Ten People You Didn’t Know Were Armenian

  • Tulip Joshi – Model and Bollywood actress, Joshi is half Gujarati and half Lebanese-Armenian. After graduating with a degree in food science and chemistry, Joshi appeared in advertising campaigns for Ponds, Pepsi, Siyaram and Smirnoff. Her foray into the world of Bollywood wasn’t planned. While attending the wedding of Aditya Chopra, son of director Yash Chopra, she was noticed and subsequently cast in “Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai.” After a two year break from cinema due to severe back problems, Joshi starred in “Matrubhoomi” and “Dil Maange More.” Joshi plays a suicide bomber in the 2007 film “Dhokha,” directed by Pooja Bhutt, who also shares Joshi’s Armenian lineage on her mother’s side.
  • A.I. Bezzerides – Novelist and screenwriter, who is perhaps best known for writing Noir motion pictures and his script “Kiss Me Deadly,” Albert Isaac Bezzerides, was the son of an Armenian mother and a Turkish-speaking Greek father. Born in Turkey, he moved to Fresno with his parents before he was 2. Bezzerides grew up with William Saroyan and wrote short stories while studying at UC Berkeley according to the Los Angeles Times.”They Drive By Night,” starring Humphrey Bogart and George Raft was based on Bezzerides’ 1938 novel, “The Long Haul.” Warner Bros. offered him $2,000 for the movie rights of the novel, and he also was offered a screen writing contract which he swooped up to end his career as a communications engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.Three of his short stories appear in the anthology, “Forgotten Bread: Armenian American Writers of the First Generation” published by Heyday Books in Berkeley
  • John Herald – Born in Manhattan in 1939 to an Armenian father, John Herald was an American folk and bluegrass songwriter and musician who was a one-time member of the The Greenbriar Boys trio. Inspired by Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly through his father, Herald formed The Greenbriar Boys in 1959 with Bob Yellin and Eric Weissberg. After being signed to Vanguard Records, Linda Ronstadt recorded Herald’s “High Muddy Water.” After the trio split up, he recorded a solo album for Paramount Records. His last recording was “Roll on John” in 2000, however he was working on new material in 2005 when his body was found in his home in West Hurley, New York. Police have suspected suicide.
  • Leon Orbeli – Originally born as Levon in Tsakhadzor, Armenia. Orbeli ( which might have been “Orbelian” originally, perhaps?) was a physiologist who, while still a student in the Military Medical Academy in St. Petersburg, began to work in the laboratory of Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, who you might remember from your psychology courses as the man responsible for the phenomenon known as classical conditioning. Orbeli was Pavlov’s assistant in the Department of Physiology at the Institute for Experimental Medicine from 1907 to 1920 and after Pavlov’s death in 1936, he was named director of the Pavlov Institute. Besides his work with Pavlov, Orbeli contributed a great deal to the development of evolutionary physiology and wrote more than 200 works on experimental and theoretical science
  • Stephanie (singer)Stephanie, singer and songwriter who has the ability to sing in five octaves and use the whistle register is half Japanese and half Armenian. She currently lives in Tokyo and is signed to Sony Music Japan. Stephanie, who used to live in California, was discovered at the age of 14, after sending an audio demo tape to Japanese music producer Joe Rinoie. Her first single “Kimi ga Iru Kagiri” debuted on May 30, 2007, while her second single “Because of You” was released that same year in August. She has since won the “Best Artist Award” at the 49th Japan Record Awards, has sang the theme to the television anime series, “Mobile Suit Gundam 00″ and is making her film debut in the 2009 film “Pride” based on Yukari Ichijo’s manga.
  • Joe Strummer – Perhaps the most well known name on this list, The Clash co-founder and lead singer had partial Armenian ancestry and was also part Jewish and Scottish. Born John Graham Mellor in Ankara, Turkey, Strummer spent his childhood all over the globe in places such as Cairo, Mexico City and Bonn. He developed his flavor for rock music by listening to records by Little Richard and The Beach Boys as well as Woody Guthrie. “The Clash” catapulted to fame after making their debut in 1976, opening for the Sex Pistols in Sheffield, England. With songs about racism, political repression and unemployment, “The Class” became one of the most political and iconic bands in rock and roll. Their album “London Calling” was voted best albut of the 1980s by Rolling Stone magazine, and countless bands can name them as an influence. Sadly, Strummer passed away in 2002 due to a congenital heart defect. An album he was working on named “Streetcore” was released posthumously.

  • Carol Black – You might not know Carol Black by name, but chances are your mother has watched a movie and perhaps sobbed on the network she heads: Lifetime. This 64-year-old TV executive became president and CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services in 1999 and tripled the network’s programming budget to about $300 million for 2002, according to Business Week Online. Black, who has headed KNBC in Los Angeles was raised by her Armenian grandparents after her parents’ divorce. Heading up Lifetime allowed her to reach out to women, something she has stated she is very passionate about. Black has also been named as one of “America’s 100 Most Important Women” by Ladies Home Journal and dubbed as one of the “Top Women in Entertainment by The Hollywood Reporter.
  • Anna Eshoo – A Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives for 14 years, Anna Eshoo is of Assyrian and Armenian heritage and represents California’s 14th congressional district, otherwise known as the “heart of Silicon Valley,” which includes Redwood City, Cupertino, Sunnyvale and Palo Alto. A strong supporter of the gay rights movement, Eshoo has also endorsed an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act to protect indigenous Assyrian Christians in Iraq from religious persecution. You might also be interested to know that she introduced legislation to help combat the problem of spam. The CAN-SPAM Act was passed in 2003 and authorized a “Do Not Spam” list and also imposes fine on spammers. Most recently, Eshoo endorsed Senator Barack Obama for President.

  • Rien Long – Just by name alone, you wouldn’t be able to guess in the slightest that this American football defensive lineman for the Tennessee Titans has Armenian lineage. Although only one fourth Armenian, Long cherishes his background and has a tattoo of the seventh letter of the Armenian alphabet over an Armenian flag. Long took a trip to Armenian in 2006 to explore his roots and was featured in the documentary, “The Long Journey from the NFL to Armenia.” Long suffered injuries in a car crash on Jan. 21, 2008, when his vehicle crashed into a rockwall while driving on a freeway ramp in Nashville.

  • Ara Darzi, Baron Darzi of Denham –A leading surgeon in the field of minimally invasive robot-assisted surgery, Darzi was born in Iraq and lived there until moving to Ireland when he was 17-years-old. Darzi, who became a British citizen in 2002, has been awarded knighthood for his services to medicine and also elevated to peerage. His work in minimally invasive surgery earned him the Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence in 2004. In 2007, he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health by Prime Minster Gordon Brown. Most recently, Darzi carried out a review of the NHS entitled “High Quality Care for All” which was published on June, 30, 2008.



Related Posts