“Who Do You Think You Are?” gives celebrities an opportunity to trace their family history. Presented in part by ancestry.com, this episode finds actress, singer, and producer Rita Wilson (born Margarita Ibrahimoff) tracing her ancestry to find out just who she really is.
The episode starts with her family wishing her mother a happy birthday. Her father died about two years ago and wants to find more about his familyÂ—this is part of the unknown she wants to uncover.
Her father was born in Greece and this is where her journey starts, in Oraio, his hometown. She met with her translator, who did some investigating before Rita’s arrival. They went to his birthplace, a home that was unoccupied and probably just as he left it. She never knew about his childhood and this visit brought lots of emotions. While there she met her father’s cousins, who are Muslims. They showed her pictures of the family and told her that he moved from Greece to Smolyan, Bulgaria. She met with another historian who gave her the family info. His name was Hassan, and in 1941 was in the Bulgarian Army that took control of Xanthi, the area of Greece where he was born. Although he was born a Greek, he was considered a Bulgarian and fought on the side of the Nazis during World War II, and was imprisoned for two years in a forced labor camp.
After he left prison, he requested permission to move to Plovdiv in 1945 and was married to a woman named Alice and had a child only two months later, but his first wife died three days after giving birth to the child, a son named Emil who only lived four months. During the war, the Russians overtook Bulgaria and turned neighbors against neighbors and he tried to escape Bulgaria.
Rita then traveled to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, to find out what happened to him while he was in Bulgaria. She found out that he was caught trying to leave and sent to a labor camp; not an extermination camp, per se, but many died there from the weather and starvation and luckily he managed to escape and eventually come to America.
Back to Smolyan she met her father’s half-brother who is 96 years old and a tearful meeting it was. He gave Rita a letter that her father had written after he went to the United States in 1949. Rita’s brother, Chris, flew there to meet their uncle too. Now so many questions have been answered and Rita can rest knowing she got an answer to the question, “Who Do You Think You Are?”