George Malek-Yonan

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George Malek-Yonan (1924-2014) was an Iranian Assyrian international attorney, politician and athlete,[1][2] and father of actress Rosie Malek-Yonan.[3]


The Assyrian Malek family claims to trace its roots back eleven centuries.[4][5] During the Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918, Malek-Yonan's family fled to Baghdad during the Great Exodus from Urmia where he was born on 11 October 1924. He died on 14 November 2014 in California. When still a young child, his family migrated back to Iran and finally settled in Tehran. His parents were Yosip (Joseph) and Suriya, both Assyrian. His older sister, Florence, was Knighted in the early 70s and lived in Switzerland where she died on 18 February 2007. His older brother, David, was a renowned engineer in Iran who built many of Iran's major freeways and roadways as well as numerous silos in Russia. His younger brother, Cyrus, left Iran for England when he was only seventeen to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London and eventually settled in Paris.[6]

Malek-Yonan married Lida Bet-Benyamin, also of Assyrian descent, in Tehran in 1950 and has two daughters: Monica Malek-Yonan and Rosie Malek-Yonan, the author of The Crimson Field and also a cast member of the long-running television series General Hospital.[7][8][9][10]

Malek-Yonan studied at Tehran University's Law School, earning a Law Degree in 1946 and a Degree in Political Science in 1947.[11] In 1964 he studied law at Golden Gate Law School in San Francisco, California. He practiced international law for more than fifty years representing many of the American, European and Asian corporations in Iran. He was the attorney for the U.S. Embassy in Tehran during the American hostage takeover. He moved to the U.S. after the Iranian Revolution.

The Malek-Yonan family has produced many great sons and daughters. Dr. Jesse Malek-Yonan represented the Assyrians of Urmia at the Paris Peace talks in 1919;[12] Milton Malek-Yonan inventor of Malekized Rice;[13] Shushan Malek-Yonan author of a children's book (1927) published in Tabriz, Iran; Rev. Isaac Malek-Yoninan author of several books and essays including The Beloved Physician of Teheran (1933) and Persian Women (1898); Norman Malek-Yonan author of The Christmas Story (1958); Terrence Malick,[citation needed] Oscar-nominated director and writer of The New World (2005), The Thin Red Line (1998), Days of Heaven (1978), Badlands (1973).


Three gold medals presented at Mar-Mar Palace in Tehran by the former Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, earned George Malek-Yonan the title of Champion of Champions[14][15][16] in Iranian Sports in the fields of track and field, pentathlon and soccer, bringing the total of medals awarded to him to 47.[17][18] His brother, David, was also awarded numerous gold medals by the Shah.

Malek-Yonan played high school soccer, basketball and volleyball.[11] After a chance encounter with Iran's track and field coach, Ahmad Izadpanah, at Amjadieh Stadium (today known as Shahid Shiroudi Stadium), Malek-Yonan became interested in track and field.[11] In 1934 Izadpanah had begun organizing various track and field meets and by 1936, the Iranian Athletics Federation was established and Iran joined the International Amateur Athletics Federation.[19]

Malek-Yonan first competed in the long jump and triple jump in 1944 (1323) where he earned two silver medals. The same year he participated in Iran's University competitions in the long jump, the triple jump, javelin and shot put, earning four more silver medals.[11]

While studying law at Tehran University, he won a gold medal in table tennis in 1946 (1325) and was a member of the University of Tehran Soccer, Volleyball and Basketball teams.[20]

Malek-Yonan was the most decorated athlete at Iran's 1948 (1327) National Athletic Competitions,[2] earning him the title of Champion of Champions. He was the only athlete in 1948 to have received a gold medal as well as winning the Track and Field Cup. He competed in the pentathlon (2 x 100 meters, 1,500 meters, javelin, discus and long jump), as well as the 100 meters, 200 meters and long jump, winning four gold medals and earning first place at the 1948 Olympic Games Qualifiers.[11] However he did not compete at the Olympics.


Malek-Yonan's 1948 (1327) record:[2][21][22]

  • 100 Meters, 11/5 Seconds, Event: National Championship, Gold Medal
  • 200 Meters, 24/4 Seconds, Event: National Championship, Gold Medal
  • Long Jump, 7/55 Meters, Event: National Championship, Gold Medal
  • Pentathlon, 2305, Event: National Championship, Gold Medal

Malek-Yonan's 1950 (1329) record:[23]

  • Long Jump, 6/43 Meters, Event: National Championship
  • At the Eastern Mediterranean Cup Championship he took the bronze medal in the 200 Meters, but came in fifth place in the Long Jump and Triple Jump.[11][20]


A leading international attorney, George Malek-Yonan was responsible for procuring a seat for Assyrians as a recognized minority in the Iranian Parliament, thus giving Assyrians and Chaldeans a political voice in Iran.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Noor-e Alam: Protestant Monthly in Iran (in Persian) (9): 11–13. February 1963. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ a b c "Iran's 1948 (1327) Track and Field Championship". Niroo-Va-Rasti Weekly Magazine (in Persian) (216): 17. 26 October 1948 (4 Aban 1327). Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ "Famous Assyrians - Rosie Malek-Yonan". Assyrian World.
  4. ^ Moorhatch, Abraham (October 1946). Geogtapa: The History of a small Christian town in Northwestern Iran from the time of Zoroaster, over 2,500 years ago.
  5. ^ "Assyrian Achiever". The Assyrian Star. LVII (3): 26. Fall 2005.
  6. ^ "Filming Session at Summer School". Hertfordshire Mercury and County Press. 22 August 1958.
  7. ^ "Assyrian Author Interviewed on ABC". Australian Islamist Monitor.
  8. ^ "The Religion Report, Christian Minorities in the Islamic Middle East : Rosie Malek-Yonan on the Assyrians". 30 May 2007.
  9. ^ "Rosie Malek-Yonan Joins Cast of General Hospital". 9 June 2008.
  10. ^ "Rosie Malek-Yonan Returns to ABC's General Hospital". Assyria Times. 19 January 2011. Archived from the original on 14 September 2011.
  11. ^ a b c d e f "George Malek-Yonan, Champion of Champions". Revue Hebdomadaire de L'Éducation Physique et des Sports (in Persian). 9 November 1948.
  12. ^ "Assyrians in the World War I Treaties: Paris, Sèvres, and Lausanne".
  13. ^ Frank J. Taylor (10 January 1948). "Revolution in Rice". Collier's.
  14. ^ "...George Malek-Yonan, Iran's Track and Field Champion holding the title of Champion of Champion". Javanan Magazine (in Persian) (396): 74. 6 January 1995.
  15. ^ The Assyrian Star (in Persian). 44 (1): 25. November 1992. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ Nineveh Quarterly Magazine. 14 (4): 25. 4th Quarter 1991. Check date values in: |date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  17. ^ Koorosh Bet-Younan (24 October 1988). Fogholadeh Persian Weekly (in Persian). 7 (342): 21. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ "Rosie Malek-Yonan". Zinda Magazine. XI (342). 27 April 2005. Archived from the original on 11 January 2013.
  19. ^ "A Long Run Yet". Iran International Magazine.
  20. ^ a b "Remembering Star Athletes of Iran: George Malek-Yonan, Iran's Track and Field Champion". Javanan Magazine (in Persian) (7): 35. 24 July 1987.
  21. ^ Varzesh-e Daneshkah (in Persian). Tehran University. October 1948. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^ "George Malek-Yonan, Pentathlon Champion". Niroo-Va-Rasti Weekly Magazine (in Persian): 131. October 1948.
  23. ^ Iranian Track and Field Federation - 7th Edition (March 1962). Long Jump. Derakhshan Publication.