Striking Ariana Savalas takes after her talented father, Telly Savalas. She stars in the film, “Miriam,” which opens at the Quad theater on W. 13th Street in Manhattan today [Friday, June 8th] and plays for one week. At a screening this winter at the Warner Bros. lot in California, the director, Matt Cimber, instructed Ariana to arrive late. He didn't want the audience to have preconceived ideas about the star's age, which spanned from ages 14-53 during the drama. In fact, she chose to wear a wig to disguise herself. She's 20 in real life and was 18 during production.
The charming Los Angeleno told me that at first Cimber, who was married to Jayne Mansfield and served as her agent when she performed nude in “Promises, Promises,” thought Ariana was too all-American and clean-cut looking, as well as too young, to play the role. He wanted someone more European for the inspired-by-a-true-story of Lithuanian holocaust survivor, Miriam Schafer, who passed as a non-Jew with her blond hair and blue eyes. The lead dropped out and Ariana, who had studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, was cast in her first film.
She was raised in the Greek Orthodox church. She revealed to me: “My mom [painter, Julie Hovland] is Christian as well, but she was of Jewish descent, actually… so, I technically am Jewish by blood…I think her great-grandparents were in the Holocaust. They escaped from Lithuania. I think their names were Geisthe and Goldstein.”
Their descendants, she continued, “all grew up Christian because they converted to Catholicism after they were in the Holocaust. They were hiding out in a monastery. ” (The story is that they converted, but she's not sure that's true.)
“My mom's very proud of having Jewish blood, as am I. It's a very cool thing.”
Cimber had directed Ariana's father in “Fake-Out” in 1982. Ariana remembered this about her father, who
died in 1994: “He was the best man in the world