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On this day - Feb. 6, 1994: Aurora Mardiganian passes away at the age of 93

February 06, 2020

Stories

By h-pem

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On this day - Feb. 6, 1994: Aurora Mardiganian passes away at the age of 93

On this day in 1994, genocide survivor, actress, author, and activist, Aurora Mardiganian passed away at the age of 93.

On this day in 1994, genocide survivor, actress, author, and activist, Aurora (Arshaluys) Mardiganian | Աուրորա (Արշալոյս) Մարտիկանեան, passed away at the age of 93. After escaping a harem and losing her entire family in the genocide, Aurora ended up in the U.S., where she immediately published a memoir about her harrowing experience, titled “Ravished Armenia.” It soon became a silent film and a box office sensation, raising over $30 million for the Near East Relief and saving 60,000 orphans of the genocide. Aurora played the leading role, becoming the first Armenian starlet in Hollywood. She was only 18 years old.

 
But Aurora’s trajectory was marred by scenes of intense distress and abuse. Teenage Aurora was still suffering from the trauma of the genocide, which she was forced to reenact every day on screen for Tinseltown’s bigwigs. As filmmaker Eric Nazarian says, “She survived the savages of the Genocide, only to end up in the hands of the savages of Hollywood.” And the fame was short-lived. All copies of the film were lost and, not long after, Aurora faded into obscurity—though never silenced, and always willing to share her story to anyone who would listen. After her passing, the Aurora Prize was named in her honor, and the Armenian Genocide Museum & Institute has an exhibition dedicated to keeping alive her memory. Today, we celebrate the heroism of this remarkable woman, a “supersurvivor” in every sense of the word.

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