8 Lesser Known Lebanese-Americans And Their Stories
Most of us can probably name ten Lebanese-Americans off the top of our head, but how many times can we repeat the same stories about Rima Fakih and Salma Hayek? Here are 10 different (and perhaps lesser known) Lebanese-American personalities and their stories.
1. Ernest Louis “Iron Mike” Massad
Born in Oklahoma in 1908, he was nicknamed Iron Mike for his exceptional American football skills. He served with the US Army during World War II, fighting in the Pacific Theater. His military career saw him awarded with the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart, Silver Arrowhead, and Presidential Unit Citation. After retirement, he successfully ran the E.L. “Mike” Massad Oil Company and was declared Lebanese Man Of The Year by the Western Federation of American Syrian and Lebanese Clubs in 1963.
Also known as Terrance Michael “Terry” Brunk, Sabu was born in Staten Island in 1964. He is known for being one of the longest serving and most “hardcore” wrestlers in professional wrestling history. He was one of the key faces of ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) during the peak years of the sport in the late 90s. He also wrestled in Japan and for the WWE, finally retiring in 2021.
3. Victoria Anne Kennedy
Born in Louisiana in 1954, Kennedy comes from a Lebanese Maronite family. Originally Victoria Reggie, her family were close associates with the Kennedys, with her father supporting John F. Kennedy during his presidential bids. She married US Senator Ted Kennedy in July 1992, staying with him till his death in 2009. She is currently the US Ambassador to Austria.
4. John H. Sununu
Born in Cuba in 1939, he became the first Arab American, Greek American and Hispanic American to be governor of New Hampshire and White House Chief of Staff. His sons John E. Sununu and Christopher Sununu were also prominent politicians in their home state, serving as US Senator and governor respectively.
5. Ray LaHood
With his name transliterated from the original Lebanese Lahoud, the former US Representative and US Secretary of Transport was born in 1945. In 2017, LaHood admitted to the FBI that while holding federal office he had accepted a $50,000 payment from a foreign national for personal home repairs, violating government ethics codes. He repaid the loan and paid a $40,000 fine to the US government. His son, Darin LaHood is a current US Representative from Illinois.
6. Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf
Born in Massachusetts in 1962, Henry Joseph Nasiff Jr. was an entertainer who appeared on the Howard Stern Show and the E! Channel. He was diagnosed with achondroplasia dwarfism a week after he was born. In 1998, he won a People magazine online poll asking the public to vote for the most beautiful person in the world, beating Leonardo DiCaprio by 14,471 votes.
7. Dick Dale
Born in Massachusetts in 1937, Richard Anthony Monsour was the King of the Surf Guitar. His music was highly influential in the post-WW2 rock scene, inspiring acts such as The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean and The Trashmen. He has been credited with helping kickstart heavy metal, bringing tremolo picking to the mainstream, and pioneering reverb effects. The use of his music in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction brought him back into popular culture in the 90s, kickstarting a new wave of music that would end with his death in 2019.
8. G.E. Smith
Born in Pennsylvania in 1952 as George Edward Haddad, G.E. Smith was the lead guitarist for the Hales & Oats band during its rise to fame in the 1980s. He has performed with numerous musicians, such as David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, Tina Turner, Tracy Chapman, Tom Waits and Dan Hartman. He then became Saturday Night Live’s music director.