Richard Gere, best known for hot movies like Pretty Woman and An Officer and a Gentleman, not to mention that nasty rumor about what he likes to do with gerbils, is related to everybody. Believe it or not, Richard Gere’s ancestry connects him to a shocking number of famous people throughout American history. That’s because his heritage traces back to a whopping six families who came across the Atlantic on the Mayflower. Here are 10 of the most incredible people who can call the American Gigolo a relative.
10. Grandma Moses
Grandma Moses, whose real name was Anna Mary Robertson Moses, was a famous American folk artist born in 1860, grew up in upstate New York, and lived to be 101 years old. She was famous for painting holiday scenes, and was a friend and contemporary of Norman Rockwell. She could trace her ancestry back to Francis Cooke, who came over on the Mayflower and who — you guessed it — was also an ancestor of Richard Gere. As you’re about to see, old Francis Cooke seemed to like spreading his bounty, so to speak, because a good number of famous folks are descended from his line.
9. Sarah Palin
Yes, the very liberal, very Buddhist Richard Gere can call former Alaska governor, and United States Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin a relative. Palin traces her heritage back to six families who came over on the Mayflower, including Richard Warren, through whom she shares lineage with Gere. Interestingly, through Palin, Gere can also trace his lines to folks like Bing Crosby and Benjamin Spock, to whom Palin is related through William Brewster and John Howland, respectively. Also a relative of Gere’s through Palin? A certain Doctor Emmett Brown, also known as Christopher Lloyd.
8. Dick Van Dyke
Dick Van Dyke, one of the most beloved American comedy and television icons of all-time, has almost as many ties to the Mayflower as Gere. Van Dyke can trace his lineage back to five passengers on the Mayflower, including Cooke and George Soule, through whom he’s related to Gere. Van Dyke is also a descendant of Myles Standish, arguably one of the most famous pilgrims to settle in the new world. Through Standish, Van Dyke and by extension Gere are related to Dan Quayle, meaning that believe it or not, Richard Gere is distantly related to two of the most laughable Vice Presidential candidates in United States history. We’re sure he must be very proud.
We should probably also point out that through Van Dyke and Standish, Gere is related to Deborah Sampson, who in turn was descended from William Bradford, who in turn is the ancestor of the likes of Clint Eastwood and Hugh Hefner. So yep, Gere is distantly related to those guys, too.
7. Alan Shepard
Alan Shepard was a member of the Mercury 7, the crew of which were the first American astronauts trained in the race to space. He was also the first American to travel in space, which he accomplished in 1961, also making him just the second human being to find himself floating in space. At the age of 47, he landed Apollo 14 on the Moon, and in turn became the fifth person to walk on its surface. He was also a descendant of Richard Warren, through whom he finds himself related to Richard Gere. And of course through Warren, Shepard found himself tied to some incredibly noteworthy people, many of whom we will get to as the list continues.
6. George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush
As you may have guessed, many United States Presidents have been descendants of the passengers on the Mayflower, and in this case both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush are descended from Francis Cooke, who apparently had pretty impressive DNA when you consider the numerous noteworthy people who could call him a relative. It is through Cooke that Gere can trace his lineage to the Bush family, though the Bushes can also call Mayflower passengers John Howland and Henry Samson their kin. Through Howland, the Bush family and, by extension, Gere are also related to the Baldwins and Humphrey Bogart, and Samson ties them all right back to Palin.
5. Orson Welles
Orson Welles is one of the most acclaimed American filmmakers of all-time, having written, produced, starred in, and directed Citizen Kane, which was named by the American Film Institute as the top film ever made, despite the tiny problem of it being insanely dull. Anyway, Welles traces his family back to Francis Cooke, through whom he is related to Gere. Welles is also a descendant of John Alden, and it is through him that Welles and Gere can call the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Henry Wordsworth Longfellow family.
4. “Wild” Bill Hickok
While “Wild” Bill Hickok and Richard Gere do not share a direct ancestor, they are related through other descendants of the Mayflower passengers, those being the Bush family. Hickok, perhaps the most famous gunslinger in the American Old West, was a lawman who was fired from his post as a marshal after some questionable shootings. It says a lot about the guy that in the Old West, where gunfights were astonishingly commonplace, you could actually lose your job for shooting someone. He was also an infamous gambler, and it was at a poker table where he lost his life when he, who always insisted on facing the door, chose to ignore his own advice and sat with his back to the entryway. This allowed a man named Jack McCall to come in and shoot him in the back in 1876.
3. Joseph Smith
Yes, the founder of Mormonism is a guy Richard Gere can refer to as an ancestor. Smith was related to both John Howland and Samuel Fuller, and it is through both of these men that you can trace Gere’s lineage straight to the guy directly responsible for the dudes in short-sleeved white button downs and black ties who come to your door trying to teach you about the Latter Day Saints. Smith is also yet another ancestor of Sarah Palin as well, along with the aforementioned Dr. Benjamin “I’m not a Vulcan” Spock, who is the guy who wrote all of those baby books, in case you were unaware.
2. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Good old FDR. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the 32nd President of the United States, and the only man to ever serve more than two terms. He was also stricken with polio and bound to a wheelchair, and helped guide American and Allied forces through World War II until his death in 1945. He’s also a descendant of Degory Priest and Richard Warren, which is where he gets his ties to Gere. He was also descended from Isaac Allerton, John Cooke, and John Howland, who also came over on the Mayflower. Through Allerton, he is related to another president, Zachary Taylor. Considering Howland’s line spawned Joseph Smith, that means that FDR and his family are also related to the founding member of the Mormon Church.
1. Teddy Roosevelt
You can’t have one Roosevelt without the other, right? While FDR was arguably the best President in American history, Teddy Roosevelt was without question the coolest. Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th president of the United States, and remains to this day the youngest person ever elected President, winning the election at the tender age of 42. The famed big game hunter, Rough Rider, and founder of the Bull Moose Party was a distant cousin of Franklin Roosevelt. That, of course, solidifies him as not only a relative of Richard Gere’s, but as perhaps the most awesome person who you could ever want to find on your family tree. After all, we’re talking about a guy who once survived an assassination attempt and decided to bypass going to the hospital, instead giving a 90-minute speech with blood seeping out of his shirt. Say what you will about Richard Gere, but anyone who can count a guy like that among his distant relatives is OK with us.