List of Finnish Americans

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The following is a list of Finnish Americans, including both original immigrants who obtained American citizenship and their American descendants.

To be included in this list, the person must have a Wikipedia article showing they are Finnish American or must have references showing they are Finnish American and are notable.



  • Lars Ahlfors (1907–1996), mathematician, one of the first two people to be awarded the Fields Medal; Wolf Prize winner; William Caspar Graustein Professor of Mathematics at Harvard University
  • Max Dimont (1912–1992), historian; author of Jews, God and History, which received critical acclaim and has sold over a million and a half copies; has lectured on Jewish history throughout the United States, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, and Finland; author of The Indestructible Jews, The Jews in America, and Appointment in Jerusalem
  • Jaakko Hintikka (1929–2015), professor of philosophy at Boston University; regarded as the founder of formal epistemic logic and of game semantics for logic
  • Benjamin B. Rubinstein (1905–1989), physician and psychoanalyst; had a practice in New York; wrote extensively on philosophy of psychoanalysis
  • Linus Torvalds (born 1969), software engineer best known for having initiated the development of the Linux kernel; became a U.S. citizen in September 2010[1]
  • Vaino Jack Vehko (1918–1999), automotive engineer; NASA rocket scientist; in 1960 became Director of Engineering on the Saturn S1 and S1B booster rocket program at Chrysler Space Division's Michoud operation in New Orleans, Louisiana; the Saturn boosters successfully launched all the NASA Apollo and moon missions
  • Carl A. Wirtanen (1910–1990), astronomer[2]

Arts and literature[edit]


  • Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors
  • Mike Markkula (born 1942), entrepreneur; angel investor and second CEO of Apple Computer, Inc.; provided early critical funding and managerial support; known as Apple employee #3
  • Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo and former Google executive[8]
  • Gustave Niebaum (1842–1908), established Inglenook Winery in Napa Valley, California, the first Bordeaux style winery in the US
  • Oscar Wirkkala (1880–1959), logger and inventor, developed the high lead method of logging, which revolutionized the industry; also invented important pieces of that industry's machinery used during the first half of the 20th century

Film and television[edit]

  • Pamela Anderson, actress, father is of part Finnish ancestry[9]
  • Lucas Bryant, actor
  • David Chokachi (born 1968), actor, mother is of Finnish descent[10]
  • Matt Damon (born 1970), award-winning screenwriter and actor, mother is of partial Finnish descent[10]
  • Richard Davalos (born 1935), actor; starred in East of Eden (1955) as James Dean's brother; portrayed the convict Blind Dick in Cool Hand Luke (1967); won the Theatre World Award for his performance in the Arthur Miller play A Memory of Two Mondays in 1955; fa is of Finnish descent[11]
  • Anna Easteden (born 1976), actress; The House of Branching Love (2009) and Sideways (2009); co-starred in soap operas Passions and Days Of Our Lives, and the series Bones
  • Taina Elg (born 1931), Golden Globe-winning film and stage actress[12]
  • Nathan Fillion (born 1970), actor
  • George Gaynes (1917–2016), film actor, known for his role as Commandant Eric Lassard in the Police Academy film series[13]
  • Renny Harlin (born 1959), producer and director; immigrant from Finland[14]
  • Brian Heidik (born 1968), won $1,000,000 on the Thailand edition of Survivor[citation needed]
  • Nancy Juvonen (born 1967), American-Finnish film producer; with Drew Barrymore, co-owner of production company Flower Films; produced Never been Kissed (1999), Charlie's Angels (2000), Donnie Darko (2002), Charlie's Angels – Full Throttle (2003); wife of comedian and talk show host Jimmy Fallon[15]
  • Paul Kangas, host of Nightly Business Report television program[16]
  • Marta Kristen (born 1945), perhaps best known for her role as the character "Judy Robinson" in the cult television series Lost in Space[17]
  • Christine Lahti (born 1950), film actress, paternal grandparents were immigrants from Finland[18]
  • Jessica Lange (born 1949), two-time Academy Award-winning film actress, maternal grandparents were of Finnish descent[19]
  • Dick Latvala (1943–1999), tape archivist for the Grateful Dead
  • Scott Lautanen, television director and producer[10]
  • David Lynch (born 1946), director, mother is of part Finnish ancestry[10]
  • Lisa Niemi (born 1956), actress, director and choreographer
  • Marian Nixon (1904–1983), actress[10]
  • Maila Nurmi (1921–2008), creator of the well-remembered 1950s character of Vampira[20]
  • Ethan Peck (born 1986), actor
  • Bonnie Pietila, casting director and producer for The Simpsons
  • Joyce Randolph (born Joyce Sirola, 1924), actress, best known for playing Trixie Norton on The Honeymooners
  • Allison Rosati (born 1963), journalist, paternal Finnish ancestry
  • Albert Salmi (1928–1990), film and television actor[21]
  • Steve Schubert (born 1951), football player, paternal grandmother was a Finnish immigrant
  • Vanessa Williams (born 1963), singer, actress, producer, former fashion model; first African American to be crowned Miss America; a DNA test revealed she is 12% Finnish[22]

Military personnel[edit]

  • Johannes Anderson (1887–1950), Finnish-born U.S. Army soldier during World War I; Medal of Honor recipient
  • Reino Hayhanen (born 1920), U.S. spy; Soviet Lt. Colonel who defected to the U.S. during the Cold War; helped break open the Hollow Nickel Case which led to the capture of top Soviet spies in the U.S. looking for atomic secrets
  • Timothy L. Kopra (born 1963), astronaut; flew missions on the International Space Station and Space Shuttle Discovery; U.S. Army Colonel; Desert Storm veteran; Bronze Star recipient; West Point graduate
  • Amelia Presley, (born 1989), U.S. Coast Guard enlisted Machinery Technician; raised in the small Finnish community of Franklin Creek, Mississippi. Presley’s paternal great grandmother came to the area from Minnesota with her mother and father, Anders Thomasson Kennakkala (changed to Andrew Thompson), along with other Finnish immigrant families in the 1900s. Amelia Presley celebrates her Finnish heritage with the community via a yearly “Silver Tea” held around Christmas time at the Finnish Lutheran Church in Kreole, MS. [23]
  • Lauri Törni (1919–1965), Finnish Army Captain who led an infantry company in Finnish Winter and Continuation Wars; moved to the United States after World War II and adopted the name Larry Thorne; served with the U.S. Army Special Forces in Vietnam War; killed in Laos while on a clandestine mission
  • Dale Eugene Wayrynen (1947–1967), U.S. Army enlisted soldier; recipient of the Medal of Honor, America's highest military decoration, for his actions in the Vietnam War


  • Sylvester Ahola, jazz musician
  • Muriel Anderson (born 1960), guitarist and harp-guitarist
  • Mark Hoppus (born 1972), bass player in Blink-182
  • Jorma Kaukonen (born 1940), blues, folk and rock guitarist[24]
  • Peter Kaukonen (born 1945), blues, folk and rock guitarist; younger brother of Jorma Kaukonen
  • Jaco Pastorius (1951–1987), influential jazz bassist[25]
  • Amelia Presley, (born 1989), singer and songwriter of Country music duo, Highway Sisters; raised in the small Finnish community of Franklin Creek, Mississippi. Presley’s paternal great grandmother came to the area from Minnesota with her mother and father, Anders Thomasson Kennakkala (changed to Andrew Thompson), along with other Finnish immigrant families in the 1900s. Amelia Presley celebrates her Finnish heritage with the community via a yearly “Silver Tea” held around Christmas time at the Finnish Lutheran Church in Kreole, MS. [26]
  • Wilho Saari, Kantele musician
  • Hiski Salomaa (1891–1957), folk singer and songwriter[27]
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen (born 1958), orchestral conductor and composer; Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • T-Bone Slim (1890?–1942?), humourist, poet, songwriter, hobo, and a labour activist in the Industrial Workers of the World[28]
  • Einar Aaron Swan, jazz musician
  • David Uosikkinen (born 1956), rock drummer
  • Osmo Vänskä (born 1953), orchestral conductor, clarinetist and composer; music director of the Minnesota Orchestra
  • Bobby Vee (born 1943), rock singer, 1960s teen idol, Finnish on his mother's side (Tapanila)
  • Charles Wuorinen (born 1938), Pulitzer Prize-winning composer[29]




  • Randy Carlyle, ice hockey player, coach
  • Dick Enberg (1935–2017), sportscaster currently employed by the San Diego Padres, CBS, and ESPN
  • Link Gaetz, ice hockey player
  • Drew Gooden, NBA player; Finnish mother
  • Dwight Helminen, ice hockey player
  • Lars Helminen, ice hockey player
  • Shawn Huff, basketball player for the Finnish national team; Finnish mother
  • William Kolehmainen (1887–1967), long-distance runner
  • Jeff Lahti, Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Gerald Lee, basketball player for the Finnish national team; Finnish mother
  • Chico Maki, ice hockey player
  • Wayne Maki, ice hockey player
  • John Michaelson, only Major League Baseball player born in Finland
  • Alex Murphy, NCAA basketball player and brother of Erik Murphy; Finnish mother
  • Erik Murphy, basketball player for the Finnish national team; Finnish mother
  • Matt Niskanen, ice hockey player
  • Dan O'Brien (born 1966), former American decathlete, deemed one of the best decathlon athletes of the 1990s, winning an Olympic gold medal in Atlanta in 1996 after winning three consecutive world titles
  • Will Ohman, Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Luke Putkonen, Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Pete Rasmus (1906–1975), discus thrower[35]
  • Kevin Tapani, Major League Baseball pitcher who played for the New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, and Chicago Cubs, 1989–2001
  • Nick Theslof, soccer player and coach; first American player to play in Europe



  1. ^ "Gmane Loom". Retrieved 2018-06-01.
  2. ^ Wirtasen vanhemmat olivat suomalaisia. [Wirtanen's parents were Finns.]
  3. ^ [1]"Finns in America"
  4. ^ [2] "Finnish was his first language and he didn't learn English until ..."
  5. ^ [3] "Finnish-born U.S. architect"
  6. ^ [4] "Eliel Saarinen (Finnish, 1873-1950)"
  7. ^ Steve Starger and J. David Spurlock: Wally's World, Vanguard Productions, 2006 [5]
  8. ^ Marissa Mayer visits the land of her ancestors
  9. ^ Iltalehti, 22nd June, 2007
  10. ^ a b c d e See the list of Finnish artists
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Taina Elg". IMDb. Retrieved 2018-06-01.
  13. ^ [6] Finnish-born (Helsinki)
  14. ^ [7] "Finnish director Renny Harlin..."
  15. ^ <>
  16. ^ The Finns in America (European Reading Room, Library of Congress)
  17. ^ Born in Norway to a German father and a Finnish mother; describes herself as a "Finnish Girl" at [8]
  18. ^ "Finnish Americans - History, Modern era, The first finns in america". Retrieved 2018-06-01.
  19. ^ Noted as one of several Finnish Americans at [9]; [10] notes that Lange is "the granddaughter of Finnish and Dutch-German migrants"
  20. ^ [11] born in Petsamo, Finland
  21. ^ Noted as one of several Finnish Americans at [12]; parents were Finnish immigrants
  22. ^ "Actress Vanessa Williams Explains How DNA Powers Her Family Tree". May 14, 2013.
  23. ^
  24. ^ Described as "Finnish-American" at [13]; father was Finnish and mother was Jewish-American
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2009-09-30.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)"Jaco's Grandmother on his Mom's side, Kaisa Eriika ISOJÄRVI, was born north of the Arctic Circle in Lappi, Finland, and married David Haapala from Minnesota, whose father, Andrew Haapala was from Oulu, Finland"
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-16. Retrieved 2012-07-23.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) "Arthur Kylander, Finnish American Folksinger"; born in Kangasniemi, Finland
  28. ^ [14] "T-Bone Slim (the itinerant Finnish-American worker from Ashtabula, Ohio, Matt Valentine Huhta)"
  29. ^ [15]
  30. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-10-07. Retrieved 2009-10-05.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ [16] "Although a few younger Finns held notable positions in the party leadership (e.g. Gus Hall, the party general secretary)"
  32. ^ [17] "JOHN MORTON was an early Finnish-American"
  33. ^ [18]"William Alex Stolt"
  34. ^ /volume7/countries/finland.html Welcome to... / Bienvenue à
  35. ^ "Cleveland Athlete Seeks Discus Throw Honors at Los Angeles". Salt Lake Tribune. May 17, 1932. Retrieved October 31, 2014.