100 Armenians Who Changed the World

100 Armenians Who Changed the World

Armenians are an ancient nation whose sons and daughters have made quite an impact on the human history. Science, art, politics, finance – you’d be hard pressed to find a field, in which Armenian men and women don’t thrive. Their talents have made our world a much better place, so here are their names for the grateful descendants to remember*! 

1. Khachatur Abovyan, Author and Intellectual

    Galvanized Eastern Armenian as a separate dialect.

2. Daron Acemoğlu: Economist

    One of the foremost economists alive today.

3.  Hovannes Adamian, Pioneer of Color Television

    Developed the tricolor principle eventually used to create color television. 

4. Cardinal Grigor Petros XV Agagianian, Candidate for Pope

    The second Armenian in the Church’s 2,000-year-long history to be made a cardinal.

5. Vittoria Aganoor, Poet

    One of the most respected female Italian writers.

6. Andre Agassi, Tennis Star

    The only male tennis player in history to achieve a Career Super Grand Slam.

7. Ivan Aivazovsky, Painter

    The most renowned artist of seascapes in history.

8. Armen Alchian, Founder of the “UCLA Tradition” of Economics

    One of the most prominent economists of the 20th century.

9. Brothers Abraham and Artyom Alikhanian: Nuclear Physicists

    Together, they founded the Armenian Academy of Sciences.

10. Diana Apcar, First Female Diplomat

    The honorary consul of the first Republic of Armenia to Japan.

11. Levon Aronian, Chess Grandmaster

    Fourth highest-rated chess player in history.

12. George Avakian, Jazz Producer, Manager and Industry Executive

    Created the first jazz album and the established the 12” LP format as industry standard. 

13. Charles Aznavour: Singer, Actor, Humanitarian

    One of France’s most popular singers.

14. Arno Babajanian, Renowned Soviet Composer

    Awarded the honor of People’s Artist of the USSR.

15. Boris Babayan, Supercomputer Pioneer

    The Soviet counterpart of the American supercomputer developer Seymour Cray.

16. Ben Bagdikian, Journalist, Author and Media Critic

    Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Peabody Award.

17. Giorgio Baglivi, Groundbreaking Anatomist

    Insisted on using observation and reason as the means to establish knowledge and procedure.

18. Peter Balakian, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet

    Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for his book of poetry “Ozone Journal.” 

19. Albert Boghossian: High-End Jeweler, Businessman, Philanthropist

    Benefactors of many philanthropic projects through their Boghossian Foundation. 

20. Gerard Cafesjian: Businessman, Philanthropist

    A successful publishing executive. 

21. Vahan Cardashian, Founder of first Armenian-American Lobby

    Lobbied the United States for the creation of an independent Armenian state and established ACIA, a precursor to ANCA.

22. Yeghishe (Soghomonian) Charents, Greatest Eastern Armenian Poet

    A leading voice of the Armenian Nation.

23. Cher: Entertainer, Philanthropist, Human Rights Activist

    One of the bestselling recording artists of all time.

24. Giacomo Luigi Ciamician, Scientist

    Father of organic photochemistry and a prophet of solar energy.

25. Raymond Vahan Damadyan: Scientist, Inventor

    The visionary inventor of the first magnetic scanning machine, now known as MRI.

26. Anna Der-Vartanian, First Female Master Chief Petty Officer in U.S. Navy

    Remembered for blazing a path for women in the United States military.

27. George Deukmejian: Former Governor of California 

    Potential US vice president candidate and ally of the anti-apartheid movement.

28. Patrick Devedjian: Politician

    French politician who has held several elective and appointed positions, from minister to parliamentarian to mayor.

29. Hrant Dink, Journalist and Human Rights Activist

    Founder and editor of the Agos newspaper in Turkey, gunned down for his work.

30. Richard Donchian, Pioneer of Technical Commodity Trading

    Founded Futures, Inc., one of the first publicly-held commodity funds.

31. Atom Egoyan: Filmmaker

    Nominated for two Academy Awards, including for Best Director. 

32. Dame Sian Seerpoohi Elias: Chief Justice of New Zealand

    First female Chief Justice in New Zealand. 

33. Joseph (Hovsep) Emin, Founder of the Armenian National Movement

    Dedicated his life to petitioning for freedom of Armenia.

34. Eduardo Eurnekian: Businessman, Investor

    One of the wealthiest individuals in South America. 

35. Larry Gagosian, World’s Most Powerful Art Dealer 

    The man behind the world-famous Gagosian Galleries.

36. Ivan Galamian, World-Renowned Violin Instructor

    Taught some of the best violinists in the world.

37. George (Georgy) Garanian, Pioneer of Russian Jazz

    Awarded the highest prize in the Soviet Union for art.

38. Carla Garapedian: Journalist, Documentary Filmmaker

    Former journalist for the BBC and the only American ever to anchor its BBC World News. 

39. Arshile Gorky, Great American Artist of the 20th Century

    A major figure in surrealism and one of the founders of abstract expressionism.

40. Ara Guler, Photojournalist

    Turkey’s most renowned photographer.

41. Viktor (Ambartsumian) Hambartsumian: Theoretical Astrophysicist

    Founded the Byurakan Observatory in Armenia, an important center of astronomical research. 

42. Heraclius, Byzantine Emperor

    Reorganized the empire and strengthened its military.

43. Flora Zabelle (Mangasarian) Hitchcock, Broadway Actress and Silent Film Star

    One of the first stars of American silent film.

44. Ashkhen Hovakimian (Agnes Joaquim), Creator of Singapore’s National Flower

    A prominent horticulturist and the first woman to create the first hybrid orchid.

45. Alan Hovnaness: Composer

    An original and prolific artist in 20th century America. 

46. Hovnanian Brothers: Businessmen

    The four Hovnanian brothers – Jirair, Kevork, Hirair and Vahak – are staples in the homebuilding world. 

47. Allen and Albert Hughes: Film Directors, Producers, Screenwriters

    Debuted with their first feature film at the age of 21 to great critical acclaim.

48. David Ignatius: Journalist, Author

    A well-known foreign affairs journalist for the Washington Post and author of several books. 

49. Paul Ignatius, U.S. Secretary of Navy

    Highest-ranking Armenian-American military official in U.S. history.

50. Shavarash Karapetyan, World Champion and Life-Saving Hero

    Seventeen-time world champion finswimmer and fearless savior of many lives.

51. Yousuf Karsh: Photographer

     Known for his portraits of Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Mother Teresa, Walt Disney, Audrey Hepburn, Muhammad Ali, Fidel Castro and Dwight Eisenhower, among many others. 

52. Garry Kasparov, Chessmaster

    Considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time.

53. Anna Kazanjian Longobardo: Engineer

    First woman to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University; original charter student member of Society of Women Engineers; first woman to receive the Egleston Medal.

54. Howard Kazanjian, Film Producer

    Produced “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones.”

55. Varaztad Kazanjian, Founding Father of Modern Plastic Surgery

    The first professor of plastic surgery at Harvard Medical School.

56. Udi Hrant Kenkulian, Oud Musician

    A blind oudist well-known to fans of folk music in Turkey.

57. Kirk Kerkorian, Investor, Casino Mogul, Philanthropist 

    Created the Las Vegas we know today.

58. Jack Kevorkian, Doctor and Human Rights Activist

    A pioneer and advocate of the “right-to-die” movement known as “Dr. Death.”

59. Aram Khachaturian: Composer

    Authored several compositions, including the “Gayane” ballet, which was used in the Stanley Kubrick film “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Some of his other famous works are “Sabre Dance” and “Spartacus.”

60. Kenneth Khachigian: Speechwriter, Political Activist

    A political strategist who has served as an adviser on nine presidential campaigns. 

61. Mkrtich Khrimyan (Hayrig), Leader of the Armenian Liberation Movement

    As catholicos he gave authority and energy to the idea that Armenians should be free, playing no small part in their eventual liberation.

62. Komitas (Soghomon Soghomonian), Pioneer of ethnomusicology and Creator of Armenian National School of Music

    Instrumental in recording and saving vast swathes of Armenian culture that may have otherwise been lost.

63. Andranik “Andy” Madadian, International Pop Superstar

    Alternatively referred to as the “Prince of Persia,” the “Elvis of Persia” and Iran’s “King of Pop.”

64. Rouben Mamoulian, Film and Theater Director

    Recipient of Directors Guild of America Lifetime Achievement Award and director of one of the first movies with sound.

65. Alex Manoogian: Businessman, Inventor, Philanthropist

    The inventor of the Delta faucet.

66. Missak Manouchian, Revolutionary Leader of French Resistance Against Nazis

    A poet opposed to violence until arrested and imprisoned for being a communist.

67. Alexander Mantashev (Mantashyan), Businessman, Philanthropist

    An oil baron and one of the wealthiest men of the early 20th century.

68. Mesrop Mashtots, Inventor of Armenian and Other Alphabets

    The alphabet was the key that allowed Armenians to preserve their culture and identity, thus lending them exceptional longevity.

69. Monte “Avo” Melkonian, Commander of Artsakh War for Independence

    Came to emobody a unified Armenian Nation.

70. Anastas Mikoyan, Soviet Deputy Prime Minister

    One of highest-ranking officials who served - and survived - four secretaries general.

71. Kevork Nalbandian, Composer of Ethiopian National Anthem

    Director of the orphan choir known as the “Arba Lijoch.”

72. Narses, Byzantine General, Conqueror and Ruler of Italy

    Expelled the Goths and reestablished Emperor Justinian’s rule.

73. Nubar Pasha, First Prime Minister of Egypt

    Instrumental in laying the foundation of the independent Egyptian state.

74. Garegin Nzhdeh (Ter-Harutyunyan), Armenian National Hero, Commander and Philosopher

    Shaped an ideology that continues to influence Armenian thinkers, politicians and leaders to this day.

75. Israel Ori, Early leader of Armenian Liberation Movement

    A dedicated proponent of the liberation of Armenians from Ottoman and Persian rule.

76. Andranik Ozanian, Famed Military Commander

    The “General of the Armenians” who fought during Genocide and the First Republic and raised funds for Armenian war refugees.

77. Charlie Papazian, Pioneer of Home-Brewing and Craft Beer Movement

    Authored “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing,” a work that sparked the craft beer revolution.

78. Sergei Parajanov (Sarkis Parajanian), Master Film Director

    One of the most acclaimed directors of the Soviet Union.

79. Haig Patigian, San Franciscan Sculptor

    Created several famous works of art that adorn buildings, parks and museum halls.

80. Tigran Petrosian: Chess Grandmaster

    World chess champion for seven consecutive years.

81. Alain Prost, Champion Formula 1 Race-Car Driver

    Crowned champion four times.

82. Raffi (Hakob Melik Hakobyan), Writer in the Armenian Liberation Movement

    Credited with initiating what would later come to be known as the “Zartonk,” or “Awakening,” during which Armenians reasoned toward the necessity of a free Armenian state.

83. Sue Sarafian Jehl: Military Officer

    A decorated officer in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps of the United States Army. 

84. William Saroyan: Author

    Published dozens of novels, short stories and plays, including “The Human Comedy,” “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze,” “My Name is Aram,” “The Time of Your Life.”

85. Arturo Sarukhan: Diplomat

    The ambassador of Mexico to the United States.

86. Sayat Nova (Harutyun Sayatyan), Bard of the Caucasus

    Renowned for the timeless music he created.

87. Mkhitar Sebastatsi, Scholar and Intellectual

    Established the Mekhitarist Order, an exclusively Armenian subsidiary within the Catholic Church.

88. Luther George Simjian, Inventor of the Automated Teller Machine (ATM)

    The prolific mastermind behind the ATM, exercise bikes and color x-rays.

89. Jackie Speier, United States Congresswoman

    Representative for California's 14th congressional district.

90. Dikran Tahta, Mathematics Teacher

    The man who taught and inspired Stephen Hawking

91. Serj Tankian: Singer-Songwriter and Political Activist

    Propelled to fame with the success of "System of a Down," Tankian led the effort in leveraging the band’s worldwide renown for the cause of Armenian Genocide recognition. 

92. Jerry Tarkanian, College Basketball Coach

    Registered one of the highest winning percentages, 6th all-time, in the sport.

93. Soghomon Tehlirian, Assassin of Chief Organizer of Armenian Genocide

    Killed Mehmet Talaat Pasha in Berlin as part of “Operation Nemesis.”

94. Alenush Terian, Iran’s First Female Astronomer and Astrophysicist

    A founder of the solar observatory at the Institute of Geophysics at the University of Tehran.

95. Tigran the Great, King

    Ruler of Greater Armenia, the strongest state east of the Roman Republic

96. Arto Tuncboyaciyan: Musician, Songwriter

    Grammy Award-winning folk musician renowned for his avant-garde style.

97. Henri Verneuil, Film Director

    Nominated for a Palme d’Or and Academy Award, winner of a César.

98. Zabel Yessayan, Leading Female Writer of Armenian Awakening Period

    The only woman on the Young Turk list of Armenians to be deported and killed on April 24, 1915.

99. Krikor Zohrab, Lawyer, Writer, Ottoman Parliamentarian

    An imposing and defiant voice of the Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire.

100. Jirayr Zorthian, the Last Bohemian

    An artist and significant figure in the history of Los Angeles art scene, owner of the Zorthian Ranch.


*All names are listed in alphabetical order.