An encampment of the Roma people on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon.


est. 1,000,000[1]
Regions with significant populations
Southern California, the Pacific Northwest, Texas and the Northeast

The Romani people have origins in India, specifically Rajasthan[13] ("Land of Kings"[8]) and Punjab.[8] and began migrating westwards from the 11th century. The roma ultimately derives from ḍōmba ("man living by singing and music"), attested in Classical Sanskrit.[8] The U.S. Census does not distinguish Romani as a group since it is neither a nationality nor a religion.[1]
1. Karen Finley
Performance artist, musician and poet born in Chicago and raised in Evanston, Illinois. She is a relative of the American humorist and writer Finley Peter Dunne. Her father was of Irish and Scottish descent[4] and her mother was of Romani, and Jewish ancestry.[5]

She was notably one of the NEA Four, four performance artists whose grants from the National Endowment for the Arts were vetoed in 1990 by John Frohnmayer after the process was condemned by Senator Jesse Helms under "decency" issues. Following that piece came The Return of the Chocolate-smeared Woman,[7] her performance rebuttal to Helms and the NEA controversy. The U.S. Congress imposed restrictions on grants for indecent art. NEA head John Frohnmayer, took the side of the targeted artists, which included Finley.[8] The case, National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley (1998), argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, was decided against Finley and the other artists.[9]

2. Gogol Bordello
Eugene Hütz, a singer, composer, disc jockey, actor, was born in Boyarka, to a Russian father, a butcher by profession, and a Ukrainian mother who was of half Servitka Roma ancestry.[2][3] Hütz and his family fled their hometown after hearing of the Chernobyl meltdown. In New York, he met the future members of Gogol Bordello including violinist Sergey Ryabtsev, accordionist Yuri Lemeshev, guitarist Oren Kaplan, drummer Eliot Ferguson and dancers Pam Racine and Elizabeth Sun. He first called the band "Hutz and the Bela Bartoks," but changed it after realizing that "nobody knows who the hell Béla Bartók is in the United States." Hütz's Roma/Ukrainian background provides his central inspiration, influencing his lifestyle and the music of his band Gogol Bordello.

3. Tracey Ullman
British-American actress, comedian, singer, dancer, screenwriter, producer, director, author, and businesswoman. Her mother was British, with Roma ancestry,[9] and her father was a Roman Catholic Pole.[10]

The Tracey Ullman Show, from 1987 until 1990, which also featured the first appearances of the long-running animated media franchise, The Simpsons. Ullman is currently the richest British actress and female comedian and the third richest British comedian overall.[4][5]

4. Ian Hancock
Linguist, scholar in the field of linguistics, particularly in the area of pidgin and creole languages, and political advocate. His mother, Kitty, is Romanichal; his father, Reginald (Redžo), was part Romungro, the descendant of a Hungarian speaker of North Central Romani named Imre Benczi.

He is director of the Program of Romani Studies and the Romani Archives and Documentation Center at The University of Texas at Austin, where he has been a professor of English, linguistics and Asian studies since 1972. He has represented the Romani people at the United Nations and served as a member of the US Holocaust Memorial Council under President Bill Clinton, who, Hancock claims, has Romani ancestry.[1]

5. Michael Costello
Fashion designer, reality television personality born on January 20, 1983, in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles.[2] Costello's father is Italian-Hungarian and his mother is Greek Romani and Russian.[3][2] Costello has two children from an arranged marriage that ended in 2006.[2]

Costello made headlines for designing a matching hat and dress for rapper Cardi B for Paris Fashion Week.[4] Kylie Jenner wore one of his dress for her birthday magazine cover and Costello is good friends with Lady Gaga.[5] Costello's dresses were featured in Nicki Minaj's game app Nicki Minaj: The Empire.[6] On March 18, 2017, Costello received a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. The presentation was held by Mayor Robert Moon, who also gave Costello the key to the City of Palm Springs and declared March 18 as the "Michael Costello Day".[12]

6. Caren Gussoff
Author of Romany and mixed heritages. She writes both literary fiction and speculative fiction novels and short stories.

7. Jerry Mason
Singer, songwriter, guitar player, and entertainer during America’s rock and roll era. Mason is of Romani (Gypsy) heritage.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Jerry Mason among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[1]

8. Richard "Dick" Marcinko
Navy SEAL. Born November 21, 1940, in Lansford, Pennsylvania and is of Slovak descent[1] - his father and mother were both of Slovak origin. At a young age, his family moved to New Brunswick, New Jersey.

A former United States Navy officer. A retired U.S. Navy SEAL commander and Vietnam War veteran, he was the first commanding officer of SEAL Team Six and Red Cell. After retiring from the United States Navy, he became an author, radio talk show host, military consultant, and motivational speaker.

9. Ladislas Lazaro
A Democratic U.S. Representative from Louisiana. Born near Ville Platte, Evangeline (then St. Landry) Parish, Louisiana. He was the son of Marie Denise Ortego, a daughter of one of Ville Platte’s founding Hispanic families, and Alexandre Lazaro Biladinoviz, a Roma immigrant from the town of Risan (in what is now Montenegro), who came to America aboard a ship from Russia as a stowaway.[1]

Lazaro was elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-third and to the seven succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1913, until his death in Washington, D.C. on March 30, 1927. He became the second Hispanic American ever to chair a standing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives when he was named chairman of the Enrolled Bills Committee in 1915.[1]

10. Priscilla Kelly
Of Romanichal descent.[39] Professional wrestler, professional wrestling valet,[1] and former actress.

11. Pamela Anderson
Canadian-born American actress, model and animal rights activist. Her great-grandfather, Juho Hyytiäinen, was Finnish and partly of Romani descent, a native of Saarijärvi, and left the Grand Duchy of Finland (which was a part of the Russian Empire at the time) for Canada in 1908.[11] He changed his name to Anderson when he arrived as an immigrant. Anderson also has Russian ancestry on her mother's side.[12]

12. Marks family
The Marks family immigrated from Greece in the late 19th or early 20th century. Although adhering to Romani cultures and beliefs, like the payment of dowries and arranged marriages, they also worked to assimilate into American life. In an interview with McMahon, Rose Marks said her father was Steve "Boyo" Eli, a land owner and Romani judge. According to Marks, he mediated land, inheritance, divorce and dowry disputes in the Gypsy community near Newark, New Jersey. Marks attended public school until she dropped out in the third grade. She was married in an arranged marriage at 16 or 17 years old, living in Virginia until moving to Broward County in 1998. Marks and her late husband opened the store in Manhattan.[11] The family was identified as relatives of the late Gypsy leader, Jimmy Marks of Spokane, Washington by the New York Daily News.[6]

According to Paula McMahon, staff writer for the Sun-Sentinel newspaper, the family are Vlax Roma, the largest Gypsy group in the US. McMahon states members of this group "traditionally drop out of school when they are 8 or 9 years old" and that "Mothers train daughters to develop what they call 'psychic' or 'intuitive' powers."[2] This training was presented by both prosecutors and the defense during Rose Marks' trial.[8] Schwarz said Marks began working at the age of 8 or 9.[3]

The family claimed to communicate directly with Michael the Archangel.[10][17] The women of the family, including Rose Marks, sometimes used the alias Joyce Michael(s).[17][18] Many of the victims had suffered a traumatic loss.[17] Two victims identified by The Palm Beach Post, author Jude Deveraux and another woman were defrauded of $20 million and $1 million, respectively.[5] Deveraux believed the money would be returned after it was "cleansed".[5][17] The single victim of Vivian Marks identified by the Sun-Sentinel was defrauded of $180,000 which he was told would go to charity work in Africa.[2] Another victim was told that her money had burned in the September 11 attacks.[8] A victim who had been hearing voices in his head was told by Cynthia Miller that she would speak with Michael the Archangel who she said told her the victim needed to sacrifice gold coins. This victim turned $400,000 in gold coins over to Miller.[17] A family curse that could be cured only by the "cleansing" of money and valuables was a scenario frequently employed by the Marks family.[17] Victims included a female US Naval Academy graduate, an English attorney and other highly educated men and women with executive positions.[3]

Jimmy Marks
Lived in Spokane, Washington. Marks became widely known in 1986 when the Spokane police department raided his home, performed searches, confiscated property, $1.6 million in cash, and $160,000 in jewelry, without a valid search warrant. The police claimed that 35 items were from burglaries.[2] The Marks' claimed that the cash was being held for other Romani families who did not trust banks. Marks brought suit against the city of Spokane for $59 million,[3] and after 11 years the case was settled out of court for $1.43 million.[1]

Rose Marks
Matriarch of a family of matriarch of a family of fraudulent psychics convicted of federal crimes in 2013 in Florida.[1][2][3][4][5] Marks and members of her extended family operated multiple storefront businesses, four in Broward County, Florida one of which was in Fort Lauderdale, named "Astrology Life" and one in Manhattan on W. 58th Street near Central Park.[2][6][7]

Eight family members had previously pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit wire/mail fraud, they were: Marks's daughter (Rosie Marks), son-in-law (Donnie Eli), her two sons and their wives (Michael Marks & Cynthia Miller and Ricky Marks & Nancy Marks), her sister (Victoria Eli), and granddaughter (Vivian Marks).[1][2][5][10][14] Before the pleas were entered, defense attorney for Nancy Marks, Michael Gottlieb, filed a 24-page request for dismissal on the grounds of freedom of religion portraying the family's actions as based on their religious beliefs and a belief in spiritual healing. Attorneys for Rose Marks and other family members joined the request.[15]

Rose Marks was sentenced to just over ten years in federal prison on March 3, 2014 for defrauding clients of her family's fortune-telling businesses out of more than $17.8 million. She was convicted of scamming numerous clients, including best-selling romance novelist Jude Deveraux, who was a client since 1991. Victims testified that she convinced them she could swap people's souls between bodies, prevent a woman from conceiving via in vitro fertilization and even use her psychic powers to prevent the Internal Revenue Service from going after them for taxes.[16]