Hollywood royalty Julia Roberts is, well, not actually a Roberts at all.
The Pretty Woman and Ticket to Paradise actor should, historically speaking, have a completely different surname.
The revelation came after some sleuthing by a US TV show into Roberts’ past.
Finding Your Roots, similar to the popular genealogy show Who Do You Think Are? which is shown on SBS, is produced by website Ancestry and the US’ Public Broadcasting Service.
Historian Dr Henry Louise Gates Jr said the program’s team had delved into the archives of Roberts’ family in Georgia in the southern United States.
There are certainly people with the surname Roberts in the actor’s past.
There are records of her great grandfather John Roberts who was born in 1878 in Douglas County, just west of Atlanta.
His mother was Rhoda Suttle who was born in 1837.
Roberts said she never knew of Ms Suttle.
Archives in Georgia showed that Ms Suttle married a Willis Roberts and it’s his name that has been passed down through the generations to Julia.
However, in an ancestry twist, it was discovered Willis Roberts died a decade before John Roberts was born.
Despite bearing his name, the actor’s great grandfather John Roberts could not possibly have been Willis’ child.
“But, wait, am I not a Roberts?” she asked Dr Gates.
A lack of birth certificates being issued at times during the 19th century in Georgia meant there was gaps in the paper trail as to who was the true father of Ms Suttle’s children.
However DNA testing managed to narrow the mystery down to one man: Henry Mitchell Jnr.
“You’re Julia Mitchell. You are not a Roberts, biologically,” said Dr Gates to a surprised Ms Roberts/Mitchell who broke down laughing.
“This was a very unexpected turn,” said the star.
“I bet nobody knew,” she added.
“Well, everybody on that farm knew because her husband wasn’t there and she was still having babies,” replied Dr Gates.
Further digging turned up the census of 1880 which showed Henry Mitchell was living with his wife Sarah and their and their six children around the time John Roberts was born.
He lived a few miles from Ms Suttle. But closer still was Mr Roberts’ mother who lived a mere four households from Rhoda Suttle who has a direct lineage to Julia Roberts.
The supposition was that when Mr Roberts went to see his mother, he popped in to see Rhoda as well.
“Sarah was probably saying ‘oh he’s going to see his mother, how sweet?’” said Ms Roberts.
“On the one hand my mind is truly blown and it’s fascinating; and on the other hand there’s part of ne that when I’m calmer can still wrap my arm around the idea that my family is my family.” She added.
“And I do prefer the name Roberts.”
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