finding your roots

Robert Downey, Jr. and Maggie Gyllenhaal

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. reveals the ancestral pasts of actors Robert Downey, Jr. and Maggie Gyllenhaal: two individuals whose family histories can be traced far back through the centuries. Watch the full Finding Your Roots episode. Episode credits.



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  • D. Coles

    April 23, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    This was amazing. My 10th gg is also John Lothrop – but I didn’t realize his sacrafice and what a prominent role he played. Thank you for bringing us this series! Is it possible to get a copy of his ancestors?

  • Lisa

    April 24, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Regarding the PA Germans keeping to themselves and “not wanting” to assimilate as the program claims, you have to remember that in many parts of PA the Germans were the majority and English speakers were the minority. They probably thought the English should have learned German to “assimilate” to the local culture! My understanding is that our country was only 4 votes shy of becoming a German speaking nation.

  • Sandy Hack

    April 24, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Was any effort made to locate Eastern European (Latvia or Lithuania) records for Maggie or Robert? This did not seem to be followed up in the episode.

  • Jennifer

    April 30, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    I’m curious about the PA Germans, as a portion of my mother’s family came from PA and were referred to as “Pennsylvania Dutch”. The latter part of that term was actually “Deutsch”, aka German. Wondering if this group is the same as the one referred to in this episode for RDJ.

  • Abigail McCulloch

    May 1, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Could he 4 unknown unnamed women the Professor Gates mentioned be Leah, rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah the mothers of the 12 tribes?

  • Jean

    May 8, 2012 at 3:40 am

    I really enjoyed hearing Maggie Gyllenhaal’s genealogy and particularly about her 10th great-grandfather. Although I am not kin to John Lothrop, hearing about him made me feel like I was getting closer to my 8th great-grandfather. His name was Deacon Henry Cobb, the Elder. According to what I’ve read he was among the first deacon’s named and the “right hand man to Reverend Lothrop from 1635-1670.” It is said that without Reverend Lothrop’s records, we wouldn’t have had much information about Henry Cobb. As a result of his records, there is much information about Henry, down to a bio that list many of his traits. When reading of these traits I was shocked more than anything else I have found in doing my genealogy. The way people described Henry was much the same as people would describe me! Again, I’m very thankful that Reverend Lothrop was a record keeper and that he introduced my 8th great-grandfather to me.

  • jacqueline alon

    May 14, 2012 at 8:51 am

    robert downey jr. explored by robert gates video

  • Wanda Renee

    May 27, 2012 at 12:58 am

    Great show (documentary) – love the thought of finding out who you are from the ancestors of the past – it makes me curious about my family ancestors as I look at the picture of my grandmother (mother) with her high cheek bones, yellow hue, pugh nose but the eyes of a light grey or blue (depending on the light), long thin hair, with wide shoulders – who is she I wonder – is she native American or mixed with some European blood line. I really don’t know but I am anxiously curious. Thank You for sharing this journey. Looking forward to many more shows.

  • June 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    dr. gates
    i had a dna test done last year and they said i
    had a lot of jewish on my father’s side. this company o nly did jewish dna. my family came
    from poland-prussia and i only have one paper
    on them from a catholic chruch-1852. no other
    papers the mormons said i couldn’t go back any
    farther. when you had barbara walters on your show you
    had a mr. jim yarin who really knew what he was doing. how much does he charge to do
    family history so i can find my jewih roots ?
    jerry stern,

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About the Series

The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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