On the “Who Do You Think You Are?” that aired April 2nd, 2011, Gwyneth Paltrow explores both sides of her family.
Many know Gwyneth Paltrow as an actress. You may also know that she is a daughter of former producer/director Bruce Paltrow and actress Blythe Danner. Gwyneth has always been family oriented, although she knew little about her family past–her grandparents.
The search starts with a hunt to confirm a rumor that she had ancestors from Barbados on her mother’s side. When she finds out that her great grandmother is indeed from Barbados, a trip to the West Indies is needed to dig deeper. Once in Barbados, she meets with a historian who is able to explain why her great grandmother may have moved to the United States. Her great grandmother, Rosamond, was an orphan by age 13. Around that time period, the black Barbados natives had been emancipated for 10 to 20 years. Jobs for white Barbados natives were scarce as the black women would work for cheaper rate. Men to marry were also few and far between. At age 18, Rosamond and an older sister fleed to the United States and settled in Pennsylvania.
Paltrow then turns her attention to her father’s side of the family. Growing up, her grandfather was a wonderful family man, but was not close to his own family. He was very negative towards his own mother. Gwyneth decides to see if there was a reason he disliked his mother, Ida. She finds out that his mother did not cook, clean or otherwise take care of her children. She digs deeper to find out that his mother lost her own mother and brother within months of each other, causing her to be depressed and be discharged from college. Further digging revealed that she also lost a daughter. The baby was run over by a wagon when she was 3 years old. Ida was pregnant at the time and gave birth just 3 weeks later. With this news, Paltrow feels sorry for Ida and for her grandfather who never knew why his mom did not take care of her kids.
With further digging, Paltrow discovers that her great grandfather was the son of a rabbi. Even more incredible, his father was a rabbi as well and very well respected in his Polish town. Knowing that she comes from a spiritual background and how spiritual she is resonates with Paltrow.
The next new episode to air will be that of Ashley Judd, who will discover that she had an ancestor who was jailed for religious beliefs.