He graduated from Stanford University in 1947 with a Bachelor of Arts
degree in Drama and not long after made his Broadway debut. Making 59
movies and appearing on 27 television shows, he’s won Academy Awards,
Golden Globes and Emmy’s, but to the younger generation, perhaps he is
best known for his role in City Slickers. In the 60’s, Palance tried
his hand at Country & Western music which featured his self penned
classic song ‘The Meanest Guy That Ever Lived’. But he also painted and
sold landscape art, as well as writing and creating a book of Poetry
entitled ’The Forest of Love’. Jack Palance always stayed true to his
Ukrainian roots: Scheduled to receive a ‘narodhy artist’ award at a
Russian film festival, he walked out saying, “My parents were born in
Ukraine: I’m Ukrainian, not Russian. So excuse me but I don’t belong
Milla Jovovich(17 December 1975 - )
Born in Kyiv, Ukraine, she immigrated to the United States in 1981 with her family and began her modeling career at the age of eleven. She began acting a year later but had her real breakthrough in 1997 in the ‘5th Element’ with Bruce Willis. In 1994, she released her first album called ‘The Divine Comedy’. 2003 saw the release of her own clothing line with fellow supermodel Carmen Hawk.
Selman Waksman(22 July 1888 – 16 August 1973)
Born in Pryluky, a village near Kyiv, he immigrated to the United States in 1910. Selman discovered many different antibiotics (a term he coined), most notably perhaps, being the one for tuberculosis. He won the Nobel Prize in 1952.
Mike Mazurki(25 December 1907 – 9 December 1990)
Born in Tarnopol, Galacia, Austria-Hungary (now Ternopil, Ukraine) he immigrated to the United States at the age of six where he became a professional wrestler and had a long film and television career playing gangsters, thugs and tough guys due to his height of 6’5”. He made appearances on many TV shows like ‘Gilligan’s Island’, ‘I Dream of Jeannie’, ‘Bonanza’ and ‘Gunsmoke’ as well as numerous movies, the last of which was ‘Dick Tracy’.
Luba Goy(8 November 1945 - )
Born in Belgium to Ukrainian parents and raised in Ottawa, Canada, she is one of the stars of the Royal Canadian Air Farce portraying characters like Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Taylor. One of her film roles includes an innkeeper in the Ukrainian film set in the 18th Century ‘Vidma’ (Witch), which was filmed in Kyiv.
Igor Sikorsky (25 May 1885 – 26 October 1972)
Born in Kyiv, Ukraine, he immigrated to the United States in 1919. He engineered numerous aircraft in his lifetime, but the one he is most famous for is the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300, becoming the world’s first mass-produced helicopter in 1942.
Olga Kurylenko(14 November 1979 - )
Born in Berdyansk, Ukraine, she moved to France at the age of 17 under contract with a Paris-based modeling agency and was granted French citizenship in 2001. In 2005, she began her career in film with ‘L’Annulaire’ and ‘Paris, Je T’Aime’. If you didn’t know who she was before, you should now because in 2008 she appeared as the Bond girl in the 22nd James Bond film, ‘Quantum of Solace’. Unfortunately, she has been accused by various post-Soviet countries of ‘moral and intellectual betrayal’ for starring in a movie about the ‘enemy of the Soviet people’.
Roman Kroiter(12 December 1926 - )
Born in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Kroiter is a Canadian filmmaker and co-inventor of the IMAX, producing the first IMAX film ‘Tiger Child’ in 1970. He has also been credited as coming up with the concept The Force; a hugely important element in the Star Wars films.
Mila Kunis(14 August 1983 - )
Born in Kyiv, Ukraine to Jewish parents, they moved as a family to Los Angeles, California in 1991. At the age of nine she began taking acting classes and started appearing in catalogues and TV commercials. Shortly after that she started getting smaller roles on television and movies but her real breakthrough came about with her role on ‘That 70s Show’. Since then, she has appeared in numerous other TV shows, movies, videos, and magazines and has been dating actor Macaulay Culkin since 2002.
John Hodiak(16 April 1914 – 19 October 1966)
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Ukrainian/Polish parents, in 1942 Hodiak signed a motion picture contract with MGM and refused to change his name, saying “I like my name.” A major movie star of the time, appearing in 34 motion pictures, he has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Yakov Smirnoff (24 January 1951 - )
Born in Odessa, Ukraine to a Jewish family, he immigrated to the US in 1977 where he continues to find success as a comedian, painter and psychology professor. Once roommate of comedian Andrew Dice Clay, he became very popular in the 1980s for his comedic performances which often poked fun at the Soviet regime: “We have no gay people in Russia – there are homosexuals, but they are not allowed to be gay about it. The punishment is seven years locked in prison with other men and there is a three-year waiting list for that.”
Sergei Prokofiev(27 April 1891 – 5 March 1953)
Born in (Sontsovka, now) Krasne Ukraine, he displayed unusual musical abilities even at the age of five. At the age of nine, he’d composed his first opera ‘The Giant’ and at eleven was attempting his first symphony. In 1913, he travelled to London where he first encountered Sergei Diaghilev and was commissioned to start writing a ballet two years later. In his pursuit of what at the time was considered ‘experimental music’, Prokofiev travelled to San Francisco, Paris and the Bavarian Alps but would ultimately yearn for Russia and in 1935 moved back to the Soviet UNI0N permanently. Though he never felt the height of his popularity when he was alive, he is renowned for his compositions, ballets (especially Romeo and Juliet) and operas and is considered the most popular composer of 20th century.
Eugene Hutz (6 September 1972 - )
Born in Boyarka (near Kyiv), Ukraine, Hutz and his family fled Ukraine after learning about the Chernobyl meltdown. They arrived in Vermont after a long journey through Poland, Hungary, Austria and Italy where Eugene continued the musical career he’d started back in Ukraine. Later moving to New York, the band Gogol Bordello was formed and quickly developed an international fan base playing events like Lollapalooza, Glastonbury and numerous others. When he is not performing with the band (which was in L’viv on Monday 30 June) he can be found DJing in NYC.
Alex Trebek(22 July 1940 - )
Born in Sudbury, Ontario to a Franco-Ontarian mother and a Ukrainian-Canadian father, he has been in television, mainly hosting game shows since 1966 and struck gold with the game show ‘Jeopardy’ which he has been the face of since 1984. He has been awarded five Outstanding Game Show Host Emmy Awards and has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Mike Ditka(18 October 1939 - )
Born Michael Dyczko in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, his father was one of three brothers of a Ukrainian family in coal mining and steel manufacturing. The name was too much of a tongue-twister, so the family changed it to Ditka. He is a former American football NFL player, coach and television commentator and has won numerous Super Bowls both as a player and a coach. He has also done guest spots on shows like ‘Saturday Night Live’ and ‘Third Rock from the Sun’; he collaborated with Richard Simmons on the weight loss video ‘Tight Ends Sweat to the Oldies too’; and is set to open a new chain of restaurants, in the States called ‘Ditka’s’.
Lenny Kravitz(26 May 1964 - )
Born in New York City to Roxie Roker an actress best known for her role as Helen Willis in the 1970s television sitcom ‘The Jeffersons’ and father Sy Kravitz, a NBC television news producer whose background is Ukrainian Jewish. Their son, Leonard Albert, is an infamous singer/songwriter who also often plays the guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and percussion when in the recording studio. He’s won the ‘Best Male Rock Vocal Performance four years in a row (1999-2002) and has been nominated for numerous others. He has sold an estimated 38 million records worldwide and all of Kyiv was out it seemed, when he played at Palats Sport last summer.
Tracy Lords(7 May 1968 - )
Born Norma Louise Kuzma in Steubenville, Ohio, her name became quite prominent, especially for her underage appearances in pornographic films as well as the magazine Penthouse. At twelve, she ran away from her father, a hard-drinking steelworker who emigrated from Ukraine, with her mother and three sisters, to California where not long after she had an abortion and suffered a nervous breakdown. At 15, claiming she was 20, she was living with her mother’s ex-boyfriend responding to classified ads which were requesting models. In 1983, she began her career in the porn industry. Her last X-rated film was called ‘Traci, I Love You’, and was the only film legally available in the US as it was produced after her 18th birthday. Shortly thereafter, she started studying at the Lee Strasburg Theatre Institute and began appearing in numerous B-list movies, such as ‘Blade’ and ‘Virtuosity’. She has also tried her hand at a singing career performing vocals with a few well-known bands, including the Manic Street Preachers on their UK top 40 hit ‘Little Baby Nothing’. In 2003, she wrote her autobiography which made the New York Times Bestseller List.
Leonard Nimoy(26 March 1931 - )
Born in Boston, Massachusetts to Ukrainian-Jewish parents from Iziaslav, Ukraine, Nimoy is best known for the role he played on the series Star Trek as Spock, for which he earned three Emmy Award nominations. Before Star Trek however, he received an MA in Education, served as a sergeant in the United States Army Reserve and had acted in more than 50 movies/television shows. Since then, he’s done some directing (‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’ as well as ‘Three Men and a Baby’), recorded five music albums, has published poetry as well as two autobiographies and has narrated numerous different television series. He has long been active in the Jewish community, himself speaking Yiddish, which got him the part of Tevye the milkman in the musical ‘Fiddler on the Roof’.
Steven Tyler(26 March 1948 - )
Born Steven Victor Tallarico in New York, NY to a father of Italian/German roots and a mother with a Cherokee/Ukrainian background, music has always played a large role in his life and in 1970, the legendary band Aerosmith was formed. Having a rocky go of it over the years with major substance abuse, (predominantly heroine), the band has managed to stick it out creating legendary international hits like ‘Walk This Way’, ‘Sweet Emotion’ and ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing’. He has had numerous relationships over the years, but perhaps the most notable is the one with fashion model Bebe Buell, in which he fathered actress Liv Tyler. Famous for many quotes, the one he has at times lived by is: “Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll…Take out the drugs and you’ve got more time for the other two.”
More to Check Out:
Ivan Doroschuk (Men Without Hats), Theresa Sokyrka (Second Runner-Up, Canadian Idol), Michael Nenydvedykh (Gay Pornstar), Vera Farmiga (Actress), Steve Ditko (Comic Book Writer), Terry Sawchuk (Hockey Player), Oksana Pyzik (Model)