World Famous Ukrainians



Let us start with Wayne Gretzky’s speech at “United for Ukraine” event – it has some information that may surprize you.

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Milla Jovovich who calls herself “a humble Ukrainian girl”. That is how she looked in the hands of her mother in Kiev the year she was born. Milla nicely sings beautiful Ukrainian folk songs. One can watch and listen for oneself. (Here is the studio version with Lyrics translation). Her mother was an actress too at Dovzhenko film studio.

Natalie Wood is Natalia Nickolaevna Zakharenko came to the USA with her parents from Kharkiv.

Jack Palance (born Volodymir Palahniuk) also said that he’s a Ukrainian and not Russian

Kvitka “KC” Cisyk – American singer of Ukrainian origin. Has several albums of Ukrainian folk songs.

Olga Kurylenko – a star in one of the latest James Bond movies.

Milla Kunis was also born in Ukraine.

“Among the Galician émigrés to the United States were ancestors of many Hollywood stars and entertainment celebrities, including the Ukrainian parents of Jack Palance (Palahniuk) and the Jewish grandparents of Barbara Streisand. The parents of Ramon (Roman) Hnatyshyn, the governor-general of Canada from 1990 to 1995, came from Bukovyna; those of Andy Warhol, from the Lemko region” (“Gates of Europe” Plokhii S.)

From the same area, Bukovyna, parents of William Kurelek, a famous Canadian painter emigrated. 

The father of Noam Chomsky, famous linguist, came from Volyn region as well.

(During the same period mostly from Odessa the grandparents of the  following future Hollywood celebreties left Ukraine for the United States: Steven Spielberg, Silvester Stallone, Leonardo Di Caprio, Dustin Hoffman, Winona Rider (Tomchin), Michael Douglas (Demsky), Johny Depp (Fillipovich), and even Woopi Goldberg’s grandmother was born in Odessa. David Copperfield’s too by the way.

David Dukhovny’s grandfather was from Berdychev.

Michael Ditka comes from Polish-Ukrainian family.

Wayne Gretsky’s father Walter although said that they were from Belaruss, admits that the only Slavic language spoken at their home was Ukrianian of which Walter was fluent speaker from birth. Maybe it is because Walter’s both parents Anton Grets’ky and Mary were Ukrainians? In fact, they were. It is very interesting to read and watch some archived articles and video of the relationship between Wayne and Canadian most famous “hocket dad”


Anatoly Kokush – not a celebrity, but have received two technical Oscars for his invention of what is mistakenly called “Russian arm” which made possible filming The Titanic and other movies in new perspective.

Petro Prokopovych – the father of commercial beekeeping, inventor of first beehive frames.

Ihor Sykorski – the father of helicopter engineering


Ilya Repin – the one who painted the world famous paintings (please see the link) including the “Zaporozhian Cossacks Writing a Mocking Letter to the Turkish Sultan”

Kateryna Bilokur – famous Pablo Picasso praised her works as those of a genious after visiting her art gallery in Paris in 1954

Kazimir Malevich – yes, the famous painter was born in Kiev. 


Fyodor Dostoyevsky – yes, the Russian icon is of Ukrainian origin. The Dostoyevsky family came from the Dostoyevo village which is near Ukrainian-Belorussian borber. One of the Dostoyevskys was a priest at Kiev-Pechersk (Cave) Monastery and even ran to become Metropolitan Bishop in 1647. The writer’s grandfather, Andriy Dostoyevsky, was also a cleric and wanted his son Mikhail to become a cleric also. Mikhail chose to escape such destiny and ran off to St. Petersburgh where he became a famous surgeon, although in his youth he wrote poetry. It is important to know since here is what Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s daughter wrote: “Poetic prowess was already in the Ukrainian family of my father, and was not just given through my Moscow mother, as literature associates of Dostoyevsky suppose”.

Sholem Aleichem – the author of “The Fiddler on the Roof”.

Vladimir Mayakovsky – “I am a Cossack through my first grandfather and a Sich Cossack through the other” wrote about himself the famous Soviet futuristic poet.


Sergei Prokofiev – the author of the melodies known all over the world.

PYOTR CHAIKOVSKY – his grandfather Petro Chaika (seagull in English) was a graduate of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. The Russian government sent him as a medic to the Vyatka region (Urals) where famous composer was born. After his 24th birthday Peter lived in Ukraine for several months almost every year. During this time he wrote more than 30 masterpices using Ukrainian folklore and Taras Shevchenko’s lyrics to fill them. During times of persecution for Ukrainian language, he still used many Ukrainian folk songs in his works. While in Kiev, he wrote operas Koval (“smith” in Ukrainian) Vakula, Mazepa and Cherry Garden by the House together with In the Garden by the River.


Serge Lifar – is mostly known for his ballet heritage in Europe and especially France. 


Ilja Mechnikov – received Nobel Prize in 1908 for his pioneer works in immunology

Ivan Pulyui – worked together with Wilhelm Rontgen and credited with early adaptaion of X-rays for medical images.  


Lyudmila Pavlichenko – the legendary and the best lady-sniper during WWII.

“If I had an army like the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, the German boot would have never trodden on French soil,” – Charles de Gaulle said.

Bohdan Kopystiansky – U.S. Army captian who carried Ukrainian flag throughout whole Vietnam War.


Ms. Chrystia Freeland – a proud Ukrainian-Canadian current Minister of Foreign Affairs, former Minister of Trade, a true supporter and advocate of Ukraine. 

Ivan Mazepa was a Hetman of the Ukrainian Cossacs  in the 18th century who inspired

Lord Byron to write his famous Mazeppa novel,

Pushkin – to write “Poltava“,

Chaikovsky to compose Mazeppa opera

Franz Liszt – “Mazeppa” Symphonic Opera (video)

Victor Hugo to write a poem (audio in French).

There are number of paintings and plays about this bright personality worldwide.

Also, there is a strong belief in the Ukrainian segment of the web that famous auto producer Mazerati (possible Italian variation of the Mazepa name) was founded by one of the descendants of Ivan Mazepa and one of the signs that it can be so – the famous Trident on the auto brend resembling the state Symbol of Ukraine – Kyivan Rus.

Leonid Brezhev – 18-year-long leader of the USSR was born and grew near Dnipropetrovsk.

Golda Meir – the 4th Prime Minister of Israel


Len Blavatnik – one of the richest immigrants to the US according The Forbes

Jan Koum – WhatsApp co-founder and CEO

Max Levchin – PayPal CTO, Affirm CEO born in Kiev


Wladimir & Vitaly  Klichko – the boxing champions with Vitaly currently being the mayor of Kiev. 

Fedor Emelianenko – one of the best MMA fighters who accepted Russian citizenship some time ago

Ivan Poddubny – predesessor of Fedor Emelianenko. Although he lived in the beginning of the previous century, even current Russia still uses his name as a symbol of “Russian power and strength”. But the truth is that as usual, Russia is stealing parts of Ukrainian history, for Ivan  was born “in the family of Zaporozhian Cossacks, Ukraine”.

Andriy Shevchenko – the 2004 best football (soccer) player of the world

Valeriy Lobanovsky – world famous football coach of Dynamo Kiev and USSR and Ukraine national team whose vision of the game development was far ahead of time.  It is only because of his genius and visiion of the way the game will develop, the famous British Soccer Media ranked Dynamo Kiev # 20 among all soccer teams of all times including National teams!

UEFA ranked Valeriy Lobanovskiy among 10 Best Coaches of All Times.

Vasyl Virastyuk – 2004 World Strongest Man

Sergei Bubka – the paul vaulter whose record still holds 22 years after

Oksana Baiul – the first figure skater to win winter Olimpic Gold Medal for independent Ukraine

Dmitry “Smoove” Kryvenko – Slam-Dunk World Contest Champion 2016 (Video)

Grisha “Mustang Wanted” Ushivets – world famous roofer who climbs tall buildings in different countries without any support and who painted a star on one of the tallest Moscow building into the colors of Ukrainian flag

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