LA Sketches: John Nazarian, Defender of the Underdog

15 February, 2022


Portrait of John Nazarian by LA artist Zareh.


The multi-talented John Nazarian (1937- 2022) was born in Aleppo, Syria and after graduating from high school in 1955, he moved to Los Angeles to continue his education. He aspired to become a writer and participated in the Theater Arts of Pasadena Playhouse. In 1963, he was cast in the Armenian film Aryunabardeh, playing the role of a fedayeen. In 1970, John abandoned his studies in film and theatre and began working as a probation counselor, where he helped many Armenian prisoners. He retired from his probation work after 21 years.

John was always a defender of the underdog and thought there is greatness in championing the poor, the downtrodden and the outcast. He was their compassionate and understanding friend. He helped them morally and financially. His home was open to them and he spent time with them. He remained a key figure in the L.A. Armenian community until his death at the age of 84, leaving behind a large family, including his wife and two sons; his grandson Jacob; and his many nephews, nieces, cousins, relatives and friends.  —Dr. Vahan Tootikian, courtesy of The Armenian Weekly.


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