GATES: I'm Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Welcome to "“Finding Your Roots.
"” In this episode, we'll meet actor Joe Manganiello and football star Tony Gonzalez.
Two men who are searching for their lost ancestors... MANGANIELLO: I looked through so many records and I couldn't find anything.
GONZALEZ: Just figuring out who you are, where you come from, how it all came together...
I feel liberated, a little bit.
To uncover their roots, we've used every tool available... Genealogists combed through paper trails stretching back hundreds of years, while DNA experts utilized the latest advances in genetic analysis to reveal secrets that have lain hidden for generations.
And we've compiled everything into a book of life... GONZALEZ: Oh, I love it.
GATES: A record of all of our discoveries... MANGANIELLO: Whoa, wow, look at that!
GATES: And a window into the hidden past.
Where do you guys find this stuff?
GATES: Has this story been passed down in your mom's family?
GONZALEZ: No, no, nobody knows anything about this.
MANGANIELLO: I feel like a time traveler.
That I gave a small part of me, ran it through this computer and it said step in.
GATES: Joe and Tony came to me with questions that have haunted their families for generations.
Those questions, at last, are about to be answered.
In this episode, they're going to meet ancestors whose identities they couldn't possibly have imagined...
Hear stories they've only dreamed of hearing... And see, for the very first time, where their roots really lie.
(theme music plays) ♪ ♪ (book closes) ♪ ♪ (overlapping chatter) MAN: Thanks, Joe.
MAN 2: Joe, Joe, Joe, Joe!
GATES: Joe Manganiello looks like he was destined to be a star...
The towering leading man with the chiseled jaw is a throwback to Hollywood's golden era... And since 2009, with his breakout role in HBO's "True Blood", Joe has been making good on his promise...
Creating an array of memorable characters and building a legion of fans.
But despite appearances, Joe isn't living out a lifelong dream...
Growing up, his passion was sports, and he came to the stage in a very circuitous way... MANGANIELLO: In sixth grade, I sort of got railroaded into playing "Goliath" in a school play.
And they cast a fifth-grade girl as David, who was going to kill me.
In sixth grade, it's not what you want the guys on the football team seeing you do.
But my high school had a TV studio and they had cameras and editing equipment and teleprompters and things.
GATES: That's extraordinary.
MANGANIELLO: Yeah, so, borrowing the cameras, going off and filming, I would sleep with a pad and a pen next to the bed, and I would write dialogue for my friends... GATES: Huh.
MANGANIELLO: And I would go off my...
I had another friend who was a multiple blackbelt in different martial arts.
He would choreograph all the fight sequences.
MANGANIELLO: Yeah, it was a less daunting jump from, you know, athletics and, and, and academics into the arts or being, you know, one of the theater kids.
That was a little too big of a jump for me... GATES: Right.
MANGANIELLO: So film provided that bridge which then led to me... You know, the high school theater teacher saying to this, you know, three-sport captain, please try out for the high school musical, please.
I said do I have to sing and dance?
She said just come in and sing "Happy Birthday" and that's it.
And so, I did, and she cast me.
It gave me the confidence that I needed to split from the path that I was on to the arts.
GATES: Once Joe found his "path," success followed quickly.
He graduated from the prestigious Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in the year 2000, and just two years later, he was cast in Sam Rami's "Spider-Man"...
The only thing that stood in his way was his approach to his own craft, which initially involved some highly destructive behavior.
MANGANIELLO: You know, I always worshipped, you know, these mad artistes.
Like a lot of the old great British stage actors you'd read about them running out to the pub during intermission.
MANGANIELLO: Throwing some down and then coming back and doing the show.
Um, and I never really, I never went that far but, um, but you know, I definitely tried to emulate those guys, and what I came to the realization was that I was not going to be those guys and I was not built to be those guys and that some things had to go.
GATES: Yeah, two packs of cigarettes a day and a bottle of whiskey is not going to lead to longevity, right?
No, it wasn't.
I wished it did but it didn't.
Not for me.
GATES: Joe soon came to accept that he needed to stop drinking.
But sobriety was a challenge all its own, and his salvation ultimately came from a very unlikely source... A man he met on a job far from Hollywood... MANGANIELLO: I was a bouncer all through college at different clubs and things like that and so, when I moved to LA, I called a security company and said do you need anybody?
And they said, actually, yeah.
There's a body-guarding job up in San Francisco.
And so, off I went.
And, uh, I met a guy who was fresh out of Lancaster Maximum Security Men's Prison (gasps) and he got hired by the same company.
And, you know, we struck up a conversation.
And, and, and, you know, he had uh, he got sober in prison... GATES: Hmm.
MANGANIELLO: And he was the guy that I called.
This big former Mexican gang member, you know, guy who had turned his life around doing Shakespeare in prison.
GATES: Incredible story.
GATES: Do you believe in fate?
MANGANIELLO: I do, I do.
GATES: I kind of knew the answer to that question.
MANGANIELLO: Yeah, I really do.
GATES: My second guest is football legend, Tony Gonzalez... For 17 straight seasons, Tony dominated the NFL, retiring as the all-time leader in catches, yards, and touchdowns by a tight end.
He's still widely viewed as one of the greatest ever to play the game, so I was surprised to hear that the game had not come naturally to Tony.
To the contrary, as a child, he feared the very thing that makes football unique... GONZALEZ: I didn't like contact.
GONZALEZ: I boxed at the boys and girls club for a while and they were like, "Hey, do you wanna fight anybody?
I was like, "No, hell no."
(stammers) They could hit me in the face, I don't wanna get hit.
And the same thing on the football field, I was athletic, big, strong, fast, uh, and I played Pop Warner Football.
GONZALEZ: And I was the worst kid on the team.
You're supposed to get six plays a game...
If you pay the money.
GONZALEZ: The coach is supposed to put you in.
I didn't even get six plays.
There was games.
Literally, I wouldn't play, I played zero plays and I didn't have sports parents.
So there's nobody to talk to the coach and be like, "Hey, can you get my, my kid in there?"
GONZALEZ: Nobody's telling me anything after prac...
I mean, I rode my bike to practice...
I was there by myself.
GONZALEZ: I'd ride to practice by myself.
Nobody was asking me about my day on the field or what are you doing to get better?
That was nil.
GATES: But why Tony would you keep going back?
You know, it had to be embarrassing.
They weren't even playing you in a Pop Warner.
GONZALEZ: I don't know why I kept going back.
I would say I maybe it was meant to be.
I was supposed to be a football player?
But it kept drawing me back.
GATES: Football's pull would transform Tony, fueling an obsessive work ethic that set him apart from his peers when he was still in high school.
But even as his talent blossomed, Tony never lost the perspective he'd gained from his youthful anxieties.
And when he made it to the NFL that perspective would help him confront the many psychological challenges that lay ahead.
GONZALEZ: When you get to the pros, and it's probably this way in any profession, uh, welcome to the world of you're no longer special.
GONZALEZ: Oh, you run a 4.3, 4.4, so does he, so does he, so does he.
GONZALEZ: Oh, you benched 400 pounds, so does he, so does he.
Oh, you're all American?
GONZALEZ: So is he, and so is he, and so is he.
So you have to, I think I was too aware of that, though.
GONZALEZ: Even to this day I struggle with confidence sometimes.
GATES: Mm-hmm, don't you think we all do at some level?
GONZALEZ: Yeah, uh, I, there are certain people out there that can be just so comfortable right away.
And I can, you might not be able to tell what's going on... GATES: Mm-hmm.
GONZALEZ: But on the inside, like I'm thinking, man, I have maybe that imposter syndrome a lot.
GONZALEZ: But to me, that's life.
I mean, it's gonna throw punches at you always.
GONZALEZ: Uh, and that's part of the process that there's no escaping that.
And so the way I've used that is always, okay, I'm gonna, I'm gonna add fuel to me to make me a better person.
GONZALEZ: But it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt when you're going through it.
GATES: Tony's ability to absorb "life's punches" would serve him well when his playing days were over.
Unlike so many of his peers who've struggled with retirement, Tony has thrived.
Launching a second career as a broadcaster, and even branching out into acting, all the while maintaining the same focus that brought him fame on the field.
GONZALEZ: I think a lot of people forget what got them to the NFL.
GONZALEZ: Because we've already defied the odds to play pro sports.
I mean, I don't know what the percentage, it's 0.01%, or whatever it is.
GATES: Right, it's a miracle to make it.
GONZALEZ: It's a miracle.
GONZALEZ: Chances are, you're not, you're not gonna, you shouldn't have been there statistically.
GONZALEZ: And so, for me, the struggle comes for these guys and myself is like, you have to remember what got you there.
GONZALEZ: Like, if I want to act, I have to go through those growing pains.
I have to put the time and the effort in and it's going to take time, it's gonna take years in order to be a really, really good actor or years to be a really, really good, um, broadcaster and that's embarrassing.
GONZALEZ: So you're gonna have to go through the embarrassment again, you're gonna have to go through that monotony of daily focus and boredom.
You have to be able to go through that again.
Most guys aren't willing to do that anymore, 'cause you've already arrived.
You're like, I don't need to do that again.
GATES: No, and you have to study good broadcasters.
GATES: To see why is he so good?
GONZALEZ: You have to be obsessed.
You have to be obsessed.
GONZALEZ: You have to become obsessed again.
There's no other way around it.
GATES: My two guests exude a confidence born of struggle.
Each made great efforts to reach the top of their profession.
But turning to their roots, that confidence gave way to questions.
Both men had profound mysteries that they desperately wanted solved.
It was time to give them the answers they had been seeking.
I started with Joe Manganiello and with a story that begins in what was once a region of the Ottoman Empire and is now a part of the nation of Turkey.
Joe's maternal ancestors were caught here in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century, the infamous Armenian genocide, during which over a million ethnic Armenians were systematically murdered by the Ottoman state.
Joe's great-grandmother, a woman named Rose Darakjian, miraculously managed to survive the slaughter and find refuge in the United States.
But only after enduring a horrifying ordeal... MANGANIELLO: The Turks came into her home, in 1915 under the guise of World War I and tried to enact the genocide that they had begun.
They shot her husband dead, shot her.
She laid on the ground, pretended that she was dead while seven other gunshots went off, which were her seven children.
She laid there, unmoving, and the Turks left the house and left the eighth child who was an infant in the crib to starve to death, which is the way that they did business.
So, she got up, strapped the baby on her back, and escaped the town, which, you know, for people that don't know there were these death marches where they would just handcuff and chain the Armenians together and march them out into the desert and release the Kurds and gave them military coats, horses, and guns to them go do what they wanted with their mortal enemies, the Armenians and she escaped that.
Snuck past, got to the Euphrates River with the baby on her back, swam across the river, and when she got to the other side the baby had drowned.
She had a bullet in her still, and she lived in a cave, to my understanding, with other refugees until she was picked up by German military who were stationed in Turkey at the time because the Turkish government worshipped German military might.
So, a lot of officers were invited to come and spend time in Turkey during the war.
MANGANIELLO: As the story goes, she was picked up by something like a Red Cross camp that would have been there at the time and went to work for this German officer and wound up pregnant by this German officer and gave birth, to, after the Germans left and went back to Germany.
She gave birth to a very blonde, half-German child.
GATES: This "blonde child" grew up to be Joe's grandmother, Sondra and though her mother never told her the name of her German father, Joe was hoping that we could find him.
It was an extraordinary challenge.
There were roughly 25,000 German soldiers stationed in the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
What's more, the Turkish government refuses to acknowledge the Armenian genocide and doesn't even permit researchers access to the records that would document it.
Our only hope was DNA.
Our genetic genealogist, CeCe Moore, compared Joe's mother's genetic profile to millions of other profiles in publicly available databases, searching for matches.
GATES: You ready to see what we found?
MANGANIELLO: Oh, man.
GATES: Please turn the page.
Joe, the chart in front of you shows some of your mother's DNA matches illustrated in the format of a family tree.
You're there at the bottom.
GATES: Now, go up one box and see your mother Susan... MANGANIELLO: Yep.
GATES: And then her mother, and then your great-grandparents, Rose, and your unknown biological great-grandfather, the man we are trying to identify.
Joe, in your mother's DNA match list we identified a distinct cluster of individuals that appeared to be of German ancestry.
We soon learned that all those individuals descended from one couple.
Would you please read their names?
MANGANIELLO: "Johan Heinrich Beutinger" GATES: You got it.
MANGANIELLO: And Katharine Friedrike Reischle"?
GATES: Now, I'm assuming that you've never heard of these people before.
GATES: Well, Joe, guess what, you are a Beutinger.
GATES: You are.
That is your family name.
Look at that.
GATES: Based on the DNA evidence, the Beutinger's are Joe's third great-grandparents, meaning that one of their grandchildren was Sondra's father.
This posed a new challenge.
The couple had dozens of grandchildren, but eventually, we discovered that one had living descendants who shared more DNA with Joe's mother than all the others did...
The solution to our mystery was now at hand.
GATES: Would you please turn the page?
MANGANIELLO: Wow, okay, whoa!
GATES: That is Sondra's father.
MANGANIELLO: No, wow, whoa.
Oh, my gosh.
I mean, I'm like, I'm looking for resemblance.
I mean... GATES: Yeah.
MANGANIELLO: Oh my, I can't believe this.
Wow, it looks like me, it looks like my family.
GATES: We thought so.
MANGANIELLO: Did you?
MANGANIELLO: Yeah, I mean it looks like me if I had a coat on.
That's what my frame looks like.
GATES: That's what we think.
MANGANIELLO: That's wild.
And his jaw, I mean, even his facial structure, the structure of his head.
MANGANIELLO: It looks kind of, his lip, as well, it's it's, gosh, that's weird.
GATES: Joe's great-grandfather was named Karl Wilhelm Beutinger.
He was born in Heilbronn, a city in southern Germany and he returned there after the war to work as a brick mason.
GATES: That is your ancestral town.
MANGANIELLO: Wow, okay, I gotta go.
GATES: It's where your great-grandfather was born on the 27th of January in 1883.
What's it like to see that?
MANGANIELLO: I feel like, I feel like a time traveler.
This is something out of some science fiction novel.
That, that, that I gave a small part of me, ran it through this computer and it said step in, close the door.
I opened the door and I'm here in Germany at this time looking at my ancestor that I never knew.
GATES: We can't say anything definitive about the nature of Karl's relationship with Rose, but we do know that by the time he set off for war, Karl already had a wife and at least three sons back home in Germany and as we dug more deeply, we discovered something shocking... One of those sons, Karl Beutinger, Jr., grew up to serve in the Nazi SS... A fact that left Joe struggling to make sense of his new family.
MANGANIELLO: He probably didn't know what happened with his father in World War I.
I'm sure his father didn't come back and say you have a little sister.
But the idea that the genocide was carried out under the veil of World War I against the Armenians and his father had relations with a woman who survived that after all that she went through and the Armenian people went through.
Returned home and then his son joins the SS?
GATES: Yeah, so you have two genocides in your family tree, as it were.
MANGANIELLO: That's right.
And it's on either side, which is... GATES: Mm-hm.
Victims and perpetrators.
Which is, I mean that's like... GATES: That's a heavy thing to ponder.
MANGANIELLO: You know, it's just mind-blowing.
GATES: Karl Beutinger passed away peacefully in 1944.
His son, Karl Jr., lived until 1997.
And their shared roots, Joe's German ancestry, can be traced all the way back to the 14th century...
But, in the end, this wasn't what interested Joe the most.
Instead, he was drawn to a document we found in the archives of Massachusetts...
It records the wedding of Joe's great-grandmother Rose and her second husband, and it adds another branch to Joe's Armenian family tree.
MANGANIELLO: "Name of Father and Mother of Bride, Vartan, and Mariam."
GATES: Have you ever heard of Vartan and Mariam?
MANGANIELLO: No, no.
GATES: Well, Vartan Darakjian and Mariam Kachadourian are your great-great-grandparents.
MANGANIELLO: Wow, I mean, you know, wow.
Geez, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.
GATES: What's it like to learn their names?
MANGANIELLO: We just jumped some impassable wall, you know.
And this was written in Armenian... GATES: Yeah.
MANGANIELLO: And it was the Armenian, okay, the Armenian Diocese of America in Worcester.
Yeah, so, this is their marriage certificate in Worcester, and she had to list her parents' names.
MANGANIELLO: Wow, wow, holy cow!
GATES: Rose's parents, Joe's great-great-grandparents, were likely born in Armenia in the mid-1800s.
Based on the available documentation, we don't know anything more about them.
But if either were still alive in the summer of 1915, they almost certainly perished in the genocide.
Though this knowledge was painful to contemplate... For Joe, it was also a treasure.
MANGANIELLO: This is one of the great gifts of my life.
You know, to, to be in a position sitting across the table from someone who is, you know, even more, obsessed about history and genealogy than me.
Um, you know, and then to live at a time when this is all possible and to find out these answers.
MANGANIELLO: You know, it's the book you read when you were a kid or had read to you when you were a kid, imagining what the characters look like and now you're actually seeing them.
MANGANIELLO: What an amazing time to be alive.
I mean, really.
GATES: Much like Joe, Tony Gonzalez came to me with a very challenging genealogical question... His maternal grandmother Helen is 104 years old.
Her mother, a woman named "Ophelia", was adopted when she was a child, and Helen has always wanted to know the identity of Ophelia's biological parents.
There were no adoption records to guide us, only a family story that Ophelia had been born in Georgia with the surname "Birdsong."
This singular detail proved invaluable.
It led us to an entry in the 1900 census for Eatonton, Georgia where we found a 4-year-old girl named Ophelia in the home of her grandmother... Mariah Birdsong.
GONZALEZ: So, Ophelia is my... GATES: Your great-grandmother.
GONZALEZ: My great-grandmother.
GONZALEZ: She's living in Georgia here.
And she's living in the household of her grandmother, a woman named Mariah Birdsong.
GATES: And you've never heard that name before?
GATES: Well, Tony, Mariah Birdsong is your great-great-great-grandmother.
GATES: Your third great-grandmother.
GATES: So, what's it like to see that?
GONZALEZ: It's great.
GATES: And what do you think your grandmother is gonna?
GONZALEZ: She's gonna freak out.
GONZALEZ: She's gonna freak out.
GATES: This has been a mystery that has plagued her for 104 years.
GONZALEZ: Yeah, 104 years.
GATES: I mean in effect.
GONZALEZ: She's gonna love it.
I think maybe this is part of the reason she's still alive.
I don't know.
GONZALEZ: Because she's been wanting to know this stuff for-for a long time.
GATES: Once we'd identified Mariah, Ophelia's story came into focus, but it wasn't an easy story to share.
In 1900, the same year this census was taken, Mariah's daughter, Dora was living in Jefferson County, Alabama married to a man named George Harris.
Dora was Ophelia's biological mother...
But George was not her biological father.
Instead, it seems that Dora had three children before she married George, Ophelia, and two boys and that she left them behind with her mother Mariah to settle in Alabama.
We can't be certain what exactly happened next or why.
GATES: All we know is that Ophelia was eventually given up for adoption.
GATES: And she likely never saw her mother, her grandmother, or her brothers ever again.
GONZALEZ: That's mind-blowing.
GONZALEZ: It's mind-blowing.
GATES: That had to be incredibly traumatic.
How do you think that would have affected her?
I think, uh, anybody who goes through that, it's gotta be the toughest thing, that, in your life.
GONZALEZ: I mean, not knowing, or thinking somebody let-let me go.
GONZALEZ: I mean, any foster child out there.
Why didn't they want me?
Why didn't they love me?
GONZALEZ: Uh, you carry that with you.
GONZALEZ: I mean I know how that would feel if my mother had to go through this.
GONZALEZ: I'd be, like, it would explain everything.
GONZALEZ: Uh, because I don't know the-the relationship between my grandmother and her mother.
GONZALEZ: But I know my grandmother is gonna know that.
GONZALEZ: And so, I'm sure a lot of things might start to slide into place and be, okay, this is why... GATES: Right.
GONZALEZ: I was treated this way.
GONZALEZ: This is, this is why.
GONZALEZ: Um, very cool.
GATES: We now knew the name of Ophelia's biological mother, but not her father, and there were no more records to help us.
So, once again, we consulted CeCe Moore and followed the same process we'd used with Joe Manganiello.
Returning to the DNA databases, we soon discovered that Tony's grandmother has a cluster of matches who each share roughly 6% of her genome, a significant amount... GATES: And based on that, we determined that those matches are likely your grandmother's half-first cousins.
Sharing one common ancestor, a grandfather.
GATES: And that grandfather would be Ophelia's biological father.
GONZALEZ: Oh wow, I love it.
GATES: Isn't that amazing?
GONZALEZ: I love it.
GATES: You ready to-to meet him?
GONZALEZ: Let's find out.
Let's see him.
Let's meet him.
GATES: Please turn the page.
GONZALEZ: Okay, "John Rees Hudson"... GATES: You just read the name of your great-great-grandfather.
He is your grandmother, Helen's, grandfather.
Whose identity she did not know until this very moment.
GONZALEZ: Wow, John.
John Rees Hudson.
GATES: That's right.
GONZALEZ: Nice to meet you, nice to meet you.
GATES: What's it like to learn this?
GONZALEZ: It's overwhelming.
It's overwhelming, just to, to, to peer back and see where you come from.
GATES: Many of Tony's relatives had told us that they believed Ophelia was White.
Some even had specific theories that she was Polish or Italian.
Those theories weren't correct, but now that we'd identified her father, we could see where they'd come from.
GONZALEZ: He's white.
GATES: He's white.
GATES: The family story was that she was white, but it was only her father who was white.
GATES: So, what's it like to learn this, and what do you think Helen is gonna say when she finds this out?
GONZALEZ: I-I, I love it, I love it because all growing up; not just me either, this affects my brother and then my, my cousins.
GONZALEZ: Uh, there's a whole bunch of them.
We always thought that my grandmother, uh, Helen, uh, was white.
GONZALEZ: And Ophelia, great-grandmother, my great grandma was white.
GONZALEZ: And now I'm finding, but it's not.
GONZALEZ: She, she was... She was half.
GATES: She was half.
GONZALEZ: That's... GATES: You have one more generation back, you found the White man.
GATES: The relationship between John and Dora crystallizes the many inequities of the Jim Crow South...
When Ophelia was conceived, we believe that Dora was working on a farm in Georgia, about five miles from John's family's estate, while John himself was living in Washington, DC working for the United States government.
We suspect the two met when John was home on a visit.
But we can't be certain.
All we know for sure is that their affair was illicit and that John held all the power.
Indeed, at the time, interracial marriage was illegal in Georgia.
So there was no chance of a lasting relationship... GATES: Can you imagine what it must have been like for Dora, raising three kids on her own, a single mother?
And knowing that the father of at least one of them was from a prominent White family, and working for the federal government up in Washington, DC.
GONZALEZ: Yeah, wow, I wonder if, if she could even talk about it.
GATES: Yeah, I wonder if, yeah, if ever told even her mother who the father was, you know?
GATES: You know, and no matter what the law was, when the lights came down, people slept together.
GONZALEZ: Yeah, yeah.
GATES: Under slavery, of course, a lot of rape.
GONZALEZ: Yeah, who knows if... GATES: Well, we don't, we don't know.
GONZALEZ: Taken advantage of, yeah, we don't know.
GATES: We don't know if it was a loving relationship... GONZALEZ: Loving, yeah.
GATES: A forced relationship, we just don't know.
GONZALEZ: We just don't know.
GONZALEZ: But I'm here.
GATES: But you're here, that's right.
GATES: There's a final beat to this story.
In the 1920 census, we found Ophelia's father back in Georgia, working as the manager of a fertilizer company, and heading a new household all his own... GATES: There's your great-great-grandfather, John, living with his legal wife, whose name was Lucille, and their three legitimate children.
GONZALEZ: Yep, yeah.
GATES: He moved back to Georgia from Washington around 1913 to marry and start a family, but obviously not with your great-great-grandmother, Dora.
GONZALEZ: Yeah, hmm.
GONZALEZ: Starting some family.
GATES: What, do you think Helen will make of all this?
I want to be there when she's learning all this.
GONZALEZ: God, I just got to close this, you know what I mean?
Like, close some chapters for... of, of not knowing for 104 years where you're from, uh, who you come from.
It's such a good feeling.
Such a good feeling.
GATES: We'd already solved a mystery that had haunted Joe Manganiello's mother's family for generations.
Now, turning to Joe's father's roots, we stumbled upon a second mystery, one that nobody saw coming... Joe's DNA does not match him with anyone related to Emilio Manganiello, the man whom he always assumed to be his father's father.
I called Joe before our interview to let him convey the news to his father in private, and see if he wanted to withdraw from the series.
As shocking as this information was to us, I discovered that Joe's father was not entirely surprised because he had had a deeply troubled relationship with Emilio... Now, your father could have said I don't want the whole world knowing this fact, but he didn't.
What did your father say?
MANGANIELLO: My father...
Uh, well, I think it just all of a sudden things start clicking into place, you know, the thousand-piece puzzle that no matter how hard you looked under the table, in the box, where's that piece?
How come that... What, did they send me the puzzle without the missing piece?
(snaps) All of a sudden now it's clear.
MANGANIELLO: So, my father agreed to participate in, uh... GATES: He took a DNA test.
MANGANIELLO: Yeah, yeah, yep.
GATES: Using Joe's father's DNA, CeCe was able to construct a genetic network for him, just as she'd done for Joe's mother, and it pointed us towards one couple.
MANGANIELLO: "William Henry Cutler and Nellie Alton."
GATES: You just met your great-grandparents, your biological great-grandparents, and your father's paternal grandparents.
Have you ever heard of these people?
Now, Joe, in theory finding William and Nellie brings us very close to finding your grandfather because if William and Nellie are your great-grandparents then logically their son is your father's father, right?
Unfortunately, there's a complication to this story.
Okay, all right!
GATES: Would you please turn the page?
MANGANIELLO: What is going on right now?
GATES: In 1910, William and Nellie, your great-grandparents, and their seven children lived in Malden, Massachusetts, which is, as you know, about six miles north of Boston.
MANGANIELLO: I know it well.
GATES: Now, tell me how many sons lived with them.
MANGANIELLO: One, two, three, four, five sons.
GATES: Five sons.
William H., age 21.
Frank A., age 19.
Alfred, age 16.
Douglas, age five, and Donald, age one.
So Joe, based on the DNA evidence one of those dudes is your grandfather.
(exhaling rapidly) MANGANIELLO: Wow, okay.
GATES: We now set out to narrow our search from five brothers down to one, and we hit a wall.
Birth and death records revealed that two of the five could not have been Joe's grandfather.
But that still left three candidates, and unfortunately, there was not enough evidence to determine which was our man.
Even so, there is no doubt that Joe descends from one of the three.
And as we dug deeper, we noticed something striking about this new branch of his family tree... GATES: Joe, these are some of the documents we gathered for the three Cutler brothers.
Now, would you please read what they all say about the three men's race?
MANGANIELLO: Okay, um, Negro, White, Negro, White, of African descent.
GATES: Joe, it seemed to us that the Cutlers may have been light-skinned African American men.
Well, that's interesting.
GATES: That means, Joe Cutler, that you would, under the one-drop rule, be an African American.
MANGANIELLO: Boy, now that's really interesting.
GATES: It is really interesting.
MANGANIELLO: That's really interesting.
GATES: This discovery was further confirmed by Joe's admixture.
His ancestry is 7% sub-Saharan African, indicating that his father's father was roughly 30% sub-Saharan African.
This meant that Emilio Manganiello could not possibly be Joe's biological grandfather, which compelled a major shift in our conversation.
GATES: Had Emilio been your grandfather we would be walking you up your Italian Sicilian branches of your tree, but Emilio is not so now we're going to walk you up your African American branches of your family tree.
MANGANIELLO: Wow, wow.
GATES: I'm going to tell you about your Cutler family.
GATES: You ready?
GATES: Please turn the page.
MANGANIELLO: Turn the page, all right.
GATES: We're going back to 1887.
This is a marriage record for your great-grandparents, William H. Cutler and Nellie Alton.
You remember them.
GATES: The parents of the Cutler brothers and your father's biological grandparents.
Would you please read the transcribed section?
MANGANIELLO: "City of Providence, Rhode Island.
Date of marriage, October 20, 1887.
Full name of groom and bride, William Henry Cutler, age 22, and Nellie Alton, age 18.
Color of each, William Colored.
Your great-grandparents were an interracial couple in 1887.
MANGANIELLO: In Rhode Island.
William was an African American man.
Nellie, a white woman.
And this is when reconstruction is being rolled back and Jim Crow is rising.
White supremacy is rising.
So your great-grandparents had a tremendous amount of courage.
MANGANIELLO: That's guts.
That's pretty gutsy.
GATES: And when we spoke to several of Nellie's descendants, they all told us that Nellie's parents, your great-great-grandparents, disowned her because she married a Black man.
I mean, that's incredible.
GATES: As a mixed-race couple, William and Nellie were ahead of their time.
Moving back on this branch, we came to someone who was even more exceptional... Joe's 5th great-grandfather, a man named Plato Turner.
According to a Massachusetts death record, Plato was born in a place that we almost never see listed on a document... MANGANIELLO: "Africa."
GATES: It is extraordinarily rare for a person of African American ancestry to see their original African ancestor listed by name.
Huh... GATES: Very rare because the slave trade ended in 1808, so there were no more Africans brought except illegally to the United States.
GATES: So, we're all descended from Africans who came before 1808.
GATES: We believe that Plato was born sometime in the early-to-mid-1700s and that he was brought to the new world in bondage, possibly as a child.
We know nothing about his life in slavery.
But we do know that it didn't break him.
To the contrary, Plato Turner eventually became a free man and did something incredible... MANGANIELLO: "I, Plato Turner of Plymouth in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts declare on oath that I was a soldier in the war of the Revolution for more than nine months on the Continental establishment.
I entered The Army in the spring of 1776."
How about that?
"Plato X Turner."
GATES: You know what this means?
You descend from a patriot.
There were about 5,000 Black men who fought for the Continental Army... MANGANIELLO: Wow.
GATES: Including your fifth-great-grandfather.
MANGANIELLO: Wow, man.
He was freed and he fought for America.
GATES: Yeah, and he served for America.
GATES: What's it been like to uncover this whole new, completely unexpected line of descent and ethnicity on your family tree?
MANGANIELLO: Well, it's, it's like when you put it into the, the gumbo pot that we're, we're, we're cooking here... GATES: Right.
MANGANIELLO: And you look at this, you know, SS soldier... GATES: Right.
Karl Jr. MANGANIELLO: Descended from a man who impregnated my Armenian genocide survivor great-grandmother.
MANGANIELLO: And then on the other side you've got a free Black man... GATES: Right.
MANGANIELLO: Living at a time when that was, you know, just against the odds.
GATES: As rare as rare can be.
MANGANIELLO: I mean for me to be sitting here today, like, it's like threading a needle with a bow and arrow at 100 yards three times.
GATES: It's true, it's true.
It is true.
MANGANIELLO: It's, it's impossible.
GATES: Turning back to Tony Gonzalez, we had one more seemingly impossible story to share... Tony's third great-grandfather, George Betts, was likely born into slavery in Wilmington, North Carolina sometime around the year 1828.
Searching for traces of his life, we found something that every African American hopes to find...
But very few do.
GONZALEZ: "$50 reward.
The above award will be given for the apprehension and return to me of my Negro man George Betts, who run away on Wednesday evening last.
He is a tall mulatto, about 26 to 27 years of age, well known about town, a carpenter by trade, and was purchased by Mrs. Betts.
He is most probably lurking about town."
GATES: Tony, your third great grandfather ran away.
He escaped from his enslaver.
GONZALEZ: Damn right he did.
GATES: What's it like to see that?
You know, we all know the, you heard about the Underground Railroad?
GATES: And we know that some enslaved people ran away, but there's actual proof that your ancestor, listed by name, actually ran away.
GONZALEZ: That, yeah, well, it doesn't surprise me.
My family, they don't like authority too much.
We, we, I'm with it too.
Can't tell me anything, that's good.
GATES: At the time of his escape, George had at least three children with a woman named Polly.
Polly is Tony's third great-grandmother, and we believe that George likely ran away because his owner was trying to sell him, and thus separate him, from Polly and their family...
But, whatever his reasons, George's plan did not succeed.
GONZALEZ: "I hereby notify the public that the outlawry against my boy, George Betts, is hereby recalled."
GATES: Mm-hmm, that means he was caught.
GONZALEZ: Oh, okay.
GATES: That means, "You don't have to look for him anymore 'cause we found him and he's home."
GATES: So now comes his punishment.
What do you think happened to him?
GONZALEZ: I don't even wanna know.
I hope for his sake it wasn't bad.
Maybe they sold him down anyway, I don't know.
GATES: Well, let's find out.
Please turn the page.
Tony, the record you're looking at is dated January 15th, 1855, four days after the notice you just read about George's capture.
Would you please read the transcribed portion?
GONZALEZ: "I, William A. Berry have sold and delivered unto the said Joshua G. Wright a certain Negro slave named George, a carpenter by trade."
So he sold him?
GATES: He sold him.
Your third-great-grandfather ended up being sold away from the woman he loved and the three children he fathered.
GATES: Can you imagine?
GONZALEZ: Ah, tough, tough.
GATES: Mm-hmm, that's... GONZALEZ: The reality of a lot of, uh, a lot of slaves.
GATES: George was sold to a man named Joshua G. Wright.
Fortunately, Wright lived in Wilmington, so George was not far from his family.
We don't know, however, if they were able to see each other.
In fact, we know nothing specific about George's experience with Wright.
But as we dug through the records that Wright left behind, we found something to help Tony imagine what his ancestor endured... GATES: Please turn the page.
Wanna know who that is?
GONZALEZ: Uh, do I wanna know who this is?
Who is that?
GATES: That is the White man who owned your ancestor.
That is Joshua G. Wright.
GATES: He is the man who bought your ancestor, George when he ran away.
GATES: George would have seen that man every day and every day he would've known that that man had the power to sell him further away... GONZALEZ: Mm-hmm.
GATES: From his wife and three children at his whim.
GATES: What do you feel when you look at that?
GONZALEZ: You know, at first, at, you go in waves.
The first thing you-you wanna react is, like, anger... GATES: Mm-hmm.
GONZALEZ: And go, "Screw this guy."
GONZALEZ: "Eff him."
GONZALEZ: You know?
But then, you think, "Andrew Jackson."
GONZALEZ: "Presidents" uh... GATES: George Washington.
GONZALEZ: "George Washington" people... GATES: Right.
GONZALEZ: Political power, leaders of our nation, they, this was normal.
GONZALEZ: This is just, it just is what it is.
GONZALEZ: And so I think to myself, this guy didn't know any better.
He's just doing the norm, this is what everybody did.
GONZALEZ: Everybody had slaves.
It's not, it's not like he said, 'Oh, I'm gonna do something awful.'
This, awful was the norm.
GONZALEZ: And so I'm not gonna get too emotional with-with anger or-or sadness because of this ignorant man.
GONZALEZ: Not gonna call him a fool.
He didn't know.
GONZALEZ: You know.
So that's the way I look at all ignorance, whether it's going on today or back then.
A lot of these people, they don't know.
His dad, who knows how he was raised or what he was told.
GONZALEZ: Racism, to this day, it's learned.
Little-little kids aren't racist.
GONZALEZ: Go spend some time with kids at a school... GATES: Yeah.
GONZALEZ: In a kindergarten, they're not racist.
And so this fool had learned this from his parents.
GATES: Despite the system that so abused them, Tony's ancestors forged a bond that could not be severed.
In 1866, just a year after the Civil War, George and Polly appear on what was known as a "cohabitation record" formalizing a decades-long relationship that had not been legally recognized under slavery... GATES: So Tony, what it means is as soon as your ancestors were free, they got married.
GATES: In effect.
GONZALEZ: How cool.
GATES: Isn't that amazing?
GONZALEZ: Yeah, good for them.
I love how they were together for that long, and then as soon as they get the chance to make it legal, they-they do it.
GONZALEZ: Um, I think it speaks to who they were as a people.
GATES: George and Polly not only stayed together, they flourished.
The 1870 census for Wilmington, indicates that they owned their home at a time when only about 5% of African Americans in the South possessed any real estate.
In a newspaper article published five years later, we saw that George wasn't just leading his community economically...
He was risking his life for it.
GONZALEZ: "Election of officers.
There are now five colored military companies in this city.
A meeting was held last night for the purpose of completing by an election of officers of the 22nd Regiment State Militia.
The election resulted in the following choice, Major Geo W.
GATES: Your third-great grandfather was elected as an officer in an all-Black militia unit ten years after the end of the Civil War.
Has this story been passed down in your mom's family?
GONZALEZ: No, nah, nobody knows anything about this.
GATES: Any idea why a militia was needed?
GONZALEZ: Protection from... GATES: Protection from the Klan and... GONZALEZ: From the Klan, yeah.
GATES: Other racists, yeah, you know, not everybody, Tony, was thrilled... GONZALEZ: Yeah.
GATES: By the abolition of slavery, right?
GATES: And so these White supremacist organizations terrorized the Black community.
GATES: And Black people formed, in this case, an all-Black militia to fight back.
Your ancestor not only was part of it, he was elected a Major!
GONZALEZ: Wow, that's, that's, that's all you could hope for, you know.
You go through all that terrible enslavement, come out of it, you still got your family, uh, and your kids, and then you-you stand up for what's right, um, it shows me and tells me that he was a hell of a, hell of a citizen, a hell of a man.
GATES: And he was willing to die to protect the freedom of newly freed Black people.
GONZALEZ: Yeah, yeah.
GATES: What's it like to learn this?
GONZALEZ: Proud, proud of him.
It's, you look at that and you think about the things that, that you've gone through, that I've gone through in life and you think you've been tough, you think you've persevered, you think you've-you've done the hard things, and I have to a certain extent-extent, but nothing like this.
Nothing like this!
I am nothing!
GATES: No, no.
GONZALEZ: Compared to my great-great-great grandpa, third-third?
GATES: Third-great... GONZALEZ: Third-great grandfather.
GATES: That's right.
GONZALEZ: Uh, yeah, he was the, he was the man.
GATES: The paper trail had now run out for each of my guests.
It was time to unfurl their family trees, now filled with names they'd never heard before.
MANGANIELLO: Wow, this is big.
GATES: It is big.
MANGANIELLO: This is very big.
GONZALEZ: That is awesome, that's cool.
GATES: Seeing their newfound ancestors laid out before them, crisscrossing continents and cultures, compelled each man to rethink his own identity.
MANGANIELLO: If I'm a tree, the tree has roots for the first time.
It's not going to blow away.
I know what it is and I know who the people were that were involved and I know where I came from.
Um, so, I think it's really about, you know, it's about understanding what I am a part of instead of wondering.
GONZALEZ: I'm inspired.
Seeing my family and what they've gone through, and what they've stood for, oh, God, it's inspiring.
It's a lot to live up to... GATES: Yeah.
GONZALEZ: Uh, but I love it.
GATES: My time with my guests was running out, but I had a final surprise for Tony.
When we looked closely at his family tree, we discovered that we could connect him, via a paper trail, to one of the most famous people who's ever lived... GATES: William Shakespeare.
GONZALEZ: Get the... (laughs).
GATES: Shakespeare is your first cousin 12 times removed.
GONZALEZ: Why am I getting emotional?
GATES: Isn't that amazing?
GONZALEZ: Oh, oh, man.
GATES: Tony and William Shakespeare share a common ancestor through Tony's grandmother, Helen.
Her 10th great-grandfather was a man named Richard Shakespeare.
And Richard Shakespeare was William Shakespeare's grandfather.
(laughter) GONZALEZ: Oh, man, that's the most mind-blowing thing I've ever heard about.
GONZALEZ: Obviously, obviously, this is why you come on this show.
This is amazing!
GATES: That's right.
That's the end of our journey with Tony Gonzalez and Joe Manganiello.
Join me next time when we unlock the secrets of the past for new guests, on another episode of "“Finding Your Roots"”.