LOS ANGELES - Tom Hanks, who plays Mr. Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” is related to the titular character, a fact he reportedly did not know while portraying the beloved children’s television personality.
Hanks, born in 1956, is sixth cousins with Fred Rogers, who was born in 1928, according to a family tree compiled by Ancestry.com. They share the same 5x great-grandfather, Johannes Mefford, who immigrated from Germany to America in the 18th century, the website said.
“For more than 30 years, Ancestry has helped millions of people discover the story of what led to them, including the remarkable connection between Fred Rogers and Tom Hanks. It’s no surprise they are related as the similarities between the two are uncanny. Even if we don’t know it, our pasts impact our present. You never know what you’ll find on your journey of personal discovery,” said Jennifer Utley, director of research at Ancestry.com.
Hanks, born in 1956, is sixth cousins with Fred Rogers, who was born in 1928, according to a family tree compiled by Ancestry.com.
Mefford raised a family of patriots, with three of his sons (including Hanks’ and Rogers’ ancestors) having served in the Revolutionary War, Ancestry.com said.
Rogers’s 4x great-grandfather, William Mefford, served in the Navy and was captured by the British in 1782, according to the site. He endured life on a prison ship in Barbados and Antigua until he was released 10 months later. Hanks’s 4x great-grandfather, Jacob Mefford, joined the War as a private and participated in a skirmish at Chesapeake Bay. Therefore, Rogers and Hanks not only share the same ancestor, they also descend from two brothers who fought for America’s independence, Ancestry.com said.
During Monday night’s screening of “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” a reporter revealed Ancestry.com’s findings to Hanks, 63, who was with his wife Rita Wilson.
Tom Hanks, who plays Mr. Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” is related to the titular character, a fact he reportedly did not know while portraying the beloved children’s television personality. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Staff via Getty Im
A reporter with Access Hollywood surprised Hanks and Wilson with the news while they were on the red carpet.
“No impossible, no, you’re pulling our leg,” Wilson responded.
“It all just comes together you see,” Hanks said, as the couple looked through the family tree connecting his and Rogers’s ancestry.
“To make this powerful discovery, Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, used its database of over 20 billion public records to create Tom Hanks’ family tree and found that he is sixth cousins with Fred Rogers, something that he did not know while portraying the beloved television personality in the movie,“ Ancestry.com said.
Rogers, who hosted the renowned children television series “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” for more than three decades, died on Feb. 27, 2003 at age 74.