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12 world famous celebrities with ties to Malta
They may not be quite Maltese through and through but these famous people have definite and lasting connections with the little island of Malta.

Melanie Drury

They may not have a Maltese passport but they do have Maltese blood! Or, at the least, some Maltese roots. Meet the Maltese and almost Maltese around the world who have made a big name for themselves.

1. Meghan, Duchess of Sussex

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Recently Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, she was born Rachel Meghan Markle. She is the first American-born member of the British royal family and a former film and television actress. While in Malta on a visit, prior to meeting Harry, she claimed, "... coming to Malta has been really important to me because my great-great-grandmother lived here, so we’ve been trying to trace the ancestry."

2. Miriam Gauci, Soprano

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One of the first Maltese born to make it big, Miriam Gauci moved to Milan to pursue a career as an operatic soprano. She made her debut as a professional soprano in Bologna in 1984 and in the US in 1987. By 1992, she was in high demand, singing in Vienna, Munich, Hamburg and Santa Fe, alongside the likes of Plácido Domingo.

3. Joseph Calleja, Tenor

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Maltese Tenor Joseph Calleja needs no introduction. Born in Attard in 1978, he began singing at the age of 16. In 1998, he won the Caruso Competition in Milan and went on to pursue a successful career as a world-class tenor. He performs annually in Malta alongside other acclaimed artists and is known for his philanthropic work. Appointed Malta's Cultural Ambassador in 2012, he is truly Malta's pride and joy.

4. Joseph Calleia, Actor/Singer

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Yet another Joseph Calleia was in the limelight much earlier. Also known as Joseph Spurin, he was one of Hollywood’s most recognised villains from the classic period. He was the Leonardo di Caprio from the 30s to the early 60s, working alongside Rita Hayworth, Ingrid Birgman, Lucille Balls and Orson Welles. He was born in Malta in 1897 and died in Sliema in 1975, aged 78.

5. Kerry Ingram, Actress

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A more contemporary rising star is Kerry Ingram, Princess Shireen Baratheon in Game of Thrones. Kerry also won an Olivier Award, the highest honour in British theatre, for her role in the hit musical Matilda. The 17-year-old British actress's grandfather is Maltese, and she has attended the Mqabba village feast every single year since she was born!

6. Edwige Fenech, Actress

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Edwige Fenech was born to a Maltese father and Sicilian mother in French Algeria (now Algeria). She became an actress and film producer, working alongside Al Pacino and starring in a Quentin Tarantino film. She was hugely talented, yet is more remembered locally for her sexy and nude appearances.

7. Edward De Bono, Author/Psychologist/Philosopher

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Edward De Bono is lauded as one of the most creative minds of the 21st century. The author, physician and psychologist became widely known for his extraordinary work in what is coined 'lateral thinking' – an indirect and creative approach to solving problems. Born in Malta in 1933, De Bono has held faculty appointments at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, London and Harvard, published 57 books in 34 languages and made several other contributions. 

8. Paul Tisdale, Football Manager

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Paul Tisdale is an English professional football manager and former professional football player. He is currently the manager of League Two club Exeter City. He was born in 1973 in Valletta, Malta.

9. Andy Partridge, Musician

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Legendary British Rockstar Andrew John Partridge (left) was best known as the primary songwriter and vocalist of punk rock band XTC from 1972 until 2006. The English singer-songwriter, guitarist and record producer from Swindon was born in Mtarfa, Malta, in 1953.

10. Britney Spears, Singer

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From the biography 'Through the Storm' by Lynne Spears, mother of Jamie Lynn, Bryan and Britney Spears: "But on my mama's side, the family tree is a little more colourful and glamorous. Her father, my grandfather, was Anthony Portelli, who came from the island of Malta. Anthony Portelli came to England in the 1920s, married a British girl and changed his name to Portell. The Portells had two daughters, Joan, my aunt, and Lillian, my mother." There you go, Britney's maternal great-grandfather was Maltese.

11. Bryan Adams, Musician

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Rock singer-songwriter, record producer and guitarist since 1975 until present, Bryan Guy Adams is also a philanthropist. Most Maltese know about the Canadian superstar's Maltese roots as he officially revealed them during a concert in Pembroke, Malta, in 2007. His maternal grandmother was Maltese - she was from Floriana but lived in Valletta. His mother was, therefore, Maltese-Canadian, and Adams himself was born in Canada in 1959.

12. Tash Sultana, Musician

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This time we are proud of the daughter of a Maltese-Australian. Sultana astounds everyone with her talent and the way she puts music together. She can play 20 instruments, including the guitar, bass, trumpet, flute, piano, drums, pan flute, mandolin, saxophone, synthesizer, percussion and saxophone as well as vocals. Genres include psychedelic rock, alternative rock, reggae rock and lo-fi. Born in 1995, she's been playing music since the age of three and busking on the streets of Melbourne since age 17.

Not a bad collection of personalities we could call "our own", wouldn't you say?

6th November 2019


Melanie Drury
Written by
Melanie Drury
Melanie was born and raised in Malta and has spent a large chunk of her life travelling solo around the world. Back on the island with a new outlook, she realised just how much wealth her little island home possesses.

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