This Week in History: August 19-25

August 19:

On this day in 1963, Greek-American actor John Stamos was born in Cypress, California. His mother was a model and his father, William Bill Stamos, was a Greek immigrant restaurateur. Before shortening, his original surname was Stamotopoulos. Stamos has two younger sisters, both school teachers. His first professional role was on the daytime soap opera General Hospital. In 1987, he started playing Uncle Jesse in Full House, his most famous role to date for eight years. At his request, in order to highlight Stamos’ Greek ancestry, the writers of “Full House” gave his character the surname Casopolis instead of the original character’s name Cochran. Stamos later served as executive producer on the Netflix Full House spin-off Fuller House. In addition to his contributions to hit shows such as ER, Stamos also starred on Broadway and toured and recorded with the Beach Boys. On February 3, 2018, Stamos married actress Caitlin McHugh. Just over a year later, the couple welcomed their first child, William Billy Christopher Stamos.

Also on this day in 1974, the US ambassador to Cyprus, Roger Davis, was killed by Greek Cypriot gunmen during an anti-American demonstration outside the US embassy in Nicosia. An estimated 300 to 600 Greek Cypriots protested the U.S. failure to prevent Turkey from invading Cyprus – which they believe is because the U.S. is perceived to be on Turkey’s side. Just six weeks after serving as US ambassador to Cyprus, Davis and Antoinette Varnavas (the embassy secretary and Greek Cypriot) were killed by sniper fire from a nearby building.

August 22:

On this day in 1932, Greek-American stage and screen costume designer Theoni Vachliotis Aldredge was born in Thessaloniki. According to her obituary in The New York Times, Aldredge focused on dolls and their clothes as a child and maintained an extensive doll collection throughout her life. After graduating from the American School in Athens, she decided to study drama in the United States. She attended the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago, where she continued her studies on a scholarship. Aldredge has designed hundreds of costumes for Broadway and off-Broadway productions including Annie, Chorus, Dreamgirls, 42nd Street and La Cage aux Folles – as well as many films including Moonstruck, Ghostbusters and Addams Family Values. Throughout her career, Aldridge has won three Tony Awards (and 11 other Tony nominations) and an Oscar for her work on The Great Gatsby. She also received the Erin Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award. Aldredge died of cardiac arrest in 2011 at the age of 88.

August 25:

On this day in 2004, Greek athlete Fani Chalkia (born in Larissa) came out of retirement to compete in her Olympics in Athens. She won the gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles in 52.82 seconds. (In the semifinals, she set an Olympic record of 52.77 seconds). At the 2006 European Championships in Gothenburg, she won an Olympic gold medal with a silver medal. However, two years after that victory, it was announced at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing that Chalkia had tested positive for the banned substance methyltrienolone. Chalkia denied she had taken any substances and asked for a test of her “B” sample, which also tested positive the next day. She was immediately excluded from the 2008 race. On December 12, 2008, the IAAF announced that she would be banned for two years.

Also on this day in 2010, Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark married Tatiana Blatnik at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church on the Greek island of Speights. The couple remained in a long-term relationship until they got engaged just before New Year’s Day in 2009. Until July 2010, when Tatiana stepped down to focus on her wedding plans, she worked as event planning and publicity consultant for fashion designer (and royal) Diane von Furstenberg. Tatiana was born in Caracas to Slovenian and German parents. She went to boarding school in Switzerland and then studied sociology at Georgetown University. The wedding weekend kicked off with a cocktail reception at the Speights Harbour at the Poseidon Grace Hotel. The wedding was widely covered by the Greek media, as the entire Danish royal family (except Crown Prince Frederik) and other foreign royals traveled to Spetses for the wedding.

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