Many Danes have contributed to world-wide entertainment, discoveries and the transformation of culture. Here are a few Danes who have impacted American life and culture.


  • Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II 1940 - Present

    Queen of Denmark and Greenland and protector of the Museum of Danish America. She is particularly known for her illustrations of books, plays and movies including The Lord of the Rings and The Wild Swans.


  • Andersen, Hans Christian 1805 - 1875

    The writer and poet of novels, plays, fairy tales, and poems.

  • Blixen, Karen 1885 - 1962

    A writer, who published her books under synonym names – e.g. Isak Dinesen. The life of Karen Blixen is depicted in the movie 'Out of Africa' 1985, starring Meryl Streep as Karen Blixen.

  • Kierkegaard, Søren Aabye 1813 - 1855

    A philosopher and writer. Kierkegaard is among other things known as “the father of existentialism”.


  • August, Bille 1948 - Present

    A movie director who has received several awards for his work. Movies include: 'Pelle the Conqueror' 1987, 'The House of Spirits' 1993, 'Smilla’s Sense of Snow' 1992, and 'Return to Sender' 2004.

  • Bier, Susanne 1960 - Present

    A movie director. Won the Oscar for best foreign language film in 2011 with her movie "In a Better World".

  • Borge, Victor 1909 - 2000

    A humorist and entertainer, who settled in the US after fleeing Denmark when it was occupied by the Nazis during World War II.

  • Christensen, Jesper 1948 - Present

    A Danish actor. Has won several awards for his performances. Playing Mr. White in 'Casino Royale' 2006.

  • Coster-Waldau, Nikolaj 1970 - Present

    A Danish actor. He has stared in several Danish and American films and tv series most notably "New Amsterdam" 2008 and "Game of Thrones" 2011. His films include "Enigma" 2001.

  • Johansson, Scarlett 1984 - Present

    Actress. Born in New York to a Danish father and American mother. Famous for her roles in Lost in Translation and Girl with a Pearl Earring.

  • Mikkelsen, Mads 1965 - Present

    Currently one of Denmark's most popular movie actors. He is well known from 'Blinkende Lygter' (English: 'Flickering Lights') 2000. Internationally Mikkelsen is known from 'King Arthur' 2004 and 'Casino Royale' 2006.

  • Mortensen, Viggo 1958 - Present

    An actor, son of a Danish father and a American mother. Movies include: 'Lord of the Rings' 01-2003, 'Hidalgo' 2004, and 'A History of Violence' 2005.

  • Nielsen, Connie 1965 - Present

    An actress. Movies include: 'Gladiator' 2000, 'One Hour Photo' 2002, 'Basic' 2003, 'Return to Sender' 2004.

  • Trier, Lars von 1956 - Present

    A movie director. Lars von Trier has received recognition for his work through several awards. Some of his best known movies are: 'Breaking the Waves' 1996, 'Dogville' 2003, and 'Antichrist', 2009.

Visual Arts

  • Borglum, Gutzon 1867 - 1941

    An artist and sculptor born of Danish immigrants, famous for creating the monumental presidents' heads at Mount Rushmore, South Dakota.

  • Jensen, Jens 1860 - 1951

    Landscape architect and Danish immigrant. He designed elements of the Chicago Park system and worked with Frank Lloyd Wright. Jensen pioneered “the prairie school” of landscape architecture that focused attention on using native plantings to emulate natural environments.

  • Jorn, Asgar 1914 - 1973

    Danish painter and essayist. Founding member of the Situationist International and COBRA, an European avant-garde movement, active from 1949-1952.

  • Riis, Jacob 1849 - 1914

    Born in Ribe and moved to New York. Riis is most famous for his revealing photographs of the New York slums and his book 'How The Other Half Lives' 1890.

  • Thorvaldsen, Bertel 1770 - 1844

    Sculptor. He lived most of his life in Rome and is the only protestant ever to have a work exhibited in St. Peter's Church. His museum in Copenhagen is one of the most popular attractions and his sculptures are widely copied and have had enormous influence.

  • Utzon, Jørn 1918 - 2008

    Danish architect and designer of the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

  • Wiinblad, Bjørn 1918 - 2006

    Danish painter, designer, and artist in ceramics.


  • Christensen, Helena 1968 - Present

    A fashion model, working as one of the leading supermodels of the 1990's.

  • Thomsen, Cecilie 1974 - Present

    A fashion model who starred in 'Tomorrow Never Dies' 1997 as Inga Bergstrom.


  • Hein, Piet 1905 - 1996

    Danish scientist, designer, poet, and author. Hein is most famous for his 'Grook's' books and his 'Superegg.'

  • Jacobsen, Arne 1902 - 1971

    Danish architect and designer part of the "Danish Modern" style. Jacobsen is perhaps most famous for his furniture designs, such as 'The Egg Chair', 'The Ant Chair' and 'The Swan Chair'.


  • Melchior, Lauritz 1890 - 1973

    A Danish immigrant who was famous for his performances as a tenor in Wagnerian operas. Between 1944 and 1952, Melchior performed in 5 Hollywood musical films for MGM and Paramount Pictures and made numerous US television appearances.

  • Nielsen, Carl August 1865 - 1931

    A composer. Internationally Carl Nielsen is best known for his six symphonies. Of these the best known are Symphony no. 2, 'The Four Temperaments', and 'Symphony no. 4 The Inextinguishable'. In Denmark most people know and sing his songs.

  • Ruders, Poul 1949 - Present

    Organist and composer. He has written chamber music and music for solo instruments. One of the most played and influential composers of the post war years.

  • Ullrich, Lars 1963 - Present

    The drummer of the heavy metal band Metallica.


  • Redzepi, Rene 1977 - Present

    Chef and co-founder of the Copenhagen restaurant 'Noma'. Noma was listed by Restaurant Magazine as the best restaurant in the world. The nameNoma is a contraction of the words "nordisk" (Nordic) and "mad" (food).


  • Christiansen, Ole Kirk 1891 - 1958

    Founder of LEGO. LEGO is a short name for "leg godt" (play well).

  • Clausen, Jørgen M. 1948 - Present

    The Danfoss Group's President and CEO between 1996 and 2011. The Danfoss Group is a global producer of components and solutions for refrigeration and air, heating and water, and motion controls.

  • McKinney Møller, Arnold Mærsk 1913 - Present

    Son of Arnold Peter Møller. McKinney Møller was the chairman and CEO between 1965 and 1993. McKinney Møller was the first non-American member of the board of IBM between 1970 and 1984.

  • Møller, Arnold Peter 1876 - 1965

    Founder of the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, known as Mærsk, in 1904. Mærsk is the largest shipping company in the world.


  • Bering, Vitus 1681 - 1741

    Explorer. The first person to sail through the Bering Strait (1728) thus proving that the American and Asien continents are separate.

  • Rasmussen, Knud 1879 - 1933

    Greenlandic polar explorer and anthropologist. The first to cross the Northwest Passage via dog sled.


  • Bohr, Niels Henrik David 1885 - 1965

    A physicist, he received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1922 for his services in the investigation of the structure of atoms and of the radiation emanating from them.

  • Brahe, Tycho 1546 - 1601

    An astronomer and scientist he has had a great influence on the development of astronomy and science in general.

  • Ørsted, Hans Christian 1777 - 1851

    A physicist who discovered electron magnetism and aluminum.


  • Andersen, Morten 1960 - Present

    Mortensen, born in Copenhagen became an NFL kicker, starting his career in 1981 at Michigan College. He retired from the sport in 2008.

  • Bjørn, Thomas 1971 - Present

    Golfer, he is one of the most successful Danish golfer with 14 worldwide wins.

  • Carstensen, Jacob 1978 - Present

    A swimmer who won the world title in the 400m freestyle at the 1997 FINA Short Course World Championships.

  • Friis, Lotte 1988 - Present

    In 2009 won Friis the World Champions in 800m freestyle.

  • Jacobsen, Mette 1973 - Present

    A championships swimmer. World champion in 1995, 1999, and 2000. Her specialties are backstroke and butterfly.

  • Kristensen, Tom 1967 - Present

    Racing driver, most famous for his 8 wins in the 24 hours Le Mans.

  • Laudrup, Brian 1969 - Present

    A retired professional soccer player. Was named by 'Pele' as two of the top 125 greatest living soccer players. Laudrup played on several top teams in Europe.

  • Laudrup, Michael 1964 - Present

    A retired professional soccer player who played on some of the top teams throughout Europe, Juventus in Italy and Barcelona in Spain.

  • Riis, Bjarne 1964 - Present

    Retired cyclist, won the Tour de France in 1996, and is now the owner of cycling team Saxobank-Sungard.

  • Wozniacki, Caroline 1990 - Present

    Professional tennis player, she is currently world no. 1 on the WTA tour, as of 16 August.