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Chris Dunham's Blog (11)

Abe Vigoda: Jewish Mafia Boss

Abe Vigoda (who is, as of today, alive) got his big break in Hollywood playing Italian mobster Sal Tessio in The Godfather. So he must have Italian heritage, right?

Abraham Charles Vigoda was born 24 Feb. 1921 in New York City, the son of Samuel and Lena (Moses) Vigoda. His father was born in Ostrołęka or Łomża or (I believe) Przasnysz, Poland (then Russia) (his… Continue

Added by Chris Dunham on July 16, 2009 at 6:26pm — 2 Comments

Linda Ronstadt: Heiress to a Flexible Ice-Cube Tray Fortune

Singer Linda Maria Ronstadt was born the daughter of Gilbert and Ruth Mary (Copeman) Ronstadt, 15 July 1946 in Tucson, Arizona. Her descent from Frederick Augustus Ronstadt—native of the Kingdom of Hanover and resident of Sonora, Mexico—is well documented in her grandfather's memoirs. Her maternal line has some interesting characters as well.

Linda's mother was the daughter of…


Added by Chris Dunham on July 15, 2009 at 10:00pm — No Comments

Mr. McConaughey's Marriage Problem

Giving great advice on relationships runs in Matthew McConaughey's family. In fact, his great-great-grandfather gave marriage counseling to freed slaves.

Matthew David McConaughey was the son of James Donald McConaughey, who died 17 Aug. 1992 in Fort Bend County, Texas,… Continue

Added by Chris Dunham on July 14, 2009 at 5:30pm — No Comments

In Search of a Man Selling Krug

Stephen Colbert asked tonight on Twitter, "what exactly did paul krugman's ancestors do? sell krug?" I figured I'd check some records and see if I could answer Stephen's question.

Paul Krugman was born "of poor Russian-immigrant stock [and] raised in a small suburban house on middle-class Long Island" by parents David (who worked in insurance) and… Continue

Added by Chris Dunham on July 14, 2009 at 1:26am — No Comments

Dead Myth Walking

Sean Penn's mother, Eileen Ryan Penn (née Eileen Annucci, of Italian and Irish ancestry), said this about the origin of her father-in-law Maurice's surname:
They asked for (Maurice's) name at Ellis Island, he said 'Piñon,' with his accent, and they said 'What? OK, Penn.'"
First of all, it's a… Continue

Added by Chris Dunham on July 13, 2009 at 5:00pm — 1 Comment

Before They Were Belushis (or Blues Brothers)

The name "Belushi" is familiar to all, thanks to John and brother Jim. But it is actually a very rare name in America, being a variant of their father's Albanian surname.

The brothers were sons of Adam Anastas Belushi, who was born 2 Jan. 1918 in Qytezë, Albania, and died 30 May 1996 in Los Angeles County, California. Adam's wife was Agnes Samaras, who was born in Akron, Ohio, to Dimitrios Jorgi and Anna Popa Samaras, both… Continue

Added by Chris Dunham on July 12, 2009 at 9:00pm — No Comments

"McDreamy" Could Have Been a Schlossnagle

Would Patrick Dempsey have become a successful actor if his name had been "Patrick Schlossnagle"?

Patrick Galen Dempsey was born in Lewiston, Maine, to William A. and Amanda M. Dempsey. His father died 9 June 1986, and his obituary appeared two days later in the Lewiston Sun Journal:

BUCKFIELD—William A. (Bill) Dempsey, 72, of Morrill…

Added by Chris Dunham on July 11, 2009 at 11:30pm — 2 Comments

Is Wil Wheaton Jewish?

Actor and blogger Wil Wheaton's partial paternal ancestry has been published online, but his mother Debbie's lineage has not, and is in my opinion even more interesting.

The key to finding Debra "Debbie" Wheaton's parents was a death notice from the Los Angeles Times of 5 Mar. 1981.… Continue

Added by Chris Dunham on July 10, 2009 at 11:30pm — 4 Comments

Gwyneth Paltrow and the Naughty Rabbi

Gwyneth Kate Paltrow has a little "exotic" ancestry on her mother's side (her maternal grandfather's maternal grandmother was born in Barbados), but I'd like to focus on her Paltrow lineage. Her father, Bruce William Paltrow (obituary here), was the son of Arnold P. "Buster" Paltrow (death notice… Continue

Added by Chris Dunham on July 9, 2009 at 11:00pm — 5 Comments

And That's the Way It Is in Walter Cronkite's Family Tree

CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite is 92 and seriously ill.

Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr., is the son of Dr. Walter Leland, Sr., and Helen Lina (Fritsche) Cronkite, born 4 Nov. 1916 in Saint Joseph, Missouri. He married 27 Mar. 1940 in Jackson County, Missouri, Mary Elizabeth "Betsy" Maxwell (you can see for… Continue

Added by Chris Dunham on July 9, 2009 at 12:00pm — No Comments

Jeff Goldblum: Not Dead Yet

Actor Jeff Goldblum was rumored to have died the same day as Michael Jackson, but reports of his death were greatly exaggerated. His days are numbered, though, so I did some work on his obituary.

Jeffrey Lynn Goldblum was born 22 Oct. 1952 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Dr. Harold L. and Shirley S. (Temeles) Goldblum. His father (whose obituary may be read… Continue

Added by Chris Dunham on July 8, 2009 at 11:30am — 8 Comments




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