Famous Naturalized Citizens


From actors, authors and athletes, to governors and sex therapists, the list of famous naturalized citizens in the United States is a long one. People born in other countries of parents who are not U.S. citizens themselves can apply to become naturalized citizens. This process includes living in the United States for a specific length of time, filing applicable forms and presenting appropriate documentation, and passing the citizenship exam.


  • Famous entertainers from around the world have chosen to become United States citizens. Comedians Dan Aykroyd and Jim Carey, actors Pamela Anderson, and bandleader Guy Lombardo all had Canadian origins. Desi Arnaz was an actor-musician from Cuba. Pierce Brosnan of James Bond fame hailed from Ireland. Actors Errol Flynn, Cary Grant and Greta Garbo were originally Australian, English and Swedish respectively. Musician Peter Frampton came over from England, while Kiss lead singer Gene Simmons was born in Israel.


  • A variety of sports stars have become naturalized citizens over the years, notably gymnast Nadia Comaneci who defected from Romania in 1989. Olympic swimmer and star of Tarzan films Johnny Weissmuller also had Romanian origins. Sammy Sosa, a former Major League Baseball right-fielder, was born in the Dominican Republic. Patrick Ewing, originally from Jamaica, was a starting center for the New York Knicks for most of his basketball career. Russian-born Sergei Fedorov and Canadian-born Wayne Gretzky are famous hockey players. Former world champion tennis player Ivan Lendl left the Czech Republic to become a naturalized United States citizen.


  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California, is probably the best-known naturalized citizen to go into politics. He was born in Austria and came to the United States as a young man to become a renowned bodybuilder and actor. Canada-born Jennifer Granholm became a United States citizen and was elected Democratic governor of Michigan in 2003 and 2006. Elaine Chao, formerly of Taiwan, became secretary of Labor in 2001 and served for George W. Bush's full two terms.


  • Both Albert Einstein and sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer began life as German citizens. Scientist Enrico Fermi was born in Italy, while physicist Felix Bloch originated in Switzerland. Architect I.M. Pei, from China, is famous for designing the East Wing of Washington D.C.'s National Gallery and the Louvre. Austrian-born Wolfgang Puck is a world-renowned chef. Isaac Asimov, author of more than 500 books of science fiction and history, was originally Russian but became a naturalized citizen after his parents resettled in New York.


  • Photo Credit Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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