Danish Museum Home
 Dansk Kultur

Famous Danes

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-): 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. For more information click here.
Andersen, Hans Christian (1805-1875); the writer and poet of novels, plays, fairy tales, and poems. For more information click here.
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. For more information click here.

Kierkegaard, Søren Aabye (1813-1855); a philosopher and writer. Kierkegaard is among other things known as “the father of existentialism”. For more information click here.
August, Bille (1948- ); 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. For more information click here.
Bier, Susanne (1960-); a movie director. Won the Oscar for best foreign language film in 2011 with her movie "In a Better World". For more information click here.
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. For more information click here.
Christensen, Jesper (1948- ): a Danish actor. Has won several awards for his performances. Playing Mr. White in 'Casino Royale' 2006. For more information click here.

Coster-Waldau, Nikolaj(1970-): 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. For more information click here.

Johansson, Scarlett (1984-): 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. For more information click here.


Mikkelsen, Mads (1965-); 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. For more information click here.

Mortensen, Viggo (1958- ); 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. For more information click here.

Nielsen, Connie (1965- ); an actress. Movies include: 'Gladiator' 2000, 'One Hour Photo' 2002, 'Basic' 2003, 'Return to Sender' 2004. For more information click here.

Trier, Lars von (1956- ); 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. For more information click here.
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. For more information click here.
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. For more information click here. 

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. For more information click here.

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.For more information click here.

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. For more information click here.

Utzon, Jørn (1918-2008): Danish architect and designer of the Sydney Opera House in Australia.For more information click here.
Wiinblad, Bjørn (1918-2006): Danish painter, designer, and artist in ceramics.For more information click here.
Christensen, Helena (1968- ): a fashion model, working as one of the leading supermodels of the 1990's. For more information click here.

Thomsen, Cecilie (1974- ): a fashion model who starred in 'Tomorrow Never Dies' 1997 as Inga Bergstrom. For more information click here.
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'. For more information click here.
Hein, Piet (1905-1996): Danish scientist, designer, poet, and author. Hein is most famous for his 'Grook's' books and his 'Superegg'.  For more information click here.
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. For more information click here.
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. For more information click here.

Ruders, Poul (1949-): 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. For more information click here.
Ullrich, Lars (1963- ): the drummer of the heavy metal band 'Metallica'. For more information click here.
Redzepi, Rene (1977- ): chef and co-founder of the Copenhagen restaurant 'Noma'. Noma was listed by Restaurant Magazine as the best restaurant in the world. The name Noma is a contraction of the words "nordisk" (Nordic) and "mad" (food).For more information click here.
Petersen, William (1880-?): Inventor of the vice grip in 1924. For more information click here.
S.S. Adams (1879-1963): Inventor of the joy buzzer, sneeze powder and many other gags. Born Søren Adam Sørensen, he immigrated to New Jersey at the age of 4.  
Christiansen, Ole Kirk (1891-1958): founder of LEGO. LEGO is a short name for "leg godt" (play well).For more information click here.
Clausen, Jørgen M. (1948- ): 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. For more information click here
McKinney Møller, Arnold Mærsk (1913- ): 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.For more information click here.
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.For more information click here.
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. For more information click here.
Rasmussen, Knud (1879-1933): Greenlandic polar explorer and anthropologist. The first to cross the Northwest Passage via dog sled.For more information click here.
Grundtvig, Nikolaj Frederik Serverin (N.F.S.) (1783-1872): a poet, pastor and founder of what in Denmark is known as højskole (Folk high school). For more information click here.
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. For more information click here.
Brahe, Tycho (1546-1601): an astronomer and scientist he has had a great influence on the development of astronomy and science in general. For more information click here.
Ørsted, Hans Christian (1777-1851): a physicist who discovered electron magnetism and aluminum. For more information click here.
Andersen, Morten (1960- ): Mortensen, born in Copenhagen became an NFL kicker, starting his career in 1981 at Michigan College. He retired from the sport in 2008. For more information click here.
Bjørn, Thomas (1971-): Golfer, he is one of the most successful Danish golfer with 14 worldwide wins. For more information click here.

Carstensen, Jacob (1978- ): a swimmer who won the world title in the 400m freestyle at the 1997 FINA Short Course World Championships. For more information click here.
Friis, Lotte (1988- ): in 2009 won Friis the World Champions in 800m freestyle. For more information click here.
Jacobsen, Mette (1973- ): a championships swimmer. World champion in 1995, 1999, and 2000. Her specialties are backstroke and butterfly. For more information click here.
Kristensen, Tom (1967-): Racing driver, most famous for his 8 wins in the 24 hours Le Mans. For more information click here.
Laudrup, Brian (1969- ): 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. For more information click here.
Laudrup, Michael (1964- ): a retired professional soccer player who played on some of the top teams throughout Europe, Juventus in Italy and Barcelona in Spain. For more information click here.
Riis, Bjarne (1964-): retired cyclist, won the Tour de France in 1996, and is now the owner of cycling team Saxobank-Sungard. For more information click here.
Wozniacki, Caroline (1990-):  professional tennis player, She is currently world no. 1 on the WTA tour, as of 16 august. For more information click here.
Febiger, Hans Chr. (1749-1796): born in Faaborg, Denmark, was one of George Washington’s most trusted officers during the American Revolution. For more information click here.  
Fogh-Rasmussen, Anders: (1953-) Former prime-minister of Denmark, now Secretary General of Nato. For more information click here.
Zanco, Charles: (1808-1836) The only Dane at the Alamo. He designed the Lone Star flag and fell in the battle. For more informations click here.