Famous Lithuanian Americans - Successful Migrants
Actor/Director/ Social Activist Sean Penn
Like my home, Australia, The United States could never have succeeded as a nation without a healthy migration program. People suffering persecution, plague, famine, war or insurrection have always dreamed of going to a better place, often America. Some of the people lucky enough to have made it to America were of Lithuanian origin. I have been researching and writing about what happened in Lithuania in the last century including World War II (Lithuanian Diaspora - A Brief History of WWII Lithuanian Displaced Persons and The Lithuanian Holocaust - The Extermination of the Jewish Population of Lithuania). Examples of successful migration defray the horror and unspeakable devastation visited upon Lithuania and its population last century.
The lives of these successful people show that the dream of a better life is possible, if not for migrants, then for their children or grandchildren. Sometimes success can spring out of the great misfortunes that cripple nations. If conditions in Lithuania had not been so been so devastating, migration would not have have occurred, and these people, if they had been born in Lithuania may not have even survived, let only been able to fulfil their life's ambitions.
Sean Penn - Dead Man Walking
Superbly adapted and directed by Tim Robbins from the nonfiction book of the same name by Sister Helen Prejean, this spiritually enlightened drama is too intelligent to traffic in polemics or self-righteous pontifications against the death penalty. But in examining the issue of capital punishment from a humanitarian perspective, the film urges thoughtful reflection on the justifications for legally ending a human life.
Famous Actor Sean Penn
Famous Lithuanian American actor Sean Penn, s successful, if controversial, performer specialising in intense roles. Never one to shy away from difficult or emotive roles, he has played a murdering racist rapist (Dead Man Walking), a gay activist (Milk), a presidential assassin (The Assassination of Richard Nixon) and an intellectually handicapped father (I am Sam) among other roles. Penn has been nominated for an Oscar for best actor five times and won the award twice.
Penn was born in Las Angeles on 17 August 1960. His paternal grandparents were Jewish Lithuanians. His mother is of Irish/Italian Catholic descent. Penn was once married to Madonna and was charged with (and pleaded guilty to) domestic violence against her. He also served jail time for assaulting an extra. He part-owned a restaurant/bar and is also an extremely successful director and renowned social activist/philanthropist.
Sean Penn "George Bush should be in Jail"
Tough Guy Charles Bronson
Famous Lithuanian American Actor Charles Bronson
Charles Bronson is so interesting that I dedicated a hub to him alone (Charles Bronson - Famous Lithuanian American). Born to a very poor Lithuanian migrant family in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, in 1921, he went on to become one of the most iconic movie stars of the 20th century. His mother was born in America to Lithuanian parents. His father, born in the Lithuanian town of Druskininkai, was a Lithuanian 'Lipka Tatar', descended from Mongolians. He was a child coal-miner, served with distinction in WWII and obtained a college degree in Art after the war. Featuring in at least 96 major films as an action hero, his estate when he died was valued at $48 million dollars.
Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changin"
Young Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan Unplugged
Recorded in 1994, Bob Dylan: MTV Unplugged is a brilliant, quietly impassioned performance by one of pop music's most significant figures. Fronting his empathetic five-piece band Bob himself plays frequent "rhythm leads" on his Martin. Dylan performs four of his best-known and potentially most overdone tunes in the 73-minute show; "All Along the Watchtower," "The Times They Are A-Changin'," "Like a Rolling Stone," and "Knockin' on Heaven's Door".
Famous Lithuanian American Bob Dylan
Incredibly successful musician and artist over more than five decades, Bob Dylan is the creator of anthems for civil unrest such as "The Times They are a-Changin" and "Blowin in the Wind". He represented a force for civil agitation in the 1960s with his anti-war music and counter-culture appeal. It is difficult to accurately describe how successful Dylan has been due to his monumental influence on a multiplicity of fronts including social change, politics, music and the arts. He re-created the music conventions of his time and even went on to re-create himself as a successful artist. An extremely talented musician, he plays guitar, piano and harmonica. An active man, he has been touring consistently since 1980. He has won innumerable awards and gained world-wide recognition for his genius.
Bob Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota. Dylan's father was Abram Zimmerman, who's parents were Russian Jews that emigrated as a result of anti-semitic pogroms in 1905. His maternal grandparents were Jewish Lithuanians who emigrated in 1902.
Actor John C. Reilly
Famous Lithuanian American Actor John C. Reilly
An Irish father and a Lithuanian mother produced this loveable, homely, lumbering actor who, despite his looks, has been a film success. Growing up in Chicago, a home to large numbers of Lithuanian Americans, Reilly was the fifth of six children. He has played many characters, specialising in the "adorable schmuck". This type-casting did not stop him from crossing over into villainous characters, though. A thoroughly professional actor, he displayed his versatility with the role of the rapist soldier in "Casualties of War". He has been nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for best supporting actor.
Director/Producer/Screenwriter Robert Zemeckis
The Cinema of Robert Zemeckis
If you truly study Zemeckis you will realize that he had many commercial failures early in his career but more importantly he never gave up. Before Romancing the Stone, Zemeckis couldn't get arrested in Hollywood, afterwards, he was able to make Back to The Future. A film that you may say is dated, but is great example of the perfectly crafted script. The rest, as they say is history.
Famous Lithuanian American Robert Zemeckis
Robert Zemeckis's first success was "Back to the Future" starring Michael Fox in 1980. His talent as a director extended through to animation with "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" in 1988 and he won an Oscar for "Forrest Gump" in 1994. His hallmark as a director is his exemplary use of special effects. He is a pioneer in cinema of the use of technology.
Like many other Lithuanian Americans he was born in Chicago. His father was Lithuanian and his mother was Italian American. Born May 14, 1952, he developed his lifelong fascination with film from the age of eight, when he used his parents' 8mm camera to film.
Robert Zemeckis about his work
Other Famous Americans of Lithuanian Heritage
- Pink - Performer, Musician
- Johnny Unitas - Football Star
- James Laurinaitis - Football Star
- Anthony Kiedis - Rod Hot Chille Peppers Singer
- Brandon Flowers - The Killers Singer, Songwriter, Keyboard
- Dick Durbin - US Senator
- Jonas Mekas - Actor
- Ann Jillian - Actor/ Breast Cancer Activist
- Leonard Cohen - Singer, Songwriter, Musician
- John Candy - Actor
© 2011 Mel Jay
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