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10 Celebrities You’d Never Guess are of Greek Descent

Betty White celebrities greek celebrity
Betty White who passed away in December 2021 was another celebrity of Greek descent. Credit: Angela George/ Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0

There are many celebrities who have Greek names and speak of their Greek heritage all of the time. However, there are also a bunch of famous people who are of Greek descent that might surprise you!

Let’s take a look at some of the most famous celebrities who are part Greek.

Hank Azaria is the grandchild of Jewish Greeks from Thessaloniki

Celebrities Greek
Hank Azaria with a fan in New York. The actor is of Greek-Jewish descent. Credit: Greg 2600/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

Hank Azaria has a Greek-Jewish background, as both his maternal and paternal grandparents came from the city of Thessaloniki in northern Greece.

Before World War II, the city was home to a thriving population of Sephardic Jewish-Greeks. During the Nazi Occupation of Greece, a significant portion of the city’s Jews were murdered at concentration camps in Europe.

Many of those who survived fled to the US or Israel.

The Greek-American celebrity is famous for his work on TV shows such as The Simpsons, where he voices many of the show’s iconic characters, and Friends.

Betty White, one of America’s most beloved celebrities, was of Greek descent

Surprisingly, everyone’s favorite “American sweetheart over 90,” Betty White, was of Greek descent, as her maternal grandfather was Greek.

Her life was amazing on many different levels. Growing up in Oak Park, Illinois, she blazed a trail for female television executives from the beginning, going on to stardom on TV which spanned decades.

White died in December 2021 at the age of 99. Her 100th birthday would have been on January 17, 2022.

Angie Harmon

Law and Order star Angie Harmon is also of Greek descent! The beautiful celebrity was born in Texas to a Greek-American mother and German and Irish-American father.

The model and actress is also known for her role as the tough, brash Italian-American detective Jane Rizzoli in the hit show Rizzoli & Isles, which ended in 2016.

American Idol winner and TV host Kelly Clarkson has Greek heritage


kelly clarkson
Kelly Clarkson performs during opening ceremonies for the 2018 Warrior Games. Credit: DoD News/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Kelly Clarkson was the winner of the first season hit reality television show American Idol, which launched her career as a singer, songwriter, and actress. Clarkson now hosts her own daytime talk show called The Kelly Clarkson Show.

What you might not know about the celebrity is that she is of Greek, Irish, Welsh, and German descent.

Comedian Tina Fey is Greek!

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Tina Fey is half-Greek. Credit: Mingle Media TV/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

Tina Fey, superstar actress and comedian known for her work on 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live was born to a Greek mother from Piraeus.

Fey’s real name is Elizabeth Stamatina Fey.

Rocker Tommy Lee was born in Athens

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Tommy Lee. Credit: Glenn Francis/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee is known for his rock star lifestyle. What many may not know is that the musician was born in Athens to a Greek mother and American father.

His mother represented Greece in the Miss World beauty pageant in 1960.

Celebrity magician Criss Angel is Greek-American

World-famous celebrity magician Criss Angel is Greek!

Angel was born Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos on Long Island, New York. He decided to pursue a career in magic rather than going to college, and, voilà, he is one of the most popular magicians of his time!

Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston Greek Friends reunion
Jennifer Aniston. Credit: Angela George/Wikimedia Commons/ CC-BY-SA-3.0

You might think that everyone knows that the beautiful celebrity is Greek. However, some people are still surprised to hear this!

Jennifer Aniston’s father, John Aniston, was born Yiannis Anastassakis in Chania, Crete, but moved to the US as a very small child.

Like many Greek immigrants to America, he decided to shorten his name from Anastassakis to Aniston.

Aniston is also the god-daughter of the famous Greek-American actor Telly (Aristotelis) Savalas.

Rita Wilson, one of the most vocal celebrities of Greek descent

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson celebrate their 33rd annivesary
Credit: Instagram/Rita Wilson

Although Rita Wilson is quite vocal about her love for Greece and visits the country quite often with her husband Tom Hanks, many may not know that the actress is Greek herself.

Wilson’s mother, Dorothea Tzigkou, was Greek and born in Albania near the Greek border while her father was Bulgarian and born in Greece. He was a member of the Pomak minority.

Legendary filmmaker Elia Kazan and granddaughter Zoe Kazan

Elia Kazan
Elia Kazan. Credit: Public Domain

Elia Kazan, born Ilias Kazantzoglou, is known for directing the classic films A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront. He was born in Istanbul and was of Greek descent.

The legendary director released the film America America about the journey of a Greek immigrant from Asia Minor to the US, a story that mirrored his own.

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Zoe Kazan. Credit: Bridget Laudien/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

His granddaughter, Zoe, is a screenwriter, actress, and playwright, known for her role in the 2017 smash hit The Big Sick.

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