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  • Famous Ancestor Of The Week: Mae West

    Mae West


    Racy actress and playwright Mae West was born 17 August 1893 in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York as "Mary Jane West." Her father was a prizefighter and later ran a private investigation agency; her mother was a corset model. Her Irish Catholic paternal grandmother strongly disapproved of the family's Protestantism and the laissez-faire way in which the West household was run.

    At age fourteen, Mae began acting in Vaudeville shows for the Hal Clarendon Stock Company. In 1911 she appeared in her first Broadway show, and in 1918 she began writing her own shows. One was so offensive that it was shut down and cast and crew were arrested.

    In 1932 she began acting in movies and performing in radio skits. In 1933 she was the second-highest paid individual in the U.S. (after newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst). Because of their provocative content, her radio skits were banned from many stations. She died on 22 November 1980.

    You can see whether or not you are related to Mae West by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.

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  • Famous Ancestor Of The Week: Kirk Douglas

    Kirk Douglas


    The famed actor of Paths of Glory and Spartacus fame was born Issur Herschelovich Danielovitch on 9 December 1916 in Amsterdam, Montgomery, New York. His parents, Herschel and Bryna Danielovitch, were Russian Jewish immigrants who adopted the names Harry and Bertha Demsky upon coming to the United States; they had come from the Belarusian city of Gomel. Douglas grew up being called "Izzy Demsky," and was one of seven children (he had six sisters).

    He attended St. Lawrence University on student loans before getting into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA) in New York City on scholarship. It was during this time that he began using the stage name Kirk Douglas.

    In 1941 he enlisted in the Navy. In 1943, he married former AADA classmate Diana Dill. (They would have two sons, including future Hollywood actor Michael Douglas, before divorcing in 1954.) After the war another AADA classmate, Lauren Bacall, would help launch Douglas' acting career.

    He married Anne Buydens in 1954, and they had two sons. In 1991 Douglas was in a nearly-fatal helicopter crash and subsequently returned to his Russian Jewish roots, embracing the Judaism of his childhood.

    You can see whether or not you are related to Kirk Douglas by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.

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  • Famous Ancestor Of The Week: Margaret Thatcher

    Margaret Thatcher


    Margaret Hilda Roberts Thatcher was the leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990 and was therefore prime minister while her party was in power, from 1979 to 1990.

    She was the first female prime minister of Britain, and was in office longer than any prime minister in more than a century. During the Cold War she took a hard line against the Soviet Union and the encroachment of communism, working closely with U.S. president Ronald Reagan. She holds the title of Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven in the County of Lincolnshire, which means she can sit in the House of Lords.

    She was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire in 1925. She studied chemistry at Oxford and did post-graduate work in crystallography. She took the Bar in 1953, specializing in tax law. Under Edward Heath of the Conservative Party, she became Secretary of State for Education and Science in 1970. She espoused the conservative economic ideals of Friedrich von Hayek and worked to control the power of trade unions. Her unbending determination-and conservative politics in a time when Britain was dominated by conservativism-won her the position of prime minister in 1979.

    You can see whether or not you are related to Margaret Thatcher by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.

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  • Famous Ancestor Of The Week: Clara Barton

    Clara Barton (1821-1912) organized the American Red Cross. Her name was actually Clarissa, but she went by Clara throughout her life. She was born in Oxford, Worcester, Massachusetts. Her great-aunt was the midwife Martha Ballard, of A Midwife's Tale fame. Clara became interested in nursing early in her life.

    In 1862 she got permission to go behind enemy lines to care for Union soldiers wounded in the Civil War. In 1864 Union General Benjamin Butler appointed her as the head of hospitals for the Army of the James, a Union army composed of regiments from Virginia and North Carolina. In 1865, President Lincoln commissioned her to search for missing Union soldiers. With the help of Dorence Atwater, a list of 13,000 Union soldiers killed in action was published.

    After lobbying for years to create an American charter for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Barton succeeded in 1881. She became the first president of the American Red Cross.

    You can see whether or not you are related to Clara Barton by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.

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  • Famous Ancestor Of The Week: Emilio Estevez

    Emilio Estévez


    Emilio Estévez was born in 1962 in Staten Island, New York. His ancestors were from the region of Galicia in northern Spain, and Ireland. Unlike his brother Charlie Sheen (born Carlos Estévez), he did not take the stage name of his father Martin Sheen. At the age of six, his family moved to Malibu, California, where he grew up.

    His first major film role was in The Outsiders, in which he played as Two-Bit Matthews. He appeared in The Breakfast Club, Young Guns, and St. Elmo's Fire. He also starred as Coach Gordon Bombay in The Mighty Ducks, which was so popular that two sequels were made.

    Emilio Estévez has two children with his former girlfriend Carey Salley. He was married briefly to Paula Abdul, from 1992 and 1994.

    Son of actor Martin Sheen and brother of actor Charlie Sheen.

    You can see whether or not you are related to Emilio Estévez by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.

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