Yesterday I caught part of a 1939 historical film on Turner Classic Movies called “Juarez.” After visiting Internet Movie Database, Inc. to learn more about the cast and characters http://us.imdb.com/Title?0031516, I discovered a number of interesting connections in the Family Forest.

The first character I explored was Emperor Maximilian (portrayed by Brian Aherne). His 20-generation ancestor chart fills in 247,318 boxes, meaning that almost 25% of his ancestry over a six-century timeframe is mapped out in the Family Forest.

The second character I explored was Emperor Maximilian’s wife, the former Maria Charlotta of Belgium (portrayed by Bette Davis). Her 20-generation ancestor chart fills in a lesser but still sizable 16% (165,646 boxes) of her ancestry during the same timeframe in the Family Forest.

Emperor Napoleon III (portrayed by Claude Rains) was lagging way behind. His 20-generation ancestor chart only filled in 5,546 boxes (about one half of one percent).

The interesting part was first seeing that all three of these characters have ancestral pathways that reach some of the same common ancestors many centuries ago, and then discovering that Bette Davis is also descended from some of the ancestors. One common ancestor to all four is King Henry II of England (portrayed by Peter O’ Toole in the1968 movie “The Lion in Winter,” and Patrick Stewart in the 2003 made-for-TV version).

So Bette Davis shares ancestors with the character she played in “Juarez,” the wife of the character she played, and Emperor Napoleon III. I wonder if the possibility ever crossed her mind?

While I was exploring Bette Davis’ ancestry, I stopped on another one of her ancestors, Robert Charlton (1450-1522), and displayed a 20-generation outline report of his descendants in the Family Forest.

A quick look through the 48-page outline revealed a number of well-known names, including, Howard Hughes, Katharine Hepburn, Lee de Forest (important inventor in the radio & television industries), members of the du Pont family, General William Tecumseh Sherman, Cole Porter, President Teddy Roosevelt, the National Geographic Grosvenors, both Presidents Bush, Alan Shepard (the astronaut), Norman Rockwell, John Hancock, President Coolidge, and members of the Ford and Firestone families.

This means several things about each of these people. In the Family Forest it’s possible to point-and-click travel from each of these people through fully sourced family ties to reach each of the other people. It’s possible to travel from each of these people through fully sourced family ties to reach Bette Davis. It’s possible to travel from each of these people through fully sourced family ties to reach at least three of the key characters in “Juarez.”

Old (and new) movies become so much more captivating when one discovers his or her own personal family ties to people in the cast and crew, and these delightful experiences are waiting to be found by each of us.


Last night Kristine and I channel-surfed to Turner Classic Movies in time to catch only a small part of the full showing of D.W. Griffith’s classic 1916 silent film “Intolerance.” (for a great in-depth review by Tim Dirks, see http://www.filmsite.org )

We were immediately pulled in, and as usually, I was pre-occupied with the connections between the film and the Family Forest. The star, Lillian Gish, and at least one of the extras, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., are already in the Family Forest and a number of the characters from The French Story segment are lineage-linked to centuries of family ties that travel forward and backward through almost the entire 2,500 year timeframe of the movie.

But what really caught my attention was the age of some of the older actors. Although the earliest one of the named actors was born in 1850, some of the old men extras appear to have been in their eighties.

This means that some of the actual people you see in “Intolerance” would have been born in the late 1820’s or early 1830’s, which is about the time that some of my great-great-grandparents were born.

Some of those old actors could have served in the Civil War 50 years earlier, and may have even fought in the same battles portrayed in the new “Gods and Generals” movie.

Theoretically, (assuming an average generation length of twenty years) there can be people alive today who are the grandchildren of the grandchildren of the grandchildren of some of those old extras in “Intolerance.”

Even if some of your ancestors did not appear in “Intolerance,” you still have numerous family ties to the movie, through two different routes (the characters and the actors).

First, considering the timeframe of the movie, some of your ancestors were almost 100% certain to have been portrayed in at least the two earlier stories within the movie.

Second, I believe it is virtually impossible for anyone reading this to not share early 1600’s ancestors with a number of the actors in “Intolerance.”