14 October 2013

Compiled by Jirair Tutunjian from "Figures of Armenian Origin from
Ancient Times Until Our Days" by Artsvi Bakhchinyan (Zangak-97,
Yerevan, 2002)

In addition to the many famous Armenians whose ethnicity is well
documented, there are famous persons some Armenians claim as their own,
despite sparse or suspect documentation. Here are some of these famous

Eleanora Duse. Celebrated European stage actress born in Vigevano
(1858) and died in Pittsburg (1924). She was supposed to have been
descended from the famed Duzian family of Constantinople. Her
grandfather-Luigi Duse-- was comedia d'arte actor and her
father-Alessandro-was an equally famous actor. She died in a car

Jacques-Andre-Joseph Aved. Armenian-born French painter (1702-1766).

He painted the portraits of King Louis XIV and Wilhelm IV of Prussia,
in addition to other European celebrities. He died in Paris.

Antonin Artaud. Dramatist, born in Marseilles (1896) and died in
Paris (1948). A leading figure in the Theatre of the Absurd movement,
he was also an actor and theatre director. His mother (from Izmir)
descended from a famous Armenian Nalbasoghlu family.

General Wilhelm Guderian. Born in Poland in 1888, he was a leading
German general in WWII. Hugo Scheinbach, director of the Hamburg
Orientalist Institute, has insisted Guderian's Armenian origins.

Guderian died in 1954 in Germany.

Edouard Balladur. Born in Izmir in 1929, served as Prime Minister of
France from 1993 to 1995. His ancestors originated in Nakhichevan. His
father was a commander in the French army in Cilicia, Turkey. Although
he was married in an Armenian Catholic church and such famous French
publications as "Le Figaro" have mentioned his Armenian ancestry,
Balladur has not mentioned whether he is Armenian.

Basil Zakharov. The famous and notorious international arms merchant
was born in Anatolia (1849) and died in Aleppo (1936). When a boy,
he was adopted by a wealthy Greek and changed his name to Zakarides.

Settling in Russia, he changed his name to Zakharov. A millionaire, he
owned private banks and was a benefactor. After 1917, he left Russia.

His Armenian origin has been "verified" by his cousin and mentioned
in various non-Armenian publications.

Welimer Khlebnikov. One of the most famous Russian nationalist poets
was born near Astrakhan (1885) and died in 1922. In addition to poetry,
he wrote novels and plays. He had an immense influence on Mayakovski
and Pasternak. In his autobiography, he wrote that there was Armenian
blood in his veins (Alabovs-Halabians). His sister, Vera Khlebnilova
Aslanyan, was a painter.

Giacomo Casanova. The famous 18th century
lover-memoirist-spy-adventurer was born in Venice. Three clues are
given to his Armenian origins: His family name was Noradoongian (means
Casanova in Italian); he was sent by Venetian authorities to spy on
Armenian monks in Trieste; he was baptized in the Armenian Catholic
Soorp Khach Church.

Count Ciano. The foreign minister of Italy and son-in-law of
Mussolini. According to Venice's Mkhitarist archives, his family
descended from the Cilician Armenian Vosdichian princely family.

Vivien Leigh. A British actress, she was born in Darjeeling, India
(1913) and died in London (1967). Star of "Gone With the Wind",
"Waterloo Bridge", "Lady Hamilton" and "Ship of Fools", Leigh was
the wife of Sir Laurence Olivier. Her mother, Gertrude Yakjee, was
born in Ireland and was considered Armenian.

Hermens van Rijn Rembrandt. The famed Dutch painter (Leyden, 1606-1669
in Amsterdam) might have been of Armenian descent. His first name
and dress also indicate that he might have been Armenian.

Marshal Constantine Rokosovski (1896-1968) was a famed "Russian"/Soviet
military leader in WWI and WWII. He was also Poland's defense
minister. He mentioned his Armenian origins in a Yerevan speech in
1968 and said his ancestors had immigrated from Ani to Poland.

Alexander Suvorov (1730-1800). Perhaps the greatest military figure in
Russian history. His mother, Avdotia Feodoseyevna Manukova, was from
the Manookian family of Astrakhan. His maternal grandfather was Fedosay
Manukov (1668-1738), the commander of the military in Astrakhan.

Eleftherios Venizelos. Born in Cyprus, he is a Greek statesman. Has
said that he believed his father was Armenian.

Salman Kerdahi. Egyptian theatrical producer, he was the first
person to present an Arabic-language play in Arabic-speaking African
countries. In addition to Egypt, he has presented plays in Tunisia
and Algeria in 1907. He died in 1909 and was buried in a Christian
cemetery. It's believed his name was Soghomon Kerdahian. His Armenian
roots have been verified by Tunisian theatrical figure Mohammed Habib.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress