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This Week in History: August 19th to 25th

AUGUST 19TH:

On this day in 1963, John Stamos, the Greek-American actor, was born in Cypress, California. His mother was a model and his father, William ‘Bill’ Stamos, was a Greek immigrant restaurateur. Before shortening it, his original surname was Stamotopoulos. Stamos has two younger sisters, both of them school teachers. His first professional role was on the daytime soap opera General Hospital. In 1987, he began his role as Uncle Jesse on Full House, which is his best-known role to date, spanning eight years. At his request, the writers of Full House gave his character the last name of Katsopolis, instead of the original character’s name, Cochran, in order to highlight Stamos’ Greek heritage. Stamos later served as an executive producer on the Netflix Full House spinoff – Fuller House. Along with his contributions to popular programs like ER, Stamos has starred on Broadway and toured and recorded with The Beach Boys. On February 3, 2018, Stamos married actress Caitlin McHugh. A little over a year after that, the couple welcomed their first child, William ‘Billy’ Christopher Stamos.

Also on this day in 1974, Rodger Davies, the United States Ambassador to Cyprus, was murdered by Greek-Cypriot gunmen during an anti-American demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia. An estimated 300-600 Greek-Cypriots were demonstrating against the U.S.’s failure to stop the Turkish invasion of Cyprus – which they believed occurred because of the United States’ perceived siding with Turkey. Only six weeks after arriving at his post as U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus, Davies, along with Antoinette Varnavas (an embassy secretary and a Greek-Cypriot national), were killed by sniper fire from a nearby building.

 

AUGUST 22ND:

On this day in 1932, Theoni Vachliotis Aldredge, the Greek-American stage and screen costume designer, was born in Thessaloniki. According to her obituary in the New York Times, as a child Aldredge fixated on dolls and their clothes and maintained a large doll collection throughout her life. After graduating from the American School in Athens, she decided to go to the United States to study theater. She attended the Goodman Theatre School in Chicago where she extended her studies after receiving a scholarship. Aldredge designed hundreds of costumes for Broadway and Off Broadway productions including Annie, A Chorus Line, Dreamgirls, 42nd Street and La Cage aux Folles – as well as many films including Moonstruck, Ghostbusters and Addams Family Values. Throughout her career, Aldredge won three Tony Awards (as well as 11 other Tony nominations) and an Academy Award for her work on The Great Gatsby. She also received the Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award. Aldredge passed away at the age of 88 in 2011 from cardiac arrest.

 

AUGUST 25TH:

On this day in 2004, Greek athlete Fani Chalkia (born in Larissa) came out of retirement to compete in her home Olympics in Athens. She won the gold medal in the 400m hurdles in 52.82 seconds. (During the semifinals, she set the Olympic record of 52.77 seconds). She followed up her Olympic gold medal with a silver at the 2006 Gothenburg European Championships. However, two years after that win, it was announced at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing that Chalkia tested positive for the banned substance methyltrienolone. Chalkia denied she had taken any substances, and asked for her ‘B’ sample to be tested, which also tested positive the next day. She was immediately excluded from the 2008 games. On December 12, 2008, the International Association of Athletics Federations announced that she would be banned from the sport for two years.

Also on this day in 2010, Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark married Tatiana Blatnik at the Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas on the island of Spetses in Greece. The couple had been in a long term relationship before becoming engaged right before New Year’s Day in 2009. Until July 2010, when Tatiana resigned to concentrate on her wedding plans, she worked as an event planner and publicity consultant for fashion designer (and royal) Diane von Furstenberg. Tatiana was born in Caracas to parents of Slovenian and German origin. She went to boarding school in Switzerland and then studied sociology at Georgetown University. The wedding weekend was jump-started by a cocktail party on the harbor of Spetses at the Poseidonion Grace Hotel. The wedding ceremony was widely reported in the Greek media as the entire Danish Royal Family (with the exception of Crown Prince Frederik) and other foreign royals traveled to Spetses to attend the marriage.

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