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Researching multilingual celebrities
Thread poster: asresearch

Local time: 14:51
Spanish to English
Aug 9, 2005


I am doing a research on famous people who were raised as bilinguals or who raise their children as bilinguals. I am looking for celebrities from all over the world and all language combinations.

To qualify as a celebrity, the person needs to be either one of these:
1.Famous actor, musician or photo model
2.Head of state or important political figure
3.Literary or scientific achievers (Nobel Prize, or other award)
4.Business leaders

Thanks all for your help.

Bst wishes!


Sonja Tomaskovic (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:21
English to German
+ ...
... Aug 9, 2005

One celebrity that comes to mind is Cahterine Zeta-Jones who reportedly raises her children bilingually (Welsh and English). However, I am not sure about that.

Another actor I know of is French-born Michael Vartan ("Alias"), who has been raised bilingually (at least, that's what they say).

Not sure if all that is correct.

You may want to check all this at




Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:21
German to English
+ ...
Kristin Scott Thomas Aug 9, 2005

The English actress who was in The English Patient - she lives in France.

From the Internet Movie Database:
Her childhood home was Dorset, England. She left at the age of 19 to work as an au pair in Paris. She is currently married to François Oliviennes, a French obstetrician. They live in a 19th century country house with their children, Hannah, Joseph, and George.


Anjo Sterringa  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:21
Member (2003)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Nowadays only or? Aug 9, 2005

Famous writers come to mind such as Joseph Conrad

"His first novel, Almayer's Folly, a story of Malaysia, was written in English and published in 1895. It should be remembered that the lingua franca of educated people at that time was French, which was Conrad's second language, thus it is altogether remarkable that Conrad should write so fluently and effectively in his third language."

You might get some more clues here:


Barbara Micheletto
Local time: 11:21
Member (2005)
Russian to Italian
+ ...
... Aug 9, 2005

Another famous writer is Vladimir Nabokov: born in Russia in 1899, in 1945 he became an American citizen and from then on used to write in English.
For what concerns actors, I remember reading an interview to Isabella Rossellini (an actress and model living in the U.S.). Her mother, Ingrid Bergman, was a very famous actress born in Sweden. Her father Roberto Rossellini was an Italian director. In her interview Isabella Rossellini said that at home they used to speak in various languages depending on the country they were living in at the moment. Since then I've wondered... how could they possibly do that? Only having perfect control on those languages, I suppose!


Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:21
Swedish to English
+ ...
Queen Silvia Aug 9, 2005

...of Sweden is fluent in several languages. I think she was brought up speaking Portuguese and German (Brailian mother, German father) and now has more or less fluent Swedish. She's also trained as an interpreter and speaks a couple of other langauges in addition to the ones mentioned above.

She once gave an opening speech at a conference I attended and had had some interesting things to say about bi/multilingualism - including how the only time she had a problem switching between languages was with numbers, even when speaking German she was happiest counting in Portuguese (or vice versa...).

Oh, and what about Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita)?

[Edited at 2005-08-09 14:36]

Sorry Viktorija - my comment about Nabokov snuck in there while yours was being moderated.

[Edited at 2005-08-09 15:41]


Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:21
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
There are lots of them Aug 9, 2005

Sir Peter Alexander Ustinov comes to mind. He could bluff his way in most European languages.

And Samuel Beckett, of course, the Irish writer who wrote in French. For a wile, I actually thought this was possible for anybody.


Sorry, I don't think Beckett was raised as a bilingual. I didn't read the question well.

[Edited at 2005-08-09 15:03]


Momoka (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:21
Japanese to Spanish
+ ...
In Japan, Utada Aug 9, 2005

A very famous japanese pop singer, raised bilingual (Japanese-English) between the USA and Japan. More details here


Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:21
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Most finnländers are raised bilingually Aug 9, 2005

But we have no royalty and no nobelists here in Finland, so these maybe 200 000 people don't qualify in this scope.


Jessica Klingberg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:21
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Somewhere I read that Arnold Schwarzenegger Aug 9, 2005

speaks in German to his children. Not 100% sure though, but it would be worth researching as he fulfills two of your requirementsicon_smile.gif


sokolniki  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:21
English to Russian
+ ...
Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradi Aug 9, 2005

American movie star and French singer/actress raise their children in France.


Rebecca Hendry  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:21
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Enrique Iglesias Aug 9, 2005

There are several bilingual Hispanic popstars - Enrique Iglesias and Shakira spring to mind.


Emanuela Corbetta  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:21
English to Italian
+ ...
Antonio Banderas Aug 9, 2005

Spanish actor married to American actress Melanie Griffith, they have a daughter together who is raised bilingual.


Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:21
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
Harry Mulisch - German and Dutch Aug 9, 2005

Jasmin Tabatabai actress in Germany
Her mother met her father during the Oktoberfest in Munich 1956.
After she learned Persian by selfstudy, she moved with him to Teheran in 1958.
Everybody was asthonished that a German woman spoke written Persian, like every German would be astonished when a Persian woman first came to Germany speaking German like Goethe.icon_biggrin.gif
So little Jasmin spoke German and Persian at home in Teheran.

Harry Mulisch - famous Dutch writer (The Discovery of Heaven) - many awards
His father came from Ausztria-Magyarország (nowadays Czechoslovakia).The father of Harrys mother was a Jewish banker from Frankfurt. His mother was born in Antwerp and spoke German at home in Haarlem with her son Harry.
Schooling was in Dutch. When he was 9 years his parents divorced and his mother left.The housekeeper Frieda (from Poland) then spoke German with Harry.

[Edited at 2005-08-09 20:58]


Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:21
German to English
+ ...
Sophia Loren Aug 9, 2005

I don't think she was raised bilingual, but I'm pretty sure her children speak at least two languages (English, Italian and maybe French).

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