Georgians in the American History
There were a lot of Georgians who played a significant role in shaping of American history. Below is the list of some famous American Georgians:
1.Alexander Eristavi (Eristoff) At the outbreak of the American civil war a considerable number of young men from Russian Empire offered their military service to Lincoln and the Union. Among them was Prince Alexander Eristavi who arrived in New York in 1862 and fought with the North under the command of General John Basil Turchin (aka Ivan Vasilevich Turchaninov) for the principles of progress and freedom, although he was the owner of a tremendous estate in his native Georgia. Eristavis’s English was imperfect and when called upon to explain why he had chosen to fight with the Union forces, he took a peach between his fingers: “Like this the peach is so beautiful, and its skin with all those little hairs is protection in the severest weather”. Breaking the peach in half, holding the two pieces far apart, “But like this, it can withstand nothing! The peach will wither, it will turn ugly inside. Do not I beg, let the country be happened to like a peach”. Eristavi had been in the battle of Chickamauga on September I9-20 and of Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863, the two victories which gave to the Union the final control of Chattanooga and Knoxville. Alexander Eristavi eventually returned home, but other sources claims that he stayed in the US and died there.
2.Tamara Toumanova (Tumanishvili) (1919 - 1996) She was born to Georgian parents in Tyumen, Russia, When Tamara was 18 months old the family escaped from Russia to Shanghai, China, where they lived for a year, then moved to Cairo, Egypt. After spending time in refugee camps, the family settled in Paris, France, where there was a large Russian émigré community. Tamara was given piano lessons and studied ballet with Olga Preobrajenska. Toumanova made her debut at the Paris Opera at the age of ten in the children's ballet L'Éventail de Jeanne (for which ten French composers wrote the music). George Balanchine saw her in ballet class and engaged her for de Basil's Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as one of the three "baby ballerinas." She came to be called "The Black Pearl of the Russian Ballet." Balanchine choreographed the part of the Young Girl for Toumanova in his ballet Cotillon, and had her star in his Concurrence and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme.In the United States, Toumanova appeared in the movies The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Tonight We Sing (playing Anna Pavlova), Deep in My Heart, Days of Glory, and Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain. She died in Santa Monica, California, on 29 May 1996, at the age of 77.
3.Kola Kwariani (1903-1980)
In the 1950s and 1960s, Kola Kwariani played chess daily and nightly at the Chess and Checker Club in New York City, also known as "The Flea House". He was known regularly to play chess there for five or six days straight without sleep.
Kwariani was the World Champion at Greco-Roman style restling. In the 1960s, he became the manager of Antonino Rocca. In the 1956 Kola Kwariani starred in Stanley Kubrick film "The Killing", where he played a hired killer named Maurice Oboukhoff. “250 pound New York wrestler, who speaks eight languages and rates as the only chess playing professional in the country, has been signed by Harris-Kubrick Pictures to play a feature role in Bed of Fear with Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray and Vince Edwards in the leads. Bed of Fear is a suspense yarn revolving around a race-track robbery. Kwariani takes the part of a chess-playing wrestler who is used by Hayden to create diversionary tactics while a hold-up of the track is being stages. He starts a fight at the race-track bar, and it takes twenty men to subdue him” (Chess Review, March 1956). In one evening of 1980 five black youths bumped into each other. Words were exchanged. Nick never took any gruff from anybody and soon he was engaged in a fight with all five black kids at once. Nick probably could still have handled any one or two of them, but five were too many. Nick was beaten. The ambulance was called. Nick was taken to the hospital, and died shortly thereafter at age 77.
4.George Papashvily (1898 - 1978) Papashvily was a famous Georgian writer and sculptor. According to his autobiography, he apprenticed as a swordmaker and ornamental leatherworker. From the early 1920s he lived and worked in the USA. Papashvily succeeded both as a sculptor and as an author; he was also a gifted engineer and inventor. With his wife Helen Waite Papashvily (1906-1996), he co-wrote many books, often based on his life experiences. Their first book, Anything Can Happen (1945), tells about Papashvily's experiences as a penniless immigrant. This book was co-selected for the Book of the Month Club and was a best-seller, selling more than 600,000 copies in the USA and 1.5 million worldwide. It was translated into 15 foreign languages. Hollywood made it into a movie in 1952, starring Jose Ferrer as George and Kim Hunter as Helen. Papashvily co-wrote with his wife also Yes and No Stories - A Book of Georgian Folk Tales (1946) Dogs and People (1954), Thanks to Noah (1956), Home and Home Again (1973), Russian Cooking (1969), and others. Papashvily was a member of many unions of American sculptors. He was listed in Who's Who in American Arts and Who's Who in American Literature of the 20th century.
5.George Balanchine (Balanchivadze) (1904 –1983), born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, to Georgian parents, was one of the 20th century's foremost choreographers, a pioneer of ballet in the United States, cofounder and artistic director of the New York City Ballet Company of New York City Ballet: his work created modern ballet, based on his deep knowledge of classical forms and techniques. He was a choreographer known for his musicality; he did not illustrate music but expressed it in dance and worked extensively with Igor Stravinsky, his contemporary. He was considered the most influential and finest choreographer of the twentieth century. Balanchine worked for the New York Metropolitan Opera, created more than 200 ballets, and choreographed several Broadway musicals and movies. He also wrote a book about 101 ballet stories.
6. John (Malkhaz) Shalikashvili (1936-2011) is a retired officer of the US Army who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997. He was born in Warsaw, Poland to Georgian refugee parents. General Shalikashvili is the only immigrant to reach the rank of four-star General in the U.S. Army He served in every level of unit command from platoon to division. Shalikashvili emigrated to the United States with his parents following World War II, completed a master's degree in international affairs at George Washington University, and joined the military in 1958. When John arrived in America he spoke little English. The stories have been told that he learned English by watching John Wayne movies. He was a decorated veteran of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and eventually became commander of American troops in Germany. Shalikashvili was also the commander-in-chief of American armed forces in Europe before President Clinton named him chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It marked the first time that a Georgian American had been named to such a high position within the military. Shalikashvili retired from the Army in September 1997, after serving for 38 years.
7.Alexander Kartveli (Kartvelishvili) (1896-1974) was an aircraft engineer and a pioneer of American aviation. Kartveli (this word in Georgian language means Georgian) graduated in 1922 from the Highest School of Aviation in Paris. In 1922-1927, he worked for a while at the Louis Bleriot Company and designed the "Bernard" and "Ferbois" aircraft . In 1924, one of his aircraft established a world speed record.
In 1927, American millionaire Charles Levine invited Kartveli to New York. In 1928 he joined the Fokker American Company. In 1931 Kartveli met well-known engineer Alexander de Seversky, who was also from Georgia, and became Chief Engineer at the Seversky Aircraft Corporation. In 1939 this Company changed its name to the "Republic Aviation Company". Kartveli and Seversky created a series of aircraft and during World War II they designed one of its greatest planes, the Republic P-47. After World War II, Kartveli designed well-known aircraft such as the Republic F-84 Thunderjet and the Republic F-105 Thunderchief.
8. Prince Artchil Gourieli-Tchkonia (1895-1955), and his wife Madam Helena Rubinstein (1882-1965), known as the queen of cosmetic products, became a successful business couple. They launched Gourelli Apothecary with two new lines of expensive cosmetic products for women and men. Freed of her former marriage vows, in 1938 Helena readily married Prince Artchil Gourielli-Tchkonia), whose somewhat clouded materlineal claim to Georgian nobility, as that of Gourielli-Tchkonia, stemmed from his having been born a member of the untitled noble Tchkonia family of Western part of Georgia, Guria, enticing the ambitious young man to appropriate the genuine title of his grandmother, born Princess Gourielli. Artchil Gourielli-Tchkonia was 23-years younger than Rubinstein. Eager for a regal title to call her own, Rubinstein pursued the handsome youth avidly; coming to name a male cosmetics line after her youthful prized catch. Some have claimed that the marriage was a marketing ploy, including Rubinstein's being able to pass herself off as Helena Princess Gourielli.
9.Prince Dimitri Jorjadze (1898 –1985) was a Georgian nobleman, Ambassador Hotel executive and race car driver. He was a member of the nobility from Tbilisi, who became exiled after the overthrow of Tsarist Russia and the subsequent Bolshevik takeover.
In early July 1931, he won the Touring Car Grand Prix, 24 Hours Spa Race, in Belgium. He covered the greatest distance, 1,580.7 miles at a speed of 65.8 miles per hour, in a Mercedes-Benz SSK with Goffredo Zehender. He was married twice. His first wife was Audrey Emery, the American-born former wife of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia; he married her in March 1937 in England). The marriage ended in divorce. He married, secondly, in 1954, to Sylvia Ashley, a onetime English showgirl who was the former wife of Major Lord Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Clark Gable, and the widow of Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. In June 1940, he bought the historic South Carolina plantation known as Boone Hall, eight miles from Charleston, from Thomas A. Stone of Canada. Boone Hall is one of the handsomest and most historic plantations in the South. He raced Thoroughbreds under the nom de course, Boone Hall stable. Most notable of his horses was Princequillo, who in 1943 was the fastest distance runner in the United States and who became a two-time Leading sire in North America and a seven-time Leading broodmare sire in North America. Jorjadze was associated with Prince Serge Obolensky in the hotel business in New York City.
10.Prince George Matchabelli (1885 - 1935) was a Georgian prince and diplomat. Matchabelli was a member of the noble family of Machabeli from Georgia, then part of Imperial Russia. He was one of the founding members of the Georgian Liberation Committee organized in Berlin in 1914. The Committee intended to garner the German support for Georgia's struggle for independence from the Russian Empire. In 1916 Matchabelli married Norina Gilli (born in Florence, Italy) who had become famous for her portrayal of "The Madonna" in Max Reinhardt's unique 1911 pantomime spectacle play "The Miracle." He briefly served as the ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Georgia to Italy. With the establishment of Soviet rule in Georgia in 1921, Matchabelli fled his homeland and immigrated with his wife Norina to the United States. The prince was an amateurchemist and in 1924 he and his wife, now known as Princess Norina Matchabelli, established the Prince Matchabelli Perfume Company. Norina designed the crown shaped perfume vial in the likeness of the Matchabelli crown and in 1926 the scent "Ave Maria" was named for her. The company became known for color-coded, crown-shaped bottles that housed such classics as Wind Song, Ave Maria, and Princess Norina. The Matchabellis divorced in 1933. From 1932 until his death, Matchabelli also served as President of the Georgian Association in the United States. George died in 1935, and in 1936 Norina sold the company to perfume manufacturer Saul Ganz for $250,000.