for Gentleman’s Agreement and On the Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, Viva Zapata, East of Eden
Gregory Markopoulos, film director, New American Cinema of the 1960s
Andrew Moskos, producer/owner of Boom Chicago
Alexander Payne, Academy award winning movie director
Phedon Papamichael Director/Cinematographer
Alexis Poledouris – theater director
Andy Sidaris, film director of cult B-movie films
Penelope Spheeris, director, Wayne΄s world
Alden Partridge Colvocoresses, USA (Col. Ret.), developer of the first satellite map of the United States
George Colvocoresses, commander of the Saratoga during the American Civil War
George Partridge Colvocoresses, led a distinguished military career rising to the rank of Admiral
George Dilboy, first Greek-American to receive US Army Medal of Honor
Charles Moskos, leading military sociologist in the US Military. Author of Greek Americans: Struggle and Success.
William Pagonis, retired three-star U.S. Army General & Chairman of the Board/Director for Railamerica, Inc.
George Sirian, Served in the US Navy with distinction for nearly fifty years
Peter G. Tsouras, retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army
Kristi Lauren Glakas – Miss Virginia 2006
Joey Hart (1985 – ) Penthouse model
Maria Lekkakos – Miss Massachusetts 2003
Becky and Jessie O’Donohue -American Idol contestant and model
Suzi Simpson – model, actress and aspiring screenwriter
Maurice Abravanel – conductor
Teddy Andreadis, keyboardist
The Andrews Sisters – singers
Art Alexis – singer/songwriter/guitarist. aka Art Alexakis from the band Everclear (Greek Father)
Annette Artani – singer/songwriter
John Cacavas, composer & conductor
Maria Callas – considered one of the greatest opera sopranos of all time
Kelly Clarkson – American Idol (Season 1) winner
Greg Dulli – musician
The Fiery Furnaces – indie rock band
Diamanda Galás – performance artist, vocalist, and composer
Steven Karidoyanes – composer, broadcaster and conductor with Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra
Wayne Kramer – guitarist for Motor City Five
Tommy Lee – heavy metal drummer
Constantine Maroulis – singer/stage actor/American Idol (Season 4) finalist
Dimitris Mitropoulos – world renowned symphony conductor
Becky O’Donohue – singer and American Idol (Season 5) semi-finalist
Tony Orlando – singer
Johnny Otis – rhythm and blues musician
Shuggie Otis – rock, blues & funk guitarist and songwriter
Basil Poledouris – film composer
Zoë Poledouris – composer/singer
Jim Sclavunos – drummer for Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Derek Sherinian – virtuoso rock and jazz fusion keyboardist
Chris Trousdale (1985 – ) singer, former Dream Street member
Tatiana Troyanos – mezzo – soprano
The Vanity Set – alternative/rebetiko rock band
Jim Verraros (1983 – ) singer/entertainer, one of the top 10 finalists in the first season of American Idol
Yanni – New Age musician
Yannimon- Yannis Panagiotis Singer,Songwriter, Multi-instrumentalist Sponge Docks Tarpon Springs Florida USA
Christopher Makos, photographer for Calvin Klein, Esquire & Andy Warhol
George Tames, photographer for the New York Times from 1945-1985.
Panagiotis (Peter) Mitoulas, documenatry, fine art photographer. Born 02/21/1976 in Toronto, Canada. Featured in numerous publications in North America, South America and Europe
Spiro Agnew1, former Vice President of the United States (Greek father)
Art Agnos, former mayor of San Francisco
Phil Angelides, state treasurer of California GOAL/VOITHIA Archaphellinizon
George Argyros, US ambassador to Spain
Shelley Berkley Member of Congress (Greek Sephardic Jewish mother)
Michael Bilirakis, congressman from Florida.
Helen Boosalis, Mayor of Lincoln NE
John Brademas Former Member of Congress and Former President of New York University, former chair of Fed Reserve Bank of NY, (Episcopalean, Greek father, English mother)
George Christopher1, former mayor of San Francisco
Michael Dukakis, former governor of Massachusetts; 1988 Democratic Presidential Candidate
Nick Galifianakis, former Representative D-NC
George Gekas, former congressman from Pennsylvania
Theodore Kanavas, Republican State Senator from Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Ron Klink, former Representative from Pennsylvania,
Tom C. Korologos, U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Reagan lobbyist
Andy Manatos, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce under LBJ
Nicholas Mavroules, Congressman from Massachusetts
Sylvia Mathews, National Economic Commission staff
John Negroponte, United States Director of National Intelligence
Peter Peterson First Greek American Cabinet Officer, Head of Blackstone Group
John Podesta, White House Chief of Staff under President Bill Clinton
Paul Sarbanes, U.S. Senator representing the state of Maryland
Harry Scolinos, attorney, businessman and politician
Tasia Scolinos, Justice Department Director Of Public Affairs
Olympia Snowe, Republican Senator from Maine
George Stephanopoulos, political commentator, Former White House Communications Director, Rhodes scholar, Columbia valedictorian
George Tenet, former CIA-Director
Dina Titus (1950 – ) current Minority Leader in the Nevada State Senate, United States
Frances Townsend, assistant to the President and Homeland Security Advisor (Greek father)
Paul Tsongas1, former senator from Massachusetts
Gus Yatron, Former Pennsylvania Congressman and boxer
Harry Zikas, Jr., Mayor of Alpha, New Jersey
Diogenes Allen, Professor of Philosophy
Saul Amarel, Artificial Intelligence pioneer
Paul Alivisatos, nanotechnologist
Chris Argyris, distinguished lifetime contributor to theory and practice of management
Constantine A. Balanis, electrical engineer
Leda Cosmides, psychologist
Michael Dertouzos, innovator & director of the M.I.T. LCS
Persi Diaconis, mathematician
Peter Diamandopoulos, former President of Adelphi University
George A. Economou, optical systems expert
Matina Souretis Horner, former President of Radcliffe College which
was affiliated with Harvard University
Paris Kanellakis1, computer scientist
Menas Kafatos, quantum physicist
Peter Liacouras, former President of Temple University
Nicholas Metropolis, physicist
Andreas Gerasimos Michalitsianos, NASA astrophysicist
Tom Maniatis, biologist
Dimitris Nanopoulos, theoretical physicist
Nicholas Negroponte, scientist, MIT Media Lab founder and director
Alexander Nehamas, professor of philosophy
Kyriacos Costa Nicolaou, chemist
Constantine Papadakis, president of Drexel University
George Papanicolaou, created the Pap Smear, and more generally, the field of cytopathology
Spiro Pappas, professor of international business, Mercer University, Atlanta, GA
John Allen Paulos, mathematician
Argyrios N. Theofilopoulos, immunologist
Tom Ypsilantis, physicist
Panayiotis Zavos, geneticist (Greek parents)
Harry “the Golden Greek” Agganis1, football and baseball player
Peter Angelos, owner of the Baltimore Orioles
Clay Bellinger, of the Baltimore Orioles
Annastasia Batikis, played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1945
Al Campanis, MLB player and executive of the Dodgers
Jimmy Carson, NHL hockey player, (Original family surname Kyriazopoulos)
Chris Chelios, NHL hockey player
Tara Dakides, Pro Snowboarder and Champion from California
Chris Farasopoulos, football player, played for the NY Jets
Alex Grammas, MLB manager and infielder for St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs.
Laird Hamilton, surfer born Laird John Zerfas, (Greek father)
Maria Kanellis, of WWE RAW, Greek father
Dean Karnazes, ultramarathon champion, writer, businessman
Mike Karakas, NHL Player for the Islanders 1935-1946
Alex Karras, NFL player, wrestler and actor
Eric Karros, Major League Baseball player for the Dodgers
Bobby Kingsbury, baseball player for Pittsburgh Pirates
Frank Klopas, soccer player for the Chicago Sting, U.S. national team and AEK Athens
Niko Koutouvides, linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks
Nick Kypreos, NHL hockey player
Alexi Lalas, soccer player
Kay Lionikas, played in the [[All-American Girls Professional (correct spelling of last name)
Kay Lionikdas, played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1948-1950
Billy Loes, MLB Pitcher for the Dodgers and other teams
Jim Londos, Champion Wrestler during the 1930s.
Greg Louganis (Greek by adoption; ethnically Samoan and Swedish), athlete
Nick Markakis (1983 – ) outfielder who currently plays for the Baltimore Orioles
Tino Martinez, retired first baseman in Major League Baseball
Aaron Miles, MLB player for the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox, and Colorado Rockies (paternal grandmother)
Gus Niarhos, Major League Baseball Yankees, White Sox, Red Sox, Phillies
Hanshi John Pachivas, martial arts (World Martial Arts Hall of Fame)
Milt Pappas, MLB Pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds and other teams
June Peppas, played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1948-1954
George Parros, NHL hockey player
Lonnie Paxton, NFL New England Patriots long-snapper 01/02/03 seasons(half Greek)
George Petrakopoulos, CEOBL basketball player for the St. Barbara Acolytes
Pete Pihos, NFL player (Pro Football Hall of Fame)
Joseph Pilates, inventor of the Pilates (Greek father)
Dawn Marie Psaltis (Dawn Marie), former WWE diva
Dusty Rhodes, MLB player for New York Giants and San Francisco Giants
Pete Sampras, tennis player (Greek parents from Sparta)
Fred Smerlas, football player for Buffalo Bills & New England Patriots
Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder1, sports commentator
Alex Spanos, owner of the San Diego Chargers
Trish Stratus,WWE Diva (Greek father)
Matt Stover, NFL player, kicker for Baltimore Ravens
Craig Titus, American bodybuilder (Greek father)
Gus Triandos , MLB player for the Baltimore Orioles and other teams
Jake Tsakalidis, NBA player for Memphis Grizzlies & Phoenix Suns
Garo Yepremian, NFL player (Greek Cypriot origin)
Ernie Anastos, WNYW-New York co-anchorman
Thalia Assuras, TV reporter
John Bolaris, WCBS-New York meteorologist
Chris Hondros, photojournalist (Greek father)
Bob Costas, NBC sportscaster (Greek father)
Mike Galanos, CNN/Sports Illustrated anchor
Paul Glastris, editor in chief of The Washington Monthly
Debbie Matenopoulos, journalist, talk show host
Bob Papa, Sports anchor and announcer
Dino Stamatopoulos, television comedy writer, actor and producer who has worked on Mr. Show, TV Funhouse, Mad TV, Moral Orel, and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
Chloe Aridjis writer, (daughter of Greek-Mexican Homero Aridjis and American Betty Ferber de Aridjis)
A. I. Bezzerides, novelist and screenwriter
Rae Dalven1, author and academic (Romaniote – Greek Jewish)
Jeffrey Eugenides (1960 – ) novelist and short story writer
Tina Fey, comedienne, head writer of Saturday Night Live (Greek mother)
Nicholas Gage, reporter for the Wall Street Journal, author Eleni
Panio Gianopoulos (1974 – ) writer and editor for Bloomsbury
George Gregoriou, professor the William Paterson University, writer
Paul Kemprecos, writer/author
David Long, writer/author
Nick Mamatas, author
Anastasios Manettas, author
George Pelecanos, author
Stephanos Papadopoulos, poet, translator
David Sedaris, essayist and radio contributor
Vanessa Grigoriadis, contributing editor for New York magazine and Rolling Stone magazine
Christopher Bonanos, senior editor at New York magazine
Criss Angel, magician
Pete Athans, mountaineer
Constantino Brumidi, important artist of the Capitol (Greek Father – Italian mother)
Yiorgos Caralambo, one of the eight men hired by US Army in 1856 to lead the camel driver experiment in the Southwest.
Cat Cora, Iron Chef on Food Network’s Iron Chef America
Nick “the Greek” Dandolos1, gambler
Gracia Dura Bin1, early settler, wife of Dr. Andrew Turnbull
Natalie Fotopoulos (1983 – ) dance teacher who is in the top 6 of the FOX reality show, So You Think You Can Dance
Iakovos1, former Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America, Harvard professor, Selma marcher, President World Council of Churches
George Lois, advertising executive (ESPN, USA Today, Xerox, MTV, Wolfschmidt, Tommy Hilfiger), “Fizz Fizz What a Relief it Is”, “No Dancing in the (a)Isles” “Crazy People” (Big break hired by Rossides for Javits 1960)
Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, the blogger behind Daily Kos (Greek father)
Jack Pierce1, acclaimed make up artist
Valerie Solanas, attempted assassin of Andy Warhol
Paul Vallas, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools
Nick Venet, record producer
Philip Tedro, hired by US Army in 1856 to lead the camel driver experiment in the Southwest.
Prince Peter of Yugoslavia, grandson of the late Alexandra of Greece, the queen of Yugoslavia, herself daughter of Aspasia Manos
Prince Philip of Yugoslavia, grandson of the late Alexandra of Greece, the queen of Yugoslavia, herself daughter of Aspasia Manos
Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia, grandson of the late Alexandra of Greece, the queen of Yugoslavia, herself daughter of Aspasia Manos
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