Saturday, March 27, 2010

Matthew Broderick On's Who Do You Think You Are?

I almost missed watching Matthew Broderick on Who Do You Think You Are? last night, but caught  most of the second half of the episode. I had to miss the first 2 episodes of the series which featured Sarah Jessica Parker and Emmitt Smith because of prior commitments (and I'm kicking myself for not recording it), but I did have an opportunity to catch the Lisa Kudrow episode.

Like most genealogists and family history geeks, I love watching this kind of stuff: seeing others find out about their family's distant past. I have my own stories of my ancestry that I'm proud to share, but it is intriguing to see the untangling of the stories others are researching, even if they are celebs. On the most recent show, Broderick was trying to find out about his great-great-grandfather who died following a battle during the American Civil War and was buried in an unmarked grave. His body was later transferred to another cemetery, but was listed as unknown until Broderick found his gravesite. Interestingly, Broderick played Colonel Robert Gould Shaw in the movie Glory who dies while attacking a southern fort (one of my favorite Matthew Broderick movies, along with Ferris Beuller's Day Off, of course!) and his body is dumped unceremoniously into an unmarked grave.

What I enjoy about this program is that you see a different facet of the celebrity as they track down their wayward ancestors. Just looking into the past and finding ancestors you were previously unaware of and discovering their individual life stories is particularly fascinating. Matthew Broderick's discovery of where his great-great-grandfather was buried put a name to an unnamed Civil War soldier's grave and opens up a line of study for him if were to choose to follow up, but what I like is that other distant relatives of Broderick may become interested in the family and start doing research. There are a million lives of our ancestors waiting to be discovered if we choose to look for them. They were not all famous, but even the most mundane life that was lived contributed to who we are and deserves the respect of being remembered. Now I can hardly wait to see next friday's show which will be about Brooke Shields and her father's history which links her to European aristocracy.

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