Hollywood Actors With Romanian Heritage

Bran Castle aka Dracula’s Castle

Dracula was invented by Bram Stoker. He took one bloody Romanian emperor, Vlad the Impaler and one gloomy Castle in the region of Transylvania, central Romania and made a best seller. Dracula became a symbol and put Romania on the world map and we could have turn this into huge profit.

But of course we didn’t, we aren’t and probably we will never will, even though, basically, the job is half done. I mean, I have seen a Dracula’s haunted castle at Niagara Falls, in Canada, so apparently, who doesn’t have a Dracula castle, builds one. We have the emperor, we have the castle, what we don’t have is someone to do the promoting job for us…Whatever…

What many people don’t know is that even the actor in the first Dracula movie with sound, Bela Lugosi, was born in Lugoj, Romania and when he became an actor, he chose the name of his birth place as a last name. Back then, Lugoj city was under Austrian-Hungarian occupation. Romania had always been under one occupation or another, since Roman times.

Romania has a strategic position on the map, so we were in the middle of things or on someone’s way to things. It is a miracle we still exist as a nation, despite of everyone fucking us up continuously.

Moving on, do you, guys, remember Tarzan? Tarzan was played by Johnny Weissmuller, born somewhere near Timișoara, city in Western Romania, also under Austrian-Hungarian occupation at the time.

And do you know Elsa Pataki from Fast Five and Fast Six? Her mother is Romanian, from my town actually. She immigrated to Spain, where she met her husband and had this beautiful daughter that later on became model/actress and made it from Spain to Hollywood. I should totally see these movies.

Another guy from my town that made it to Hollywood was Jean Negulesco. Negulesco’s first feature film as director was Singapore Woman (1941). In 1948 he was nominated for an Academy Award for Directing for Johnny Belinda. In 1955, he won the BAFTA Award for Best Film for How to Marry a Millionaire. His 1959 movie, The Best of Everything, was on Entertainment Weekly’s Top 50 Cult Films of All-Time list.

My very favorite Romanian at Hollywood is Dustin Hoffman. His father was Ukrainian and his mother was Romanian. They immigrated from Romania to the USA before Dustin was born and I am glad they did it, because Dustin couldn’t have become such an amazing actor here.

Harvey Keitel’s mother was born near Braila, a town in South-East Romania. In 2008, at a fund raising gala for poor people in Romania, a journalist asked him why is he attending and he simply said: “My mother told me to.”

And then there is Natalie Portman. Her grandmother was Romanian. “She spied for the British, traveling through Europe,” Portman says. “She was blond, so she could totally pass as a non-Jew. Men, they would always try and pick her up because she was a gorgeous young woman… I’ll show you.”

Portman pulls out a wallet, and from inside that an old photograph of two women: “This is a picture of her taken in Romania with her best friend.  A couple of years younger than me…”  This is from an interview she did for Rolling Stones magazine.

Bottom line, I have no excuse not to become a New York Time’s Best Seller writer, right?

I will continue next week with the Hollywood stars that have Romanian heritage because yes, there are more!

By the way, Gerard Butler is dating a Romanian model now. She lives in Italy though, because we pretty much don’t have a fashion industry here. Any kind of industry, in fact.

P.S. Is it just me or Romanians made it big after they had left the country?


11 thoughts on “Hollywood Actors With Romanian Heritage

  1. fifi leigh says:

    interesting information. i didnt know natalie portman and dustin hoffman were romanians. the only romanian celebrities that i was aware of were nadia commenci and other olympic gymnasts.
    by the way, people have stopped me on the streets asking if i was romanian. i guess i look romanian, even i am not.


    1. Lavinia says:

      Really? In Canada I was asked if I were Lebanese or Iranian:))) Yes, Nadia is one of the most famous Romanians and we also have Hagi, the football player. Natalie and Dustin are part Romanians but still, it is something to brag about:))) Thanks for reading, Fifi:)


  2. Lev Tolstoi (@antiimbeciles) says:

    Its you, 99% of Romanians that made it big, are still living in Romania!! Stop stereotyping, 100 years ago there were different times! You forgot the most famous one, Edward G Robinson!! Im Romanian, Im in the States and Im pretty famous in my field, but I wont tell you my real name!! So there…


  3. Liana says:

    Mircea Eliade, Emil Palade (nobel prize), George Enescu (nowadays there’s a classical music festival with his name held in Bucharest, which is one of the biggest in the world), Hagi still lives in Romania, and Gica Petrescu was quite famous back in the days as well (and living in Romania), Ina, Alexandra Stan (both had hits that were played world-wide and living here) as well as O-Zone a couple of years ago, and Morandi. Shukar Collective are quite well-known in their field. Cristian Mungiu is one of Europe’s most recognized directors and he won a Palme d’Or at Cannes and lives and works in Romania. The late Anca Parghel was recognized as one of the best jazz female vocalists. I’m not even gonna go into the fashion industry – there are tons of Romanian models who are well-known in the industry as well as designers (Rhea Costa, Catalin Botezatu and soo many more) – a lot for an industry that ‘doesn’t exist’. Believe me, this I know, as I work in fashion.

    I could go on forever but I think I made my point. And this is just celebrities. There are also successful business people in Romania (did you know that the Association of Leading Business Women of the World has three Romanian women as award-winning members?).

    I think the main thing that is wrong with our country is that its very inhabitants keep bashing it. It needs to stop. You want to blame someone for your lack of success, blame yourself, not your country.


    1. Lavinia says:

      How did you get from famous Romanians to my success, more exactly to the lack of it, as you assume? (I am not even gonna get into that, it is so petty and typical Romanian, that it makes me feel sorry for you, poor thing) Anyway, most of the people you have mentioned are only known, not successful, which is a HUGE difference. It is like saying Kim Kardashian is successful. So please…George Enescu studied in Paris and Viena, he lived mostly in Paris, he had a house in Romania but he worked mostly outside the country. After the war he remained in Paris anyway. The fashion models you are talking about built their success abroad. They would have never made it here simply because there is no fashion industry. Unless you call Catalin Botezatu a fashion designer… And this is my point. You cannot reach the top in Romania because there is no top. You can only go that high in terms of literature, music, fashion, film. Most of the peaks in Romania would be considered nothing but mediocre somewhere else (see Catalin Botezatu again). And I do not blame the people for not going further, but the country. A country should offer the resources for going up, for excelling in a certain field. Romania does not offer these resources.


  4. Nagy Sándor says:

    “Moving on, do you, guys, remember Tarzan? Tarzan was played by Johnny Weissmuller, born somewhere near Timișoara, city in Western Romania, also under Austrian-Hungarian occupation at the time.”
    Temesvár/Temeswar wasn’t under occupation. It was the part of the Hungarian Kingdom since A.D. 1000 until 1920. If you want to speak about occupation it is since 1920. Under the Holy Crown it was much bettter for all the nations in the Carpathian Basin. Weißmüller is an ethnic German name because his family was Banat Swabian.

    And Vlad Țepeș wasn’t a ruler of Transylvania.
    Transylvania was an autonomous region in the Kingdom of Hungary until 1920, and it was a semi-independent state, ruled by Hungarian princes between 1570 and 1711. Transylvania was a multiethnical region. Hungarians were the majority but many Saxons settled there since 1146. In the 13th century the Vlachs came to the region and many immigration wave followed that. In 1910 there were 250 000 Saxons, today only 15 000 because of the aggressive Romanianization and the chauvinist politics of Romania. The Hungarians are still fighting for their rights and for the freedom of Transylvania.


    1. george says:

      After I read the article I was sure that there will be one Hungarian extremist that will show up to comment on this:)) And surprise: it was!:)). Mister Nagy Sandor I must correct your plain lies by bringing the historiographic truth about Transilvania and even Timisoara (which is a part of Banat, a very distinct region than Transilvania). First of all, the Hungarian Kingdom didn’t incorporate Transilvania from 1000 AD. They started to conquer Transilvania from 10th century and they completed this task in 13th century. For the next 200 years, indeed, Transilvania was a part of Hungarian Kingdom. After this, for another 200 years, Transilvania was a distinct principality with its own rulers and loyalty (Habsburgs, Hungarians, Ottomans). For more than 200 years, the so called Kingdom of Hungary didn’t even exist because it was totally conquered by Ottoman empire (and in this time the principality of Transilvania continued to exist). After the Habsburgs defeated the Turks, Transilvania became a principality under the direct authority and with a governor named by the Habsburg Empire. This lasted until 1866 when the duality took place. In 1918, after WWI, Transilvania was ceded to Romania, as it was natural, based on the right of the nation for auto-determination, Romanians being always the majoritary population in Transilvania. If we sum the above up, we will find out that Transilvania was part of Kingdom of Hungary for less than 250 years in the last 1000 years. Therefore, what the Hungarian extremist Nagy Sandor says here is just a plain lie.
      When speaking about Banat region, where the extraordinary Romanian city of Timisoara lies, this is far more different because this region was for many years in history part also of the Romanian state of Wallachia.
      Speaking about the Hungarian minority in Romania, they have all the rights that a Romanian ethnic has and more than that. They have state paid education in their language to all levels including university; they have bi-linguistic inscriptions in the areas where they represent more than 20% of the population; they have the right to elect and to be elected etc… It worth to mention that Romanians have absolutely no problems with any ethnic group living in Romania, and what more convincing reason to provide other than the fact that the actual president of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, is a German ethnic. How come Romanians are chauvinistic but they elect a German ethnic to be their president?
      Regarding the Saxons (German ethnics) from Romania, the reality is that the majority of them immigrated to Germany after 1990, because of economical reasons. Germany provided them full economical rights and citizenship and this was the reason. I am really sorry that these guys left because they have a nice culture and nice traditions. I need to mention that I took a piece of this tradition by marrying a German ethnic and I’m very glad I did that.
      To conclude, I would be very happy at the moment when the Hungarian extremism will fade away and will melt in the European way of thinking.
      Have a nice day!


  5. Nagy Sándor says:

    “Romania had always been under one occupation or another, since Roman times.” Chauvinist myth.

    The Daco-romanian theory is a chauvinist myth, fabricated for political goals. The Dacians were exterminated by the Romans. It was a very short period to Romanize the region and after many wars(since the 1st century) and the Migration Period, who is that chauvinist idiot who believes this tale? There was an aggressive neology and Latinisation in the 18th and the 19th century. Did you know that the Cyrillic alphabet used to write the Romanian language before 1860–1862, when it was officially replaced by a Latin-based Romanian alphabet? The Wallachians settled in Translyvania(Hungarian Kingdom) in the 13th century. There wasn’t Romanian nation in this form. During their migration from the territory of Albania they lived with Slavic nations.


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