CELEBRITY GENEALOGY

Jimmy Fallon’s Family Tree

Megan Smolenyak

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Jimmy Fallon at “Jimmy Fallon in Conversation with Stephen Colbert” organized by Montclair Film Festival

Still in his early 40s, Jimmy Fallon has an impressive track record to look back on. His combined tenure at Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and The Tonight Show means he’s already logged two decades on air. Not bad for a Brooklyn-born, Saugerties-raised kid who launched his career at the Bananas Comedy Club in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Husband to Nancy Juvonen and proud daddy of Winnie Rose and Frances Cole, he’s a third generation James Fallon whose entire family tree was firmly planted in Brooklyn until his parents moved their branch about a hundred miles to the north. In the shadow of the Catskills, Jimmy and his sister, Gloria, enjoyed an all-American childhood complete with pets, visits with Santa, Catholic school, lots of snowman-building, trips to Lake George, proms, and grandparents (who also made the out-of-the-city trek) essentially in their backyard.

Perhaps his name and the proximity of his grandparents help explain why Jimmy self-identifies as Irish. Fans are frequently treated to light-hearted references to his heritage, such as this remark that’s familiar territory for many: “I try to get tan, but I’m Irish so I burn bright red — lobster red. But then it becomes a nice cinnamon toast color.”

But just how Irish is this affable guy-next-door who comes into our homes on a nightly basis? As a professional genealogist who’s peered into the Irish past of everyone from Joe Biden to Beyoncé, I decided to take a closer look.

Jimmy, it turns out, is predominantly but not entirely Irish. To create a Jimmy Fallon, take five parts Irish and combine with two parts German and one part Norwegian. Make sure the five-eighths Irish portion is loaded with names like Daly, Devaney, Driscoll, Feeley, Graham, Kenny, Monahan, O’Brien, O’Neill, and Riordan, and add a gentle multicultural twist by sprinkling in a couple of Irish immigrant ancestors born in France and Spain. For good measure, start the distillation process in the counties of Cork, Galway, Leitrim and Longford, and let the concoction breathe for anywhere from 51 to 133 years after arrival in America. Yields one talented host and comedian that pairs well with The Roots.

Starting with the Stickevers

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Megan Smolenyak

Genealogical adventurer & storyteller who loves solving mysteries! You may not know me, but chances are you’ve seen my work. (www.MeganSmolenyak.com)