Rita Wilson is an actress, singer, songwriter, and producer. She appeared in the films, It’s Complicated (2009), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), Now and Then (1995), Jingle All the Way (1996), The Story of Us (1999) and Runaway Bride (1999), and the television series The Good Wife, and Girls. Wilson has performed on Broadway and has produced several films, including My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002).
As a singer/songwriter, Wilson has released the albums AM/FM, Rita Wilson, Bigger Picture, and Halfway to Home. In March 2019, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Rita Wilson was born as Margarita Ibrahimoff in Hollywood, California and grew up there. Her mother, Dorothea, was Greek, raised in Sotirë near Dropull i Sipërm in Albania, close to the border with Greece. Her father, Hassan Halilov Ibrahimoff was a Pomak (Bulgarian Muslim) born in Breshtene (Oraio), Greece, close to the border with Bulgaria. Wilson’s father moved from Bulgaria to the US in 1949. He converted from Islam to Orthodox Christianity upon his marriage and changed his name to Allan Wilson in 1960, choosing his name after a local street.
Rita was raised in the Greek Orthodox faith. Her father in addition to Bulgarian could speak “Russian, Turkish, Polish, Greek, a little bit of Italian, a little bit of French” according to Rita’s husband Tom Hanks, who said he modeled his portrayal of the character Viktor Navorski in the film The Terminal on his father-in-law.
Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks own a house in Antiparos, Greece, and the visit Greece often.
“I would go to school and be American
and then come home and be Greek.”
Is Rita Wilson Greek?
Rita Wilson is half Greek. Her father Halilov Ibrahimoff was born in a Pomak village near the town of Xanthi in Northern Greece. He relocated to the United States and in 1949 and later changed his name to Alan Wilson, inspired by his street of residence. Her mother was born in a Greek traditional village, currently located within the frontiers of Albania. Rita was brought up to love Greece and she’s a devout member of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Rita Wilson writes about her parents and her heritage:
In 1946 my Bulgarian dad “jumped ship” in Philadelphia, making his way to New York City, eagerly learning English while working at the St. Regis Hotel. My Greek mother had escaped from her ethnically Greek but geographically Albanian village during the war, arriving in New York via Athens with her mother, sister, and two brothers.
My parents met in 1950 in New York City at a Greek-Bulgarian dance. My dad eyed my mom across a crowded room and asked her to dance. He wooed her briefly and then asked her to marry him. My mother, still new to the United States, thought maybe she should wait a bit before she got married—sow some oats, or sew some coats, really, because that was her job at a factory. After a few dates and no acceptance of my dad’s proposal, they amicably parted ways.
A year later, they met again. A friend of my mother’s saw my handsome dad across the dance floor and declared, “If you don’t want him, I do. He’s nice.” There is nothing like someone else’s recognition of a good catch to wake you up. My mom, now another year older, realized that she missed my dad and that she’d only sewn coats, and had sown no oats. So she pushed her friend aside like some desperate contestant on Dancing with the Stars and box-stepped the night away. – February 2008 Issue of O Oprah Magazine