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.