Syria-ously? 14 celebrities you didn't know were Syrian

Published January 10th, 2016 - 13:15 GMT

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Civil war, violence, and most recently Daesh most often come to mind when the country of Syria pops up in conversation. With Donald Trump pumping fear of Muslims into the hearts of American citizens, and Jerry Lewis spreading hate with statements like Syrian refugees “should stay where the hell they are,” it may surprise some to learn that there would be a lot less talent in the U.S. if not for those of Syrian descent in the mix. Continue reading below »

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Is there an American household name more recognizable than Jerry Seinfeld? While you are surely familiar with the TV comedian’s humor and wit, you may be less aware that he has Syrian ancestry. His maternal grandparents, Salim and Salha Hosni, migrated from Aleppo to the U.S. in 1909.
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Image 1 of 14:  1 / 14Is there an American household name more recognizable than Jerry Seinfeld? While you are surely familiar with the TV comedian’s humor and wit, you may be less aware that he has Syrian ancestry. His maternal grandparents, Salim and Salha Hosni, migrated from Aleppo to the U.S. in 1909.

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We can credit our iPhone obsession to Syrian smarts. Late Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs was born to a Syrian migrant and his unwed wife who decided to put him up for adoption.
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Image 2 of 14:  2 / 14We can credit our iPhone obsession to Syrian smarts. Late Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs was born to a Syrian migrant and his unwed wife who decided to put him up for adoption.

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We love us some Paula Abdul, and it looks like we have Syria to thank for those vocal chords. The American Idol judge’s father was born in Aleppo, then moved to Brazil before immigrating to the U.S.
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Image 3 of 14:  3 / 14We love us some Paula Abdul, and it looks like we have Syria to thank for those vocal chords. The American Idol judge’s father was born in Aleppo, then moved to Brazil before immigrating to the U.S.

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‘Amadeus’ star F. Murray Abraham is also known for his roles in ‘Scarface’ and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. The Academy Award-winning actor was born to a Syrian father who migrated in the 1920s.
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Image 4 of 14:  4 / 14‘Amadeus’ star F. Murray Abraham is also known for his roles in ‘Scarface’ and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. The Academy Award-winning actor was born to a Syrian father who migrated in the 1920s.

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Brandon Saad, an American professional ice hockey player for the Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League, was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but his father hails from Syria. Saad regularly stays in touch with his relatives back in Syria.
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Image 5 of 14:  5 / 14Brandon Saad, an American professional ice hockey player for the Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League, was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but his father hails from Syria. Saad regularly stays in touch with his relatives back in Syria.

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Michael Ansara was born in a small Syrian village in 1922. His family immigrated to the U.S. when he was a small child. He found fame as an actor in his adult life with roles in ‘Buck Rogers in the 25th Century’, ‘Star Trek’, and ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ before passing away in 2013.
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Image 6 of 14:  6 / 14Michael Ansara was born in a small Syrian village in 1922. His family immigrated to the U.S. when he was a small child. He found fame as an actor in his adult life with roles in ‘Buck Rogers in the 25th Century’, ‘Star Trek’, and ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ before passing away in 2013.

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It’s safe to say there would be a lot more single people if not for 38-year-old son of Syrian immigrants Sam Yagan. Named in TIME Magazine's '100 Most Influential People in the World' list, Yagan is currently CEO of e-dating site Match.com, but he’s had his hand in founding SparkNotes, eDonkey, OkCupid, and Tinder too.
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Image 7 of 14:  7 / 14It’s safe to say there would be a lot more single people if not for 38-year-old son of Syrian immigrants Sam Yagan. Named in TIME Magazine's '100 Most Influential People in the World' list, Yagan is currently CEO of e-dating site Match.com, but he’s had his hand in founding SparkNotes, eDonkey, OkCupid, and Tinder too.

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Professional surfer Kelly Slater’s great-grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Syria. Those Arab genes have helped the 43-year-old athlete become World Surf League Champion 11 times over, including five consecutive wins in 1994–98.
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Image 8 of 14:  8 / 14Professional surfer Kelly Slater’s great-grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Syria. Those Arab genes have helped the 43-year-old athlete become World Surf League Champion 11 times over, including five consecutive wins in 1994–98.

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Mona Simpson is sister to the famed Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, but she’s made a name for herself as a novelist, essayist, and UCLA English professor. Since Jobs was born before their parents were married and was put up for adoption, the half-Syrian siblings didn’t meet until Simpson was 25 years old.
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Image 9 of 14:  9 / 14Mona Simpson is sister to the famed Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, but she’s made a name for herself as a novelist, essayist, and UCLA English professor. Since Jobs was born before their parents were married and was put up for adoption, the half-Syrian siblings didn’t meet until Simpson was 25 years old.

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Son of immigrants from Aleppo, Syria, Vic Tayback took life in the U.S. by the horns until his passing in 1990. Boaster of two Golden Globe Awards, the acclaimed actor is best known for his role in the television series 'Alice'.
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Image 10 of 14:  10 / 14Son of immigrants from Aleppo, Syria, Vic Tayback took life in the U.S. by the horns until his passing in 1990. Boaster of two Golden Globe Awards, the acclaimed actor is best known for his role in the television series 'Alice'.

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We know Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane from the ABC series ‘Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman’ and more recently as Susan Mayer on the television series ‘Desperate Housewives’. The actress, writer, and former NFL cheerleader has Syrian ancestry from her mother’s side.
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Image 11 of 14:  11 / 14We know Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane from the ABC series ‘Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman’ and more recently as Susan Mayer on the television series ‘Desperate Housewives’. The actress, writer, and former NFL cheerleader has Syrian ancestry from her mother’s side.

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Got to love those Arab genes at work in Wentworth Earl Miller III. The attractive 43-year-old actor came to prominence on our TV screens as Michael Scofield in the Fox series ‘Prison Break’. His Syrian ancestry comes from his mother’s side.
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Image 12 of 14:  12 / 14Got to love those Arab genes at work in Wentworth Earl Miller III. The attractive 43-year-old actor came to prominence on our TV screens as Michael Scofield in the Fox series ‘Prison Break’. His Syrian ancestry comes from his mother’s side.

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Model and actress Shannon Elizabeth has strayed a bit from her conservative Syrian roots with naughty roles in films like ‘American Pie’. Born Shannon Elizabeth Fadal, Elizabeth's father is of Syrian origin.
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Image 13 of 14:  13 / 14Model and actress Shannon Elizabeth has strayed a bit from her conservative Syrian roots with naughty roles in films like ‘American Pie’. Born Shannon Elizabeth Fadal, Elizabeth's father is of Syrian origin.

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Bodybuilder and actor Peter Lupus is most easily recognizable from his role in 'Mission: Impossible'. Records have shown that the 83-year-old star’s father was born in Syria.
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Image 14 of 14:  14 / 14Bodybuilder and actor Peter Lupus is most easily recognizable from his role in "Mission: Impossible". Records have shown that the 83-year-old star’s father was born in Syria.

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1

Is there an American household name more recognizable than Jerry Seinfeld? While you are surely familiar with the TV comedian’s humor and wit, you may be less aware that he has Syrian ancestry. His maternal grandparents, Salim and Salha Hosni, migrated from Aleppo to the U.S. in 1909.

Image 1 of 14Is there an American household name more recognizable than Jerry Seinfeld? While you are surely familiar with the TV comedian’s humor and wit, you may be less aware that he has Syrian ancestry. His maternal grandparents, Salim and Salha Hosni, migrated from Aleppo to the U.S. in 1909.

2

We can credit our iPhone obsession to Syrian smarts. Late Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs was born to a Syrian migrant and his unwed wife who decided to put him up for adoption.

Image 2 of 14We can credit our iPhone obsession to Syrian smarts. Late Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs was born to a Syrian migrant and his unwed wife who decided to put him up for adoption.

3

We love us some Paula Abdul, and it looks like we have Syria to thank for those vocal chords. The American Idol judge’s father was born in Aleppo, then moved to Brazil before immigrating to the U.S.

Image 3 of 14We love us some Paula Abdul, and it looks like we have Syria to thank for those vocal chords. The American Idol judge’s father was born in Aleppo, then moved to Brazil before immigrating to the U.S.

4

‘Amadeus’ star F. Murray Abraham is also known for his roles in ‘Scarface’ and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. The Academy Award-winning actor was born to a Syrian father who migrated in the 1920s.

Image 4 of 14‘Amadeus’ star F. Murray Abraham is also known for his roles in ‘Scarface’ and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. The Academy Award-winning actor was born to a Syrian father who migrated in the 1920s.

5

Brandon Saad, an American professional ice hockey player for the Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League, was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but his father hails from Syria. Saad regularly stays in touch with his relatives back in Syria.

Image 5 of 14Brandon Saad, an American professional ice hockey player for the Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League, was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but his father hails from Syria. Saad regularly stays in touch with his relatives back in Syria.

6

Michael Ansara was born in a small Syrian village in 1922. His family immigrated to the U.S. when he was a small child. He found fame as an actor in his adult life with roles in ‘Buck Rogers in the 25th Century’, ‘Star Trek’, and ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ before passing away in 2013.

Image 6 of 14Michael Ansara was born in a small Syrian village in 1922. His family immigrated to the U.S. when he was a small child. He found fame as an actor in his adult life with roles in ‘Buck Rogers in the 25th Century’, ‘Star Trek’, and ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ before passing away in 2013.

7

It’s safe to say there would be a lot more single people if not for 38-year-old son of Syrian immigrants Sam Yagan. Named in TIME Magazine's '100 Most Influential People in the World' list, Yagan is currently CEO of e-dating site Match.com, but he’s had his hand in founding SparkNotes, eDonkey, OkCupid, and Tinder too.

Image 7 of 14It’s safe to say there would be a lot more single people if not for 38-year-old son of Syrian immigrants Sam Yagan. Named in TIME Magazine's '100 Most Influential People in the World' list, Yagan is currently CEO of e-dating site Match.com, but he’s had his hand in founding SparkNotes, eDonkey, OkCupid, and Tinder too.

8

Professional surfer Kelly Slater’s great-grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Syria. Those Arab genes have helped the 43-year-old athlete become World Surf League Champion 11 times over, including five consecutive wins in 1994–98.

Image 8 of 14Professional surfer Kelly Slater’s great-grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Syria. Those Arab genes have helped the 43-year-old athlete become World Surf League Champion 11 times over, including five consecutive wins in 1994–98.

9

Mona Simpson is sister to the famed Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, but she’s made a name for herself as a novelist, essayist, and UCLA English professor. Since Jobs was born before their parents were married and was put up for adoption, the half-Syrian siblings didn’t meet until Simpson was 25 years old.

Image 9 of 14Mona Simpson is sister to the famed Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, but she’s made a name for herself as a novelist, essayist, and UCLA English professor. Since Jobs was born before their parents were married and was put up for adoption, the half-Syrian siblings didn’t meet until Simpson was 25 years old.

10

Son of immigrants from Aleppo, Syria, Vic Tayback took life in the U.S. by the horns until his passing in 1990. Boaster of two Golden Globe Awards, the acclaimed actor is best known for his role in the television series 'Alice'.

Image 10 of 14Son of immigrants from Aleppo, Syria, Vic Tayback took life in the U.S. by the horns until his passing in 1990. Boaster of two Golden Globe Awards, the acclaimed actor is best known for his role in the television series 'Alice'.

11

We know Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane from the ABC series ‘Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman’ and more recently as Susan Mayer on the television series ‘Desperate Housewives’. The actress, writer, and former NFL cheerleader has Syrian ancestry from her mother’s side.

Image 11 of 14We know Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane from the ABC series ‘Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman’ and more recently as Susan Mayer on the television series ‘Desperate Housewives’. The actress, writer, and former NFL cheerleader has Syrian ancestry from her mother’s side.

12

Got to love those Arab genes at work in Wentworth Earl Miller III. The attractive 43-year-old actor came to prominence on our TV screens as Michael Scofield in the Fox series ‘Prison Break’. His Syrian ancestry comes from his mother’s side.

Image 12 of 14Got to love those Arab genes at work in Wentworth Earl Miller III. The attractive 43-year-old actor came to prominence on our TV screens as Michael Scofield in the Fox series ‘Prison Break’. His Syrian ancestry comes from his mother’s side.

13

Model and actress Shannon Elizabeth has strayed a bit from her conservative Syrian roots with naughty roles in films like ‘American Pie’. Born Shannon Elizabeth Fadal, Elizabeth's father is of Syrian origin.

Image 13 of 14Model and actress Shannon Elizabeth has strayed a bit from her conservative Syrian roots with naughty roles in films like ‘American Pie’. Born Shannon Elizabeth Fadal, Elizabeth's father is of Syrian origin.

14

Bodybuilder and actor Peter Lupus is most easily recognizable from his role in 'Mission: Impossible'. Records have shown that the 83-year-old star’s father was born in Syria.

Image 14 of 14Bodybuilder and actor Peter Lupus is most easily recognizable from his role in "Mission: Impossible". Records have shown that the 83-year-old star’s father was born in Syria.

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From Hollywood stars like Jerry Seinfeld to tech giants like Steve Jobs, check out this compilation of celebrities with a strictly Syrian or ‘greater’ Syrian ancestry.

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