LOS ANGELES (AP) — Joe Manganiello marveled at the years-old mysteries in his family that were solved using DNA by researchers on PBS’s “Finding Your Roots,” including a revelation involving the grand- paternal father of the actor.
It was so surprising that host Henry Louis Gates Jr. had to call Manganiello to tell him the news so he wouldn’t know it first while recording.
“My family and I had a betting pool on what it is, like what’s so bad you can’t advertise it on the episode?” Manganiello said Thursday during a meeting of television critics.
Gates informed Manganiello that the man the family believed to be the actor’s paternal grandfather really wasn’t.
“My grandfather was a mixed-race black man,” said Manganiello, who is white. “It was fascinating.”
As a result, Gates told him, “You are not genetically related to anyone named Manganiello in the world.”
Gates didn’t stop there. The show’s research traces back to the actor’s fifth great-grandfather who was a freed slave before the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts, where Manganiello’s father was born outside of Boston. His father’s family is originally from Italy.
Manganiello discovered that his distant relative had joined the Continental Army and fought alongside other blacks for the colonies against the British in unseparated units.
“None of us would have guessed this if we had had 10 years of guessing,” the actor said. “If Manganiello isn’t my last name, what is it?” »
Another mystery from her mother’s side has also been solved.
Manganiello’s maternal great-grandmother was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide during World War I in which her husband and seven of her children were killed. She was shot, but played dead and escaped with an eighth child, who later drowned as they crossed the Euphrates.
Manganiello learned that his great-grandmother was incarcerated and met a German officer stationed at the camp. He said she had become pregnant by the officer, who then returned to Germany without her. The actor’s aunt had a photo of the man, which later got lost.
“We had nothing to connect with as Germans other than that,” he said.
The show’s researchers discovered that the actor’s mother and aunt were the children of the half-German baby.
“It was a really profound moment for me,” he said.
Gates said it took nearly a year to uncover the ancestry, in part because the Turkish government did not allow researchers access to vital records and demographic documents dating back to the Ottoman Empire. .
Manganiello was filming in Europe last year, and locals took him for a German.
“Thinking I don’t look like other people in my family is because I look like Germans, OK, now that makes sense,” he said. “It’s really crazy what we discovered.”
The 45-year-old actor known for “True Blood” and “Magic Mike” was born and raised in the Pittsburgh suburb of Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania. He is married to Colombian-born actress Sofía Vergara.
The new season of “Finding Your Roots” begins on January 3. Among those featured are Academy Award winners Viola Davis and Julia Roberts, as well as Carol Burnett, political activist Angela Davis and actor Danny Trejo.
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