Multi-award-winning Lebanese-American actor Tony Shalhoub experienced both great excitement and emotional overload as he recently had a deep dive into his Lebanese ancestry.
In the new episode of PBS’s “Finding Your Roots,” Shalhoub comes to learn for the first time about the details of his ancestors’ story and the sacrifices that had to be made for him to be where he is today.
The 67-year-old Green Bay, Wisconsin native always knew how his father Joseph, at the age of 8, came to the United States on a boat from Lebanon with his siblings.
After losing their parents, Joseph Shalhoub and his siblings were led by his older sister to France on a boat before departing to and settling in the U.S., where they had relatives waiting for them.
Tony Shalhoub also knew that his father’s emigration followed the death of his parents during the first world war.
What he did not know, however, were the details of how his grandparents struggled during the war, which took countless Lebanese lives with the fighting, the famine, and the diseases.
The Emmy and Tony winner and star of the acclaimed shows “Monk” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” found the revelations that his DNA analysis brought about in the episode to be “humbling.”
“It really brings into sharp focus this sort of idea of the randomness of how I and my siblings ended up in the lives that we are in,” he recently told Sioux City Journal.
“Certain things have to occur and some tragic things have to occur for me to get to where I am.”
“Had my paternal grandfather not died and had my paternal grandmother survived that difficult time, that family would have stayed there,” he said.
“Those kids would not have come over to meet relatives here. My father would not have met my mother.”
Shalhoub told the newspaper that the story has “a kind of bittersweet randomness to it all that ultimately becomes incredibly humbling.”