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Famous Lithuanians

Created: 2015.05.05

What is an interesting topic to discuss with Lithuanians who speak the most archaic living Indo-European language? No, you will not need to speak Lithuanian, unless you would be willing to do so – Lithuanians are one of the most educated and multilingual people in Central and Eastern Europe. We would like to suggest some topics for a lively conversation with the Northern Italians - as we are sometimes called because of our emotional nature - about things that have made us famous worldwide.

Lithuanians famous in the world

Žydrūnas Savickas, one of the world‘s greatest strongmen lives in Lithuania. He has won the Arnold Strongman Classic six times in a row! Besides, Savickas has beaten various records set by Lithuanian and world strength athletes and has won a number of national and world’s strongmen competitions.
Arvydas Sabonis is a legendary Lithuanian basketball player whom in 1999 the visitors to the NBA.com website elected as the NBA's greatest impact foreign player and who in 2010 was enshrined in the FIBA’s Hall of Fame. He is recorded in Lithuania‘s Book of Records being the tallest man - 223, 6 cm.
Jurgis Mačiūnas (George Maciunas, 08 11 1931–09 05 1978), a co-founder of the famous “Fluxus“ movement was a Lithuanian-born (in Kaunas) artist who lived and worked in New York. If you ever are in Vilnius, you should visit the Contemporary Art Centre (Šiuolaikinio meno centras) where there is a permanent exposition of the Fluxus Cabinet. Walking down Gediminas street, the main street of Vilnius, you may find a unique Ministry of Fluxus. Opened in April 2010, the venue provides performance space for almost 200 artists of different genres.
New York is the home and workplace of another Lithuanian artist who, as a matter of fact, was closely involved with the afore-mentioned George Maciunas, Andy Warhol, Nico, Allen Ginsberg, Yoko Ono, John Lennon and Salvador Dali. That man is filmmaker Jonas Mekas who has often been called the godfather of an American avant-garde cinema. In 1964, he founded “The Filmmakers‘ Cinémathèque“, which eventually grew into „Anthology Film Archive“ – one of the world‘s largest repositories of avant-garde films.
The open-air modern art museum Europos parkas, located near Vilnius, features, among other curious artwork, the worlds’ largest sculpture-labyrinth made of TV sets LNK Infotree. The sculpture, created by Gintaras Karosas, is the world's largest artwork. The Guinness Book of World Records acknowledges the fact that the sculpture is made of about 3000 TV sets and occupies an area of 3135 square metres.
Lithuanian documentary film director Arūnas Matelis is thought to have made the greatest personal contribution to spreading Lithuania‘s name abroad in 2006. His documentary “Before Flying Back to Earth”, showing the lives of children undergoing treatment for cancer and the lessons of love, faith and strength they learn in hospital, has won awards in Brooklyn and Silverdocs International Film Festivals (US), the Directors Guild of America Award and many awards from Amsterdam, Madrid and Leipzig film festivals. His film was also included in the list of 61 films eligible to be nominated in the Academy Award’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
Juozas Statkevičius, the most prominent Lithuanian fashion designer, has also contributed to making Lithuania‘s name known in the world. He is also a renowned theatre costume designer, professional hair stylist and face-painter. Statkevičius is the first Lithuanian designer who has presented his designs on the pages of Vogue, L‘Officiel, Elle and Harper‘s Bazaar fashion magazines. He has created his own perfume and released two fashion books - „Grožio kirtis“ (Stroke of Beauty) and „Žinau, ko jums reikia“ (I Know What You Need). Famous women who wear the clothes made by Statkevičius include the wife of President Valdas Adamkus, Alma Adamkienė, President of the Republic of Latvia Vaira Vykė-Freiberga, wife of Prince Frederick of Denmark, Princess Mary and celebrities, such as Bjork, Kyra Sedgwick, Naomi Watts, Nicole Richie, Audrey Butvay-Gruss, Kirsta Bard, and Svetlana Gryaznova.
Do you want to know the name of one of Lithuania’s bravest professional aerobatic pilots? Every Lithuanian would say it is Jurgis Kairys. He is the winner of many European and world aerobatics championships. His name became famous among Lithuanians after he has flown under all bridges over the Neris river and his astounding flight in inverted position under a pedestrian bridge in Kaunas. But this is not all: Kairys has invented several aerobatic manoeuvres, including the "Kairys Wheel” or was the first to successfully perform the "Cobra" manoeuvre in a propeller driven aircraft (previously this stunt was performed only in some Russian made fighter jets).
How many kilograms can a man’s beard lift? „63.2 kg“ - would answer Antanas Kontrimas who set a Guinness World Record when he lifted a woman 10 cm off the ground in September 2007 in China.
Have you heard about GetJar, one of the world‘s biggest mobile phone application store? Perhaps you have even downloaded some applications from this library? GetJar was founded by an entrepreneur Ilja Laurs who was born and educated in Lithuania. In 2009, Informa Telecoms & Media included Ilja Laurs in the “Top 40 most influential people in mobile communications”. GetJar was announced the winner of the prestigious 2009 Mobile Excellence Award for Best Mobile Service (Los Angeles, US).

Famous people of Lithuanian origin

We are sure many of you must have heard the name of Anthony Kiedis (Antanas Kiedis), the lead vocalist of American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. We are still proud to mention that he is a second-generation Lithuanian as well as Brandon Flowers - vocalist, and keyboardist of the Americal rock band The Killers.
In relation to music it is impossible not to mention one more Lithuanian - Antanas Kazimieras Žemaitis (Antanus Casimere Zemaitis). The world’s famous guitarists who were the players of guitars hand-crafted by our compatriot Žemaitis include Ronnie Wood (The Rolling Stones), Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Bob Dylan, Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones), Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney (The Beatles) and many others.
If you take interest in orangutans, you most probably know the name of Birutė Galdikas, a well-known primatologist, anthropologist, conservationist, famous for her studies of orangutans. She has a doctorate in anthropology and biology and is the President of Orangutan Foundation International. Galdikas is an author of several books about the endangered orangutan species.
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