Kelsey Grammer’s Episode on the U.S. Version of Who Do You Think You Are?

This week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featured Kelsey Grammer as the guest celebrity looking for his family tree. A five-time Emmy Award winner, Kelsey Grammer is the first actor in television history to receive multiple Emmy nominations for performing the same role on three series. Grammer is known for his two-decade portrayal of psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane on the NBC sitcoms Cheers and Frasier. This week, he became a typical American who wants to know more about his ancestry.

Jennifer Utley, an Ancestry.com family historian, worked with Grammer in this episode. Grammer tells Jennifer that he was raised by his grandmother, Evangeline, after his parents divorced. His starting point in exploring family history was trying to learn more about why Evangeline’s parents didn’t raise her. In California, Grammer learns that his grandmother’s parents were from Northern California, and as the digging continues, Grammer finds out he has ancestors who lived in Oregon. Other experts in San Francisco and in Oregon contributed their expertise on camera as well.

This week’s episode didn’t find any ax murderers nor any connection to royalty. While there were some alcoholics and a husband who abandoned his wife in the early nineteen hundreds, the ancestors Kelsey Grammer found sounded like those of millions of other Americans. In short, I could identify with this story.

With the help of multiple experts who led the way, Kelsey Grammer traced one line of his ancestry back to Oregon pioneers who traveled the Oregon Train in the early 1850s and ended up with homestead land in the fertile Willamette Valley. He found hardship, especially when his great-great-great-grandparents buried their oldest son along the side of the Oregon Trail someplace in the plains. Despite that emotional loss, the couple and their remaining eleven children completed the trek to Oregon and created a farm that provided food, shelter, and a better life than what they had left behind.

I liked this episode as it showed a logical genealogy research progression up one branch of Kelsey Grammer’s family tree. That is, it didn’t jump around. Had the program been longer than 60 minutes, I suspect it could have gone further back in time. When looking at the death records of Kelsey Grammer’s great-great-great-grandfather, I noticed it stated his place of birth as Connecticut. That wasn’t mentioned in the dialog of the story, however. I suspect that further research could lead Kelsey back several more generations. I bet he already knows about more generations. I have been told by some of the professional researchers who worked on earlier seasons of of Who Do You Think You Are? a full search is made of all of the celebrity’s ancestors as far back as possible and the full report is given to the celebrity off camera. However, due to time constraints, the producers only select the “most interesting characters” for the program. Indeed, the people highlighted this week were interesting.

If you have a chance to watch Kelsey Grammer’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, I suggest you do so. I suspect you will enjoy it. It will be available on reruns on TLC and, within a few days, will also be available on iTunes and on a number of other Internet television channels.

Next week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? will feature Minnie Driver. She is an English actress and singer-songwriter. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the film Good Will Hunting, and an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe for her work in the television series The Riches.

Airing on August 27, the episode with Minnie Driver will be the sixth and final episode of the season for the program.

I find it interesting that Minnie Driver’s ancestry was already traced last year on the U.K. version of Who Do You Think You Are? (See http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0388r75 for more information.) I suspect the August 27, 2014 U.S. version of the program will rerun the U.K. version that was broadcast by BBC on August 8, 2013.

10 Comments

He has had a tragic life: a father who was murdered, a sister who was raped and murdered, a stepbrother who died in a scuba accident, I am sure contributed to his drug dependency and alcoholism, as well as his genetic background. I really find him a man who conquered many demons to become a successful actor.

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Another interesting episode, largely due to the fact that, as you mentioned, it was a great example of “regular” folks. No political hot shots, no princes or kings, but hard working and determined people, who shaped the history of their country and did so to try to provide a good life, perhaps better than they had left behind. One other note of interest – there was a quick shot of one of his grandmothers’ death certificate, it appeared that Nova Scotia was mentioned, which made me wonder if Evangeline had an Acadian connection. I bet this week’s guest had a lot of fascinating reading at the end of his journey.

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I liked the logical progression, however; it appeared that a big leap was made when he was shown living with his grandparents and another woman. It seemed to be a rush to proclaim her as his mother. I hope they did a little more research before deciding.

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Did not see this episode as TLC’s scheduling defies explanation!!! Grammer’s episode was at 6pm (PDT). Any program at 6pm is “usually” repeated at 9pm. They showed other episodes all evening but not Grammer’s. Last week TLC repeated the 6pm show at 10pm. One has to wonder what they are smoking in their scheduling room!!!

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Personally I don’t see how an Emmy award winner is an ordinary guy — to the contrary not an ordinary guy in the sense that the word is usually applied. I’m certain quite a few of us who subscribe to Dick’s newsletter are much more ordinary. Never do I expect that I will be picked and my genealogy given the attention of professionals!

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I’m wondering if anyone else does what I do. Having no cable, I wait until I find the episode, and then go through it bit by bit. I stop in places, pull up another tab and check out the records, trying to figure out where they might go next. I also like reading the whole record because many times one can’t get all the details with the fast glimpse they give. Of course, it also helps that I subscribe to Ancestry, Newspapers, etc. With this episode I used the California Digitized newspaper records to do some extra searching, and was amazed at what I found. We know we only get glimpses of what they’ve told him, but viewing it this way gives me a much more satisfactory Who Do You Think You Are experience. Now, was anyone intrigued with Genevieve’s middle name–Marriott?

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Change that to Pictou County and Halifax.

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Anyone remember the quote he quoted about Alcoholism?

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