Courtly Lives - Famous Poles

Famous Poles
Written and Researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.

Music playing is Chopins waltz Op 18

  • Magdalena Abakonowicz(f) Polish Sculptor (1930- )

  • Jankel Adler(m) Polish Painter (1895-1949) who was born near Lodz. He had a Jewish upbringing and joined the Polish army in France. He was evacuated to Scotland, in 1941, where he was exiled.

  • Patricia Andrejewski(f) (Pat Benatar) made her fame in Rock 'n' Roll.

  • George Antheil (1900-1959) American composer of Polish descent. Antheil was born in New Jersey. He is the composer of Jazz Symphony(1925), the ballet Ballet Mecanique (1927), and the opera Transatlantic(1930). His autobiography was called Bad Boy of Music and was published in 1945.

  • Henryk Archowski(m) (1871-1958) explored Antarctica.


  • Lauren Bacall (see Betty Joan Perske)

  • Carroll Baker (see Katolina Piekarski)

  • Stefan Banach (1892-1945) Polish mathematician, born in Krakow. He studied at Lvov. He was the founder of functional analysis and his book Theorie des operations lineaires was published in 1932. He founded the school of Polish mathematics. His health was ruined by his wartime experience and he died soon after returning to Lvov, after World War II.

  • Christine Baranski was born May 2, 1952, in Buffalo, New York. Her Polish grandparents were both actors. As a winner of an Emmy, Screen Actors Guild and two Tony Awards, Christine Baranski has achieved acclaim in every medium in which she has performed. She appeared in the recent Oscar-winning movie "Chicago."

    After graduating from Juilliard, Christine began earning roles in regional and Off-Broadway productions. Baranski co-starred with Nathan Lane and Robin Williams in the box-office smash "The Birdcage," for which she received a Screen Actors Guild Award. She resides in New York with her family.

  • Jan Bartkowicz was a top tennis player in the 1960's.

  • Elizabeth Bathory (d. 1614). niece of Stefan Bathory, king of Poland, and wife of the Hungarian Count Nidasdy. In 1610, she was discovered to have murdered 650 young girls, so that she could keep her youth by bathing in their warm blood. Her accomplices were burnt; but she was shut up in her fortress of Csej.

  • Mieczyslaw Bekker(m) developed the Moon Rover used in the Apollo space program.

  • Berhard Berenson (1865-1959) An Lithuanian-American art critic. He was born in Vilnius. He moved to the U.S.A. in 1875, and studied at Harvard. He became an authority on Italian Renaissance Art. His works include: Painters of the Renaissance (1894-1907), The Study and Critism of Italian Art (1901-1916), Aestetics and History (1950), and his autobiographical sketch Sketch for a Self-Potrait (1949). He left his villa and art collection to Harvard in his will. His villa was turned into an Italian Renaissance culture center.

  • Bruce Bielaski(m) was a "Lithuanian of Poland," and the first director of the FBI (1912-1919).

  • Karol J. Bobko(m) was the first Polish American astronaut.

  • Jozef Brandt (1841-1915) - Polish artist of the "Hussars in the Battle of Vienna."

  • Charles Buchinski(m) changed his name to Charles Bronson and began his acting career.

  • Jeff Bujack is a member of the Bowling Hall of Fame.

  • Bill Burakowski (Bill Burke) is a member of the Golf Hall of Fame.

  • Zbigniew Brzezinski (1028- ) is a Polish born American acedemic and politician. He was born in Warsaw. He settled in the U.S.A. and became a naturalized citizen in 1958. He taught at Harvard's Russian Research center during the 1950's. He was a national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter. From 1981 he returned to his position at Columbia, as a professor of public law and government; and taught at Georgetown University.


  • Hipolit Cegielski (1815-1868) was a Poznan schoolteacher who was dismissed for refusing to conduct searches in the houses of his students after the Krakow revolution. He published in the Gazeta Polska (Dziennik Poznanski).

  • Joseph Chlopicki (1771-1854) was a Polish soldier and patriot. He served under Napoleon and was made a general by Emperor Alexander (Russian), but he became a dictator in the Polish insurrection of 1830-1831, and died in exile in Cracow. For more about Poles that served under Napoleon, CLICK HERE

  • Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki (m) painter, draughtsman, printmaker. Born in Poland in 1726. Died in Germany in 1801.

  • Fryderyk F. Chopin (1810-1849). Famous composer. CLICK HERE for more info.

  • Aaron Chwatt (Red Buttons) was born in 1919, and was a famous Polish-American comedian-actor. He starred in Sayonora with Miyoshi Umeki and Marlon Brando.

  • Bishop Jan Cieplak (1857-1926) is a candidate for sainthood in the Catholic Church.

  • Nicholas Copernicus, famous Polish astronomer.

  • Josef Cyrankiewicz (1911-1989) Polish politician.

  • Adam Jerzy Czartoryski (1770-1861) was a Polish magnate, statesman, and advocate of the Polish nationhood after the 1770's partitions. He was known as the "uncrowned King of Poland."


  • Jan Henryk Dabrowski (1755-1818) was a Polish soldier and founder of the Polish Legion.

  • Henryk Dembinski (1791-1864) was a Polish soldier. He was born near Cracow. He entered the Polish army in 1809, and fought under Napoleon against the Russians and at Leipzig (1813). In the Polish revolution of 1830, he was commander-in-chief. He was in the service of Mehemet, in 1833. In the 1848 Hungarian insurrection, Kossuth appointed him commander-in-chief. He was hampered by the jealousy of Gorgei and after the defeat of Kapolna, he resigned. On Kossuth's resignaytion, he fled to Turkey, but in 1850 he returned to Paris, France. He wrote his Memoirs in 1833, and four other works


  • Stefania FederkiewiczStephanie Powers - was born November 2, 1942, in Hollywood, California. As an actress she was nominated for 5 Golden Globe nominations, from 1979-1983, for her TV series Hart to Hart with co-star Robert Wagner. She was a graduate of Hollywood High School.

  • Arthur Fellig/Weegee)was born in Poland in 1899, and died in the USA in 1968.


  • Edward Gierek (b. 1913)

  • A. Gierymski (1850-1901) was a Polish artist.

  • Josef Glemp (b. 1929).

  • Michael Goldwater (originally Goldwasser), was born in Konin, Poland; and emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1852 to establish himself as a businessman. For more information see: Townsman, "Big Mike" Goldwater

  • Chet Jastremski (born in 1941) is a Polish American athlete, who is in the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

  • Erazm Jerzmanowski (1844-1909), was the pioneers of the American gas industry.


  • Moöse Kisling(m) Painter. Born in 1891 in Poland. Died 1953 in France.

  • Ted Knight was born December 7, 1923, in Terryville, Connecticut. His birth name was Tadeus Wladyslaw Konopka. He died August 26, 1986, of cancer. He was nominated for an Emmy in 1972, 1974, 1975 & 1977, for "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." He won Emmys in 1973 & 1976, for "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." He was also nominated for the GOLDEN GLOBE in 1973 & 1976, for "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

  • Marvelle Sebrich-Kochanska (1858-1935) was an internationally known Polish American opera star

  • Mikolaj Kopernik (1473-1543) was a famous Pole who took the earth from the center of the universe, and theorized that the planets all revolved around the sun. See Nicolas Copernicus

  • Thaddeus Koscuiszko (1746-1817) Tadeusz Koscuizko

  • Jerzy Nikodem Kosinski, a Polish-born novelist, wrote all his books in English. The Painted Bird was his most famous novel and depicted his childhood during WWII.

    Jerzy Kosinski Quotations

  • Martha Helen Kostyra/Martha Stewart was born August 3, 1941 in Jersey City, New Jersey. Her parents werte Eddie and Martha Kostyra. Martha's father, Eddie, was an avid gardener. Martha married Andy Stewart in 1961 and their only child, Alexis, was born in 1965. Martha Stewart is best known for her unique decorating, cooking, and gardening tips, and her magazine Martha Stewart's Living. She came from a middle class family, but managed to become rich and famous.

  • Felicjan Kowarski (1890-1948) was a Polish painter who won first prize for decorating the Royal Castle of Cracow.


  • Gene Krupa (1909-1973) was a drummer with the Benny Goodman Orchestra.

  • Tara Lipinski is the famous Olympic ice skater.

  • Ignacy Lukasiewicz (1822-January 7, 1882)was a Polish scientist and the inventor of the kerosene lamp.


  • Louis Marcoussis (Ludwig Markus) was born in 1883 in Poland, and died in 1941 in France.

  • Jan Matejko (1838-1893) was one of Poland's greatest historical painters. He was born a Czech, but he adopted Poland as his home. He was most famous for his "Gallery of Kings."

  • Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855) was a Polish romantic poet who wrote "Pan Tadeusz." Adam was born in Lithuania and was exiled to Russia for revolutionary agitation.

  • Helena Modrzejewska [shortened to Mojeska for stage] was a famous Polish actress.


  • Ignacy J. Paderewski (1860-1941). CLICK HERE for more information.

  • Betty Perske(f)/Lauren Bacall was the Polish-American actress who said: "If you want anything, all you have to do is whistle."

  • Karolina Piekarski/Carroll Baker was another Polish-American actress and celebrity.

  • Roman Polanski film director.

  • Pope John Paul II, memorial

  • Stephanie Powers - see Stefania Federkiewicz

  • Casimir Pulaski - was born on 4 March 1745, in Warka-Winiary, Poland; and died on 15 October 1779. He was best known as a Polish general in the U.S.A. Revolutionary War. [Casimir Pulaski]


  • Frederyk Skarbek (1792-1866) was a Polish economist and sociologist.

  • Albin Schoepf(m) was Brigadier-General of the Union Army.

  • Jan Sadowski(m) was the first white man to cross the Allegheny Mountains in 1735.

  • Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846-1916) was the first Polish writer to win the Nobel Prize for literature, in 1905, for his book Quo Vadis. His trilogy: With Fire and Sword, The Deluge. and Pan Michael were great works depicting the 17th century Polish wars.

    Henryk Sienkiewicz. For more links about Henryk Sienkiewicz, please go to: Famous Sypniewski Page

  • Maria (Manya) Sklodowska-Curie (1867-1934) was the first woman scientist to earn fame. She was the wife of Pierre Curie, whom she married in 1895. They worked together on magnetism and radioactivity (a term she invented in 1898), and isolated radium and polonium (which she named after he native Poland). She won two Nobel Prizes in 1903, this one was jointly awarded to her and her husband with Antoine Henri Becquerel (for physics). After he husband's death in 1906, she succeeded him as professor of physics at the Sorbonne. In 1910, she isolated pure radium and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1911 (for chemistry). She was the leader of the research department at Radium Institute in Paris (1918-1934) and an honorary professor of radiology at Warsaw (1919-1934). Her eldest daughter, Irene Joliot Curie, was a nuclear physicist. Her second daughter, Eve Curie, became a well-known musician and writer. She wrote a biography of her mother.

  • Lee Lee Sobieski, actress, was born in New York City as Liliane Rudabet Gloria Elzbieta Sobieski on June 10, 1982. Her birth name is rich with her French and Polish heritage. "Liliane is the name of her father's mother (shortened to "Leelee.") Elzbieta/Elsveta comes from my mother's side of the family. It's Elizabeth in Polish." Leelee grew up in New York City's Upper West Side, and spent time in France with her father's family.

    The Sobieski family is a direct descendant of Polish royalty. "Many generations back," says Lee Lee, "there was a king in Poland and he was my great great great great Uncle...."

  • Jabob Steinhardt (m), painter, printmaker who was born in Poland and died in 1968.

  • Lee Strasburg, acting teacher was born in Budazanow, Poland on November 17, 1901 as Israel Strassberg. He died February 17, 1982 in New York City. Marilyn Monroe gave Strasberg 75% of her residuary estate in her will. He married three times and had 4 children.

  • Loretta Switt was best known as Margaret in the Mash TV series. She and Hawkeye (Alan Alda), were the longest running cast members of the series.

  • Wieslawa Szymborska was born in Kornik in Western Poland on July 2, 1923. Since 1931 she has been living in Krakow, where during 1945-1948 she studied Polish Literature and Sociology at the Jagiellonian University. Szymborska made her début in March 1945 with a poem "Szukam slowa" (I am Looking for a Word) in the daily "Dziennik Polski".

    During 1953-1981 she worked as poetry editor and columnist in the Kraków literary weekly "Zycie Literackie" She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996.


  • Jack Tworkov(m), an artist, was born in Poland in 1900 and died in the USA in 1982.

  • Bobby Vinton was born in 1935, in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. He was best known as a pop singer. Vinton's best selling autobiography The Polish Prince was published. "During the first ten years of the rock era, Vinton had more #1 hits than any other male vocalist including Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra", quotes BILLBOARD MAGAZINE. Vinton seemed to have launched a major comeback in 1974 with "Melody of Love," which made number three, and enjoys the distinction of being the only major American hit single sung partially in Polish.

  • Andrzej Wajda, the Polish movie director,won an Oscar at the 72nd Annual Academy Awards presentation on Sunday, March 26, 200 in Los Angeles, California. He directed Pan Tadeusz.

  • Lech Walesa (1943 - ) was the famous Polish Labor Party leader and President of Poland (1990-1995).

  • George Washington, First USA President, has roots back to the Polish throne, as well as other Royal Houses of Europe

  • Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880) was a Polish violonist and composer.

  • Felix Witkowski was the last Confederate veteran of Polish ancestry.

  • Jozef Wybicki (1747-1822) wrote the words od the Polish National Anthem, which was made official in 1927.

  • Cardinal Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II on October 16, 1978. He visited Poland in 1979 and 1983.

  • Korchak Zielkowski, Sculptor of Crazy Horse Monument in Crazy Horse, South Dakota.

  • Krzysztof Wodiczko (m) was a photographer and projection artist. He was born in 1943.


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