The Internet at the Speed of Thought

Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were Refugees

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6. The von Trapp Family Singers

celebrity refugees von trapp family singers


The real-life inspiration behind The Sound of Music, the von Trapps lived through the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany and even encountered Hitler once at a restaurant. Unhappy with Nazism, the family fled to Italy and ultimately relocated to Stowe, Vermont where they opened a music camp.

7. Gene Simmons

celebrity refugees gene simmons


Born Chaim Witz, this cofounding member of KISS was born in Israel but moved with his mother to New York City when he was eight. His mother and uncle were the only members of their family to survive the Holocaust.

8. Billy Wilder

celebrity refugees billy wilder


Famous screenwriter, director, and producer of Hollywood’s golden age, Billy Wilder was born to a Jewish family in Austria-Hungary but started his career in Berlin. As Hitler rose to power, Wilder and his family fled for Paris and then the United States.

He’s best known for movies like Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity, and Some Like It Hot.