Posted by Ancestry Team on November 20, 2019 in Entertainment

At the New York City Red Carpet Screening for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” this week, Tom Hanks was shocked to learn he is a distant relative to Fred Rogers, the beloved television personality who he will portray in the movie.

Access Hollywood revealed the powerful Ancestry® discovery to Tom and his wife, Rita Wilson, on the red carpet, prompting Rita to exclaim, “No, impossible! You’re pulling our leg,” and Tom saying, “It all just comes together you see,” as they looked through the family tree recognizing Tom’s ancestors’ names.

Mr. Rogers’ wife, Joanne Rogers, was also overjoyed by the news, saying, “That is just wonderful! Now that is amazing, and Fred would have loved it! He loved family tree stuff.” Tom’s costar in the film, Susan Kelechi Watson, also asked, “Are you serious? It’s in the blood!”

This meaningful discovery was found using Ancestry’s database of over 20 billion online records, showing a link in Tom Hanks’ family tree that he is 6th cousins with Fred Rogers.

“For more than 30 years, Ancestry has helped millions of people discover the story of what led to them, including the remarkable connection between Fred Rogers and Tom Hanks. It’s no surprise they are related as the similarities between the two are uncanny,” said Jennifer Utley, Director of Research, Ancestry. “Even if we don’t know it, our pasts impact our present. You never know what you’ll find on your journey of personal discovery”.

The Tom Hanks-Fred Rogers family history connection is just one example of how Ancestry can power amazing and impactful experience for all people. Learning your unique family story is simple and easy—and just for the holidays, with any gift membership purchase (starting at $79 for 6 months), you will also receive a free Ancestry TABLETOPICS Edition. Break out this game at your holiday gathering and use the conversation starter cards to ignite meaningful discussions, laughter and storytelling—and bring everyone closer. Discover details of your family that may have been lost through generations—you never know what you can discover by asking the right questions!

Watch the Access Hollywood segment below.

Take a look at the family tree below with details of how Tom Hanks and Fred Rogers are related.

Tom Hanks Related to Fred Rogers

Fred Rogers and Tom Hanks are sixth cousins sharing the same 5x great-grandfather, Johannes Mefford, who immigrated from Germany to America in the 18th century. Johannes raised a family of patriots; three of his sons (including Tom Hanks’ and Fred Rogers’s ancestors) served in the Revolutionary War. Fred Rogers’s 4x great-grandfather, William Mefford, served in the navy and was captured by the British in 1782. He endured life on a prison ship in Barbados and Antigua until he was released ten months later. Tom Hanks’s 4x great-grandfather, Jacob Mefford, joined the War as a private and participated in a skirmish at Chesapeake Bay. So, Rogers and Hanks not only share the same ancestor, they also descend from two brothers who fought for America’s independence.


  1. Jane

    What a fun discovery! I’m a fan of both Tom Hanks & his wife Rita Wilson ~ and recall Rita’s sad but interesting family story on ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’. Ancestry needs to get Tom Hanks on Finding Your Roots!

  2. Cheri Arthur

    I think this is so cool – I love family history and so cool that an actual relative is playing Mr. Rogers – small world we live in – 6 degrees of seperation…….

  3. Troy Evans

    This is absolutely fascinating and unbelievable at the same time.
    Another reason why everyone should want to research their own Ancestry for sure.
    Love reading this!

  4. Nancy Neville

    I wish I had one of the names in their history. My family history is so mixed up by people who have tried to join into what I have documented as facts I could cry!

  5. Monika

    Troy, you are right! I first did my own ancestry and am very proud of my ancestors. Even have a picture of the winery that my great-great-grandfather owned. But then I started to work on my husband’s tree. His earliest ancestors arrived here in 1630 which causes him to be related to a lot of people. E.g., he did not know until he was in his late 70s that Dick Cheney is a cousin of his. Joseph Cheney was the 5th great-grandfather of Dick Cheney. Joseph Cheney was the brother of Ruth Cheney who was the 6th great-grandmother of my husband. And the weird thing is that my brother-in-law looks like Dick Cheney. I always commented on that long before I became interested in genealogy.

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