8 AMAZING RUSSIANS IN CALIFORNIA

CALIFORNIA

USA and Russia are forever united through the destinies of their greatest people Russia and America have seen many controversial chapters in their history — from allies in World War 2 to enemies in the Cold War and friends in post-soviet era. However, regardless of the state external affairs, two countries became true relatives, who’s blood is forever mixed.
This happened due to immigration of millions of people from Russia to the USA, many of whom contributed greatly in the development and well-being of the United States. There is even a phrase in Russia “outflow of brain into America”, which summarizes the process, which has been happening since the Bolshevik revolution.
America served as safe harbor many genius inventors, spiritual leaders, artists and doctors from the republics of former Soviet Union.
USA and Russia are forever united through the destinies of their greatest people and have tremendous potential to collaborate in the future.

Nikolai Rezanov (1764 – 1807) was a Russian nobleman and statesman who promoted the project of Russian colonization of Alaska and California. One of the ten barons of Russia, he was the founder of Russian American Company; and his interest to students of history centrers round the policy involved in that enterprise, which, thwarted by his death, would have changed the destinies of Russia and the United States. Rezanov sailed for the Spanish settlements in California (in modern San Francisco), proposing to trade his tempting cargo of American and Russian wares for food-stuffs, and to arrange a treaty by whose terms his Alaskan and Californian colonies should be provisioned twice a year with the bountiful products of New Spain.
Although he was received with great courtesy and entertained night and day by the Californians, no time was lost in informing him that the laws of Spain forbade her colonies to trade with foreign powers, and that the governor of all the Californias was incorruptible. Rezanov, had it not been for a love affair, and for his personal address and diplomatic skill, with which he won over the clergy to his cause, would have failed.
As it was, when he sailed for New Archangel six weeks after his arrival, the Juno’s hold was full of bread-stuffs and dried meats, he had the promise of the perplexed governor to forward a copy of the treaty to Spain at once, and he was affianced to the most beautiful girl in California. Shortly after his arrival in New Archangel, he proceeded by water to Kamchatka, where he dispatched his ships to wrest the island Sakhalin of the lower Kuril group from Japan, then started overland for Saint Petersburg to obtain the signature of the tsar to the treaty, and also personal letters to the pope and king of Spain that he might ask for the dispensation and the royal consent necessary to his marriage.
He died of fever and exhaustion in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, on March 8, 1807.

Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco (1896 – 1966) was a Christian leader, healer and “miracle-worker”
Saint John was a noted Eastern Orthodox ascetic and hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) who was active in the mid-20th century. He was a pastor and spiritual father of high reputation and a reputed wonderworker to whom was attributed great powers of prophecy, clairvoyance and healing, and he is often referred to simply as “St. John the Wonderworker.”
St. John was born Mikhail Maximovitch in 1896 in the village of Adamovka in Kharkov province in what was then southern Russia to the same family of Serbian origin as that of St. John of Tobolsk whom he was said to resemble in several respects. From 1907 to 1914 he attended Poltava Military School, and received a degree in law from Kharkov Imperial University in 1918. His family brought him to Belgrade in 1921, where in 1925 he graduated from Belgrade University with a degree in theology.
When the Communists took power in China, the Russian colony was forced to flee, first to a refugee camp on the island of Tubabao in the Philippines and then mainly to the United States and Australia. Archbishop John travelled personally to Washington, D.C. to ensure that his people would be allowed to enter the country.
In San Francisco, St. John finished a project of great complexity and controversy – construction of the largest Russian Christian Temple on Geary Street.
He is remembered for his gentleness, his joyfulness, even for what is known as “foolishness for Christ’s sake.” The most popular photograph of him captures something of this aspect of his character. It was especially noticeable in his conduct with children. After services he would smile and joke with the boys who served with him, playfully knocking the refractory on the head with his staff. Occasionally the Cathedral clergy would be disconcerted to see Vladika, in the middle of a service (though never in the altar), bend over to play with a small child! And on feast days when blessing with holy water was called for, he would sprinkle the faithful, not on the top of the head as is usual, but right in the face (which once led a small girl to exclaim, “he squirts you”), with a noticeable glint in his eye and total unconcern at the discomfiture of some of the more dignified. Children were absolutely devoted to him, despite his usual strictness with them.

The inventor of the helicopter and a great Christian philosopher.
Igor Sikorsky is a Russian-American pioneer of aviation in both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. He designed and flew the world’s first multi-engine fixed-wing aircraft, the Russky Vityaz in 1913, and the first airliner, Ilya Muromets, in 1914. After immigrating to the United States, Sikorsky founded the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in 1923,[ and developed the first of Pan American Airways’ ocean-conquering flying boats in the 1930s. In 1939, he designed and flew the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300,[3] the first viable American helicopter, which pioneered the rotor configuration used by most helicopters today.
Seeing little opportunity for himself as an aircraft designer in war-torn Europe (and particularly Russia, ravaged by the October Revolution and Civil War), he emigrated to the United States, arriving in New York on 30 March 1919.
Sikorsky’s success with the VS-300 led to the R-4, which became the world’s first mass produced helicopter in 1942. Sikorsky’s final VS-300 rotor configuration, comprising a single main rotor and a single antitorque tail rotor, has proven to be one of the most popular helicopter configurations, being used in most helicopters produced today.
Sikorsky was a deeply religious Russian Orthodox Christian and authored two religious and philosophical books (The Message of the Lord’s Prayer and The Invisible Encounter). Summarizing his beliefs, in the latter he wrote: “Our concerns sink into insignificance when compared with the eternal value of human personality – a potential child of God which is destined to triumph over lie, pain, and death. No one can take this sublime meaning of life away from us, and this is the one thing that matters.”

One of the greatest dancers who ever lived.
Born January 28, 1948, he is a Soviet-born Russian American dancer, choreographer, and actor, often cited alongside Vaslav Nijinsky and Rudolf Nureyev as one of the greatest ballet dancers of the 20th century. After a promising start in the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad, he defected to Canada in 1974 for more opportunities in western dance. After freelancing with many companies, he joined the New York City Ballet as a principal dancer to learn George Balanchine’s style of movement. He then moved to New York to dance with the American Ballet Theatre, where he later became artistic director.
Baryshnikov has spearheaded many of his own artistic projects and has been associated in particular with promoting modern dance, premiering dozens of new works, including many of his own. His success as a dramatic actor on stage, cinema and television has helped him become probably the most widely recognized contemporary ballet dancer.

Founder of Google.
“Technology is an inherent democratizer. Because of the evolution of hardware and software, you’re able to scale up almost anything. It means that in our lifetime everyone may have tools of equal power.”
Sergei Brin is a Russian-American computer scientist, who, along with Larry Page, is best known as the co-founder of Google, Inc., the world’s largest Internet company, based on its search engine and online advertising technology. Together with Page, they are often referred to as the “Google Guys”. According to Forbes he is currently the 24th richest person in the world with a personal wealth of US$17.5 billion in 2010.
Brin immigrated to the United States at the age of six. Earning his undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland, he followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps by studying mathematics, double-majoring in computer science. After graduation, he moved to Stanford to acquire a Ph.D. in computer science. There he met Larry Page, whom he quickly befriended. They crammed their dormitory room with inexpensive computers and applied Brin’s data mining system to build a superior search engine. The program became popular at Stanford and they suspended their Ph.D. studies to start up Google in a rented garage.
The Economist magazine referred to Brin as an “Enlightenment Man”, and someone who believes that “knowledge is always good, and certainly always better than ignorance”, a philosophy which is summed up by Google’s motto of making the entire world’s information “universally accessible and useful and “Don’t be evil”.
In 1979, when Brin was six, his family felt compelled to immigrate to the United States. In an interview with Mark Malseed, author of The Google Story, Sergey’s father explains how he was “forced to abandon his dream of becoming an astronomer even before he reached college. Officially, anti-Semitism didn’t exist in the U.S.S.R. but, in reality, Communist Party heads barred Jews from upper professional ranks by denying them entry to universities. Jews were excluded from the physics departments, in particular…” Michael Brin therefore changed his major to mathematics where he received nearly straight A’s. However, he said, “Nobody would even consider me for graduate school because I was Jewish.” The Brin family lived in a small, three-room, 30 square meter (350 square foot) apartment in central Moscow, which they also shared with Sergey’s paternal grandmother. Sergey told Malseed, “I’ve known for a long time that my father wasn’t able to pursue the career he wanted”, but Sergey only picked up the details years later after they had settled in America.

Gorbachev was born on 2 March 1931 in Stavropol, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union into a peasant mixed Russian-Ukrainian family, and in his teens operated combine harvesters on collective farms. He graduated from Moscow State University in 1955 with a degree in law.
The world knows him as the first and last President of Soviet Union, great reformer and peacemaker, who contributed to the fall of Berlin wall and dissolution of the USSR.
Many Russian people know Mikhail Gorbachev as the first leader in the history of Soviet Union who acted as a human being – listened and communicated with common people, appeared in public with his wife and showed signs of love and affection to his family.
His role in Russian-American relations in extremely important.
Being a highly respected and trusted global leader, he has been using his power to help Russian and American governments understand each other and avoid confrontations.
Since his resignation, Gorbachev has remained involved in world affairs. He founded the Gorbachev Foundation in 1992, headquartered in San Francisco, California. He later founded Green Cross International, with which he was one of three major sponsors of the Earth Charter.
Mikhail Gorbachev is said to love California, especially San Francisco. He often makes jokes about the privilege that we have living in this part of the planet.

A composer Jerome Kern said about him “Irving Berlin has no place in American music – he is American music.” Little did he know that the embodiment of American music was an immigrant, born in Tyumen, Russian Empire.
Considered one of the greatest songwriters in history, he became world famous with his first song “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”.
He wrote hundreds of songs, many becoming major hits, which made him “a legend” before he turned thirty. During his 60-year career he wrote an estimated 1,500 songs, including the scores for 19 Broadway shows and 18 Hollywood films, with his songs nominated eight times for Academy Awards.
However it is “God Bless America”, an unofficial hymn of the USA, which made him a living legend.
“God Bless America” which was first performed in 1938. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, Celine Dion recorded it as a tribute, making it #1 on the charts.
In 1938, with the rise of Hitler, Berlin, who was Jewish, felt it was time to revive a “peace song”, which he wrote back in 1918. He provided an introduction that is now rarely heard: “While the storm clouds gather far across the sea / Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free / Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, / As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.”
More than just the dramatic words and melody, the arrangement for Kate Smith’s performance was accompanied by full band, progressing into a grand march tempo, with trumpets triple reinforcing the harmonies between stanzas: the dramatic build-up ends on the final exposed high note, which Kate Smith sang in the solo as a sustained a cappella note, with the band then joining for the finale.
The song was a hit; there was even a movement to make “God Bless America” the national anthem of the United States. In 1943, Smith’s rendition was featured in the patriotic musical This Is the Army along with other Berlin songs. Manuscripts in the Library of Congress reveal the evolution of the song from victory to peace. Berlin gave the royalties of the song to the God Bless America Fund for redistribution to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of the USA.

“Natalie Wood” (born Natalia Zacharenko; July 20, 1938 – November 29, 1981) was an American actress. Natalie Wood’s parents, Maria Stepanova and Nikolai Zacharenko, were Russian immigrants, but they grew up far from their homeland: her father lived in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, while her mother grew up in a Chinese city, Harbin.
Little “Natalie” began acting in movies at the age of 4, and became a successful child actor in such films as Miracle on 34th Street (1947). A well received performance opposite James Dean in Rebel without a Cause (1955), earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and helped her to make the transition from a child performer. She then starred in the musicals West Side Story (1961) and Gypsy (1962). She also received Academy Award nominations for her performances in Splendor in the Grass (1961) and Love with the Proper Stranger (1963).
“Natalie Wood” had a career which continued successfully into the late 1960s with films such as Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969). She worked less during the 1970s in order to have more time to start a family. She was married to producer Richard Gregson and actor Robert Wagner, and had one daughter by each: Natasha Gregson and Courtney Wagner. Wood starred in several television productions, including a remake of the film From Here to Eternity (1979) for which she won a Golden Globe Award.
Child Actress
Natalie Wood’s parents, Maria Stepanova and Nikolai Zacharenko, were Russian immigrants, but they grew up far from their homeland: her father lived in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, while her mother grew up in a Chinese city, Harbin. Shortly after her birth in San Francisco, they moved north to Sonoma County and lived in Santa Rosa, California where Wood was noticed during a film shoot in downtown Santa Rosa. Her mother soon moved the family to Los Angeles and pursued a career for her daughter. By age four Natalia was being billed as Natasha Gurdin, Gurdin being the family’s surname by this point. Like many parents of child actors, her mother tightly managed and controlled the young girl’s career and personal life. Her father has been described by Wood’s biographers as a passive alcoholic. At the studio’s suggestion, Natalia’s name was changed to Natalie Wood during her period as a child actor for Warner Bros.
As a seven year old, Wood played a German orphan opposite Orson Welles and Claudette Colbert in Tomorrow Is Forever. Welles later said that Wood was a born professional, “so good, she was terrifying”. Her performance in the 1947 Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street made Wood one of the top child stars in Hollywood. She would appear in over 20 films as a child, appearing opposite such stars as Gene Tierney, James Stewart, Maureen O’Hara, Bette Davis and Bing Crosby. Her sister Svetlana Gurdin (better known as Lana Wood) also became an actress and later, notably, a Bond girl. She and Lana have a half sister, Olga.
Wood successfully made the transition from child star to ingenue at age 16 when she co-starred in Nicholas Ray’s film about teenage rebellion titled Rebel Without a Cause with James Dean and Sal Mineo. Her performance won her an Academy Awards nomination for Best Supporting Actress. The film is now considered a classic. She followed this with a small but crucial role in John Ford’s western The Searchers which starred John Wayne and also featured Wood’s sister, Lana, who played a younger version of her character in the film’s earlier scenes. She graduated from Van Nuys High School in 1956. The following year, she received a Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress. Signed to Warner Brothers, Wood was kept busy during the remainder of the 1950s in many ‘girlfriend’ roles that she found unsatisfying. The studio cast her in two films opposite Tab Hunter, hoping to turn the duo into a box office draw that never eventuated. Among the other films made at this time were Kings Go Forth with Frank Sinatra and the title role in Marjorie Morningstar.
After appearing in the box office flop, All the Fine Young Cannibals with her husband, Robert Wagner, Wood’s career was salvaged by her casting in Elia Kazan’s Splendor in the Grass (1961) opposite Warren Beatty, which earned Wood Best Actress Nominations at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards.
Also in 1961 Wood played Maria in the Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise musical West Side Story which was a major box office and critical success.
Wood died by drowning near Santa Catalina Island, California at age 43. She had not yet completed her final film, the science fiction drama Brainstorm (1983) with Christopher Walken, which was released posthumously.
Also, at the time of her death, “Natalie Wood” was scheduled to star in a theatrical production of Anastasia , perhaps in recognition of her Russian heritage. She is honored by her Russian-speaking neighbors now residing in Northern California, and is to be appropriately recognized for her life’s work at this year’s The Best, an exclusive Invitational Event of the Russian American Media, Inc.

Comments

comments

Danesh Oleshko

CONTRIBUTOR

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed