Top 5 Famous Armenians

Top 5 Famous Armenians

As Armenia celebrates 24 years of independence, take a look at notable Armenians in the diaspora.

On September 21, 11 million Armenians around the world celebrated Armenian independence day. Situated in the Caucasus region, flanked by Turkey to the west and Azerbaijan to the east, Armenia is a tiny nation with a lengthy history dating back to biblical times — according to the Book of Genesis, Noah’s Ark finally rested on Mount Ararat, the national symbol of Armenia currently located in Turkey. After 600 years of nearly continuous foreign occupation, beginning with the Ottomans in the early 16th century, the Republic of Armenia was finally established in 1991, upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

One of the unique anomalies about the country is the fact that it is home to only a third of the world’s Armenians. That leaves 8 million scattered around the globe, many of whom were forced to leave the region as a result of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Like countless other diaspora communities, Armenians have left their mark in their adoptive homes. In honor of 24 years of independence, I’ve compiled a list of famous Armenians you might not have known were Armenian.

1. Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)

Born near Tiflis, Georgia, Aram Khachaturian became one of the most popular and successful composers to emerge from the Soviet Union. A contemporary of Prokofiev and Shostakovich, he was influenced by traditional Armenian folk music, incorporating oriental elements into his pieces. He is best known for his scores to the ballets Gayaneh and Spartacus, the former which features the famous “Sabre Dance.”

2. Raymond Damadian (1936-present)

The next time you have to undergo an MRI scan (which hopefully is not anytime soon!), you have Armenian-American physician Raymond Damadian to thank. He first performed the procedure in 1977, in order to diagnose cancer in a human being. Damadian was the recipient of the Lemelson-MIT Prize’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001, as “the man who invented the MRI scanner.” He was also recognized by the Franklin Institute here in Philadelphia, where he received the Bower Award in Business Leadership.

3. System of a Down

All four of this Grammy Awarding-winning rock band’s members - Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian, Shavo Odadjian, John Dolmayan - are descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors. Three of System’s five studio albums have debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and they have been nominated for four Grammy Awards, winning “Best Hard Rock Performance” in 2006 for their song “BYOB.” Earlier this year, System embarked on their “Wake Up the Souls” tour to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and raise awareness about ongoing genocides worldwide.

4. Charles Aznavour (1924-present)

The French-Armenian singer, affectionately known as France’s very own Frank Sinatra, has written over 1200 songs, sung in eight languages, and sold over 180 million records. He was named “Entertainer of the Century” in 1998 by CNN and readers of Time Online, a title he won against the likes of Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. At 91, he is still going strong, involving himself in French, Armenian, and international politics. He was named French ambassador-at-large to Armenia, and, in 2009, Aznavour agreed to hold the office of Ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland.

5. Andre Agassi (1970-present)

“The Punisher.” Eight-time Grand Slam champion. 1996 Olympic gold medalist. All of these describe retired professional tennis player Andre Agassi, the man the BBC identified as “perhaps the biggest worldwide star in the sport’s history.” Agassi, who is of Armenian heritage on his father’s side, was one of the most dominant players on the court from the early-1990’s to the mid-2000’s. Nowadays, he focuses his energy on providing educational opportunities and activities to at-risk children in southern Nevada through the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, founded in 1994.

*6. Kardashian Family (Special Mention)

America’s “royal family.” I don’t think this one needs any explanation. As much as it pains me to associate the Kardashians with the likes of Khachaturian and Damadian, this family has been instrumental in raising awareness about Armenia and Armenian issues among the American public. From Kim and Khloe’s trip to Armenia in April — which premiered this week on E! — to their tweets every April commemorating the Armenian Genocide, the Kardashians have managed, if nothing else, to educate their fans (and critics) about a country which does not get enough media coverage.

Cover Image Credit: City.1-Themes

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it


Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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The Football World Loses One Of Its Finest Players

Bart Starr passed away and NFL players, coaches, and fans all mourn the loss of the Packer legend, but his life and career will live on in hearts of Packer nation forever.


Bart Starr passed away at the age of 85 in Birmingham, Alabama. The NFL lost a great player. The Green Bay Packers lost a hero. And, the world lost a true gentleman. Starr's legacy has surpassed his accomplishments on the gridiron. He inspired not only his peers but the generations that have come after him. He is — and always — will be remembered as a Hall of Famer, a champion, and a Packer.

Bart Starr was a Packers legend. Starr led Green Bay to six division titles and five world championships. As the quarterback of Vince Lombardi's offense, he kept the machine going and executed the plays like no other. His mastery of the position was a large part of the Packers success in the 1960s. Starr was also the perfect teammate for the perfect team. His leadership put him in command of the Packers. Starr's time in Green Bay will not be forgotten by former players, coaches, and the fans.

Bart Starr's resume is rivaled by few in NFL history. He played in 10 postseason games and won 9 of them. He led the Packers to victory in Super Bowls I and II and won the MVP award in both games. He was the MVP of the league in 1966 and was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960s. The Packers retired his number 15 and Starr has been inducted into the Packers and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After his playing days, Starr would become the head coach of the Packers. He could not repeat the success he had on the field from the 1960s teams. His coaching years do not take away from his legacy as one of the all-time great Packers. Starr was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

One of Starr's last visits to Lambeau field was on a cold November night in 2015. Starr and his wife attended a ceremony in which the Packers retired Brett Favre's jersey number. Starr was the perfect personification of what it meant to be a Packer. His most heroic moment came in the 1967 NFL Championship Game. The Ice Bowl came down to a third and goal in Lambeau Field's south endzone against the Dallas Cowboys. Starr came to the sidelines and bravely told Vince Lombardi that he can sneak it in for a game-winning touchdown. Lombardi then replied, "Run it, and let's get the hell out of here." Starr ran a quarterback sneak for the game-winner and the Packers were off to Super Bowl II. Without Starr, Green Bay would not have won a second straight Super Bowl. His leadership in big game moments will live with Packers fans for a lifetime.

Vince Lombardi: A Football Life - The Ice Bowl

Starr leaves behind his wife Cherry, his son, and three granddaughters. Packers fans will have a tight grip on the memories Bart Starr and the 60s teams created. Starr left behind a template for being a Green Bay Packer. He also left a template for being a good man and a gentleman of the game of football. He was a competitor and a leader. Packer nation mourns for the loss of one of the finest human beings the game has seen.

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