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Top Belgian Americans: All

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Oct 21 2010
1 Audrey Hepburn (1929 - 1993) award-winning film star, model, and humanitarian. She was born in Brussels to Dutch and British parents and grew up in The Netherlands. 14600
2 Jean-Claude Van Damme (1960-) is a Belgian martial artist and actor who is most known for his action movies. His Belgian background gave rise to the nickname "The Muscles from Brussels." 13172
3 Brian Molko, lead singer of Placebo, was born in Brussels. 1799
4 Father Damien (1840-1889) was a Flemish-born Catholic missionary of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary who is revered primarily by Hawaii residents and Christians for having dedicated his life in service to the lepers of Molokai in the Kingdom of Hawaii. In Catholicism, Father Damien is the spiritual patron of people with leprosy, outcasts, and those with HIV/AIDS, and of the State of Hawaii. Father Damien Day is recognized each year in Hawaii on April 15. His Feast Day in the Catholic Church is May 10. Having been beatified in 1995, Father Damien is awaiting formal approval for sainthood. On December 1, 2005, Father Damien was chosen as the Greatest Belgian of all time by the Flemish public broadcasting service, VRT. 892
5 Peter Minuit (1589-1638) was a Walloon-born politician. He was the Director-General of the Dutch colony of New Netherland from 1626 until 1633 and founder of the Swedish colony of New Sweden in 1638. By tradition he purchased the island of Manhattan from the Native Americans (Algonquins), on May 24, 1626. 693
6 Georges Simenon (1903-1989) was a Belgian-born novelist who lived in the US from 1945 until 1955. Considered as one of the most skilled and literate writers of detective fiction, he is best known as the creator of Paris police detective Inspector Maigret. He turned out 84 Maigret mysteries and 136 other novels, but he never wrote the 'big' novel that many critics demanded of him. Over 500 million copies of Simenon's books have been printed and translated into 50 languages. His second son, John, was born in 1949 in Tucson, Arizona. 458
7 May Sarton (1912-1995) was a Belgian-born American poet, novelist, and memoirist; daughter of George Sarton. Many of her novels and poems are pellucid reflections of the lesbian experience. 413
8 Earl Louis "Curly" Lambeau (1898-1965) was the founder, a player, and the first coach of the Green Bay Packers professional football team. Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin is named after him. 332
9 Jean-Baptiste "Toots" Thielemans (1922-) is a Belgian jazz artist well known for his guitar, harmonica play and also for his highly accomplished professional whistling. He made his big breakthrough when he went on European tour with Benny Goodman in 1950. He moved to America in 1952 (and became a US citizen the same year) where he is extremely well-known, especially among the jazz community. Quincy Jones said this about him in 1995 : "I can say without hesitation that Toots is one of the greatest musicians of our time. On his instrument he ranks with the best that jazz has ever produced. He goes for the heart and makes you cry. We have worked together more times than I can count and he always keeps me coming back for more". Toots hates his favourite instrument, the harmonica, being called a 'miscellaneous instrument'. Indeed, the late Clifford Brown said : "Toots, the way you play the harmonica they should not call it a miscellaneous instrument".His successes include harmonica solo contributions to film scores for Midnight Cowboy, The Getaway, Sugarland Express, Cinderella Liberty, Turks Fruit (Turkish Fruit), Jean de Florette and others. In 1962, he had a massive hit with 'Bluesette'. He also did many concerts and recordings with legends such as George Shearing, Ella Fitzgerald, Quincy Jones, Bill Evans, Jaco Pastorius, Natalie Cole, Pat Metheny, Paul Simon and Billy Joel. Many people also will remember him from the music used for the 'Old Spice' TV commercial. 298
10 Marguerite Yourcenar (1903-1987) was a Belgian-born novelist. 270
11 Liz Claiborne (1929-2007) was a Belgian-born fashion designer. 265
12 Maurice Tempelsman (1929) was born in Antwerp. His family moved to New York City in 1940 to escape persecution by Nazi Germany during World War II. Tempelsman is a diamond merchant who was the longtime companion to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, former First Lady of the United States. </ref> 211
13 George Washington Goethals (1858-1928) was the Brooklyn-born son of Flemish immigrants. Goethals was the first recorded Flemish-American graduate of West Point (where he is buried) and was appointed by Theodore Roosevelt to build the Panama Canal - which he accomplished under budget in 1914. 162
14 Anne-Marie Slaughter is Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State. She was Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University from 2002-2009. Slaughter was raised in Charlottesville, Virginia by her American father and Belgian mother. She graduated magna cum laude from Princeton in 1980 where she majored in the Woodrow Wilson School and received a certificate in European cultural studies. She received her M.Phil. and D.Phil. degrees in international relations from Oxford in 1982 and 1992, respectively, and her law degree from Harvard Law School, cum laude, in 1985. 160
15 George Sarton (1884-1956) was a seminal Belgian-American polymath and historian of science. Father of May Sarton. 136
16 Louis Hennepin, baptized Father Antoine (1626- c. 1705) was a Flemish Catholic priest and missionary of the Franciscan Recollect Order (French: Récollets) and an explorer of the interior of North America. He discovered Niagara Falls, Hannibal, Missouri and was the first to place the name 'Chicago' on a map (1683). 125
17 Christian Vande Velde (1976-) is a professional road cyclist, whose grandfather immigrated from Ghent in Flanders. 114
18 Vivica Genaux is an American mezzo-soprano. Her Belgian-born father was a biochemistry professor at the University of Alaska. 60
19 Robert Triffin (1911-1993) was a Belgian-born economist best known for his critique of the Bretton Woods system, later known as Triffin's Dilemma. 56
20 Jan Yoors (1922-1977) was a Flemish-American artist, photographer, painter, sculptor, writer, tapestry creator, and, earlier in life, a gypsy. 54
21 George Koltanowski (1903-2000) was a Belgian-born chess player and promoter. 44
22 Charles Schepens (1912–2006) was an influential American ophthalmologist, regarded by many in the profession as "the father of modern retinal surgery" 41
23 Edgard Colle (1897-1932) was a Belgian-born chess master, who pioneered the chess opening termed the Colle System. 34
24 Maurice Anthony Biot (1905–1985) was a Belgian-American physicist and the founder of the theory of poroelasticity. 34
25 Charles Benedict Calvert (1808-1864) was a U.S. Congressman from the sixth district of Maryland, serving one term from 1861—1863. His mother, Rosalie Eugenia Stier, was the daughter of a wealthy Belgian aristocrat, Baron Henri Joseph Stier (1743-1821) and his wife Marie Louise Peeters. 23
26 Karel Bossart (1904–1975) was a pioneering rocket designer and 'father (creator) of the Atlas ICBM'. 22
27 Robert Goffin (1898-1984) 18
28 Sylvain Cappell (born 1946) is a Belgian-born mathematician at New York University. 13
29 George Van Biesbroeck (1880–1974) was a Belgian-American astronomer. 12
30 James Oliver Van de Velde (1795-1855) was a Belgian-born US Catholic bishop. He served as the second Roman Catholic Bishop of Chicago between 1849 and 1853. in 1853, he was transferred to Natchez, Mississippi and became bishop of the Diocese of Natchez, where he served until his death. 9
31 Charles Joseph Van Depoele (1846-1892) was an electrical engineer, inventor, and pioneer in electric railway technology. 9
32 Stephen Gmys (1975 - ) child actor < 5
33 Désiré Defauw (1885-1960) was a Belgian-born violinist and conductor. He made his American debut with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Since 1940, Defauw was director and conductor of the Orchestra of the Symphonic Concerts of Montreal. During the following years he conducted the major American Orchestras: the Boston Symphony, Detroit Symphony, with the Chicago Symphony he was Musical Director and Conductor for four years. The Grand Rapids Symphony, and the Chicago Youth Orchestra, he was visiting conductor of orchestral activities at Northwestern University in 1955. Just before his death, he retired as director of the Gary Symphony Orchestra in Indiana. < 5
34 Raphael Mercuri (1965- ) is a Belgian jack of all trades in the entertainment business. He is best known for his juggling routine with Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey circus. Also has appeared on America's Got Talent as singer and magician. < 5
35 Julius Arthur Nieuwland (1878–1976) was a Belgian-born Holy Cross priest and professor of chemistry and botany at the University of Notre Dame. He is known for his contributions to acetylene research and the discovery of synthetic rubber which eventually lead to the discovery of Neoprene by DuPont. < 5
36 Leo Hendrik Baekeland (1863–1944) was a Belgium-born American chemist who invented Velox photographic paper (1893) and Bakelite (1907), an inexpensive, nonflammable, versatile, and popular plastic. In 1978, Leo Hendrik Baekeland was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. < 5
37 Father Pierre-Jean DeSmet (1801-1873) was a Belgian-born Roman Catholic priest who became the most trusted of the white men among the Native Americans of the Western United States in the mid-1800s. < 5
38 Mary Litogot (1839-1876) (Henry Ford's Mother) was born in Michigan, the youngest child of Belgian immigrants. Her parents died when Mary was a child and she was adopted by neighbors, the O'Herns. In 1861 Mary Litogot married Irish-born William Ford. Their son was Henry Ford. < 5
39 Roger DeCoster (1944-) is a legendary Belgian-born motocross racer. His name is almost synonymous with the sport of motocross. He won five 500cc Motocross World Championships and tallied a record 36 500cc Grand Prix victories. He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1994, becoming only the seventh motorcyclist in the Hall. In 1999, he was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. < 5


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