Tom Hanks and Fred (Mr) Rogers are cousins

Ancestry.com has discovered that Tom Hanks and Fred Rogers are sixth cousins. That’s made all the more relevant due to Tom Hanks playing Fred Rogers in the critically-acclaimed movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. (Bringing a whole new meaning to getting into character.)

“It all just comes together, you see,” Hanks told Access Hollywood when the show informed him of the relation.

According to Ancestry.com, Fred and Tom share a 5x great-grandfather (Johannes Meffert), who immigrated from Germany to America in the 18th century.

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At first glance, that seems pretty astounding, but when you consider probabilities of family trees overlapping, it becomes less and less impressive the further back in time you go. For instance, there’s nearly a 100% probability that any two people of European decent share an ancestor from 1,000 years ago.

And of course, if you want to get pedantic about it, that banana you had for breakfast was your 108-cousin. 🙂

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4 Replies to “Tom Hanks and Fred (Mr) Rogers are cousins”

  1. Ignore any brothers and sisters…

    You have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, 16 great great grandparents, 32 great great great grandparents, 64 great great great great grand parents. That is only 6 generations back which might only take you back about 150 years. Double that to 12 generations and your antecedents increase to 4,096 people that you are directly descended from.

    Go back 20 generations and the number of people you are directly descended from approaches 1,048,576. This has only taken you back about 400 to 500 years. At a distance of 30 generations (700 to 800 years) you have ticked over the 1 billion antecedents mark and by the time we get to the Roman invasion of Britain (43 AD) then you’ve either had more antecedents than there have been living people or we all share some ancestors.

    In short, we’re all Tom Hanks’ cousins!

      1. Nice math, Rob!

        I think I must have married my cousin now!

        But in actual legality, one is allowed to marry even a FIRST COUSIN…so I guess with everyone not a sibling it’s not considered inbreeding.

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