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20 Celebrities with a Surprising French Connection

My family is incredibly passionate about genealogy. We are lucky to have been able to trace back many generations from many different branches of many different trees. My grandparents wanted to know everything about their ancestors, and I spent lots of weekends with them in research libraries or cleaning and tracing grave markers and discovered that I’m related to all kinds of interesting characters!

This is probably why I find it beyond fascinating to watch celebrities learn about their heritage on shows like Who Do You Think You Are or Finding Your RootsUsually the famous person has an inkling about their ancestry, but when the experts on the shows are able to continue the lines back farther and farther, you see this really interesting curve of awareness. Something along the lines of: “I had no idea I was Italian! But now I understand why I can make the best lasagna!”

In 2007 there was an amusing bombshell dropped by Dick Cheney’s wife, Lynne, while she was in a pre-election interview. She revealed that her husband and then candidate Obama were both descendants of a French Huguenot, Mareen Duvall.

Here’s where it gets fun in the world of nerdy genealogy: President Obama is the 9th great-grandson of Mareen Duvall. I am a 9th great-granddaughter of Mareen Duvall. Thanks to a mutual French ancestor, the President of the United States and I are just a tad related!

President Obama isn’t the only famous American with a bit of a French connection through ancestry. Many of our favorite celebrities happily talk about their French, French-Canadian, or Creole heritage. We all come from somewhere, and in most cases, we come from a lot of somewheres!

20 Celebrities With a Surprising French Connection

  • Famous French Celebrities 1 of 21
    20 Celebrities with French Ancestry

    Almost as exciting as the rainbow connection, the French connection simply has more cheese and bread! Click through to check out the surprising celebrities with French ancestry...

  • President Obama 2 of 21
    President-Obama

    Oh, hey! What's up, cousin?! President Obama is one of the many famous descendants of French Huguenot, Mareen Duvall. Other descendants of note include: President Harry Truman, Bessie Windsor, and Warren Buffett. 

     

    Image Credit: PR Photos

  • Robert Duvall 3 of 21
    Robert-Duvall

    Here's another famous descendant of Mareen Duvall. Robert is Mareen's 7th great-grandson. Mareen was an early American settler who traveled to our great land from Nantes, France. 

     

    Image Credit: PR Photos

  • Channing Tatum 4 of 21
    Channing-Tatum

    New dad and star of White House Down, Channing is a mix of Irish, French, German, and Native American ancestry. I'm resisting the urge to make a Magic Mike baguette joke ...

     

    Image Credit: PR Photos

  • The Baldwin Brothers 5 of 21
    baldwin-bros

    Most of us think of the Baldwin brothers as totally Irish, but like many people, they are a little bit of this and a little bit of that. The Biography Channel reveals the Baldwins are: "English, Irish and German forbears on [their] father's side of the family, and French and Canadian ancestry on [their] mother's side; [their] maternal grandmother came from Nova Scotia, and [their] paternal great-grandmother, Helen Irene McNamara, was born in Ireland."

     

    Image Credit: PR Photos

  • Anne Hathaway 6 of 21
    Anne-Hathaway

    Anne Hathaway was brilliant in Les Miserables and VERY French. This wasn't such a stretch for Anne as Vogue reports she is of "mostly Irish and French ancestry."

     

    Image Credit: PR Photos

  • Adrian Grenier 7 of 21
    Adrian-Grenier

    Adrian Grenier was one of the actors who sat down with Henry Louis Gates to talk heritage on Gates'  captivating PBS series, Finding Your Roots. On the show Adrian learns he not only has French ancestry but also Latino and African genealogy. 

     

    Image Credit: PR Photos

  • Chloe Sevigny 8 of 21
    Chloe-Sevigny

    Chloe's French heritage comes from her father's side of the family. Chloe's father, David Sevigny, was an accountant turned interior painter who sadly passed away in 1996 after a battle with cancer. 

     

    Image Credit: PR Photos

  • Dennis Quaid 9 of 21
    Dennis-Quaid

    Listening to Dennis in this 2002 Inside the Actor's Studio interview, you would think he comes from the country of Texas. He makes some funny jokes about his home state and then proudly declares his Creole roots

     

    Image Credit: PR Photos

  • Deschanel Sisters 10 of 21
    Deschanel-sisters

    Zooey & Emily Deschanel's grandfather was from France. In an interview with Parade magazine Emily reveals, "My father's father was from Lyon and was killed in a car crash before I ever saw him," she said. "But we used to spend summers there and still have cousins in France."

     

    Image Credit: PR Photo

  • Ellen DeGeneres 11 of 21
    Ellen-DeGeneres

    Ellen talked about her interest in genealogy on several of her shows. It was revealed that Ellen's Cajun roots are connected to Acadian lines. 

     

    Image Credit: PR Photos

  • Jon Favreau 12 of 21
    Jon-Favreau

    While Jon was raised in the Jewish culture (his grandparents kept kosher and he went to Hebrew school), his heritage is pretty diverse. While Jon's mother is Jewish, his father is Italian and French-Canadian.

     

    Image Credit: PR Photo

  • Jessica Biel 13 of 21
    Jessica-Biel

    In a 2008 article in Dolce Mag we learn Jessica is of German, English, French, and Native American heritage.

     

    Image Credit: PR Photos

  • Hillary Clinton 14 of 21
    Hillary-Clinton

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has several French ancestors. After she published her autobiography in 2001 many genealogists went to work on the French lines. It is now documented that she shares French ancestors with Celine Dion and Madonna!

     

    Image Credit: PR Photos

  • Jessica Alba 15 of 21
    jessica-alba

    Jessica Alba has given heaps of interviews about her heritage. She endured controversy a few years ago when she was misquoted as denying her Latin heritage. She has always been very open about being French-Danish as well as Mexican. 

     

    Image Credit: PR Photos

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus 16 of 21
    Julia-Louis-Dreyfus

    Julia is the daughter of French billionaire and businessman Gérard Louis-Dreyfus. She recently told Health magazine her favorite thing about getting older was not having to apologize for being who she is. Pardon her French, but she likes being able to say, "'Yeah, this is who I am, f&%^ off.' As opposed to, 'This is who I am, I'm sorry.'"

     

    Image Credit: PR Photo

  • Leelee Sobieski 17 of 21
    Leelee-Sobieski

    Leelee did an amazing job in the CBS Joan of Arc miniseries years ago, and it's not surprising with her French ancestry. Her French heritage is from her father's side — her dad is a French painter, and she spent much of her childhood in France.

     

    Image Credit: PR Photo

  • Lacey Chabert 18 of 21
    Lacey-Chabert

    Lacey is thrilled about her Cajun heritage. She spoke to Sinbad about it in an interview in 1998, where she admitted she couldn't talk in a French Cajun accent — but she had no problem enjoying the food!

     

    Image Credit: PR Photos

  • Minka Kelly 19 of 21
    Minka-Kelly

    Minka is the child of former Aerosmith guitarist, Rick Dufay, and Maureen Kelly, an exotic dancer and is of Irish and French roots. She is currently in post production for The Butler where she was cast as Jackie Kennedy.

     

    Image Credit: PR Photos

  • Wentworth Miller 20 of 21
    Wentworth-Miller

    Wentworth often speaks of his incredibly diverse multicultural heritage. He has said he is African-America, Jamaican, English, German, French, Dutch, Syrian, and Lebanese. He's also adorable. 

     

    Image Credit: PR Photos

  • J.K. Rowling 21 of 21
    JK-Rowling

    The celebrated English author has very proud French roots. Her great-great grandfather was a war hero in World War I. When J.K. was given an award in 2009 by then French president Nicolas Sarkozy, she revealed her French great-grandfather had also received the same reward after the war!

     

    Image Credit: PR Photo


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