Tina Turner and other famous Americans who gave up citizenship

By AL KAMEN/ Washington Post Updated at 2013-11-14 08:03:28 +0000


What’s citizenship got to do with it? Tina Turner is just one in a long line of folks who have turned their back on the blue passport.

This item just in via an “activity” report from the U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, headlined “Soul Legend Relinquishes U.S. Citizenship.”
“Long-time Swiss resident Tina Turner” was in the embassy Oct. 24 to sign her “Statement of Voluntary Relinquishment of U.S. Citizenship under Section 349 (a)(1) of the INA” — the Immigration and Naturalization Act.
Turner, who turns 74 in a couple weeks, retired from the concert stage in 2009. She had an abusive, 14-year marriage to Ike Turner (they divorced in 1976), with whom she recorded Jessie Hill’s classic “Ooh Poo Pah Doo,” and John Fogerty’s “Proud Mary.”

Turner has lived in Switzerland for nearly two decades. In July, she married her boyfriend of 27 years, German music producer Erwin Bach (unclear if related to Johann Sebastian). Turner had taken the oath of Swiss nationality April 10. She’s fluent in German, the report said, and she declared that she no longer has any strong ties to the United States “except for family, and has no plans to reside in the United States in the future.”
The key word in the embassy report apparently is the term “relinquishment.” That means, a knowledgeable source told us, that she did not “formally renounce her U.S. citizenship under 349(a)(5) Immigration and Nationality Act, but took Swiss citizenship with the intent to lose her U.S. citizenship.” As opposed to formal renunciation — a much more complex process, we were told — there are no “tax or other penalties for loss of citizenship in this fashion.”

Here are a few others:

Terry Gilliam

Born in Minneapolis, the director and only American in the legendary Monty Python troupe renounced his citizenship in 2006, saying the George W. Bush administration had created an Orwellian society similar to the one depicted in Gilliam’s 1985 movie “Brazil.”

Shere Hite

The Missouri native became famous as a sex educator and author of the “The Hite Report.’’ She renounced her citizenship in 1995 and obtained German national status after marrying pianist Friedrich Horicke. Hite, who had lived abroad since 1987, said she was protesting “a new McCarthyite period.”

Josephine Baker

The St. Louis native moved to Paris to pursue a career as a dancer, hoping to transcend the racism she saw at home. She renounced her U.S. citizenship in 1937 to become a citizen of France and worked as a spy for the French resistance. In 1963, she spoke at the March on Washington.

Maria Callas

Born in New York, the opera singer renounced her U.S. citizenship in 1966 for her ancestral Greek citizenship, in part to expedite a divorce and extend a relationship with Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.

Jet Li

The Beijing-born actor and martial artist renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2009 to become a Singapore native.

John Huston

Disgust over McCarthyism prompted this Missouri-born director to emigrate to Ireland in 1952. He renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1964.

Barbara Hutton

The actress and Woolworth heiress, a New York native, gave up her U.S. citizenship twice, to adopt the nations of husbands from Denmark and the Dominican Republic. In between, she reestablished U.S. citizenship during her marriage to fellow screen idol Cary Grant. She and Grant are pictured here at their wedding in 1942.

Henry James

The New York-born writer, famous for his novels about Americans living abroad, renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1915 to protest America’s then-neutrality in World War I. James, shown here with novelist Edith Wharton at her western Massachusetts home in 1904, became a British citizen.

Yul Brynner

“The King and I’’ actor, born in Russia, gave up U.S. citizenship in 1965. He also was a Swiss citizen