View Full Version : Results for famous people from Finding your Roots PBS Show

02-03-2016, 04:30 PM
The purpose of this thread is to collect 23andme results of famous people from the program Finding Your Roots. I presume since PBS is publicly listing the 23andme DNA results that they are public and can be shared, however if this isn't true, let me know and I shall deleted the results immediately.

Ty Burrell

Known Ancestry: German, English, smaller amounts of Scottish, Irish, French, as well as 1/64th African (from Madagascar)



Sheri Burrell(Ty Burrell's mother)


Soledad O'Brien

Known Ancestry: Irish, one quarter Scottish (father), Afro-Cuban (mother)



Bill Maher

Known Ancestry: Ethnicity: Irish (father), Ashkenazi Jewish (mother)



Bill O'Reilly

Known Ancestry: Irish, small amount of English



Bill Hader

Known Ancestry: Irish, German, Danish, English, remote French Huguenot



Sir Richard Branson

Known Ancestry: English, 1/32 unknown(Second great-grandmother's mother is not listed on baptismal record) dna confirms she might have been South Asian.



Shonda Rhimes

Known Ancestry: African American



Maya Rudolph

Known Ancestry: Ashkenazi Jewish (father), African-American (mother)



Frank Gehry

Known Ancestry: Ashkenazi Jewish



02-03-2016, 04:47 PM
I don't watch the show, they not always give a complete breakdown? What an incredible publicity for genetic tests btw.

02-03-2016, 04:50 PM
Cool, thank you. Does the new 23andMe not display haplogroups? Or were they just not featured in the show?

02-03-2016, 04:56 PM
I watched a few episodes of the show. The one with Maya Rudolph was very interesting, and also, very sad. I last watched the one with Bill Hader. Didn't they trace one of his lines all the way to Charlemagne? (or was it one of the others -"the three comedians") Anyway, really interesting show and it makes me wish someone would take the time to do the genealogy work for me too. :)

02-03-2016, 04:58 PM
Cool, thank you. Does the new 23andMe not display haplogroups? Or were they just not featured in the show?

They do, but it was too much work. All I remember is that both O'Reilly and Maher are R1b-M222.

02-03-2016, 11:24 PM
Just saw my first episode...I loved it. It inspired me to not give up on my own genealogical mystery despite a century old brick wall.

Joe B
02-03-2016, 11:48 PM
They may be using Ancestry.com for the DNA analysis.

Major corporate support for FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY GATES, JR. Season Three is provided by Ancestry.com, Johnson & Johnson, POM and Ford. Support is also provided by the Ford Foundation, Candace King Weir, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS.http://www.pbs.org/weta/finding-your-roots/about/

02-04-2016, 12:14 AM
They may be using Ancestry.com for the DNA analysis.

They are! But all the results above are from 23andme. You can tell apart 23andme results from Ancestry, because Ancestry breaks down African into different Countries, also Ancestry has separate components for British and Irish. Also Ancestry round the percentages to whole number(i.e 0.4%<1% per Ancestry, or 0.6%=1%) They also have a European Jewish instead of Ashkenazi Jewish component. In fact, Jimmy Kimmel analysis which revealed he was 87% European, 11% West Asian and 2% African is indeed from Ancestry which is why I didn't include it here.

J Man
02-04-2016, 12:34 AM
No haplogroups?

02-04-2016, 01:16 AM
They do, but it was too much work. All I remember is that both O'Reilly and Maher are R1b-M222.

They also match autosomally. :) I *think* it was on chromosome 5. I have to go back and rewatch it hopefully tonight.

I really enjoy this show. Mostly they feature the paper trail, and then tie in some DNA. Of course not as much as I would like! Still a very well done show.

They have used all of the big three companies. Later on I can move this thread to somewhere more general than the 23andme section.

02-04-2016, 05:41 AM
Here is a link to CeCe Moore's blog that covers the very first two episodes of the show back in 2012. http://www.yourgeneticgenealogist.com/2012/03/finding-your-roots-with-henry-louis.html Both 23andme and FTDNA had been utilized.

I was reading through her blog for episode 7 and the company African Ancestry had been used for that episode. http://www.yourgeneticgenealogist.com/2012/04/finding-your-roots-with-henry-louis_30.html

This link CeCe Moore goes more in depth about how DNA makes it in the show when there isn't a good DNA related story for some guests. It also highlights Deepak Chopra’s Y-STR DNA results revealing that his Y DNA is Q1b. http://www.pbs.org/weta/finding-your-roots/blog/dna-confirms-paper-trail/

Some of you might have noticed that I have altered the title of the thread slightly, and moved it to the Other section of this forum. It will be great to have discussion about past and present episodes. As I said before I really enjoy the show. I like how they breathe life into the long lost ancestors and tie in the DNA part. Even if it's just a little. If anything it will hopefully create interest for more people to test. :)

02-10-2016, 04:18 PM
Patricia Arquette

Known Ancestry: English, French-Canadian, Swiss-German, German, Scottish, Irish, Welsh (father) Ashkenazi Jewish (mother)



Julianne Moore

Known Ancestry: German, English, Irish (father) Scottish (mother)



Senator John McCain

Known Ancestry: English, Scottish, Scots-Irish (Northern Irish)/Irish, distant Welsh



02-10-2016, 11:01 PM
The story of Richard Branson, in particular, seemed quite interesting:


02-12-2016, 11:13 AM
^ This is how Richard Branson described it:

I know just about everything there is to know about my living relatives – we’re a tightknit bunch, who loves to share and celebrate our achievements together. Up until recently, however, I couldn’t say the same about those who came before my great-grandparents.

That was until I sat down with historian and journalist, Henry Louis Gates Jr to trace my roots. Let me tell you, it was a journey of wonderful discovery, in which I found out that I inherited several of my most defining character traits – namely my love of adventure, discovery and entrepreneurship – from my ancestors.

My father’s family left a paper trail that traced back to Madras, India in the 1700s. In 1793, my third great-grandfather, John Edward Branson set sail from Britain to India. After a gruelling six-month journey, in which his boat circled the Cape of Good Hope and crossed the Indian Ocean, he reached South East India – a trading hub of the fast-growing British Empire. He was eventually joined by his father, my fourth great-grandfather, Harry Wilkins Branson; and by 1808 three generations of my ancestors were living in Madras (or Chennai, as the city is known today).

When I heard this, I hoped that they had made the move for the love of adventure and in the spirit of entrepreneurship; and it turns out I was right. The paper trail showed that they moved in search of fortune, and within 10 years became successful businessmen – my great-great-great-grandfather, John, a shopkeeper and my great-great-great-great-grandfather, Harry, an auctioneer. I was terribly excited to discover that the entrepreneur gene runs deep in the Branson blood line.

What’s more exciting is that the Madras archives combined with analysis of my DNA uncovered a very surprising family secret. The baptismal record of my second great-grandmother Eliza Reddy strangely didn’t list her mother. Analysis of my DNA revealed that the reason for this was because my third great-grandmother was Indian. Yes, it turns out I’m part Indian. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face when I found this out. I’m honoured. I wish that my father had got to see these records; he would have been fascinated too.

02-12-2016, 04:36 PM
Unusual paternal haplogroup for Keenen Ivory Wayans:


In addition to Maya Rudolph's 0.7% Southeast Asian, it does look like Malagasy ancestry is real in African-Americans, even though often so minor that it is undetectable.

Don Felipe
02-16-2016, 11:57 PM
it does look like Malagasy ancestry is real in African-Americans, even though often so minor that it is undetectable.

I have seen the Countries of Ancestry results of two Malagasy persons on 23andme, and the number of African American matches reported for them was impressive. Also when compared with the number of AA matches as reported for West Africans i'm sharing profiles with. A few of these AA matches even shared DNA segments > 10cM with the two Malagasy persons!

I do suspect that generally speaking Malagasy ancestry will be greatly diluted among African Americans but at the same time it seems to be quite widely dispersed as well. Possibly having to do with an early founding effect dating from the late 1600's/early 1700's in the nascent AA population of Virginia and NY state. Most Malagasy captives would have arrived during this time period in the US. Due to the Domestic Slave Trade of the late 1700's and 1800's, hailing in great part from Virginia especially and directed to the Deep South, their USA-born descendants (having absorbed already other African or non-African origins) would in turn have spread across the AA population.

The Southeast-Asian component in Malagasy genetics makes this particular African lineage for African Americans relatively easy to identify, uniquely so when compared with other African lineages which are much more difficult to pinpoint because of overlapping DNA markers.

I find this genetic Malagasy legacy quite amazing given that the total number of Malagasy captives being brought over to the USA would represent less than 2% of all African captives according to most recent estimates.

See this page for more slave trade statistics and ethno-linguistic maps of the region:

Southeast Africa (https://tracingafricanroots.wordpress.com/maps/southeast-africa/)



(Source: Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database: http://www.slavevoyages.org)

02-24-2016, 06:05 PM
Sandra Cisnero

Known Ancestry: Mexican, mother from Guanajato, Mexico



Torc Seanathair
03-10-2016, 06:36 PM
The Dustin Hoffman episode was particularly outstanding, even though DNA analysis was not featured. The bitter fate of his ancestors seemed to bring about a profound self-realization, even in his upper seventies. It blew me away.

08-29-2017, 02:08 PM
In addition to Maya Rudolph's 0.7% Southeast Asian, it does look like Malagasy ancestry is real in African-Americans, even though often so minor that it is undetectable.

Ben Jealous mtDNA haplogroup has been traced back to Madagascar, his mother is African American: