LOS ANGELES (AP) — Joe Manganiello marveled at some old family mysteries that researchers on PBS’s “Finding Your Roots” unraveled through his DNA, including a revelation about the actor’s paternal grandfather.
It was so surprising that the presenter Henry Louis Gates Jr. had to call him to tell him the news so that he would not find out suddenly during the recording.
“My family and I had a group of bets on what it was, like what is so bad that you can’t announce it in the episode?” Manganiello, husband of Colombian actress Sofía Vergara, said in a meeting with television critics on Thursday. Thursday.
Gates informed him that the man the family believed to be the actor’s paternal grandfather was actually not.
“My grandfather was a black man of mixed race,” said the “True Blood” and “Magic Mike” actor, who is white. “That was fascinating.”
As a result, Gates told him, “You are zero percent genetically related to anyone named Manganiello in the world.”
Gates did not stop there. The show’s investigation traces back to the actor’s fifth great-grandfather, a slave who freed him before slavery was abolished in Massachusetts, where Manganiello’s father was born outside of Boston. His father’s family came from Italy.
Manganiello discovered that his distant relative joined the Continental Army and fought alongside other blacks for the colonies against the British in units that were not segregated.
“None of us would have guessed it if we had 10 years to try,” the actor said. “If Manganiello isn’t my last name, what is?”
Another mystery was also solved on his mother’s side.
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 she pretended to be dead and escaped with an eighth child, who later drowned while crossing the Euphrates River.
Manganiello was told that his great-grandmother was incarcerated and met a German officer stationed in the field. He said that she became pregnant by the officer, who later returned to Germany without her. The actor’s aunt had a photo of the man that was eventually lost.
“We had nothing to connect us with being German apart from this,” he said.
The show’s investigators discovered that the actor’s mother and aunt were the daughters of the half-German baby.
“That was a really profound moment for me,” Manganiello said.
Gates said it took nearly a year to discover the ancestry, in part because the Turkish government does not give researchers access to vital records and population documents dating back to the Ottoman Empire.
Manganiello was filming in Europe last year and some locals mistook him for German.
“To think that I don’t look like the other people in my family because I look like the Germans, OK, now that makes sense,” he said. “It’s really crazy what we discovered.”
The 45-year-old actor was born and raised in Mount Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The new season of “Finding Your Roots” premieres on January 3. Participants include actresses Viola Davis, Julia Roberts and Carol Burnett, political activist Angela Davis and actor Danny Trejo.