Discovering your genealogy can be incredibly fascinating. Once in a while, you learn surprising information about where your ancestors originated, while other times you discover that you’ve been wrong about your family your whole life.
But wouldn’t it be cool if you found out you were related to a celebrity? Or maybe an important figure who played a part in changing the course of history? There are plenty of strange connections between us — and famous people are no exception. Check out just how close some Hollywood celebs and historical figures actually are…
1. Princess Diana became a member of the British royal family when she married Prince Charles of Wales. She was known for her incredible humanitarian work, but her life was tragically cut short by a car accident when she was just 36 years old. You might be surprised who this remarkable woman shared lineage with.
2. It’s American politician Sarah Palin! According to genealogists, Palin and Princess Diana are tenth cousins. During the 2008 election, Palin was the Republican Party’s nominee for Vice President of the United States.
3. Winston Churchill was a British writer, military leader, and statesman who was appointed the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice. During World War II, he helped the United States forge alliances with the Soviet Union to defeat the Nazis. He was also related to someone who very recently served in office…
4. That someone is none other than Barack Obama! Obama served as the 44th president of the United States, and he was the first black man ever to have achieved the title of Commander-in-Chief. Obama and Churchill are ninth cousins through marriage.
5. Hugh Hefner, as most know, built the Playboy empire and made himself a fortune. Although he was certainly liberal-minded, he was related to a very famous face who is anything but…
6. It’s George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States! These two men were ninth-cousins twice removed on Bush’s mother’s side. Both men also happened to be related to John Kerry, Bush’s former presidential rival.
7. Elizabeth Taylor was a stunning British-American actress who had a stellar career in cinema. During the 1950s, she became one of the most popular and sought-after stars in Hollywood. Through marriage, she was also connected to another very famous face…
8. That would be Art Garfunkel from the world-famous duo Simon and Garfunkel! Their connection was somewhat obscure, but it’s still there: Taylor was once married to actress Carrie Fisher’s father, Eddie Fisher, and Carrie was once married to Paul Simon, the other half of the musical duo.
9. Abraham Lincoln was one of the most beloved presidents of all time, and he played a huge role in winning the Civil War and putting an end to slavery in the southern states. You might find it hard to believe who this great man shares ancestry with…
10. That would be Hollywood heavy-hitter and all-around good guy Tom Hanks! You’ve probably seen Hanks in a number of movies, but who could have guessed this connection existed? Through Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, the Hollywood actor is the president’s third cousin, four times removed.
11. Tsar Nicholas II was the last emperor of Russia. During his reign from 1894 to 1917, he saw the fall of his Russian empire due to economic and military collapse. He was also related to another world leader not too far away…
12. He was first cousins with Kaiser Wilhelm II, who was the last German emperor and the King of Prussia from 1888 to 1918. He ruled over both Germany and Prussia at the time. It might be hard to believe, but these two first cousins were also related to another famous ruler, as well…
13. Tsar Nicholas II and Kaiser Wilhelm II were also first cousins with King George V of England. King George served as the king of the United Kingdom, as well as the emperor of India. Queen Victoria of England was the grandmother to all three of these famous world rulers, and they even grew up together.
14. Anyone who is familiar with famous literature knows the name Mark Twain. He wrote a number of world-renowned books, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. As it turns out, Twain is also closely associated with another prominent person in history…
15. That person is Helen Keller! Twain apparently met Keller at a luncheon while celebrating the opening of the Mark Twain Library, and the two became very close. Twain even helped her financially and educationally until the end of his life.
16. Benito Mussolini was a brutal Italian dictator who rose to power during World War I and, in 1919, created the Fascist Party. Although he may have been part of some violent events, he’s connected to someone who’s the complete opposite…
17. That certain someone is Academy Award-winning Italian actress and singer Sophia Loren. Loren and Mussolini are only connected through marriage, thankfully. Loren’s sister married Mussolini’s son, which made the two in-laws.
18. Jesse James was a famous western outlaw who made a name for himself robbing stagecoaches, banks, and trains in the Midwest during the American Civil War. Most people have no idea, however, what other famous face is related to this outlaw by blood…
19. According to a New Jersey test that examined James’s genetic code, he shares a bloodline with none other than the Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne! It seems fitting since Osbourne is essentially music’s no-holds-barred outlaw.
20. During World War I, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was a man named H.H. Asquith. He was the last prime minister to lead a majority Liberal party, and believe it or not, his great-granddaughter is probably someone you know well…
21. It’s Hollywood’s talented Helena Bonham Carter! This actress usually has a lead role in any Tim Burton film, and she’s known for playing quite eccentric characters. Her offbeat, often gothic style makes her stand out in a crowd, just as her great-grandfather did!
Though there are plenty of famous people who don’t share lineage, there are quite a few who used to share living space! Before these actors, actresses, and producers earned steady incomes, they bunked with another future A-Lister that makes for a very interesting pairing today…
1. Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson: This actor-director duo collaborated on essays and homework as roommates at the University of Texas long before they started working together on Anderson’s film projects like The Royal Tenenbaums.
2. Frances McDormand and Holly Hunter: Random assignments made these leading ladies roommates at the Yale School of Drama, but the co-stars of several Cohen Brothers films continued splitting rent after graduation, moving together to New York City.
3. Jude Law and Ewan McGregor: Before the British duo jointly founded Natural Nylon, a British film and theater production company, Law and McGregor shared a bunk bed. But the real question is, who had top bunk?
4. Robin Williams and Christopher Reeve: As roommates at Julliard in New York City, this iconic duo promised that if one of them made it big, they’d help the other succeed in Hollywood, too. The two maintained a close friendship until their deaths.
5. Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling: While starring together on The Mickey Mouse Club, Gosling lived with Timberlake at his family home. “We used to do terrible things,” Timberlake told Ellen DeGeneres. “We thought we were so cool.”
TheMMCChannel / YouTube
6. Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling: Gosling has had more than one roommate in his career. While filming Blue Valentine, he bunked with co-star Williams to build chemistry. “He does the dishes,” Williams divulged. “And he takes care of the kids!”
7. Kiefer Sutherland and Robert Downey Jr.: In the 1980s, before he made it big, Downey Jr. hit a rough patch with his then-girlfriend, Sarah Jessica Parker. He moved in with Sutherland, who “was a shoulder [to cry on],” for three years.
8. Brad Pitt and Jason Priestley: “Just for fun,” Priestley wrote in his memoir about his time rooming with Pitt, far left, “we used to have competitions over who could go the longest without showering and shaving. Brad always won.”
9. Connie Britton and Lauren Graham: The Gilmore Girls star revealed in 2013 that she and the Friday Night Lights star lived in an empty house they “weren’t supposed to be living in” in the ’90s. Allegedly, they survived on Rice Krispies Treats and had no furniture.
10. Penn Badgley and Milo Ventimiglia: Another Gilmore Girls star, Ventimiglia, also took a roommate—the Gossip Girl star, Badgley, 10 years his junior. “I used to borrow [Ventimiglia’s] ID to get into bars,” Badgley said of his 18-year-old self.
11. Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler: At the beginning of the Apatow-Sandler film Funny People, there’s footage of a young Sandler making prank calls. That was real footage from when Apatow and Sandler lived together!
12. Jamie Dornan, Andrew Garfield, and Eddie Redmayne: The three British actors constantly saw each other at the same auditions and became real friends and roommates. “We used to go to the Standard Hotel in West Hollywood, and split a sandwich between us” to save money, Dornan said.
13. Ilana Glazer and Rachel Bloom: “Six years ago we were roommates in Brooklyn,” Bloom, the co-creator of CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, wrote on Instagram. “Now we have TV shows.” Broad City co-creator Ilana Glazer “is the best.”
racheldoesstuff / instagram
14. Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito: In the ’60s, the actors lived together in upper-Manhattan. There, Douglas learned a shocking truth about the man playing the disgusting and depraved Frank Reynolds on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia today: “He was neat,” Douglas said. “That’s not very good for his image!”
15. Winona Ryder and Gwyneth Paltrow: Rumor has it, Paltrow found Ryder’s script for Shakespeare in Love lying around their shared Los Angeles apartment and auditioned for and won the part her friend wanted. Now? They’re not so close.
16. Justin Long and Jonah Hill: The comedy duo tried rooming together, but it didn’t work out. “Jonah would recycle everything,” Long said. “We started getting in little fights—he left the bathroom door open, didn’t clean up after himself. Little things like that.”
17. Raven Symone and Lindsay Lohan: Both former child actors, the two shared an apartment after meeting during a Vanity Fair cover shoot. “She paid rent,” Symone said of the arrangement, but “she was there probably three times.”
18. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon: “We rented this house on the beach in Venice,” Affleck recalled, “and 800 people came and stayed with us and got drunk.” The two’s friendship likely led to their success in crafting films like Goodwill Hunting together.
19. Tommy Lee Jones and Al Gore: Harvard randomly paired these two as roommates during their freshman year, but Jones didn’t need a Men-In-Black-style memory wipe when the experience ended; living together was such a good experience, they continued living together for years.
20. Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman: Two of Hollywood’s most iconic actors became fast friends after living together at the Pasadena Playhouse; years later, Hoffman slept on Hackman’s kitchen floor in New York City.