Immigrants Of The Day: Heath Ledger of Australia, Monica Seles of Yugoslavia, and Bill Graham of Germany
Heath Ledger (Australia)Born in Perth, Western Australia, Heathcliff Andrew Ledger (1979–2008) was an Academy Award-nominated actor. After appearing in television roles in the 1990s, Ledger starred in film, including 10 Things I Hate About You, The Patriot, Monster's Ball, A Knight's Tale, and Brokeback Mountain, and completed the role of the Joker in the forthcoming Batman movie The Dark Knight shortly before his death.
In 2001, Ledger won a ShoWest Award for the Male Star of Tomorrow based on his performance in The Patriot. In 2003, he was named one of Australian GQ's Men of the Year for acting. Ledger received "Best Actor of 2005" awards from both the New York Film Critics Circle and the San Francisco Film Critics Circle for his acclaimed performance in Brokeback Mountain, in which he plays Wyoming ranch hand Ennis Del Mar, who has a love affair with aspiring rodeo rider Jack Twist, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. He also received a nomination for Golden Globe Best Actor in a Drama and a nomination for Academy Award for Best Actor for this performance. At age 26, Ledger became one of the youngest performers ever nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. In 2006, he was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Ledger died thousands of miles from home, but like hundreds of other entertainers who came before him, he left his native land to carve out a career in Hollywood. In doing so, the actor, who died last week in New York City of undetermined causes, joined a long list of expatriate entertainers that includes Spain's Antonio Banderas, Canada's Mike Myers and even the man who paid tribute to Ledger at Sunday's Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Englishman Daniel Day-Lewis.
January 31, 2008 | PermalinkMonica Seles (Former Yugoslavia) Monica Seles (born December 2, 1973) is a former World No. 1 professional tennis player. She was born in the former Yugoslavia and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1994.
Seles won nine Grand Slam singles titles. In 1990, she became the youngest-ever champion (16 years) at the French Open and was the dominant player in the women's game during 1991 and 1992. In 1993, Seles was forced out of the sport for two years following an on-court attack in which a spectator stabbed her in the back with a knife.
Seles enjoyed some success after returning to the tour in 1995, including a singles title at the Australian Open in 1996, but was unable to consistently reproduce her very best form. After becoming a U.S. citizen in 1994, Seles helped the U.S. team win the Fed Cup in 1996 and 2000. She also won a bronze medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. In February 2008, Seles announced her official retirement from tennis.
Seles was listed as the 13th greatest player of all time (men and women) by Tennis magazine and was also one of 15 women named by Australian Tennis magazine as the greatest champions of the last 30 years (players were listed chronologically). Seles is also known as one of the greatest "big point" players of all-time, having tremendous mental fortitude during the toughest situations on the court.
February 18, 2008 | PermalinkBill Graham (Germany) Bill Graham (1931–1991) was a rock promoter. Graham was born Wolfgang Grajonca in Berlin As it became increasingly difficult for Jews to survive in Nazi Germany, Graham's mother placed Graham and his younger sister in an orphanage in Berlin. This orphanage sent them to France in a pre–Holocaust exchange of Jewish children for Christian orphans. After the fall of France, Graham was among a group of Jewish orphans spirited out of France. A majority of the children – including Graham's younger sister Tolla —did not survive the journey. Graham's mother died in Auschwitz.
Once in the United States, Graham stayed in a foster home in The Bronx in New York City. After being taunted as an immigrant and being called a Nazi because of his German accented English, Graham changed his name. Graham was drafted into the United States Army in 1951 and served in the Korean War, where he was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Graham moved from New York to San Francisco in the early 1960s to be closer to his sister, Rita. He was invited to attend a free concert in Golden Gate Park, where he made contact with the San Francisco Mime Troupe. He gave up a promising business career to manage the troupe in 1965 and produce concerts. One of the first concerts he promoted was in partnership with Chet Helms of the Family Dog organization and featured the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. The concert was an overwhelming success and Graham saw an opportunity with the band.
A charismatic personality, Graham's shows attracted elements of America's now legendary counterculture of the time such as Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Country Joe and The Fish, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, The Committee, The Fugs, Allen Ginsberg, and, a particular favorite of Graham's, The Grateful Dead. His successes and popularity allowed him to become the top concert promoter in rock music. He operated the famous venues the Fillmore West and Winterland (both in San Francisco) and the Fillmore East (in New York City), where the best up-and-coming acts would come to play.
Graham promoted the West-Coast leg of the legendary The Rolling Stones American Tour 1972, also known as S.T.P. Tour (for Stones Touring Party), as well as parts of the Rolling Stones 1975 and 1978 tours. He would then promote the entire Rolling Stones American Tour 1981 and Rolling Stones European Tour 1982.
Graham's first large-scale outdoor arena concert was a benefit for the San Francisco after-school programs, called the SNACK concert and starred Bob Dylan, with Neil Young and members of The Band. He was careful to make sure everything ran smoothly at his events, fearing the unpredictable nature of large crowds.
Graham was killed in a helicopter crash near Vallejo, California in 1991, while returning home from a Huey Lewis and The News concert at the Concord Pavilion.
February 20, 2008 | PermalinkThese posts were orginally posted on the ImmigrationProf Blog here, here and here.
Kevin R. Johnson is currently Dean, Professor of Law and Chicana/o Studies, and the Mabie-Apallas Public Interest Law Chair holder at the University of California at Davis. He is also one of the editors of ImmigrationProf Blog .
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.