19    Apr 20122 comments

Dick Clark: An American icon passes

Dick Clark 1961

Dick Clark in 1961 (Source: Wikipedia)

Dick (Richard Wagstaff) Clark, American radio and television personality died yesterday.

Born November 30, 1929, in Bronxville, New York, he died of a massive heart attack in Santa Monica, California, on April 18, 2012.

Best known as the host of the long-running teen music show - American Bandstand - watched religiously every afternoon by millions of US teens when they came home from school. The show is credited by many as the forerunner of reality TV shows like "American Idol." Later, he also created "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" and even a game show - "Pyramid."

The release of the 1940 US Census (available on MyHeritage) earlier this month provides an inside view into the lives of those who lived at the time. Clark was 10 years old when the enumerator came to call.

Continue reading "Dick Clark: An American icon passes" »

16    Apr 20120 comments

The Big Question: Marriage in your family

There are many ways to "pop the question."

How Silas Popped the Question - Card game - 1915

This article lists a number of famous marriage proposals. It includes that of King Edward VIII, who abdicated the British throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, and performer Seal, who proposed to supermodel Heidi Klum in a custom-built igloo on top of a glacier!

Speaking of celebrity proposals, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie recently announced their engagement and are planning to wed in September. Watch this space for a Brangelina special!

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5    Apr 20129 comments

1940 US Census: Celebrity records discovered on MyHeritage

Yesterday we completed the uploading of all 1940 Census images. Users around the world have been searching the census for free and have already found their ancestors’ records at www.MyHeritage.com/1940Census.

We couldn’t resist researching the records of celebrities who were alive in 1940. Thanks to our fantastic team of genealogists, we made some exciting discoveries and we invite you to see the  census images below:

Elvis Presley

His father was a carpenter, and his mother was a seamstress, and little did they or the enumerator know what lay ahead for this 5 year old boy – Elvis.

Click to zoom

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21    Mar 20120 comments

Johann Sebastian Bach: Happy birthday!

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

This post is from the Dutch MyHeritage Blog,  originally written by Denie Kasan, MyHeritage’s Netherlands community manager.

Today, March 21, marks the birthday of one of the greatest musical composers, Johann Sebastian (J.S.) Bach (1685-1750). His famous works are still taught today to music students across the globe, ensuring that Bach’s music and style lives on.

Perhaps less known is Bach's musical family background and abundant progeny. Within seven generations, the Bach family produced no fewer than 120 musicians and, over two marriages, Bach fathered 20 children!

Born March 21, 1685, in the German town of Eisenach (Thuringia), he was the eighth child of German composer Johann Ambrosius Bach and Elisabeth Lämmerhirt. His musical legacy is attributed to his great-great-grandfather Veit Bach who, according to J.S. Bach’s diary, played the lute. Generation after generation of musicians were born to the Bach family, and many served as royal court musicians. Continue reading "Johann Sebastian Bach: Happy birthday!" »

20    Feb 20122 comments

Presidents’ Weekend: George and Abe slept here!

George Washington by Gilbert Stuart

Historic houses in many states bear signs reading “George Washington slept here,” or “Abraham Lincoln slept here.”

There weren’t many hotel or motel chains in those days, so famous people - indeed, all travellers - slept in taverns, inns, private homes or camped out under the stars.

Perhaps that’s why Presidents' Weekend is known as the best time for sales of mattresses and bedding, as every US department and bedding store advertises great prices!

Abraham Lincoln

Seriously though, Presidents’ Weekend is relatively new. When I was in elementary school in New York, we celebrated Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays on two weekends in February, each with a Monday or Friday off.

Since they were both legal holidays - with banks, businesses, government offices and schools closed – someone suggested that perhaps the two holidays could be combined with only one day off instead of two. While schoolchildren mourned the loss of an anticipated holiday, the business community welcomed it.

Each state sets its observance of the holiday, and not all US states observe Presidents' Weekend. Read the history here.

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12    Feb 20123 comments

Whitney Houston: An inherited gift

Yesterday, the world was shocked by the sad news that Whitney Houston - with her amazing, touching voice - had died.

She was one of my favorite singers.

As a tribute, I wanted to explore her family history. It was exciting to learn that she had inherited a family gift in her voice. Her ancestry included African, Dutch and Native American roots.

Houston's mother was Grammy Award–winning American soul and gospel singer Cissy Houston. Her successful career included backup for Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Wishbone Ash and Aretha Franklin - she is now a solo artist. One of Cissy's great-great-grandfathers was Dutch.

Cissy's father Nitcholas Drinkard was born to Susan Bell Drinkard (maiden name Fuller; born 1876), who was part Dutch and part African-American. Nitcholas's father was Native American John Drinkard, Jr. (b. 1870).His ancestors included a family of African-American landowners in Blakely, Georgia, where three of Cissy's siblings were born.

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11    Feb 20121 comment

WDYTYA: Marisa Tomei’s odyssey

Following the large audience for the third-season premiere of the US-version of Who Do You Think You Are? - starring Martin Sheen - the second episode focused on Marisa Tomei.

Tomei's story concerned her murdered great-grandfather, and the false belief held by her family about the event's circumstances.

Her odyssey takes her from Brooklyn to Tuscany, Elba, Castiglioncello and Lucca to find the truth about the event, and her mother's BIANCHI and CANOVARO families. Her father, Gary, had already done extensive research on the TOMEI family tree.

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8    Feb 20120 comments

Lord of the Rings: A family tree

Image Source: http://free-extras.com/

Traditionally, most people research their own family, or one that that they have some connection to - but college student Emil Johansson is different.

Johansson has chosen a more peculiar family tree. He recently received international attention when he published his gigantic tree focusing on most of the characters in “Lord of the Rings”.

In his own words, Johansson is “overly enthusiastic about Tolkien's Lord of the Rings,” leading him to create a project where he has attempted to collect all Middle Earth’s characters and creatures in one giant family tree.

Emil's "Lord of the Rings" Family Tree

Eighteen months ago, he began studying chemical engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, but it wasn’t an easy choice:

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17    Jan 20124 comments

‘The Greatest’ – Muhammad Ali’s family history

Muhammad Ali

Today, the world celebrates the 70th birthday of the first and only three-time consecutive World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.).

In celebration of Muhammad Ali's extraordinary journey, MyHeritage decided to build his family tree and share his family and personal history.

Muhammad is a descendant of pre-Civil War era American slaves in the American South, and is predominantly of African-American descent, with some Irish and English ancestry.

His Irish ancestry was uncovered through research revealing his descent from a man who lived in the town of Ennis, in County Clare, Ireland.

Continue reading "‘The Greatest’ – Muhammad Ali’s family history" »

9    Jan 20123 comments

Tracing Kate Middleton’s family tree

In case you didn't know, today is the 30th birthday of Kate Middleton and we couldn't think of a better way to honor the occasion than by sharing her fascinating family history and tree.

Kate's family history - contrary to her now relatively opulent lifestyle - is one that many of us can attest to in our family trees.

Kate's family are from the North of England and - up to the last few generations - her ancestors were mostly working-class. According to the New England Historic Genealogical Society her ancestors include merchants, messengers, solicitors, cabinet makers, butchers, bakers, a laundress, and coalminers.

The Society also revealed in November 2010 that Kate Middleton (along with the Queen Mother and Princess Diana) is a cousin of America's first president, George Washington.

Click here to see Kate Middleton's MyHeritage family tree (screenshot below).

Click the image to see the family tree.

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