While most fans know that Jennifer Aniston has Greek roots, most would be surprised to discover that her Greek great-grandfather actually fought in the Cretan Revolt against the Ottomans in 1878.
The discovery was made by a team of historians and professional genealogists at Greek Ancestry, a Greek genealogy service founded by historian and genealogist Gregory Kontos in 2020.
The Greek-American star’s father, John Aniston, was born Yiannis Anastasakis in Chania, Crete but moved to the US as a very small child.
The star’s roots in Crete
Like many Greek immigrants to America, he decided to shorten his name, going from Anastasakis to Aniston.
John Aniston is most famous for playing a Greek character, Victor Kiriakis, on the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives.”
His father, Antonios Anastasakis, was born in 1889 the village of Pervolakia, near Chania, on Crete.
Genealogists were able to access this information from the village’s “Male Register,” which was an important document stating the name, father’s name, birth date, and place of birth for every male in the village.
The Male Register was used to keep track of all men in the area for military purposes, so it is an incredibly useful document for those looking to explore their family history.
Greek Ancestry holds an extensive collection of Male Registers from many areas in Greece. Their collection spans the early nineteenth century through to the early twentieth century.
Antonios, Aniston’s grandfather, had three brothers who were also listed in the village’s Male Register, Eleftherios, Stavros, and Andreas.
Using information from this register, geneaologists from Greek Ancestry discovered the name of Antonios’ father, Ioannis Anastasakis, who was born in 1858.
Jennifer Aniston’s great-grandfather fought in the Cretan Revolt of 1878
Antonios Anastasakis first arrived in the US from Naples, Italy in 1910 aboard the SS Regina D’Italia. He arrived at the port of New York, and stated that he was visiting a cousin who lived in the city.
According to the port record, Aniston’s grandfather was 6 feet tall with dark hair and eyes. In the same year that he arrived, Antonios joined the military and became a US citizen.
He then went back to Greece, only to return to America in 1928 with his wife, Stella Anastasakis, and two of his children, Helen and Constantinos. John, Jennifer Aniston’s father, was born in Crete five year later, and then brought to the US when he was two years old.
It is through Stella, Aniston’s grandmother, that genealogists discovered an unlikely link between the Hollywood star and the 1878 Cretan Revolt against the Ottomans.
Stella Anastasakis was born Stella Koumis around 1900 in Charvata, a village near Chania, Crete. Her father, Markos Koumis, was born in 1858.
At just the age of just 20, Markos, Aniston’s great-grandfather, fought for Crete’s freedom from the Ottoman Empire in the Cretan Revolt of 1878.
Although the island remained under the yoke of the Ottomans until 1898, the revolt twenty years earlier results in the creation of the Pact of Halepa, which afforded the Cretans more autonomy, making it a major step in the island’s freedom.
Jennifer Aniston very proud of her Greek roots
Although born in the US, Aniston has a strong connection to Greece. When she was five years old, Aniston lived in Athens and then Crete for a short while with her family.
She is even connected to other famous Greeks in Hollywood, such as Telly Savalas, most famous for playing “Kojak”, who is her godfather.
Frequently ranking on lists of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, Jennifer Aniston is known for her ageless beauty and radiant smile.
Her beauty, and particularly her agelessness, are things that the actress credits to her Greek heritage. In an interview, Aniston stated:
“My dad is 100 percent Greek; he turned 81 and he barely has a wrinkle. And neither did my grandmother, who was 95 when she died.”
Greek Ancestry helps Greeks uncover their family history
Greek Ancestry provides Greeks of the diaspora unprecedented access not only to countless genealogical records, but also to assistance from professional genealogists with years of experience exploring Greek genealogy.
The Greek business has access to over 750,000 records, and will soon gain over one million. In addition to providing genealogical services such as free consultations and professional research services, Greek Ancestry also hosts educational conferences.
Last year, their virtual International Greek Ancestry Conference featured exceptional lectures and discussions from guests including historians Alexander Kitroeff, Gonda van Steen, Roderick Beaton, and former AHEPA Greece Governor Stathis Kefalidis.
The next conference will be held from January 28 to 30, 2022.
Greek Ancestry also offers a number of educational resources such as articles, webinars, and live presentations.