Posted by Paul Rawlins on February 25, 2011 in Who Do You Think You Are?

Kim Cattrall’s grandfather disappeared 70 years ago in Depression-era Liverpool, England. On tonight’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? Kim travels to England to discover the reasons behind his disappearance, which still haunts Kim’s mother and aunts decades later.

Family historians take note: Kim starts her journey with little more than her grandfather’s name. By the end, she connects with new family members and unravels the details of her grandfather’s life.

The show, sponsored by, airs tonight at 8/7c on NBC. Can’t wait? Watch a preview at

Saturday morning, visit for tips on solving your own family mystery.




  2. Mary

    Tough, honest show. Ancestry didn’t flinch on this one and good for Kim to be willing to walk through it. Not every story has the happy ending, but sometimes it is still important to have some sense of what happened. It would have made me crazy not to know what happened to my father. Everyone has someone in their life who has really hurt them but most of us don’t have such a mystery hanging over our lives. I would have wanted to know. I like that this show had an investigative feeling to it and that it showed that it isn’t always about finding the ancient, famous, perfect ancestor. People have many reasons for wanting to know about their family lines. The ability to rise above the hardships and losses was evident in the women.

  3. Elaine Short

    I found the show you did on Tim McGraw very close to my family history when he talked about his relative gave shelter to George Washington and other surveyors in his company. My ancestor was William Crawford and he was a close friend to George Washington as they surveyed together in the Ohio wilderness and other areas. It is possible that I owe Mr. McGraw’s ancestor a “Thank you” for sheltering my relative who very possibly could have been in
    the group of men with George Washington. Ancestry and my family being big on our family history has helped me discover much with my tree.

  4. Jo

    I just watched this episode on and also watched the UK version from 2009 on YouTube. The UK version was longer and was much more interesting. The editing for the US version was a shame. As were the 5 Citi credit card commercials on….were they also on the TV version? If so, it’s a shame someone values the still-to-frequent repetition of what’s gone on so far, as well as the commercials, over the additional content of the show, especially such interesting bits as George stowing away, and especially since the US show is gravy for the producers since it’s already been shot & shown before and making the US version consists of nothing more than editing. Shame on them. Show less commercials, cut the repetitious commentary, and show more content!

  5. BEE

    Exactly one week ago, I started a tree with just the names of someone’s grandparents and the approximate dates of their death. Starting with the 1930 census and working my way back, I now have 90 people on that tree and family members totally unknown about.
    While all the names were “ethnic” and spelled very badly on all the census, I managed to find them all going back to 1900. I even found three ship manifests, even though the name the family adopted in the 1920s was not the name that they came with from Lithuania.
    The website can’t “tell” anything. It takes work and persistence, but the rewards are great.

  6. Janet

    I always enjoy a good mystery.
    Maybe Kim’s family will be able to move on now. After all these years the hurt was still so fresh for them. I’m glad they contacted the siblings in Austrailia. If I found brothers and sisters I would want to know them.

  7. Absolutely wonderful show. Can’t wait for the next one. I have been a member of for years, and have gained so much from the access to so many records. Thanks, Maureen

  8. James W Cummings

    Reprobates and rogues … most of us have a few less than sterling characters like George Baugh was. One of my 2nd Great grandfathers, one Eben Clements was born in 1862 into a fairly respectable farm family. he married one Augusta Weston and had a son and two daughters , then decided to have a fling with his fourteen year old cousin Susan Stevens. he ran off to Pennsylvania and she accused his younger brother Ora. He wrote a letter stating his guilt to the superior court after Ora sat in jail for six months because he denied any guilt and refused to marry Susan even after she gave birth to a daughter in April 1890. Eben in Pennsylania not long after married another woman Melinda Kahlenbaugh and fathered four children with her. Augusta granted him a divorce in a few years and he brought his new family to meet his less than proud parents. In the meantime, Susan, who was the granddaughter of a local minister married an emigrant englishman named Harry Boon. They soon divorced and she attempted to claim that Harry was her illegitamate daughter Marjorie`s father as well as their son Arthur`s . Harry declined the false claim. Susan went on to marry three more husbands and had four more children.
    William Alfred Condon, another 2nd great grandfather had a wife Henrietta Guptail who bore him a son Warren and daughter Elmyra. she got sick in about 1875 and a fifteen year old girl Laura Carll came in ostensibly as her nurse. William entered into an affair with Laura and left Henrietta. after Laura gave birth to a daughter and a stillborn child Henrietta granted William a divorce. Laura had two more daughters and three sons. She would survive him by thirty years, dying in 1946.

  9. Jeff Record

    One of your better shows I must say. Often times we forget that the mystery of “who we are” is contained in the all too recent past, and not in ancient history. Kim’s story embodied the perfect old fashioned “family secret”, that which was known, (and unknown) and also that which was never to be spoken of because of the emotional pain it caused the people who lived through it. Cudos to Kim Cattrall for knuckling down with true grit to go looking for the skeletons in her family’s closet, and much gratitude for her in sharing it with the rest of us. Kim’s story teaches us that genealogy isn’t just about tracing roots and making pedigrees. While the show may have been light on the process of records research, Kim has shown us that genealogy is also about solving the old taboo of family mysteries, and unanswered questions. It is hard not to wish the women hurt in this family a bit of closure and also to wish this family the hope of new relations found, and of bringing old ghosts out into the light. Kim, thank-you for daring to share this story.

  10. Pam

    Just wanted to let you know–I LOVE THE SHOW–I LOVE ANCESTRY.COM I have been a member forever, I work on it every single day. It’s amazing how it has helped me. I have gotten several friends hook on the site and the show.
    I do have a ????? would you ever consider doing the show on just a normal family. I think this would help others to understand much better. You see we don’t have the money to do the things the stars can do. So I think you should help several of us that really do enjoy searching. Oh what fun that could be.
    Thank You
    Keep up all the work that Ancestry is doing!!!!

  11. The show “Who Do You Think You Are” has brought family research into a whole new light. Kim’s search for the Maternal Grandfather she never new and whom abandoned his family was a part of the heartache some of us find when searching our ancestors. Family research helps us to understand whom we are and to help in understanding the actions of those who did not put their families well being ahead of their own. Unfortunately many are unable to actually travel to the locations that our ancestors lived, but thanks to websites such as Ancestry, many have to opportunity to find out the hidden treasures of their past.
    I love Ancestry and have been able to find out so many things about my adopted family and my birth family. Through Ancestry I’ve also met on-line and in person, family members who are also searching.

  12. Dana

    How can so many people enjoy this drivel? Kim Cattrall’s episode was the worst of the whole show, in my opinion.

    It wasn’t genealogy, for one, it was just Cattrall airing her grandfather’s dirty laundry on TV. It was obviously staged, for instance, the scene when she was on, she acted like she was finding out all this stuff, even though you could see “Cattrall Family Tree” in the upper left corner!

    The show is moderate at best (except O’Donnell’s episode, which I enjoyed) and at it’s worst, just awful.

  13. Tom H

    May I offer a couple of suggestions?
    There is always a lot of moaning about those ‘rich celebrities’ who can fly all over the place, blah blah blah. Most of us appreciate the ‘visual’ of seeing those places, (after all, television IS a visual medium). I doubt anyone would really find the show more interesting if it featured an hour of sitting at the computer or patiently waiting for the mailman.
    BUT, along those lines, perhaps a little commentary about those journeys as being a visual shortcut to the more readily used methods of internet, the postal service, and the telephone that most of us use.
    Something like “Kim called the library and they gave her the name of an historian. She could have written him for information, but she had the opportunity to visit him in person. etc etc.,.”

    But I love the show and the consistent methodology of working back from the known to the unknown.

    AND, I was somewhat disappointed with the Cattrall and the O’Donnell shows as their motive seemed to be to ease some torment in their personal lives and not so much as the thrill of genealogy for it’s own sake. Neither show gave us any indication that the two parties were the least bit interested in the family as a whole or that they were just embarking on a long journey. They both seemed to be finished. The McGraw show, on the other hand, as well as most of the ones from last year, did that masterfully.

  14. Mary

    There are as many reasons for working on genealogy as there are people. I am surprised that some people would suggest that a personal connection isn’t an adequate reason for a defined search. I was friends with a woman who was ninety years old. Her son had gone missing over 70 years before I met her and not a day went by that she didn’t wonder what happened to him. Who in the world would care about some ancestor from the 1600’s in the same way as when there was a loved one has gone missing. This is a huge area where has the ability to help people.

  15. Jan Murphy

    I realize that the time constraints of television require a lot of shortcuts, and presentation of conclusions that professional genealogists have investigated behind the scenes. But I wish that Ancestry could provide more data about the source materials that were consulted before filming the shows. It was particularly annoying to see Kim waving about the marriage certificate for George’s second family, for which we could only see (at least on my old standard-size TV) the column for George’s father’s name, and not the name of George’s mother. Did anyone bother to compare that data with the marriage record for the first family, beyond matching the name and age? Surely the pros must exercise due diligence but we viewers never see it. It would be useful to have a model tree for each episode showing all the connections presented on screen with ALL the supporting source material (whether shown on screen or not) attached. That way the new users coming to Ancestry because they watched the show could have an example of a tree which was put together by a professional and properly sourced.

  16. Caroline

    I enjoyed the show thought it was tastefully done and the respect I already felt for Kim Cattrall went even higher. Salute to Shane and her Sister’s.

  17. Christine

    If anyone is interested in the research process for these celebrities trees you may want to have a look at the interview given by ‘Brit Celeb” Chris Moyles after he had filmed his experience.

    Check it out on Youtube. Chris Moyles interview on ‘Good Morning.

  18. Mindy

    I watched the latest episode with Kim Cattrall and I can relate to what she experienced. My grandmother who I never met, my mother never knew her either, disappeared some time in 1943. Anyone who could maybe give us information are all dead. There is no way to find out what happened to her or where she went.

  19. Michel

    I haven’t missed an episode yet. This is the second time the show has hit home for me.

    The first time was the quickly-dropped storyline from Brooke Shields’ episode, where her grandmother’s family all died when she was young. My grandmother was an orphan by the age of 9, losing both parents and two siblings within two years.

    This episode was the second time. My maternal grandmother left my grandfather and three small daughters in the late ’40s. We knew that they divorced and both remarried, but I don’t know that her second family knew of us at all. She left three little girls, started a new life and never looked back again. . .

  20. Sandra

    I am glad to see a series like this, but it really needs more details to show the amount of research that went into finding these answers. Hopefully, viewers understand that this personalized assistance level is not what is typically available when someone first walks into a research center. At the end, I hope the actor/actress is going to keep going or search for other lines, rather than stop with this info as seems to be implied.

  21. All interesting comments about what is essentially a huge advertising campaign by Ancestry to entice people to their site and increase the membhership, hence the celeb side. A non-celeb wouldn’t have the same draw.

    Now to the important side – where are all the blogs about the appalling search results, where is Anne Mitchell, it is 3 months (December 8th) since anyone here even broached the subject. Are we to believe that the issues have all been resolved – forget that idea – all the bad search results are still there. But we can watch and comment on a poorly produced show on the box.

    When are the searches going to be fixed (old search that is;))


  22. Cindy Treadway

    I really enjoy the show and yes I would like to see more details about the research that went into getting the results. To #22 Mindy, there’s always hope in finding out more about your grandmother. The 1940 Census will soon be out and you may be able to trace her or neighbors still living…Never give up!!!!

  23. Carol A. H.

    #26 Tony:

    Sad to say but I don’t think (I could be wrong) that Ancestry is going to do anything more on the Old Search. It isn’t perfect, that’s true, but I think we are lucky it is still usable. For me Old Search is faster, gives more pertinent results and shows more on a screen, hence faster perusing. I dread the day they take it off the site. That will be day for mourning.

    I keep trying the New Search every now and then but it finds nothing that old search doesn’t and it does it much slooooower!!! Sometimes the New Search doesn’t find what Old Search finds! So hurry and use Old Search while we have it.

    On-topic: I would love to see an average everyday person be the guest who gets their genealogy researched. The celebs: Yawn! I’m not interested in them, I’m interested in the genealogy! The bottom line is the dollar sign.

  24. I love the show and this episode was very interesting! Thank you for your efforts and the good TV that comes out of it. 🙂

  25. Tony Re: #26

    Ancestry has made it pretty clear that Old Search will remain as is- nothing more will be done to it. All focus and resources will be used for New Search.

  26. #28 Carol and #30 Andy

    I know and in some way understand why Ancestry have to, some time in the future, abandon ‘Old Search’. What I don’t accept is the way they seem to be forcing people away from the search by retrieving completely useless data on some of the collections, note the results on UK BMD records when providing a complete name and exact checked. On the births it produces a list of not only those names, but every other name with the mother’s name the same as the search person’s surname. A waste of time searching – quite apart from the slip shod way the transcriptions were done.

    Then retrieve the image and add it into your tree, sadly the image is not the correct page, it’s the first page for that surname so good luck with a ‘William Smith’ – that’s about 20 pages further on.

    Spend the money on improving the current offering – it is sadly going downhill fast.


  27. Carol A. H.

    #31 Tony:

    I can’t explain why Old Search still works very well for me. I know they are not updating it. It may be that the particular records I use are very suited to the way Old Search functions and also the way they are indexed.

    Indexing is the foundation of any search. If it is bad, it is hard to find any records. My preference to the Old Search is the way it gives me hits. I do get some useless ones but then I have to change my search parameters. I guess I’m used to how it works and I like the full page of hits. New Search wastes too much screen space and having to click, scroll, click, scroll so many time is frustrating especially since they whole system had been slowing down very noticeably in the past 2 to 3 years.

  28. Bob

    I too prefer the old search, but I find that all the bells & whistles added to the tree appear to have slowed down the actual search. Today is one of those impossible days where it seems to take forever to navigate from one family page to another. Maybe it’s just my computer, but it is still frustrating.

  29. Carol, I agree that most of the time the old search really does work well, however try this one:

    Old search main screen, exact matches only James Ingham England, no dates or county.

    On the next screen choose the UK BMD 1916-2005 – 389 entries, which are all James Ingham. Type in the name again, select 1925 with a range of +/-10 and Lancashire as the county. You should get 55 entries – good? No way.

    The first 11 and the last 16 are not James Ingham, but those 27 different last names do have something in common – their mothers maiden name was Ingham. There are only 28 James Inghams born in that time frame in Lancashire. And they say there’s nothing wrong with the search?

    The emperor clearly isn’t wearing any clothes:)


  30. Carol A. H.

    # 33 BoB: I agree with you.

    # 34 Tony:

    Sorry, I can’t do your routine because I don’t have the World Deluxe subscription, just the USA. If I need to search outside the USA, I go to the local FHC. There are 6 computers at the FHC with Ancestry and they all behave differently. I think it may have something to do with hardware, operating systems and browsers. They are not all the same. So maybe that is part of our problems…..we the Ancestry customers. I’m sure all our systems are different and likely we all have different software and settings.

    I have lots of other problems with Ancestry and I called them recently and asked what would be the perfect system (CPU speed, memory and etc) that would be the most compatible with the Ancestry system. The person I talked with could not give me an answer.

    You could call Ancestry and hope to get a “techie” tech. They have expanded their hours but I’m not sure how that would apply to you. Good luck.

  31. Change that last comment – I used your link Andy, you didn’t check the end of the list – Doris, Janet, John and Margaret dont equal exact James in my reference book. I even went back and made sure exact was checked – same results. Looks like both search engines have problems.

  32. Aerian Coeldannan

    I love this show! Look forward to every episode, taking the journey with the stars to find their roots. However, I can’t help but wish I had access to their resources to travel the globe in search of clues! Not very many of us have the kind of money to do such a thorough search. I would love to be able to visit the states and countries, record offices and churches to follow leads and learn the truth. We need access to these same records without having to spend a fortune!

  33. Lisa

    I just watched the recorded episode of Who Do You Think You Are while Kim Cattrell was looking for her Grandfather. I have enjoyed all of these shows, but this one was so amazing! While Kim was looking for her grandfathers other childrens names there was a shot of the parish records she was looking at and right above the name she was looking for was the Surname “Kay”! That’s my family line that came from England! I have been working on my family history for years and I would love the opportunity to travel to where they walked and see what they saw. I don’t think that that “Kay” was related to me, but I don’t know. It was just amazing to see the name! I really enjoy the show and hope to see many more! Lisa

  34. Desertion and Bigamous marriages is quit a way to go through the beginning of a new season. Thank you Ancestry.Com and your beautiful gal searching her background.

    Considering her grandfather’s not wanting to be photographed, I think the grandfather might have had another family before the subjects story. Why else would the man be so alergic to cameras? He set quit a pattern without seeming to have any remorse concerning what he’d done.

    With the attitude toward marriage today, this pattern is probably more common. The people just don’t finalize their union (marriage). The parents don’t suffer, the resulting kids do.

    Real quality work guys. Thank you again.

  35. Rosamary Lindsey

    I understand the lost of one side of a family. My father left in 1946 never to be heard from again. His father was a Railroad engineer but can’t find any info after the 1880 census. Who knows my father might have married again after leaving this family of his.His side of the family is Carter and mother is Sherman

  36. Bekko


    @ Tony Cousins

    Has anyone at Ancestry publicly stated yet whether including people whose mother’s maiden name is the same, etc. in the results from an exact (old) search is an ERROR on their part?

    At least we would then know the likelihood of it ever being put back to the way it was, or are they trying to fool us into thinking it’s a feature?

    I’m seriously getting fed up with it all.
    (The LMA Marriages are equally stuffed up too.)

  37. Bekko
    Since December 8th there have been no blogs related to search, Anne Mitchell used to respond but no longer so I have to assume that she is no longer with Ancestry.

    The short answer is and always has been they are not working on ‘old’ search – however imho – exact search on a first and last name should provide just that – exact matches and not the current fuzzy search they seem to be performing, in both old and new.


  38. Tony Re: #47


    Things went to hell in a handbasket when they started including soundex in all the searches.

    Just one more example of Ancestry’s daffynitions!

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