The Hollywood star’s great-great-grandparents are both from Tata, Hungary, and are buried in the Jewish cemetery there.
The three-time Golden Globe Award-winning actor Robert Downey, Jr.’s ancestors, including his great-great-grandfather Jacob Stern, and his great-great-grandmother Eleonora Deutschländer, are from Hungary, the Hungarian Hollywood Council announced.
As 24.hu reports, Stern was born in 1820 and worked as a flour merchant in and around Tata throughout his life. His wife was also born in Tata.
Their marriage ended with his death, Deutschländer remarried, and together with her new partner, Simon Deutsch, they rented a mill in Szomód, which she left to Ilka, her daughter from her first marriage, who had been widowed again in 1879.
A few years later in the 1880s, Ilka emigrated to New York with her husband, Rudolph Ormay (1836-1909). The youngest of their four children grew up in New York at the turn of the century. Among them was their youngest daughter, Ella Eleonóra Ormay, who married an American man, James McLauchlen, in 1911. From their relationship Betty McLauchlen was born, the grandmother of Robert Downey Jr. Betty McLauchlen’s husband was named Robert Elias, and their son was Robert Downey Sr., born Robert Elias, the father of Robert Downey Jr.
At the age of five, Robert Downey Jr. made
his acting debut in his father’s film Pound
in 1970. He subsequently worked with the Brat Pack in the teen films Weird Science
(1985) and Less Than Zero
(1987). In 1992, Downey portrayed the title character in the biopic Chaplin
, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor and won a BAFTA Award. He then joined the TV series Ally McBeal
, for which he won a Golden Globe Award. He went on to star in the 2003 film The Singing Detective
, the black comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
(2005), the thriller Zodiac
(2007), and the action-comedy Tropic Thunder
(2008); for the latter, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Downey gained global fame for starring as Tony Stark/Iron Man in ten films within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beginning with Iron Man (2008). He has also played the title character in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes (2009), which earned him his second Golden Globe, and its sequel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011).
Downey is by far not the only one with Hungarian roots in Hollywood, not even the only actor of Hungarian descent. Other actors of Hungarian origin include Drew Barrymore, Rachel Weisz, Mariska Hargitay, Goldie Hawn, Kate Hudson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Adrien Brody, Joaquin Phoenix, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and the late Tony Curtis, Paul Newman, and Béla Lugosi, among others.
Featured image by MTI/EPA/Ian Langsdon