U.S.-Baltic Foundation

Baltic-American Cavalcade of Stars

Balderis, Helmuts:  Professional hockey player
Berzins, Aldis Imants:  Professional volleyball player
Bierdrins Andris: Professional basketball player
Bronson, Charles:  Actor
Durbin, Richard: United States Senator
Ebsen Buddy: Actor
Gulbis Anne Natalie: Professional golf player
Ilgauskas Zydrunas: Professional basketball player
Ivanauskaite Jurga: Writer
Jarvi Paavo:  Musician
Jurvetson Steve: Businessman
Kiedis Anthony: Singer
Krumins Martins: Artist
Laurinaitis James: Professional American football player
Marciulionis Saurunas: Professional basketball player
Matelis Arunas: Film Director
Matvere Marko: Actor
Mikelsons J. George: Businessman
Milosz Czeslaw: Poet
Podnieks Juris: Film Director
Podres Johnny: Professional baseball player
Reilly John C.: Actor
Roos Michael: Professional American football player
Rothko Marko: Painter
Seduikyte Jurga: Singer
Shapiro Samuel: Governor of Illinois (ret.)
Shimkus John: United States Congressman
Sudeikis Jason: Actor
Suvari Mena: Actor
Zemeckis Robert: Actor


 Helmuts Balderis:
(born July 31, 1952 in Riga, Latvia, then USSR) is a retired Latvian ice hockey player. He played right wing. Balderis played in the Soviet Hockey League for Dinamo Riga (1969-77 and 1980-85) and CSKA Moscow (1977-80). He was the leading scorer in the 1977 and 1983 seasons, winning the Player of the Year award in 1977. He was the best Latvian player of the 1970s and 1980s and the most prolific scorer from that nation, tallying 333 goals in Soviet league play.
Balderis played for the Soviet national team, on the losing side of the Miracle on Ice game in 1980 but winning World Championships in 1978, 1979 and 1983. Balderis represented the Soviet Union in five IIHF World Championships (1976-1979, 1983), 1976 Canada Cup and 1980 Winter Olympics. He was named Best Forward in the 1977 World Championships. He was not selected for the USSR's 1984 Olympic team, likely for political reasons (in those years the Soviet teams consisted exclusively of Russians). The 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team celebrates the goal that led them to victory over the USSR. The Miracle on Ice is the popular nickname for the ice hockey game in the 1980 Olympic Winter Games, in which a team of amateur and collegiate players from the United States...

In 1985, Balderis retired and became a coach in Japan. He returned in 1989, when Soviet players were allowed to play in the NHL. Balderis was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars, playing 26 games and scored 3 goals with 6 assists. He became the oldest ever player drafted by an NHL team (36) and the oldest player to score his first goal (37). He retired again after one season in Minnesota, but came out of retirement for the second time when Latvia regained its independence. Balderis played several games for the newly created Latvian national team (in 1992), serving as its captain and scoring 2 goals. He later coached the team and served as its general manager. He is currently a member of the Latvian Ice Hockey Federation (Latvijas Hokeja Feder?cija; LHF). The Minnesota North Stars were a team in the National Hockey League between 1967 and 1993.

In 1998, he was inducted into IIHF International Hockey Hall of Fame.
Site: NationMaster  

Berzins Aldis 
Aldis Imants Berzins:
Aldis Imants Berzins (born October 3, 1956) is a former volleyball player from the United States, who was a member of the American Men's National Team that won the gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics


Biedris, AndrisAndris Biedrinš:

Andris Biedrinš (born April 2, 1986 in Riga, Latvia) is a Latvian professional basketball player who plays the power forward and center positions for the NBA's Golden State Warriors. He was drafted by the Warriors with the 11th overall selection in the 2004 NBA Draft.


Charles Bronson:

Charles Bronson (born Charles Dennis Buchinsky, Lithuanian name Karolis Bu?inskis, November 3, 1921 August 30, 2003) was an American actor of "tough guy", or "macho" roles. In most of his roles, he played a police detective, western gunfighter, vigilante, boxer or Mafia hitman.

Bronson was born in the notorious Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania coal-mining neighborhood of Scooptown in the Pittsburgh Tri-State area. He was the 11th of 15 children born to a Lithuanian Tatar immigrant father and a Lithuanian-American mother. His father was from the Lithuanian town of Druskininkai.


Dubrin, DickSenator Richard Durbin:

Senator Richard Durbin was elected by his fellow Democratic senators in December 2006 to the post of Assistant Majority Leader, also known as Majority Whip. It is the Senate's second highest ranking position. In 2004, Durbin was elected as Minority Whip. Durbin's election to leadership marked only the fifth time in history that an Illinois senator has served as a Senate leader.

Durbin, a Democrat from Springfield, is the 47th U.S. Senator from the State of Illinois and the first Illinois senator to serve on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee in more than a quarter of a century. He is the state's senior senator and convenor of the bipartisan Illinois delegation.

Elected to the U.S. Senate on November 5, 1996 and re-elected in 2002, Durbin fills the seat left vacant by the retirement of his long-time friend and mentor, U.S. Senator Paul Simon.

In 2001, Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) appointed Durbin to the Senate's leadership team, Assistant Democratic Floor Leader. In 2000, Durbin served as Co-Chairman of the Democratic Platform Committee and also was Co-Chairman of the Atlantic Conference sponsored by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. He is a founding member of the Senate Global AIDS Caucus

Buddy Ebsen    
April 2, 1908 – July 6, 2003) was an American character actor and dancer. A performer for seven decades, he had starring roles as Jed Clampett in the popular 1960s television series, The Beverly Hillbillies and as the title character in the 1970s detective series Barnaby Jones.
He was born Christian Rudolph Ebsen, Jr., in Belleville, Illinois. His father, Christian Rudolph Ebsen, Sr., was Danish and his mother, Frances, was Latvian. He was reared in Belleville until the age of ten, when his family moved to Palm Beach County, Florida. After a brief stay, Ebsen and his family, in 1920, relocated to Orlando, Florida. Ebsen and his sisters learned to dance at the dance studio his father operated in Orlando.

He graduated from Orlando High School in 1926. Initially interested in a medical career, Ebsen attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida from 1926 to 1927, and then Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida from 1927 to 1928. Family financial problems caused by the collapse of the Florida land boom forced him to leave college for good at the age of twenty.

Professional career:
Ebsen left Orlando in the summer of 1928 to try his luck as a dancer. When he arrived in New York, he had $26.75 in his pocket ($270 — $1,000 in 2007 USD). He and his sister Vilma Ebsen formed an act and performed in supper clubs and in vaudeville — they were known as "The Baby Astaires". On Broadway they appeared as members of the chorus in Whoopee, Flying Colors and the Ziegfeld Follies of 1934. A rave review from Walter Winchell, who saw them perform in Atlantic City, led to a booking at the Palace Theatre, the pinnacle of the vaudeville world.


Natalie Anne Gulbis:
Gulbis Natalie
Natalie Anne Gulbis (born January 7, 1983 in Sacramento, CA) is an American professional golfer who plays on the U.S. based LPGA Tour.

She started finding interest in the game at the early age of 4. By the time she was 7 years old she had won her first tournament. In three years when she was only 10 years old, she could regularly break 80 and sometimes even par. (Off of the front tees).

She is of Latvian descent, her last name meaning swan in Latvian, and was born in Sacramento, California, and played in her first LPGA tour event as an amateur at the age of 14. She attended Granite Bay High School and graduated when she was 16. She turned professional at age 18 after playing for one season on the women's golf team at the University of Arizona.

Ilgauskas, Zydrunas
Žydrunas Ilgauskas:

Žydrunas Ilgauskas (born June 5, 1975 in Kaunas, Lithuania) is a Lithuanian professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers.


Jurga Ivanauskait?:

(14 November 1961, Vilnius, Lithuanian SSR, Soviet Union17 February 2007, Vilnius, Lithuania) was a Lithuanian writer.

Studying at the Vilnius Art Academy, her first book was The Year of the Lilies of the Valley, published in 1985. She subsequently published six novels, a children's book and a book of essays. Her works have been translated into several languages, including English, Latvian, Polish, Russian, German, and Swedish.

After her visits in the Far East, she became an active supporter of the Tibet liberation movement.
She died from the soft tissue sarcoma at the age of 45 and is interred in the Antakalnis Cemetery.

Jarvi PaavoPaavo Järvi:
Grammy-award winning Paavo Järvi has built a remarkable conducting reputation. Born in Tallinn, Estonia, he studied percussion and conducting at the Tallinn School of Music then, in 1980, moved to the USA where he continued his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music and at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute, with Leonard Bernstein. He became Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in September 2001 and has recently extended his contract with the orchestra until 2010. During his Music Directorship they have toured together throughout America and Japan. They will make their second tour of Europe in Spring 2008.

Steve Jurvetson:
Managing Director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a leading venture capital firm with affiliate offices around the world.  He was the founding VC investor in Hotmail (MSFT), Interwoven (IWOV), and Kana (KANA). He also led the firm's investments in Tradex and Cyras, acquired for $8 billion. Current Board positions include Synthetic Genomics, IMMI, NeoPhotonics, and ZARS. Previously, Steve was an R&D Engineer at Hewlett-Packard, where seven of his communications chip designs were fabricated. His prior technical experience also includes programming, materials science research (TEM atomic imaging of GaAs), and computer design at HP's PC Division, the Center for Materials Research, and Mostek. He has also worked in product marketing at Apple and NeXT Software. As a Consultant with Bain & Company, Steve developed executive marketing, sales, engineering and business strategies for a wide range of companies in the software, networking and semiconductor industries.  At Stanford University, he finished his BSEE in 2.5 years and graduated #1 in his class, as the Henry Ford Scholar.  Steve also holds an MS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford. He received his MBA from the Stanford Business School, where he was an Arjay Miller Scholar.  He also serves on the STVP Advisory Boards and is Co-Chair of the NanoBusiness Alliance.  He was honored as "The Valley's Sharpest VC" on the cover of Business 2.0 and chosen by the SF Chronicle and SF Examiner as one of "the ten people expected to have the greatest impact on the Bay Area in the early part of the 21st Century."  He was profiled in the New York Times Magazine and featured on the covers of Worth, Red Herring, and Fortune magazines.  Steve was chosen by Forbes as one of "Tech's Best Venture Investors", by the VC Journal as one of the "Ten Most Influential VCs", and by Fortune as part of their "Brain Trust of Top Ten Minds."  He was also honored with the "Advocate of the Year Award" by Small Times and chosen as one of "Nanotech's Power Elite" by the Forbes/Wolfe Nanotech Report.  In 2005, Steve was honored as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and a Distinguished Alumnus by St. Mark's.             


 Anthony Kiedis 

(Born November 1, 1962) is an American musician and occasional actor best known as the lead vocalist of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Kiedis spent his youth in Grand Rapids, Michigan with his mother before moving to Hollywood, California at the age of eleven to be with his father. Shortly after high school, Kiedis embarked on a short stint at UCLA, but dropped out after losing interest because of substance abuse.[citation needed] After dropping out, Kiedis received an offer to be the opening act for a local band, and enlisted friends Flea, Hillel Slovak, and Jack Irons to assist, a line-up which eventually became the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Early life:

Anthony Kiedis was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on November 1, 1962 to John Kiedis, a son of Lithuanian immigrants, and Margaret "Peggy" Idema of Greek, Dutch, English, Irish, French, and Mohican Native American ancestry. He was never given a middle name, as per his birth certificate. His parents divorced in 1965 when he was three. He has two half-sisters, Julie and Jenny and a half-brother James. Kiedis lived with his mother in Grand Rapids until he was eleven years old, when he moved to Los Angeles to live with his father. He attended Fairfax High School with future band-mates Michael Balzary, Hillel Slovak, and Jack Irons.

Kiedis spent much of his youth listening to Sly & the Family Stone, Iggy Pop, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Stevie Wonder - artists who would influence the Red Hot Chili Peppers' sound.

Role in the Red Hot Chili Peppers:

Kiedis supplies most of the Chili Peppers' lyrics. Starting with 1989's Mother's Milk album, John Frusciante and Flea have written all of the music (excluding melodies) for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, with Kiedis supplying lyrics and melodies he hears during instrumental jams by his band mates; Kiedis said in 2006, "Somehow I find songs... in the bigness of what they're doing." His lyrical style has varied over the years. During the band's early years, Kiedis wrote many lyrics detailing his enjoyment of sex, drugs, and life in Los Angeles. As his musical tastes expanded and his outlook on life changed, and he matured, he began writing songs about how he wasn't enjoying sex, drugs, and life in Los Angeles quite as much as before.[3]

His early vocal style with the band primarily consists of rapping, which he could do quickly while keeping a consistent rhythm. On Mother's Milk (1989), Kiedis would write more melodic songs, rather than the basic rhythm and beat style of funk. The first song where Kiedis employed his new melodic style was "Knock Me Down". The melody was actually shaped and performed by guitarist John Frusciante. Upon joining the band, Frusciante sang lead vocals on the song along with Kiedis. Blood Sugar Sex Magik in 1991 still saw Kiedis rapping, but he also started singing more melodic ballads in songs such as "Under the Bridge", "Breaking the Girl", and "I Could Have Lied". Over the years, Kiedis grew to favor singing rather than rapping. Kiedis has had many vocal coaches, but none of them had helped him sing "well." In fact, it was not until 1999's Californication that he felt he could take full control of his voice while singing.

He has been a key figure in the Red Hot Chili Peppers, although the band's biggest commercial success came when John Frusciante joined the band in the Mother's Milk era. Despite the band's varied lineup, Kiedis remained and tried to keep the group together whenever it was about to fall apart. However, Kiedis himself was fired for around a month somewhere in 1986, because of his drug addiction; he was brought back into the band and stayed sober for as he recalls 50 days, after which he began abusing cocaine and heroin again.

Although he rarely plays instruments, he has been known to play drums during some of the bands jam sessions in live performances, such as the video found on Youtube at the Pinkpop festival in 2006. He also used to play a very basic guitar riff during early 90's performances of Give It Away.


Martins Krumins 

(1900 to 1992) was a Latvian-American Impressionist painter. He left Latvia after World War II and came to the United States in 1950. As Janis Sili?š wrote in a book about M?rti?š Kr?mi?š (Published by the Latvian Humanities and Social Science Association in 1980 and not copyrighted) "M?rti?š Kr?mi?š ... belongs to those artists of his generation, who amidst the changing trends of contemporary art, after thirty years in exile and emigration, as still basically close to and developing the traditions of their homeland art - of the 'Latvian or Riga School'"

Early life:

M?rti?š Kr?mi?š was born in 1900 in Riga, Latvia. His father owned rental cottages along the Baltic Sea and engaged in various forms of business. The family was not wealthy and life was hard. M?rti?š was a keen observer and the images which he observed as a child - the seashore, the many cloudy, northern days, the fishermen and their boats and work - these influenced his entire life and work. These were the early images upon which his heart opened.

M?rti?š attended a traditional elementary school in Riga and when the First World War broke out the family moved to the provincial town of Valmiera to escape the advancing front. As the front advanced again, M?rti?š moved to Valka in Northeast Latvia and when living conditions deteriorated again, Marti?š moved to Irkutsk in Siberia to live with his half sisters and their husbands. M?rti?š graduated from the Irkutsk Commercial School but as the communist regime came closer and closer and civil ware broke out between the Red and White Armies, a Latvian regiment was formed under the protection of the Allied forces which M?rti?š joined. An order came for the regiment to sail to Latvia and this led to an important adventure for M?rti?š; exotic places, different cultures, ports in different countries: China, Korea, India, the Suez, the Mediterranean and North Atlantic.

The Years as a Refugee in Germany 1944 – 1949:

On June 14, 1941, the Soviets deported thousands and thousands of people to Siberia. When the Germans came in, the German gendarmes were arresting people on the street. In October 1944 M?rti?š Kr?mi?š took his roll of canvases and sailed from Liepaja in Latvia to Danzig in Germany with hundreds of other refugees on the same ship. As Hitler's Reich collapsed, M?rti?š Kr?mi?š, as a displaced person, settled in a refugee camp in Augsburg. This was the beginning of productive years as an artist, despite the poor quality and scarcity of painting materials that could be purchased after the war in Germany. J. Silins wrote in his book about M?rti?š Kr?mi?š; "Krumins was well recognized by the German art critics for the simple reason that he was an articulate artist, different from Cezannists, from German and French Expressionists, Surrealists and adepts of Fauvism. A German art critic, H. Kellenbenz, placed the Latvian painter amidst the Western Impressionists with his very personal and restrained palette. Several years later, the art critic of The New York Times judged the same pictures differently; Martins Krumins, whose wintery landscapes are expressionistic."

M?rti?š Kr?mi?š took part in exhibitions organized by the International Refugee Organization in Amsterdam, Hague and Paris and also taught at the Latvian University Extension in Augsburg. In 1950 he sailed for the United States.
In the United States 1950 – 1992:

In 1950 M?rti?š Kr?mi?š arrived in New York and began a difficult process of adjusting to life in the United States. He did not speak English and now had to secure a job to earn a living and, of course, continue the creative work itself. Compared to the poor quality of artist's materials available in the refugee camp, the canvases and oil paints available in the United States helped his work tremendously, as can be seen from the paintings themselves. Krumins passed the examinations in architectural drawing and worked until his retirement for a company in Elizabeth, New Jersey which, incidentally, has a collection of his paintings at their headquarters in Pennsylvania.

M?rti?š Kr?mi?š has had many individual exhibits of his work throughout the United States, and also in Canada, Sweden and Latvia. He has also taken part in many joint exhibits with other Latvian artists. Some of these were organized by the American-Latvian Association Culture Fund and also the New York Latvian Artists Group. He was also a friend of Latvian-American Artist Lucia Peka. They both lived in New Jersey.

Latvian Diaspora:

M?rti?š Kr?mi?š is part of the Latvian Diaspora - Latvian nationals who produced art outside of Latvia during the Soviet occupation. As more than 200,000 Latvian citizens died during World War II and the Nazi occupation, thousands of Latvians fled the country to become the Diaspora. When these Latvian "Displaced Persons" came to the United States and other western countries, they saw in the subsequent Soviet occupation of their homeland, an effort to eradicate Latvian culture. But resources are now available, in Latvia and abroad, to provide a substantial overview of art from this Latvian Diaspora period. In Latvia the three main institutions responsible for maintaining such information on artists of the Diaspora are the Latvian National Museum of Art, the Latvian Center for Contemporary Art and the Latvian Artist’s Union. Together, they have begun to complete the history of European art.

James Laurinaitis 
(Born December 3, 1986 in Hamel, Hennepin County, Minnesota) is an American Football Linebacker for the St. Louis Rams. Laurinaitis was a three-year starting middle linebacker at Ohio State. He was awarded the 2006 Nagurski Trophy,[1] the 2007 Butkus Award for top college linebacker,[2], the 2008 Lott Trophy for the Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year, [3] and named an All-American in 2006, 2007, and 2008. He was selected by the St. Louis Rams with the 35th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.


Šar?nas Mar?iulionis 

(Born June 13, 1964 in Kaunas, Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, USSR) is a retired Lithuanian professional basketball player. He was one of the first Europeans to become a regular in the North American National Basketball Association (NBA). In the 1988 Seoul Olympics Basketball Tournament, together with teammate Arvydas Sabonis, he led the USSR national team to a gold medal in basketball.

Pro career:

Mar?iulionis started his pro basketball career with Statyba Vilnius in the USSR League, the forerunner of the Russian Super League in 1981.

Mar?iulionis was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in the 6th round of the 1987 NBA Draft. He moved to the NBA in 1989 and he played four years with the Warriors, finishing as the runner-up for the Sixth Man of the Year Award in both 1992 and 1993. Mar?iulionis became one of the first Europeans to get significant playing time in the NBA, helping to lead the way for the internationalization of the league in the late 1990s. After missing a year and a half with a leg injury, he was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1994, then traded to the Sacramento Kings in 1995, and he finished his NBA career with the Denver Nuggets in the 1996-97 season.

Lithuanian national basketball team:

Following the restoration of Lithuanian independence in 1990, Mar?iulionis almost single-handedly resurrected the Lithuanian national team. He contacted prospective players, encouraged several to join, selected the uniforms, negotiated a shoe deal, and arranged for sponsorships. One notable sponsor was The Grateful Dead; the band had one of its licensees design the distinctive warm-up outfits the team wore at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Basketball Tournament.[1] The outfits were a tie-dyed design in Lithuania's national colors of green, yellow, and red, with a version of the band's logo and "LIETUVA" (the country's name in its own language) on the front. The team went on to win a bronze medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Mar?iulionis was again a bronze medalist with Lithuania at the 1996 Athens Olympic Basketball Tournament. In 1995, he was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1995 FIBA European Championship, after leading Lithuania to a silver medal in the tournament. He also won the silver medal at the 1987 FIBA European Championship. In 1987, 1989, 1990, and 1991, he was voted as the best sportsman in Lithuania.


Despite a language barrier during his NBA career (Warriors coach Don Nelson hired his son Donn as an assistant chiefly to serve as an interpreter for Mar?iulionis), Mar?iulionis was a devoted teammate and active in the communities he played in. In the aftermath of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, Mar?iulionis appeared at the site of a commuter train accident wearing his Warriors warm up outfit and helped by pulling out trapped passengers and administering first aid.

In addition, his wife Inga enrolled at Merritt College, a junior college in the Oakland hills, and she walked on to their women's basketball team and was a star player there for two seasons.[2] Inga became one of 147 women in women's college basketball history to score 50 or more points in a college game while at Merritt, and today is the head coach of Merritt's women's team.
Marciulionis and Inga are divorced, but Inga still continues to live in the United States and continues her work at Merritt College.

Post playing career:
In 1992, Mar?iulionis opened the Šar?nas Hotel in Vilnius. In 1993, he founded the Lithuanian Basketball League (LKL) and also became its president. In 1999, Mar?iulionis founded the North European Basketball League (NEBL) and also became its commissioner. The NEBL would later be absorbed into today's Baltic Basketball League. Today, he is one of the most successful businessmen in Lithuania.

He is also currently the president of the Šar?nas Mar?iulionis Basketball Academy.

Ar?nas Matelis:
(9 April 1961, Kaunas) is an acclaimed Lithuanian documentary film director. From 1979 till 1983 Ar?nas Matelis studied Mathematics at Vilnius University and later in 1989 graduated from the Lithuanian Music Academy. In 1992, he established one of the first independent film production companies in Lithuania, "Nominum". In 2006 Matelis became a full member of European Film Academy with the right to vote.
Site: NationMaster  

Marko Matvere:

Marko Matvere (born February 4, 1968) is an Estonian actor. He has worked at the Tallinn City Theatre since graduating from the Higher Theatre School of the Estonian Academy of Music in 1991.He has played many roles, including in Les Mis?rables. Also in several films and TV-series it was Marko Matvere who played the main role. He has been awarded with the First Prize in the category of young actors at the International Theatre Festival in Torun in 1992, also the Estonian Theatre Union Award in 1996, the Award of Best Actor in 1997 at the National Drama Festival, Tallinn City Theatre Collegiate Awards of Best Actor in 1995, 1996, 1998, and 1999 etc. Together with Annely Peebo he hosted the Eurovision Song Contest 2002.


Juris George Mikelsons:

Juris George Mikelsons founded ATA Airlines. He was born in Riga, Latvia in 1938 during the end of the World War II. His family fled to Germany during the mid 1940s to escape the
Soviet occupation.

As a child, Mikelsons would peer out of bomb shelters to catch any glimpse he could of the planes being flown in the skies. This was the birth of his passion in life, which was to fly planes. His family moved to Indianapolis, Indiana during the 1950s where his father was offered a job as a violinist for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Mikelsons finally began pursuing his passion when he saw a sign offering flights for under $10. It was then that he flew for the first time. This flight sparked his desire to enter the aviation industry. He immediately began flying lessons and became chief pilot and director of the Voyager 1000 travel club. Mikelsons resigned his position in 1973 to pursue his own dreams.
In 1973, Mikelsons took a loan from banker Kenneth Wolff and put a mortgage on his home to purchase a Boeing 720, which he titled "Miss Indy," and started his own travel club, Ambassadair. Ambassadair was a charter-based airline which provided cheap vacation fares. Mikelsons, along with a fellow employee Mike Doades, piloted the plane, loaded the luggage, cleaned the cabin, and served as the tour guide. His hard work and determination allowed him to purchase more planes for his charter-based airline service. In 1984, after the deregulation of the Airline industry, Mikelsons formed Amtran, Inc., the former parent company of American Trans Air, which has since became ATA Airlines. Mikelsons then built an estate on the Northwest outskirts of Indianapolis, housing his wife, two children, and a Bell Jet Ranger III. Mikelsons soon became a respected public figure, donating to numerous charities all across Indiana.

People began to refer to him as somewhat of a "fly-boy", personally piloting his twin-engine helicopter from his Indianapolis home to ATA's headquarters near Indianapolis International Airport. Mikelsons also formed ATA Leisure Corp., Amber Travel, ATA Training Corp., ATA Cargo, ExecuJet.

Mikelsons loaned another helicopter to news companies and to local law enforcement and hospitals for lifelines. In 1993, ATA made its initial public offering, trading on the NASDAQ National Market System under the symbol "AMTR". Mikelsons, a noted conservative always notorious for putting his money where his mouth is, purchased a 75% stake in the company. In 1998, Mikelsons retired, giving the reigns of the company to John Tague. After the terrorist attacks upon the airlines on 9/11 and the rising costs of oil, the airline industry hit a major slump and jeopardized the future of the company.

Mikelsons came out of retirement to save his troubled airline. However, ATA inevitably went bankrupt on October 26, 2004, along with many other airlines. Mikelsons resigned knowing that he did all he could, and on February 28, 2006, ATA emerged from bankruptcy. Today, ATA is the largest military charter airline in the United States.

Czes?aw Mi?osz:

June 30, 1911August 14, 2004) was a Polish poet, prose writer and translator. From 1961 to 1978 he was a professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1980 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He is widely considered one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. Czes?aw Mi?osz was born on June 30, 1911 in the village of Šeteniai (K?dainiai district, Kaunas County) on the border between two Lithuanian historical regions of Samogitia and Aukštaitija in central Lithuania (then part of Russian empire). He was a son of Aleksander Mi?osz, a civil engineer, and Weronika, née Kunat. His brother, Andrzej Mi?osz (1917–2002), a Polish journalist, translator of literature and of film subtitles into Polish, was a documentary-film producer who created some Polish documentaries about his famous brother.

Mi?osz emphasized his identity with the multi-ethnic Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a stance that led to ongoing controversies; he refused to categorically identify himself as either a Pole or a Lithuanian.[1] He once said of himself: "I am a Lithuanian to whom it was not given to be a Lithuanian."[2] Milosz was fluent in Polish, Lithuanian, Russian, English and French.[3]
Site: Wikipedia

 Juris Podnieks:

(December 5, 1950 - June 23, 1992) is a Latvian film director and producer. He graduated a Soviet film school in 1975, after which he started working at the Riga Film Studio. He became a director in 1979. Podnieks's first film "Cradle" won an award at the Leipzig Festival. In 1981, his film "The Brothers Kokar" took the first prize at Kiev Youth Festival. Same year, his film "Constellation of Riflemen" won honours in the 17th All State Festival in Leningrad and the Latvian Komsomol prize. This was the film that gave Podnieks wide recognition within the Soviet Union. Podnieks gained international recognition thanks to his movie "Is it easy to be young?". The film was an exploration of the Soviet youth, in which Podnieks managed to track down and talk to youngsters later convicted for criminal actions. This movie broke box-office records in the Soviet Union. As the Soviet Union collapsed, Podnieks cooperated with British TV to give them first-hand insight on the events in Soviet Union. Over three years, Podnieks in collaboration with the British, filmed a five part documentary titled "Hello, do you hear us?". It showed civil unrest in Uzbekistan, survivors of an earthquake in Armenia, a worker strike in Yaroslavl and former residents returning to Chernobyl. The first film in the series was awarded the Prix Italia.

Later, Podnieks filmed movies that focused on the rising of nationalism in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. His movie "Homeland" was an account on folk festival in these countries when national songs were sung by massed choirs, after being banned by the Soviet regime for 50 years. While filming a follow-up to this movie, Podnieks and crew came under sniper fire during a coup in Riga. Podnieks was then beat up, his long time friend Andris Slapins was killed and Gvido Zvaigzne, another collaborator and friend of Podnieks, died shortly of injuries. This material was captured on video and showed as an addition to "Homeland", and later as an introduction for the revised version of this film. Juris Podnieks drowned during a diving accident on June 23rd, 1992.

Johnny Podres
Johnny Podres:
Johnny Podres, Lithuanian American, son of immigrant parents, born and raised Upstate New York, pitched 2 historic World Series wins against the New York Yankees in 1955. The World Series championship was the one and only victory in the history of the "Brooklyn" Dodgers. Subsequently, the Dodgers (and Podres) moved to Los Angeles in 1958.

John C. Reilly 

(Born May 24, 1965) is an Academy Award and Grammy Award-nominated American actor. Debuting in Casualties of War in 1989, he is one of several actors whose careers were launched by Brian De Palma. To date, he has appeared in more than fifty film productions, including three separate films in 2002, each of which were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Film career:

Reilly made his film debut in the Brian De Palma film Casualties of War (1989) as PFC Herbert Hatcher.[5] Although the role of Hatcher was written as a small one, De Palma liked Reilly's performance so much that the role was significantly expanded.

His profile as a film actor was significantly raised in 2002 when he appeared in three of the year's Academy Award for Best Picture nominees - Chicago, Gangs of New York and The Hours. The three movies were nominated for a total of 32 Oscars, including one for Best Supporting Actor for Reilly's performance as Renée Zellweger's trusting husband in Chicago. Ultimately, Gangs of New York won none, Chicago won six, and The Hours won one.
Reilly appeared in Martin Scorsese's 2004 Howard Hughes biopic, The Aviator, as Hughes' trusted business partner, Noah Dietrich.
eilly has appeared in over fifty mostly supporting roles since his debut in 1989.

Reilly performed on two tracks of the 2006 compilation Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys: “Fathom the Bowl” and “My Son John”.

In 2007, Reilly starred in the biopic parody Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. In addition to his acting role, he also performed as a vocalist and songwriter on the movie's soundtrack, for which he was nominated for a Grammy.[7] Reilly went on a concert performance tour in the US, performing as his character Dewey Cox in the Cox Across America 2007 Tour.

Reilly provided the voice of himself in the The Simpsons episode “Any Given Sundance”. He also frequently appears on Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! as Dr. Steve Brule.

Michael Roos  

(Born Mihkel Roos, October 5, 1982) is an Estonian American football offensive tackle for the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League.

College career:
At Eastern Washington, Roos earned numerous honors, including first-team All-American by The NFL Draft Report, American Football Coaches Association and The Sports Network, second-team AP All-American, Division I-AA Offensive Lineman of the Year by The NFL Draft Report, unanimous first-team All-Big Sky Conference and two-time Big Sky All-Academic selection. His fellow right tackle Paul Terrell was also an All-Big Sky Conference pick.

Professional career:
Initially projected as a late third rounder,[1] Roos was selected with the ninth pick of the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft out of Eastern Washington University. This made him the first Division I-AA player to be drafted that season and the highest draft pick ever to come out of Eastern Washington University.

Mark Rothko 
Was a Latvian-born American painter and printmaker. He is classified as an abstract expressionist, although he himself rejected this label, and even resisted the classification as an "abstract painter".

Mark Rothko was born in Dvinsk, Russian Empire (now Daugavpils, Latvia). His father, Jacob, was a pharmacist and an intellectual, who provided his children with a secular and political, rather than religious, upbringing. Unlike Jews in most cities of Czarist Russia, those in Dvinsk had been spared from violent outbreak of anti-Semitic pogroms. However, in an environment where Jews were often blamed for many of the evils that befell Russia, Rothko’s early childhood was plagued with fear, as he witnessed the occasional violence brought down upon Jews by Cossacks attempting to stifle revolutionary uprisings.

Despite Jacob Rothkowitz's modest income, the family was highly educated, and able to speak Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew. Following Jacob’s return to Orthodox Judaism, he sent Marcus, his youngest son, to the cheder at age five, where Rothko studied the Talmud. This had the adverse effect of stigmatizing him as an outsider within his own family, since his elders were educated in the public school system. As a Jewish person, the young Marcus was therefore an outsider among outsiders.

Emigration to the U.S.:
Fearing that his sons were about to be drafted into the Czarist army, Jacob Rothkowitz decided to emigrate from Russia to the United States, following the path of many other Jews who left Daugavpils in the wake of Cossack purges, which had become more severe. These émigrés included two of Jacob's brothers, who managed to establish themselves as clothing manufacturers in Portland, Oregon, a common profession among Eastern European immigrants. Marcus remained in Russia with his mother and elder sister Sonia. They joined Jacob and the elder brothers later, arriving at Ellis Island in the winter of 1913 after twelve days at sea. Jacob's death a few months later left the family without economic support. One of Marcus’ great aunts did unskilled labor, Sonia operated a cash register, while Marcus worked in one of his uncle’s warehouses, selling newspapers to employees.

Marcus started school in the United States in 1913, quickly accelerating from third to fifth grade, and completed the secondary level with honors at Lincoln High School in Portland, in June 1921 at the age of seventeen. He learned his fourth language, English, and became an active member of the Jewish community center, where he proved adept at political discussions. Like his father, Rothko was passionate about such issues as workers’ rights and women's right to contraception. Typical among Jewish liberals, Rothko supported the Russian Revolution in principle, although this position may be described as decorative, in the sense that he was never politically engaged.
He received a scholarship to Yale based on academic performance, but it has been suggested that Yale only made this offer in order to lure Rothko’s friend, Aaron Director, with a similar proposal. After one year, the scholarship ran out and Rothko took menial jobs to support his studies.

Rothko found the "WASP" Yale community to be elitist and racist. He and Aaron Director started a satirical magazine, The Yale Saturday Evening Pest, which lampooned the school’s stuffy, bourgeois attitude.[1] Following his second year, Rothko dropped out, and did not return until he was awarded an honorary degree forty-six years later.

The settlement of his estate became the subject of the famous Rothko Case.
In early November, 2005, Rothko's 1953 oil on canvas painting, Homage to Matisse, broke the record selling price of any post-war painting at a public auction, at U.S. $22.5 million dollars.
In May 2007, Rothko's 1950 painting White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose), broke this record again, selling at $72.8 million dollars at Sotheby's New York. The painting was sold by philanthropist David Rockefeller, who attended the auction.

A previously unpublished manuscript by Rothko about his philosophies on art, entitled The Artist's Reality, has been edited by his son, Christopher Rothko, and was published by Yale University Press in 2006.

'Red', a play based on Rothko, written by John Logan, is due to open at the Donmar Warehouse, London, on December 3 2009. It will be directed by the Donmar's Artistic Director Michael Grandage.


Jurga Šeduikyt?:
(b. 1980, Telšiai, Samogitia, Lithuania), known by her stage name Jurga, is a Lithuanian singer and songwriter. Born into a family of musicians in Telšiai, Jurga graduated high school and piano classes in Palanga. She acquired a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in public relations from Vilnius University.

Jurga's debut album Aukso pieva (literary, a meadow of gold) was released in September 2005 and has received very positive reactions. The album was produced by famous Lithuanian musician Andrius Mamontovas. Nebijok (Don't Be Afraid) and Saul? vandeny (Sun In The Water) were the most successful hits in 2005 and they helped Jurga to win the Best Female Act and the Best Album of 2005[1] in the Lithuanian Bravo Awards.

The second Jurga's album with a vocal jazz background, Instrukcija (literary, instruction), was released on 19 April 2007 and became "gold" within 2 weeks. On November 1, 2007, Jurga won Best Baltic Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2007.[2]
Site: NationMaster  

Samuel H. Shapiro 

(April 25, 1907 - March 16, 1987) was the Governor of Illinois, serving from 1968 to 1969. He was a member of the Democratic Party.

Born Israel Shapiro in 1907 in the Governorate of Estonia of Russian Empire, he emigrated to the United States at an early age. He graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law. As a lawyer, Shapiro practiced in Kankakee, Illinois. Turning to public service, he was elected state's attorney (county prosecutor) of Kankakee County.

Shapiro was elected lieutenant governor in 1960 and again in 1964, and took office as governor when the previous governor Otto Kerner, Jr. resigned to accept appointment to the federal appellate court. Shapiro thus became the second Jewish governor of Illinois (Henry Horner being the first). Illinois thereby became the first state to have had two Jewish governors; New York, Oregon and Rhode Island have each since elected at least a second governor of the faith.

Upon becoming governor, Shapiro ran at once for a full term of his own, but was narrowly defeated by Republican Richard B. Ogilvie in the 1968 election. He then returned to private life.
Shapiro was an alumnus of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. From 1984 until his death, he led the effort to establish a permanent headquarters for the fraternity's national offices.

He died in 1987 in Kankakee, Illinois and he is buried in Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois.


Congressman John Shimkus:

John M. Shimkus is serving his 13th year in Congress and represents the 19th District of Illinois.

John serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  He serves on the Subcommittees on Communications, Technology, and the Internet; Energy and Environment; and Health.

Legislative Success

John has been quite successful in getting legislation passed and signed into law. His efforts have focused on safety issues and alternative fuels, particularly important in his rural district.
Legislation on emergency safety

John sponsored legislation that was signed into law in 1999 by President Clinton designating 9-1-1 as the universal emergency number, including cellular phones. 

In 2004, he was able to get E-911 legislation signed into law by President Bush. This law expanded federal grants for deployment of equipment able to locate 9-1-1 callers from wireless devices.

Legislation on other safety issues
In 2002 John sponsored legislation signed into law that increased federal oversight of automobile tires.

Also in 2002, John sponsored legislation signed into law that established the www.kids.us Internet domain that provides a safe place on the web for young children to surf and learn without potential predators looming online.

In 2003, John sponsored legislation signed into law providing for the placement of heart defibrillators in schools.

Legislation on alternative fuels
In 1998 John sponsored legislation signed into law that put biodiesel on the map. His bill changed our nation's alternative fuel policy from one of vehicle purchases to actual alternative fuel usage.
John has been tireless since then in fighting for increased use of biodiesel, made from soybeans and other products, and ethanol, made from corn and other products. His efforts on behalf of the renewable fuel standard were instrumental in its inclusion in the energy bill signed into law in 2005.
He has subsequently introduced and fought for legislation encouraging coal to liquid fuel production.
Education and Work History
John received his Bachelor of Science degree in general engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point.  He served over five years active duty in the Army following his graduation, then entered the Army Reserves.  John retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel as of June 1, 2008, closing out 28 years of military service.

After leaving active duty John earned his teaching certificate from Christ College Irvine, California (now Concordia University Irvine).  He returned home to teach at Metro East Lutheran High School in Edwardsville, Illinois.

In 1989 John won his first election, becoming a Collinsville Township trustee.  He quit his teaching job the following year to campaign full-time and was elected Madison County (Illinois) treasurer.  While serving as county treasurer, John began studies for his master’s degree in business administration.  He graduated with his MBA from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 1997.

In 1996 John won his first term as a United States Representative from what was Illinois' 20th District.  Following redistricting in 2002, he has represented the 19th District.

Source:  www.shimkus.house.gov

Jason Sudeikis:

Sudeikis, JasonJason Sudeikis (born September 18, 1975) is an American actor and comedian.

Jason was born Daniel Jason Sudeikis in Fairfax, Virginia and is of partial Lithuanian descent. He moved to Overland Park, Kansas at a young age, and graduated from Shawnee Mission West High School, where he was a point guard for the Freshman Boys basketball team, in 1994. (He referenced this fact in an October 20, 2007 SNL sketch involving LeBron James.) He is married to actress and writer Kay Cannon and is the nephew of actor and frequent 1990s-era Saturday Night Live guest star George Wendt.

In 2003, he was hired as a sketch writer for Saturday Night Live at the recommendation of Jeff Richmond when he was performing at The Second City in Las Vegas and later, in May 2005, became a featured player on the show. He became famous for his impersonation of American Idol winner Taylor Hicks, as well as one-half of the A-Hole duo with Kristen Wiig. He was upgraded to repertory status at the beginning of the show's 32nd season on September 30, 2006.
Before getting hired by Saturday Night Live, Sudeikis studied at ComedySportz (now Comedy City) in Kansas City. He was later cast in the Second City's National Touring Company and has performed with Boom Chicago in Amsterdam. While with Second City, he became a founding member of Second City Las Vegas. He has also studied at ImprovOlympic and the Annoyance Theatre, and frequently performs at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.

Sudeikis had a recurring role on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock in early 2007, appearing in a total of seven episodes. He played Floyd, a love interest of Tina Fey's character Liz Lemon.


Mena Suvari:

Suvari was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the daughter of Candice, a Greek American nurse, and Ando Süvari, an Estonian-American psychiatrist. She has 3 older brothers, 1 of them in the US army. By the age of twelve, Suvari was modeling; she starred in a Rice-A-Roni commercial by the age of thirteen. Attended Providence High School, in Burbank, California, class of 1997.
Suvari spent her early years in a stone mansion that she insists was haunted.  She and her brothers saw several apparitions over the years. The family later relocated to Charleston, South Carolina, where her three older brothers lined up to attend the Citadel. Meanwhile, Mena was entertaining dreams of becoming an archaeologist, astronaut or doctor, when a modeling agency stopped by her all-girls school to offer classes. By the time she started acting, she had been modelling for the New York-based Wilhelmina agency for five years.

Suvari made appearances in television shows such as Boy Meets World and ER at the age of fifteen and sixteen respectively. In 1999, she starred in the Oscar-winning American Beauty and the popular American Pie. Suvari was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, for her role in American Beauty.

Robert Zemeckis 
Born May 14, 1952) is an Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning American film director, producer and screenwriter. Zemeckis first came to public attention in the 1980s as the director of the comedic time-travel Back to the Future films as well as the live-action/animated film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), though in the 1990s he diversified into more dramatic
fare, including 1994's Forrest Gump, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Director.
His films are characterized by an interest in state-of-the-art special effects, including the early use of match moving in Back to the Future Part II (1989) and the pioneering performance capture techniques seen in The Polar Express (2004). Though Zemeckis has often been pigeonholed as a director only interested in effects,[2] his work has been defended by several critics, including David Thomson, who wrote that "No other contemporary director has used special effects to more dramatic and narrative purpose."

Zemeckis was born in Chicago, Illinois to a Lithuanian father and Italian American[4] mother and was raised in a working-class Catholic family. Zemeckis has said that "the truth was that in my family there was no art. I mean, there was no music, there were no books, there was no theater....The only thing I had that was inspirational, was television—and it actually was."[5] As a child, Zemeckis loved television and was fascinated by his parents' 8 mm film home movie camera. Starting off by filming family events like birthdays and holidays, Zemeckis gradually began producing narrative films with his friends that incorporated stop-motion work and other special effects.

Along with enjoying movies, Zemeckis remained an avid TV watcher. "You hear so much about the problems with television," he said, "but I think that it saved my life."[5] Television gave Zemeckis his first glimpse of a world outside of his blue-collar upbringing;[5] specifically, he learned of the existence of film schools on an episode of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. After seeing Bonnie and Clyde with his father and being heavily influenced by it,[2] Zemeckis decided that he wanted to go to film school.
His parents disapproved of the idea, Zemeckis later said, "But only in the sense that they were concerned....for my family and my friends and the world that I grew up in, this was the kind of dream that really was impossible. My parents would sit there and say, 'Don't you see where you come from? You can't be a movie director.' I guess maybe some of it I felt I had to do in spite of them, too."

USC education and early films:

Zemeckis applied only to University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts, and got into the Film School on the strength of an essay and a music video based on a Beatles song. Not having heard from the University itself, Zemeckis called and was told he had been rejected, because of his average grades. The director gave an "impassioned plea" to the official on the other line, promising to go to summer school and improve his studies, and eventually convinced the school to accept him.[5] Arriving at USC that Fall, Zemeckis encountered a program that was, in his words, made up of "a bunch of hippies [and] considered an embarrassment by the university."[5] The classes were difficult, with professors constantly stressing how hard the movie business was. Zemeckis remembered not being much fazed by this, citing the "healthy cynicism" that had been bred into him from his Chicago upbringing.

While at USC, Zemeckis developed a close friendship with the writer Bob Gale, who was also a student there. Gale later recalled, "The graduate students at USC had this veneer of intellectualism....So Bob and I gravitated toward one another because we wanted to make Hollywood movies. We weren't interested in the French New Wave. We were interested in Clint Eastwood and James Bond and Walt Disney, because that's how we grew up."He graduated from USC in 1973.

As a result of winning a Student Academy Award at USC for his film, A Field of Honor, Zemeckis came to the attention of Steven Spielberg. Spielberg said, "He barged right past my secretary, and sat me down and showed me this student film....and I thought it was spectacular, with police cars and a riot, all dubbed to Elmer Bernstein's score for The Great Escape."[6] Spielberg became Zemeckis' mentor and executive produced his first two films, both of which Zemeckis co-wrote with Bob Gale.

1978's I Wanna Hold Your Hand and 1980's Used Cars (starring Kurt Russell) were well-received critically, with Pauline Kael going into particular rhapsody over the latter film, but both were commercially inert. (I Wanna Hold Your Hand was the first of several Zemeckis films to incorporate historical figures and celebrities into his movies; in the film, he used archival footage and doubles to simulate the presence of The Beatles.) After the failure of his first two films, and the Spielberg-directed 1941 in 1979 (for which Zemeckis and Gale had written the screenplay), the pair gained a reputation for writing "scripts that everyone thought were great [but] somehow didn't translate into movies people wanted to see."