#142: Related to Who Again?

142.1  Dear Stolf:  How about Barbara Billingsley (June Cleaver, “Leave It To Beaver”) and Peter Billingsley (Ralphie, “A Christmas Story”)?  …from Whitey Bronson, Mayfield USA


142.2  Dear Whitey: How about that? Turns out, they are related only by marriage…but the interesting thing is that neither Barbara nor Peter were Billingsleys at birth! The future Mrs. Ward Cleaver was born Barbara Lillian Combes…she was married to her first husband Glenn Bilingsley from 1941-1947 but retained his surname throughout her professional career and 2 more marriages. Peter came from a family of child actors…all 5 siblings took a stab at it…sister Melissa even had a short-lived sitcom “Me and Maxx” in 1980…but only Peter stuck with it…he’s still involved in show business, now almost exclusively behind the camera. Brother Win…he has to be Alwin Jr., right, not Winfield?…belongs to an American law firm doing business in Turkey…somebody has to…

chart 496.png

142.3   The 2 youngest, Neil and Peter, used their mother’s maiden name professionally, Billingsley. The other 3 stuck with their father’s name, Michaelsen. And as you can see in Chart 496, Barbara’s husband Glenn and Peter’s mother Gail were 1st cousins, their fathers Logan and Ora being brothers of the well-known restaurateur Sherman Billingsley, founder of New York City’s famous Stork Club…which is why Glenn and Gail are most often described as somebody’s nephew and niece respectively, and not son and daughter, Sherman being the famous one. Not that their fathers didn’t have their moments.

142.4  Sherman…actually John Sherman…Billingsley was the youngest of 7 sibs…he followed Ora and Logan from their native Oklahoma to Detroit where the trio became highly successful as bootleggers…the state of Michigan went “dry” 2 years before the rest of the nation did. End result: tons of money and brief jail terms, after which the clan moved to the Big Apple. Well, not Logan just yet…he and the boys’ father Robert had to stand trial for a barroom brawl that resulted in the death of Andrew C. Wheatley…Logan’s father-in-law of all people. Logan was convicted of 2nd degree manslaughter and served 4 years. When he got out, he reunited with his wife Chloe and young son Glenn…according to newspaper accounts, the couple was never estranged…guess she didn’t like her old man either.

142.5  So what started out for me as a reasonably straightforward genealogical chase wound up uncovering some delightfully sordid adventures. Eventually the 3 wild brothers calmed down and made good…Logan was married twice more, a son Logan Jr. with Hattie Mae Key, then 3 more sons with Frances Longworth, his wife at his death in 1963 at age 80. It is sometimes said that another brother Frederic Billingsley was Gail’s father, not Ora, but I am confident that is wrong. And how’s that for how about?

142.6  Dear Stolf: Can this be true: Anson Williams, Potsie on “Happy Days,” is related to Dr. Heimlich of Maneuver fame? Seems like an odd couple to me.  …from Bag Schwartz Jr., Pensaukee, WI

chart 497.png

142.7  Dear Bag: Odd but true. The actor’s real name is Anson William Heimlick…his dad Haskell changed the final H to a K. Haskell and Dr. Henry Heimlich are 1st cousins, making Anson and Henry 1st cousins once removed…you may have heard  them described as uncle/nephew, 1st cousins, 2nd cousins, who knows what…trust me…and Chart 497…it’s 1C 1R. Ayyyyyyyyyy!

142.8   Dear Stolf: I was watching that great old flick “Dillinger” with Lawrence Tierney in the title role. Wasn’t he the star of a TV Western in the 1950s? Sure looks like him.  …from Society Slim, Wolf Fork Creek, WY

142.9   Dear Slim, you old galoot you: They look alike because they’re brothers. Lawrence Tierney was born 5 years before Gerald “Jerry” Tierney, who went by the name of Scott Brady. They also had a younger brother Edward who was in show business briefly…all born in Brooklyn. That’s Lawrence below in the red box…his older self is from the 1992 movie “Reservoir Dogs.”


142.10  The gentleman on the right is brother Scott Brady and the series you’re thinking of is “Shotgun Slade.” It ran 2 seasons as a non-network syndicated oater, and was unique for several reasons. Instead of being a lawman or hired gun, Slade was flat out a private detective…yeah, out in the Old West…they had ’em…the Pinkertons, remember?…and Paladin was sort of one too. His shooting iron of choice was a custom model: top barrel, .32 caliber rifle…bottom barrel, 12-gauge shotgun.* And befitting his trade, the music on the show was all jazz, along the lines of “Peter Gunn,” “77 Sunset Strip,” and countless others. Even had a soundtrack LP out.

* In case you’re wondering, there are such things…called an O/U for over/under. Usually both barrels are shotguns…it has been suggested that in this case, the top barrel was adapted for rifle use with a sleeve insert.

142.11  The dame to the left is Gene Tierney…her real name actually…she was a year younger than Lawrence, and also from Brooklyn. No one seems to know if they’re related…what is known is that her Tierney great grandfather was from England, while the boys’ roots are in Ireland…so there may be a connection of some kind in the Old Country way way back.

142.12  Dear Stolf: I used to confuse Gene Tierney with Gene Tunney. …from Cordwainer J. Throckenthorpe, Halifax NS 

142.13  Dear Cord: That’s nice…

142.14  Dear Stolf: Back in the day, I remember Mo Udall and Stewart Udall, whom I think were brothers. I notice a couple of Udalls in the Senate today…any relation?  …from Govinda Chu,  Pancho Vista, NM

142.15  Dear Govinda: Yes, they are related indeed…and I’ll even go you one better, altho it’s not the better most people seem to think it is. Huh? Patience…you’ll see.

142.16  But you’re right, Mo and Stewart Udall were Mormon brothers from Arizona. Stewart was a Congressman, replaced by his brother when he moved up to serve as Secretary of the Interior under Kennedy and Johnson. Mo’s career in the House went on to last 30 years. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg…scads of Udall relatives have served in public office, on both the state and national level.

chart 498.png

142.17  And now, as you noticed, the next generation. Mo’s son Mark is a Senator from Colorado, Stewart’s son Tom is a Senator from New Mexico. Both were elected for the first time in 2008…and they are of course 1st cousins. And here’s your bonus: their relative Gordon Harold Smith was also running in 2008, up for reelection for a 3rd term as Senator from Oregon, but he was defeated. Relative how?

142.18  Well, there’s the problem…everybody copies from Uncle Wiki…and when Wikipedia gets it wrong, so does everybody else. And what Uncle Wiki says is: “He is a double second cousin of [Mark and Tom], as their great grandparents were a pair of brothers and a pair of sisters who married.”  Now I must say that catching the “double” part is commendable, altho they get the explanation wrong: it’s the grandparents, not great grandparents that are the pair of siblings. Remember: 1st cousins are descended from parents who are siblings, 2nd cousins from grandparents who are siblings, 3rd cousins from great grandparents who are siblings, etc.

142.19  Unfortunately, they get the “pair of siblings” part wrong as well. As you can see on Chart 498, grandmothers Louisa and Lela Lee were indeed sisters…but grandfathers Levi and Jesse Udall were half-brothers, not brothers…they had the same father but different mothers. Thus Smith and the Udalls are 2nd cousins thru their grandmothers, and half-2nd cousins thru their grandfathers…what would technically be called Irregular Double Cousins…which means cousins in 2 ways, but 2 different kinds of cousins. Regular Double Cousins are cousins in 2 ways, but the same type of cousins.

142.20   And of course, where it says Jessica Udall was 1st cousin to Mo and Stewart, read “half-1st cousin,” at least thru the Udalls…they were also full 1st cousins thru the Lees. I know…the objection is that it’s all too complicated. Sorry, THEY ARE WHAT THEY ARE. Passed and seconded…all in favor, say aye…and we will reconvene here next week…hope for a quorum…


Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


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