7 ​​Celebrities Who Discovered Wild Things About Their Family History

The details of a family’s history used to be a big mystery but thanks to DNA testing and online ancestry databases, access to genealogical information is more easily obtainable than ever. While putting together an entire family tree can be accomplished with a little hard work, sometimes it’s best to call in the pros — which is exactly what a lot of celebrities have done. And after working with genealogical experts on shows like “Finding Your Roots” and Who Do You Think You Are?” some celebs have ended up making pretty wild discoveries about their families!

Read on to find out what these celebs found out about their family history…

1. Julia Roberts

During an appearance on “Finding Your Roots,” Julia Roberts discovered that she’s been living by the wrong name for her entire life. Genealogy research revealed that she is not actually a descendant of who was believed to be her great-great-grandfather, Willis Roberts. Instead, it was uncovered that Willis had been deceased more than ten years before her great-grandfather, John, was born to her great-great-grandmother, Rhoda Suttle Roberts. DNA pointed to a man named Henry McDonald Mitchell Jr. as her actual biological great-great grandfather.

“On the one hand, truly my mind is blown. And it is fascinating,” Julia said. “And on the other hand, there is, you know, part of me when I’m calmer, you know, can still wrap my arms around the idea that, you know, my family is my family. And I do prefer the name Roberts.”

2. Bernie Sanders

It turns out that Bernie Sanders isn’t just portrayed by Larry David on “Saturday Night Live” — they’re actually related! When both men appeared in “Finding Your Roots,” they discovered that DNA showed that they are distantly related.

“You’re kidding! Oh my God! That is unbelievable,” Bernie said during the episode, later adding, “People say to me, you know they talk about Larry David, and I say he does a better Bernie Sanders than I do.”

3. Edward Norton

Edward Norton’s family had always believed that they might be related to Pocahontas but it wasn’t until the actor appeared on “Finding Your Roots” that it was confirmed to be true. After learning about his family’s ancestry, he found out that the 17th-century Powhatan woman is his 12th great-grandmother.

“This is about as far back as you can go, unless you’re a Viking. Makes you realize what a small piece of the whole human story you are,” Edward said on the show.

4. RuPaul

During an episode of “Finding Your Roots,” RuPaul discovered that he was related to politician Cory Booker. The “Drag Race” host was pleasantly surprised by the revelation that the pair are genetic cousins and admitted that they did look like each other.

“He looks like my kin. There’s a sweetness about him that I’ve always loved and an intellect that’s undeniable. But every time I’ve ever seen him, he reminds me of my cousin Yula,” RuPaul said during the episode.

5. Marisa Tomei

In 2019, Marisa Tomei learned that she’s related to one of her former co-stars — Julianne Moore! While appearing on an episode of “Finding Your Roots,” Marisa was told that she and Julianne are genetic cousins, meaning they share “an identical stretch of DNA.” When Julianne heard the news, she took to Instagram to share her reaction.

“I KNEW WE WERE ALIKE! @marisatomei is my COUSIN!! OMG I’m so excited, thank you @henrylouisgates for letting us know we have identical segments of DNA,” Julianne wrote.

6. Scott Foley

On “Who Do You Think You Are?” Scott Foley learned that his eighth great-grandfather Samuel Wardwell was caught up in the Salem Witch Trials. After traveling to Salem, Massachusetts, Scott learned that Samuel was put on trial after a teenage girl accused him of “afflicting” her with acts of witchcraft and another man claimed Samuel could predict the future. Ultimately, he was sentenced to death.

7. George Clooney

In 2012, George Clooney learned that he’s related to Abraham Lincoln. According to Ancestry.com, Clooney is the half-first cousin five times removed from the former president. While breaking down the connection, the genealogy site explained that two of their ancestors were half-siblings. Specifically, Lincoln’s mother Nancy Hanks was the half-sister of George’s fourth great-grandmother Mary Ann Sparrow.

“We noticed there were similarities between the names and places of Abraham Lincoln’s tree and George Clooney’s tree,” the website’s Michelle Ercanbrack told People. “They both have deep roots in Kentucky, so once we honed in on that we were able to find a connection between the two.”

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