List of Finnish Americans

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The following is a list of Finnish Americans, including both original immigrants who obtained American citizenship and their American descendants.

To be included in this list, the person must have a Wikipedia article showing they are Finnish American or must have references showing they are Finnish American and are notable.


Academics, inventors, scientists

Arts and literature

  • Jean M. Auel (born 1936), author, wrote the Earth's Children books; her books have sold 34 million copies worldwide in many translations
  • Rudy Autio (1926–2007), sculptor
  • Max Dimont (1912–1992), historian; author of Jews, God and History, which received critical acclaim and has sold over a million and a half copies; has lectured on Jewish history throughout the United States, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, and Finland; author of The Indestructible Jews, The Jews in America, and Appointment in Jerusalem
  • Eino Friberg (1901–1995), Protestant Minister and English translator of The Kalevala, the Finnish national epic
  • Rick Hautala (1949–2013), writer
  • Tiina Nunnally, author and translator
  • Emil Petaja, author
  • Hannu Rajaniemi, science fiction author
  • Eero Saarinen (1910–1961), architect and product designer of the 20th century, famous for his simple, sweeping, arching structural curves
  • Eliel Saarinen (1873–1950), architect who became famous for his art nouveau buildings in the early 20th century
  • Haddon Sundblom, artist
  • Wallace Wood, comics artist (EC Comics, Mad Magazine, Marvel Comics)


  • Bill Aho (born 1957), businessman who is a partner with The SagePoint Group, a management consulting firm, served as Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning for Darden Restaurants and was instrumental in turning around the Red Lobster business.
  • Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors
  • Mike Markkula (born 1942), entrepreneur; angel investor and second CEO of Apple Computer, Inc.; provided early critical funding and managerial support; known as Apple employee #3
  • Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo and former Google executive
  • Gustave Niebaum (1842–1908), established Inglenook Winery in Napa Valley, California, the first Bordeaux style winery in the US
  • Oscar Wirkkala (1880–1959), logger and inventor, developed the high lead method of logging, which revolutionized the industry; also invented important pieces of that industry's machinery used during the first half of the 20th century

Film and television

  • Matt Damon (born 1970), award-winning screenwriter and actor, mother is of partial Finnish descent
  • Eric Dane (born 1972), actor
  • Alexa Davalos (born 1982), actress, mother is of partial Finnish descent
  • Elyssa Davalos (born 1959), actress, father was of partial Finnish descent
  • Richard Davalos (1930–2016), actor; starred in East of Eden (1955) as James Dean's brother; portrayed the convict Blind Dick in Cool Hand Luke (1967); won the Theatre World Award for his performance in the Arthur Miller play A Memory of Two Mondays in 1955; fa is of Finnish descent
  • Anna Easteden (born 1976), actress; The House of Branching Love (2009) and Sideways (2009); co-starred in soap operas Passions and Days Of Our Lives, and the series Bones
  • Taina Elg (born 1931), Golden Globe-winning film and stage actress
  • Nathan Fillion (born 1970), actor
  • George Gaynes (1917–2016), film actor, known for his role as Commandant Eric Lassard in the Police Academy film series
  • Renny Harlin (born 1959), producer and director; immigrant from Finland
  • Crystal Hayes (born 1984), model and actress
  • Brian Heidik (born 1968), won $1,000,000 on the Thailand edition of Survivor
  • Nancy Juvonen (born 1967), American-Finnish film producer; with Drew Barrymore, co-owner of production company Flower Films; produced Never been Kissed (1999), Charlie's Angels (2000), Donnie Darko (2002), Charlie's Angels – Full Throttle (2003); wife of comedian and talk show host Jimmy Fallon
  • Paul Kangas, host of Nightly Business Report television program
  • Vincent Kartheiser (born 1979), actor, known for his role in Mad Men, has distant Finnish ancestry
  • Marta Kristen (born 1945), perhaps best known for her role as the character "Judy Robinson" in the cult television series Lost in Space
  • Christine Lahti (born 1950), film actress, paternal grandparents were immigrants from Finland
  • Jessica Lange (born 1949), two-time Academy Award-winning film actress, maternal grandparents were of Finnish descent
  • Dick Latvala (1943–1999), tape archivist for the Grateful Dead
  • Scott Lautanen, television director and producer
  • David Lynch (born 1946), director, mother is of part Finnish ancestry
  • Leslie Mann (born 1972), actress who has appeared in numerous films, including The Cable Guy (1996), George of the Jungle (1997), Big Daddy (1999), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Knocked Up (2007), 17 Again (2009), Funny People (2009), This Is 40 (2012), and Blockers (2018)
  • Lisa Niemi (born 1956), actress, director and choreographer
  • Marian Nixon (1904–1983), actress
  • Maila Nurmi (1921–2008), creator of the well-remembered 1950s character of Vampira
  • Catherine Oxenberg (born 1961), actress
  • Ethan Peck (born 1986), actor
  • Bonnie Pietila, casting director and producer for The Simpsons
  • Joyce Randolph (born Joyce Sirola, 1924), actress, best known for playing Trixie Norton on The Honeymooners
  • Allison Rosati (born 1963), journalist, paternal Finnish ancestry
  • Eric Saarinen (born 1942), cinematographer, son of Eero Saarinen
  • Albert Salmi (1928–1990), film and television actor
  • Steve Schubert (born 1951), football player, paternal grandmother was a Finnish immigrant
  • Vanessa Williams (born 1963), singer, actress, producer, former fashion model; first African American to be crowned Miss America; a DNA test revealed she is 12% Finnish
  • Zelda Williams (born 1989), actress, daughter of Robin Williams; mother of partial Finnish descent
  • Renée Zellweger (born 1969), actress and producer; mother of partial Finnish descent

Military personnel

  • Johannes Anderson (1887–1950), Finnish-born U.S. Army soldier during World War I; Medal of Honor recipient
  • Reino Hayhanen (1920–1961), U.S. spy; Soviet Lt. Colonel who defected to the U.S. during the Cold War; helped break open the Hollow Nickel Case which led to the capture of top Soviet spies in the U.S. looking for atomic secrets
  • Timothy L. Kopra (born 1963), astronaut; flew missions on the International Space Station and Space Shuttle Discovery; U.S. Army Colonel; Desert Storm veteran; Bronze Star recipient; West Point graduate
  • Lauri Törni (1919–1965), Finnish Army Captain who led an infantry company in Finnish Winter and Continuation Wars; moved to the United States after World War II and adopted the name Larry Thorne; served with the U.S. Army Special Forces in Vietnam War; killed in Laos while on a clandestine mission
  • Dale Eugene Wayrynen (1947–1967), U.S. Army enlisted soldier; recipient of the Medal of Honor, America's highest military decoration, for his actions in the Vietnam War