Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks, who plays the late children's-show host Fred Rogers in the new film "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood," has learned that the two of them are sixth cousins.
At the film's premiere Sunday at the Henry R. Luce Auditorium in lower Manhattan, "Access Hollywood" told Hanks and his producer-actress wife Rita Wilson, both 63, that according to Ancestry.com, Hanks and Rogers share a great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Johannes Mefford (1732-1796), a German immigrant.
"No. Impossible. No, you're pulling our leg,” a stunned Wilson said before examining a genealogical chart the reporter provided.
"It all just comes together, you see," said Hanks, who then joked, "Well, I would like to see if Johnny Depp is related to Fred Rogers," the Presbyterian minister who hosted the long-running "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" and died in 2003 at age 74.
Rogers' widow, Joanne Rogers, told "Access Hollywood," "That is just wonderful! Now that is amazing, and Fred would have loved it! He loved family-tree stuff."
Ancestry.com said in a statement that among Mefford's sons, William Mefford (1760-1849), on Rogers' side, served in the colonial navy and was captured by the British in 1782, enduring 10 months on a prison ship in Barbados and Antigua. On Hanks' side, Jacob Mefford (1763-1844) was a private who participated in a skirmish at Chesapeake Bay.
Mefford was a family name handed down through generations. It was the middle name of Hanks' father, Amos Mefford Hanks.
"A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood," also starring Matthew Rhys and Chris Cooper, opens in theaters Friday.