Tom Hanks Surprised by Ancestry® Discovery That He’s Related to Mr. Rogers, His Onscreen Character – November 20, 2019

I saw this on Ancestry – Tom Hanks Surprised by Ancestry® Discovery That He’s Related to Mr. Rogers, His Onscreen Character:

Posted by Ancestry Team on November 20, 2019 in Entertainment

At the New York City Red Carpet Screening for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” this week, Tom Hanks was shocked to learn he is a distant relative to Fred Rogers, the beloved television personality who he will portray in the movie.

Access Hollywood revealed the powerful Ancestry® discovery to Tom and his wife, Rita Wilson, on the red carpet, prompting Rita to exclaim, “No, impossible! You’re pulling our leg,” and Tom saying, “It all just comes together you see,” as they looked through the family tree recognizing Tom’s ancestors’ names.

Mr. Rogers’ wife, Joanne Rogers, was also overjoyed by the news, saying, “That is just wonderful! Now that is amazing, and Fred would have loved it! He loved family tree stuff.” Tom’s costar in the film, Susan Kelechi Watson, also asked, “Are you serious? It’s in the blood!”

This meaningful discovery was found using Ancestry’s database of over 20 billion online records, showing a link in Tom Hanks’ family tree that he is 6th cousins with Fred Rogers.

“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,” said Jennifer Utley, Director of Research, Ancestry. “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”.

The Tom Hanks-Fred Rogers family history connection is just one example of how Ancestry can power amazing and impactful experience for all people. Learning your unique family story is simple and easy—and just for the holidays, with any gift membership purchase (starting at $79 for 6 months), you will also receive a free Ancestry TABLETOPICS Edition. Break out this game at your holiday gathering and use the conversation starter cards to ignite meaningful discussions, laughter and storytelling—and bring everyone closer. Discover details of your family that may have been lost through generations—you never know what you can discover by asking the right questions!


Watch the Access Hollywood segment below.


Take a look at the family tree below with details of how Tom Hanks and Fred Rogers are related.


Fred Rogers and Tom Hanks are sixth cousins sharing the same 5x great-grandfather, Johannes Mefford, who immigrated from Germany to America in the 18th century. Johannes raised a family of patriots; three of his sons (including Tom Hanks’ and Fred Rogers’s ancestors) served in the Revolutionary War. Fred Rogers’s 4x great-grandfather, William Mefford, served in the navy and was captured by the British in 1782. He endured life on a prison ship in Barbados and Antigua until he was released ten months later. Tom Hanks’s 4x great-grandfather, Jacob Mefford, joined the War as a private and participated in a skirmish at Chesapeake Bay. So, Rogers and Hanks not only share the same ancestor, they also descend from two brothers who fought for America’s independence.


About Wichita Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's
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10 Responses to Tom Hanks Surprised by Ancestry® Discovery That He’s Related to Mr. Rogers, His Onscreen Character – November 20, 2019

  1. GP Cox says:

    Stranger things have happened in this world …….
    I love it!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Depending on your ethnic (European, African, Asian) background, it’s estimated that you are related to people of the same ethnic background within the last 1,000 – 2,000 years, and to everybody else on the planet if you go back around 5,000 years.

      However, by 3rd cousin, there is an ever increasing chance you won’t match. By 6th cousin, it’s around 98% not matching.

      Liked by 1 person

    • From DNA experts, if you and I were from Europe, we could probably come up with a common ancestor in the last 1 – 2,000 years. Depending on when your ancestors migrated to the U. S., we might find a much closer common ancestor. On my mother’s side, her line landed in Pennsylvania, but spread out across the country. I haven’t found a connection in Alaska yet, but a first cousin of mine was born in Hawaii shortly after World War II ended. Found relatives of that line in most other states and I expect one day to have all states covered with her father’s line. That’s not counting her mother’s line which tends to be Acadian that wound up in Louisiana once they were kicked out of Canada.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SLIMJIM says:

        Amazing. I’m so amazed at this

        Liked by 1 person

      • If you ever do a DNA test, I am on all the major DNA sites so it would be interesting to see if we match. I matched a predicted 5th cousin. We were born in the same city and I made the mistake of assuming we matched on my mother’s side as Mom was born there. I later realized we shared no X-DNA so we had to match on our Dads’ sides. My father’s family was from eastern NC. She doesn’t know who father was, but there were several military bases in my home county – SeaBee, Keesler AFB, and ANG Training base so most likely her father was in the military like my father.

        Liked by 1 person

      • SLIMJIM says:

        Wow. I’m of non-European descent.


      • That may make it harder, but the experts estimate in that case, we probably have a common ancestor somewhere within the last 2 – 5,000 years. We may not share enough DNA to prove it, but one things the experts tend to agree on is we are all related. Most of the experts are not Christian, but they refer to Y-DNA Adam and mitochondrial (mt) Eve as common ancestors we all shared. Since few if any of the experts are Christian, the use of Adam and Eve were meant as a slap to those of us who believe in Adam and Eve. The consensus tends to be that Adam and Eve were not contemporaries although a small handful think they were around at the same time. Instead, many assume Y Adam and mt Eve were separated by 10 – 100,000 years.

        Liked by 2 people

      • SLIMJIM says:

        I’m, sure we are related somehow still!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is interesting – thank you! Funny, I was just talking with my brother (who’s adopted) about his experience with He found his biological father and mother that way––the process was profound for him. Lovely to meet you. ~Debbie

    Liked by 1 person

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