Famous International People With Maltese Heritage

By February 13, 2017 August 9th, 2018 Intercontinental Malta
britney spears

We Maltese are a very proud nation – we have amazingly talented artists who are locally based, and we also have many talented artists who have left our shores in the pursuit of an international career – but did you know that some of the biggest names in Hollywood today can trace back their Maltese heritage?

Here are 8 artists and scholars with a surprising Maltese background.


With strong international links and a population that’s thirsty for growth, it’s no surprise that many Maltese people tend to leave the islands and try to make it big outside of our little island nation – a couple of years pass, families settle down, and eventually it’s only a matter of time before a star is born.


The Canadian superstar has roots in Malta, with his maternal grandmother coming from Malta – most likely from the town of Floriana.


And Jamie Lynne, and the entire Spears clan for that matter, who’s maternal great-great-grandfather was Edward Portelli. The name sounds familiar right? That’s right – Britney is at least 1/8th Maltese!


No, there isn’t a spelling mistake there, and we’re not referring to Joseph Calleja the beloved Maltese operatic tenor, but Joseph Alexander Caesar Herstall Vincent Calleja – more widely known as Joseph Calleia, one of Hollywood’s most recognised villains from the classic period. His acting career span from 1931, with his first performance in My Sin and with his last performance in 1963’s Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre.


Famous classical musician Miriam Gauci was born in Malta but moved to Milan to explore a career as an operatic soprano. She made her debut as a professional operatic soprano in Bologna in 1984 when she took part in Francis Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine – and the rest is history!


Revered author, physician and psychologist Edward De Bono is best known for his work in lateral thinking – a way of thinking that solves problems in a creative and indirect approach. De Bono is lauded as one of the most creative minds of the 21st century, having published 57 books.


Acclaimed director Mario Philip Azzopardi may be well known locally as the founder of Stagun Teatru Malti – who’s production company is responsible for the well-known play Jiena Nħobb Inti Tħobb and In-Nisa Maltin Jafu Kif; but this Senglea-born director made waves abroad when he emigrated to Canada and directed several hits – including the 2008, award winning HBO Canada/TMN miniseries ZOS: Zone of Separation.


Founding member and guitarist of rock band XTC, this legendary British Rockstar was originally born in – you guessed it – Malta. Specifically the village of Mtarfa. Unofficially – big fan of Maltese food!


The current manager of League Two club Exeter City and former professional football player may currently be living in the UK – but he started out in the Maltese capital of Valletta.


So there you have it, dear readers – we may be a small island nation, but we produce big talent. Many internationally acclaimed people have Maltese heritage – and it is something to be proud of.

That’s not to say, of course, that there aren’t a good number of local talent who are making waves nationally and there are also a few Maltese personalities too that you may be interested in acquainting yourself with.

We hope you enjoyed reading our blog post!

You can follow us on our facebook page InterContinental Hotel Malta
And you can also follow us on Instagram

You can also read  12 Maltese Proverbs & Sayings 😉

Or return to the main Menu for more information about  5 Stars Hotel in Malta

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • My name is Marianne Curley and both my parents were born and raised in Malta and Gozo. My father’s name was Joseph Michael Mizzi and my mother’s name before she married my father was Mary Violet Rizzo. My cousin John Rizzo was the Police Commissioner of Malta. now retired. I was born in Australia in 1959 and I am in international best-selling author of young adult fiction. Below is a link to my website where you will find I have eight books published in Australia, The UK, the United States, and with translations of more than a dozen different countries around the world.

    I am currently tracing my ancestors and recently had my DNA tested. The reason I am writing to you is because I am proud of my Maltese heritage.

  • David harris says:

    The famous scoulptur Antonio scrotiono is a relative of my family .i met his son before he died in the early 2000’s .joe scrotino was a painter as well

  • Joseph Camilleri says:

    Michelangelo Sapiano (March 19, 1896 – December 2, 1912 ) was a famous clock maker and inventor born Mqabba Malta .
    More in Wikipedia the ‘ Free Encyclopedia’ .

  • what about Oreste Kirkop from the Vagabond King

  • Daniel says:

    I’m a quarter Maltese myself, living in the American midwest. My maternal grandmother was born in Malta. It’s amazing how many people here have never even heard of Malta, or if you say Maltese they say “You mean the dog?”

Leave a Reply to Marianne Curley Cancel Reply