Last week marked the second season of NBC’s popular new celebrity family history show Who Do You Think You Are? (Fridays, 8/7c). Each week the show features a celebrity and traces their family history. Last year, celebrities included Brooke Shields, Spike Lee, Emmitt Smith, Susan Sarandon and others.
Lisa Kudrow, who is one of the show’s producers, has her own story to tell. Author Megan Smolenyak reports that after confirming the death of her great-grandmother in Ilya, Belarus as part of the Jewish Holocaust, Kudrow was able to find her father’s first cousin:
Lisa now knew the awful truth about her great-grandmother's death but she still didn't know what became of Yuri Barudin, her father's cousin who had brought the dreadful news to her family in New York sixty years earlier. A search on Ancestry.corn revealed multiple records for the ship named Batory. There was only one crew member listed with the name Barudin, but his first name was Bolesław, not Yuri. Could this be the same man? Closer inspection of the ship manifest revealed that he'd been discharged in Gdynia, Poland, and he was the right age. These details meshed too tidily. Yuri and Bolesław must have been the same man.
There was one last place on Lisa's itinerary: Gdynia, Poland. She was determined to find out the fate of Bolesław Barudin. In Gdynia, she earned that Bołeslaw had married and had a son. Hoping to determine if his son still lived there, she asked for a phone book and was stunned to find Bolesław listed. A quick call later, she was elated and on her way to meet her father's first cousin. (Lisa Kudrow: Who Do You Think You Are?)
Last week, the show traced the history of Vanessa Williams and finds one of her ancestors named David Carle, who enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War. “Another ancestor, Samuel Fields, she finds, became a Tennessee state legislator.” (Vanessa Williams discovers extraordinary family ancestry in NBC special ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’)
Other celebrities who will be featured during this season include Tim McGraw, Rosie O’Donnell, Steve Buscemi, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Ritchie, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Ashley Judd. Additional information about the show can be found on NBC’s web site.