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. Marilyn Virella

    I think it is fantastic that they are related. What a great discovery for two great personalities.

  2. 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!

  3. 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…….

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. Shar

    I don’t put much in the geneology. They may be able to say ancestors came from a certain area, but i know for a fact that my husband’s ancestor was Iriquois Indian. Yet my granddaughter was told there was NO Iriquous ancestry. (Or any other Native American) Apparently if the ancestors aren’t obvious, they don’t count. My mother-in-law had some photograph reprints of this ancestor wearing a vest with a design on it. It was donated to a museum because of its historic importance and many descendants wanted it. But the ancestry check failed to find or even acknowledge this branch.

  8. Monika

    For those of you who are “hungry” to relate/connect yourself to famous people: In 2009 I was able to access a site on which, when you asked e.g., “Famous People Related to Rufus Goodrich”, it gave you pages of famous people that were related to him. I do not know whether still provides this feature. So much has changed over the years and not for the better. But it was a lot of fun seeing this famous person being the 6th cousin one times removed and that person being the 3rd cousin four times removed.

  9. Scarlett short

    Mr. Hanks, I have often wondered if you are related to the Rev. Hanks in the Primitive Baptist Church where my Shorts farmed in White County Illinois. As I walked through the Little Wabash Cemetery hidden in the cornfields near Shortville, I saw many Hanks’ stones. I was born near there, but I now live in Moline Illinois. If you are ever interested in the Southern IL family, I would love to converse.

  10. Gregor

    That’s really Amazing! what genetic and Heritage can hide is incredible. The fact is that, a few number of people actually know about epi-genetic and a lot of Others don’t. Epigenetic is our internal software that like a master of orchestra, direct the way our genes have to work in relation to our environments, feelings and thoughts. Here some incredible stuff about our hidden master of orchestra. Check this link to know more about that!

  11. Jane Pilson

    One of my cousins was married to a woman named Nancy Hanks. Always wondered if Tom was related to her?

  12. Christian Corenza

    This is really cool, i never knew Tom Hanks was related to him until now, no wonder why Tom Hanks looked like Fred Rogers, this was a great story 🙂


    What a wonderful story. I have enjoyed working on my family tree even if I find just regular folks like me and my family, Thanks to ancestry

  14. Tarry Tett

    What little we found was constantly crazy and astonishing. Truly my family lineage revealed both grandmothers were married 3 times. One lived 40 years in an insane asylum that doesnt exist anymore. Her husband beat her and left her penniless with 2 kids. Circus acts ..I just dont know how to go further. Now the truth is out ..driving me crazy to know more. Lol

  15. Connie Sims

    What was the amount of cms across ? segments between Tom Hanks and “Mr. Rogers”? Does 26cms across 1 segment mean you are related or that you might be related? Where do I find these answers that I might understand.

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