Friday, May 5, 2017

She Said,"STELLA!!!, No More Wire Hangers!" & Other Genealogical Things

* This is a long one folks, so grab a drink and have a seat before plowing through this post.  You may want to take notes as there will be a pop quiz later.  ;-) *

I was sort of bored a week ago Sunday and I can't remember now what I was researching in my genealogical past but somehow I got going on a branch and I read something on a FAG memorial and within a couple of hours I had made connection to another famous person on my family tree.

You may know him like this..........

Or maybe like this......

While he is best known for his role as The Godfather in the film of the same name, this part in "The Wild One", this first film that would depict the rebellious teen generation of the 1950's, is now a cult classic.

As you watch these three clips from "The Wild One" take note of the guy playing the harmonica in the first scene and the guy with the trophy in the last scene.

The harmonica player, "Mouse" in the movie is actor Gil Stratton, who went on to play "Cookie" in Stalag 17(the guy who releases the "racers")and he was also the voice of the Narrator in that film.......

Of course you recognize the guy betting on the races(Robert Strauss) from various bad guy roles in film and tv as well as in small appearances in M*A*S*H the tv series.

In the last "The Wild One" scene that's Lee Marvin playing Chino, the rival gangs leader(who has the trophy).  Lee Marvin it appears is also a distant cousin of mine but that's a post for another day. 8-)

Some other supporting and bit part actors in "The Wild One" are faces you might recognize from 1960's tv comedies....
* Jack "Aly" Moore who played Hank Kimball on "Green Acres"

* William Gerald "Jerry" Paris who played Jerry Helper the dentist, next door neighbor to Rob and Laura Petrie on "The Dick van Dyke Show".

Jerry Paris was one half of the Jerry and Millie Helper duo....the actress who played Millie, Ann Morgan Guilbert died last June.  Jerry  had many parts in films and tv and went on to even great success as a director.  He directed many hit shows....Happy Days, The Odd Couple, Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Partridge Family, That Girl, The Munsters and many more.  Jerry Paris passed in 1986 of a brain tumor.

But I digress......

Marlon Brando is my 17th cousin 2 x removed(meaning he is 2 generations above me).  Our common ancestor is Richard de Beauchamp, the 13th Earl of Warwick and Elizabeth de Berkeley.
Marlon's line goes back through his mother, Dorothy Julia Pennebaker to Richard and Elizabeth's daughter, Eleanor de Beauchamp and my line goes back through my line, Carole Frances Harper to Richard and Elizabeth's other daughter, Elizabeth de Beauchamp.
I could write out the entire line particulars but I won't bore you with that.  8-)

My relation to Marlon goes back through his mother to her Great Grandfather, Samuel Wilson Pennebaker who married Sarah "Sallie" Finley and through her mother, Mary "Polly" Gaines.  Then you go up through Polly's maternal grandmother's line to the Dabney's and way on back to England for our connection.

But interestingly(at least to me), if I have researched this Gaines line correctly, Mary Gaines' father, William Henry Gaines was the brother of Sargent Richard Gaines. Richard Gaines had a son, William C. Gaines who was the grandfather of Robert Henry Gaines, who married Mary Ann Wilmer Marshall. Mary Ann Marshall was the oldest child of Hunter Holmes Marshall and Sarah Wilmer Stith, who were the original owners of "Roxabel" Plantation, the property that my great grandparents bought in the 1930's.  So as Sarah Wilmer Stith is my 4th cousin 5 x removed that makes her daughter, Mary Ann Wilmer Marshall Gaines my 5th cousin 4 x removed.  Her husband also relates me to Marlon Brando through marriage.  Mary Ann Marshall Gaines' husband, Robert Henry Gaines, is 3rd cousins 3 x removed with Marlon Brando through their common ancestor, Richard Gaines(born 1686).
You got all that?  ;-)

While researching Marlon's lines I found some other interesting items to note.....
One of Marlon's closest friends was fellow actor Wally Cox.
If you are really old you may know him as "Mr. Peepers" from early 1950's tv.
If you are just sort of old you would know him from this cartoon series.......


Marlon's parents moved the family to Evanton, Illinois when he was a child and Wally Cox lived in the neighborhood.  Marlon and Wally attended school together but Wally moved frequently and left Evanston with his sister and divorced mother.  After World War II Wally's family moved to New York City and there he reconnected with Marlon Brando who was living there trying to break into show business and studying acting with Stella Adler.  Wally supported his now invalid mother and sister by making and selling silver jewelry at this time.  Wally Cox gave a job in his metal smith workshop to a guy named Richard Loving.  Marlon had 2 older sister.  The younger of the two was named Frances "Frannie" Brando.
Here is a photo of her from her freshman year at UCLA in 1941.......
Frannie ended up marrying Richard Loving and became a teacher.  They moved to the Brando family homestead in Mundelein, IL called "Penny Poke Farm" and had a daughter Julia.
Richard Loving became an artist of note, first in enamels on copper plate........

Richard Maris Loving eventually moved on to more traditional painting on canvas but still in an impressionistic and abstract realm.  There was a gallery exhibit in Chicago in 2014 which you can learn about at the link HERE.
Marlon's other sister, Jocelyn was also an actor.  Though not as famous as her little brother Marlon, Jocelyn worked pretty consistently for 5 decades before passing away at the age of 86.
One of her small parts was in the 1981 movie "Mommie Dearest".
Jocelyn plays Barbara Bennett a "Redbook" reporter in this clip(the older woman sitting at a typewriter at the beginning of the scene)......

You all know that "Mommie Dearest" was based on the memoir penned by Joan Crawford's oldest adopted daughter, Christina Crawford, about her memories growing up as the daughter of that Hollywood star.

So this is just my way to tie the Brando tales into and bring us around to my next wandering....

The more interesting genealogical thing I found after reading up on Mr. Brando is that he also has French Huguenot ancestry like me.  He is the 7th great grandson of Louis DuBois and Catherine Blanchan on one of his father's family lines.

Louis immigrated to America in 1660 with his wife being granted land in 1663 in what would become New Paltz.  During this era there were wars going on with the Esopus Indians of that area and in 1663 there was a raid on the settlers in which 21 were killed and Louis' wife, Catherine and 3 of her children were carried off by the Esopus Indians and were held captive for 3 months before being freed by a contingent of Dutch soldiers.
Marlon Brando even talked about this on an interview on Johnny Carson's Late Show a long time ago so he was aware of his Huguenot ancestry.

Though I don't share this DuBois Huguenot line with Marlon(directly)we both share Huguenot ancestry with this other celeb.....

1930's Screen Legend Joan Crawford.
Or with her real name, Lucille Fay LeSeur, the descendant of French Huguenot immigrants on multiple family lines.  Supposedly she is related to Marlon Brando through her Huguenot ancestors but I haven't found exactly how yet.
I find it interesting that Jocelyn Brando, a descendant of French Huguenots played a role in the film about the life of Joan Crawford, also a descendant of the same French Huguenots who fled France for America.

As for my relationship to Joan, or should I say Lucille....
Joan's 4 x Great grandfather, David LeSeuer, married Elizabeth Chastain, who was the daughter of Pierre Chastain and Anne Briant Soblet.  Anne was the sister of Pierre Louis Soblet(aka Peter Lewis Sublett)thus is my 8th Great Aunt, as she and I share her father, Abraham Soblet as a common ancestor.  All of this also makes Lucille Fay LeSuer aka Joan Crawford my 7th cousins 2 x removed.

Here is Faye Dunaway chewing the scenery in clips from "Mommie Dearest" as my cousin Joan.....

If you want to know more about the life of Joan Crawford check out this documentary......

Also through our shared French Huguenot Soblet and Chastain ancestry both Joan and I are cousins with her......

Actress Jessica Chastain.

I really enjoyed her in this film........

So that's what I've been up to lately.....going down the research holes of genealogy for hours at a time and finding more cousins.

What have y'all been up to?



  1. So that's where you have been! I looked everywhere for you. At this point I am beginning to wonder to whom you are not related. That is all very interesting. Since I did not see The Godfather, Marlon Brando is more familiar to me from Streetcar.

  2. WOW... so unbelievably cool!!! :)


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