When Fred Rogers passed in 2003, it was difficult to imagine who could ever fill his shoes or those cardigans. How about his sixth cousin? That’s what Tom Hanks found out when ancestry.com traced his genealogy and discovered his lineage converges with the former host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Hanks plays Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
Access Hollywood approached Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson with the news at the film’s premiere.
The Link Between Tom Hanks and Fred Rogers
The A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood star and Rogers share the same great-great-great-great-great grandfather in Johannes Mefford according to Ancestry. He immigrated to the United States during its colonial days and three of his sons served for America in the Revolutionary War. Rogers’ great-great-great-great-grandfather William served in the Navy and captured by the British in 1872. The British detained him onboard a prison ship in Barbados and Antigua until his release 10 months later. Hanks’ great-great-great-great-grandfather fought in a skirmish at the Chesapeake Bay.
“So, Rogers and Hanks not only share the same ancestor, they also descend from two brothers who fought for America’s independence.”
When Access Hollywood revealed the information, Wilson responded in surprise.
“No, impossible. No you’re pulling our leg! This is crazy!”
Hanks played the discovery off coyly while joked about another possible connection.
“It all just comes together, you see. I’d like to see if Johnny Depp is related to Fred Rogers, can you find out from Ancestry.com?”
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is based on the article “Can You Say…Hero?” by Tom Junod for Esquire. Written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, the film is directed by Marielle Heller for Sony. Co-starring with Hanks are Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson, and Chris Cooper.
“A journalist’s life is enriched by friendship when he takes on an assignment profiling Fred Rogers. Based on the real-life friendship between journalist Tom Junod and television star Fred Rogers.”
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood comes to theaters on November 22nd.