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Celebrities you didn’t know were Italian-American

Do Jennifer Aniston, Bradley Cooper, Selena Gomez have Italian ancestry or not?

Celebrities you didn’t know were Italian-American Do Jennifer Aniston, Bradley Cooper, Selena Gomez have Italian ancestry or not?

Okay. It's not to brag (or maybe just a little), but we know that so many of the most talented and famous celebrities have Italian roots. Let's think about it: Madonna, Lady Gaga, Jon Bon Jovi, John Travolta, Gwen Stefani, ... the list is very long. But while the Italian roots of stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert de Niro are well known and can be easily deduced from their names, for others the connection to the Bel Paese is less obvious and hidden in a complicated web of family trees. However, it's enough to search among parents, grandparents and great-grandparents to trace a few drops of Italian ancestry. For example, do you think Jennifer Aniston or Bradley Cooper have relatives in the south of the peninsula or not? To find out, read about some celebrities you didn't know had Italian-American ancestors.


Ariana Grande

The Thank U Next singer's full name is Ariana Grande-Butera. Ariana was born in Boca Raton, Florida, in 1993 to Joan Grande and Edward Butera, who are both of Italian descent. Her maternal great-grandparents were emigrants from Gildone (Campobasso, Molise). Although she has Greek and North African roots at the same time, she is so proud of her Italian ancestry that she had the word "bellissima" tattooed on her chest because that was the nickname her grandfather gave her. In an interview with Vogue, Grande described her family as "eccentric, quirky, loud and Italian" and told the Mirror that she is proud of her "incredible story".

Alicia Keys

The American singer's real name, Alicia Augello-Cook, gives a clue to her origins. Born in New York City, Alicia Keys is in fact the daughter of Craig Cook, an African-American steward, and Italian-Irish Teresa Augello. In March 2019, Keys wrote on her Facebook page, "I am black and Italian, among other things mixed. The Italian part of me comes from my mother. I remember holding her hand as she walked down the street - mine, small and brown, and hers, pale and freckled - wondering if one day all her freckles would come together and her hand would be as brown as mine."

Julia Fox

It's no coincidence that she speaks perfect Italian with a Milanese accent. Julia Fox was born on 1 February 1990 in Milan, Italy, to an Italian mother and an American father. A few years earlier, she lived in Saronno and Como in a one-room flat shared with her family. She remembers this time: "We never felt poor there, life was not hectic. Everything around us was deserted, but full of love and with lots of good food." At the age of six, Fox moved to New York City with her father and lived in Yorkville, Manhattan. When she was 14, she returned to Italy and moved to the US permanently after two years. To this day, Julia's connection to Italy is very close and the actress often returns to her home country to visit her mother, who still lives in Bel Paese.

Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper was born on 5 January 1975 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, Charles John Cooper, of Irish descent, was a stockbroker, while his mother, Gloria Campano, worked for a local NBC station. It is the woman who has bequeathed the actor a piece of Italy. Gloria, in fact, is the daughter of Angelo, a Neapolitan policeman, and Assunta De Francesco, an Abruzzese originally from Ripa Teatina. Bradley says she inherited her grandparents' love of good food and strong family values.

Jennifer Aniston

As her real name, Jennifer Joanna Anastassakis, reveals, Jennifer Aniston was born into a family of Greek descent, but not everyone knows that she also has close ties to Italy. Her mother, actress and former model Nancy Dow, has Irish, Scottish and Italian roots. It even seems that Friends' Rachel's great-grandparents are from Melito di Porto Salvo, in the province of Reggio Calabria.

Selena Gomez

Everyone knows that Selena Gomez was born in Grand Prairie, Texas, and that she has Mexican blood, so much so that her father named his daughter after the Latin American singer Selena Quintanilla. Her mother, a former theatre actress who gave birth to the star when she was only 16, is of Italian descent.

Rachel Bilson

The O.C. star is 50 per cent Italian. Her mother Janice Stango is the daughter of Alfredo Stango and Ida Giusto, whose families hail from Castelluccio Valmaggiore in the province of Foggia in Puglia. Rachel Bilson's father, on the other hand, is Ashkenazi Jewish. Jokingly, the actress says she always celebrated "Chrismukkah" at home, just like Seth Cohen, her on-screen boyfriend.

Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan's parents are of Irish, German and Italian descent. Her mother, Dina Sullivan, revealed that she is Neapolitan on her mother's side and that Italy is a part of family life. Case in point: "Lindsay has been fluent in Italian since she was a little girl." Would you ever have guessed?

Pete Davidson

Pete Davidson was born on 16 November 1993 to Amy Waters, an Irish-born school nurse with German, English and Scottish roots, and Scott Matthew Davidson, a New York City firefighter who died in the 11 September attacks on the World Trade Centre when Pete was just 7 years old. From the man, the celebrity also inherited a bit of Italy. Scott's father (and Pete's paternal grandfather) Stephen Davidson came from Ashkenazi Jewish communities in Poland, Russia and Romania; his mother (and Pete's grandmother), Carla Kaiser, was of Dutch-German Jewish descent with some Italian roots.


Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato is very proud of her family's culture and roots. She is Latina on her father's side, originally from Mexico, while her mother has inherited Scottish and Irish ancestry. The actress explained on Twitter that she took a DNA test to find out her ancestry. The result? She is 85 per cent European, 1 per cent African and 10 per cent Native American. The European portion also includes a bit of Italy.



Bella Thorne

Bella Thorne was born in Pembroke Pines, Florida, the daughter of Tamara Beckett and Delancey Reinaldo Thorne. Her father was Cuban and died in a car accident in 2007; her mother, on the other hand, has Italian, Irish, English, Welsh and German ancestry. Will she be the one who chose the name Bella?