Most Famous Foreigners Who Became US Citizens

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Ayn Rand (Feb. 2, 1905-March 6, 1982)
> Country of origin: Russia
> Occupation: Writer

This best-selling author developed her own philosophical system emphasizing self-interest, calling it “Objectivism.” An influential and controversial figure, Ayn Rand is best known for penning “The Fountainhead” in 1943 and “Atlas Shrugged” in 1957, books which have had a strong influence on the conservative movement. Rand was granted a visa to visit relatives in Chicago in 1925, but after living with her family for a few months, the aspiring writer set her eyes on Hollywood. She met her husband, a young actor named Frank O’Connor, while working as a junior screenwriter on “The King of Kings.” After the couple married in 1929, she became a permanent American resident, then an American citizen in 1931.

Source: edvill / Flickr

John Lydon (Jan. 31, 1956- )
> Country of origin: United Kingdom
> Occupation: Musician

Before he became Johnny Rotten, John Lydon was a 7-year-old boy in London, fighting spinal meningitis for a year. He would grow up to become the Sex Pistols’ frontman, penning such punk classics as “Anarchy in the U.K.,” “God Save the Queen,” and “Holidays in the Sun.” After the Sex Pistols disbanded in 1978, Lydon founded the post-punk band Public Image Ltd (PiL). The punk icon became an American citizen in 2013, primarily due to his admiration for Obamacare, telling Vice in 2015, “America has the potential to be a nation that actually cares for its afflicted and wounded and ill and disenfranchised.”

Source: glowingforest / Flickr

Slash (July 23, 1965- )
> Country of origin: United Kingdom
> Occupation: Musician

Slash, born Saul Hudson, is best known as the lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses. Born in Hampstead, London, Slash moved to Los Angeles with his father when he was 5 years old. Often ranked as one of the best guitarists of all time on various lists, Slash also formed two supergroups: Slash’s Snakepit and Velvet Revolver. While he has lived in Los Angeles since 1971, he didn’t become a U.S. citizen until 1996.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Flea (Oct. 16, 1962- )
> Country of origin: Australia
> Occupation: Musician

Known professionally as Flea, the Melbourne-born Michael Peter Balzary is a founding member of and the bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Although his family moved to Rye, New York, when he was 4, he split his time between Australia and the United States after his parents divorced, before settling in California. He would become a U.S. citizen as an adult. Along with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flea has also played bass for such bands as Nirvana, What Is This?, and Jane’s Addiction, along with rock supergroups like Atoms for Peace, Antemasque, and Rocket Juice & the Moon.

Source: clender / Flickr

Eddie Van Halen (Jan. 26, 1955-Oct. 6, 2020)
> Country of origin: Netherlands
> Occupation: Musician

Though he would ultimately become an iconic guitarist in a chart-topping American rock band, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen started life in Amsterdam in 1955. His family moved to Pasadena, California, in 1962. The lead guitarist for the band Van Halen – which he founded alongside his brother, Alex – he popularized the tapping guitar solo technique, cementing his place as one of the best rock guitarists of all-time. Van Halen died of a stroke in 2020, after a series of health issues.

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