This week's new episode of Finding Your Roots features two of our favorite actors, Brian Cox and Viola Davis. They share similar backstories, growing up desperately poor and knowing almost nothing about their roots. Through the show, they were able to uncover information that was both surprising and touching.
We loved Brian Cox's performances in HBO's Succession and the movie L.I.E. We knew he was Scottish, but did not know he grew up with, as he put it, "almost no parental guidance" after his father died when he was 8 and his mother descended into mental illness.
With host Skip Gates, Cox learned that his maternal grandfather - a character written off by much of his family as a drunk and lost soul - was in fact a decorated World War I veteran who had survived gas attacks and some of the worst conditions of trench warfare in 1916.
Viola Davis, who stood out in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Solaris, was born in South Carolina and grew up in Rhode Island. Through a 1979 newspaper obituary and DNA testing, she learned that her maternal grandfather was not who she assumed ... and the impact on her mother's family was profound.
There are many more findings and stories in episode 5 of season 9. The show will be shown throughout this week on local PBS stations. You can also watch it online for a limited time. You can also see our other blog posts about Finding Your Roots.