Monday, March 29, 2021

Americana (part 2) - What a Country!


What a Country!

That is the catch phrase of Russian immigrant comedian,  Yakov Smirnoff

Yakov had been an art teacher in Ukraine, then in the 1970s, he made it to the US from the former USSR. Later, in America, he earned a Masters in psychology and Ph.D. in Global Leadership. In between, he did his comedy acts, acted on TV shows and in movies. (reference: IMDb )

After Yakov became an American citizen on July 4, 1986, he starred in a show about immigrants taking classes to pass the American citizen test: What a Country (1986-1987):

Yakov's acting art on a TV series imitated life.

Many immigrants (like my grandparents) had entered the United States from New York City, so the comedy speaks to many of us. Many came for a better life...freedom...opportunity.

Fifteen years after What a Country! ended, there came the attacks on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a hijacking that ended in a plane crash. September 11, 2001.

And here's the rest of  Yakov's story as the artist:

"After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade centers, he began working on a mural to commemorate the event. Just in time for the first anniversary of the event, the mural was printed on a huge banner, with the quote 

The human spirit is not measured
by the size of the act,
but by the size of the heart. 

It was hung from a nearby building where it was clearly visible from Ground Zero for over a year. Yakov financed the banner with $100,000 of his own money, but kept his donation anonymous, for fear that people would see it as a joke because of his reputation as a comedian." 

Reference: trivia

Yakov Smirnoff made us laugh,
then shared his art
to help us heal during a traumatic time.

Here's to a Russian immigrant
who loves his adopted country! 

What a country!

God bless him.

And God Bless America!


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