There was a guy I used to work with who would do the most odd thing when he met people.

He would ask: “What’s your name?” (Not the odd part)

For this example, we’ll say the person answered, “Donald Berry.”

“Berry, huh?,” my colleague would respond. “Any relation to Halle Berry?”

The person would look perplexed, then say “no.”

“Well, I bet you wish you were,” this guy would say with a creepy wink.

Didn’t matter who he was meeting, he would find a last name of someone famous — and often obscurely famous — to ask if they were related to.

“So, your last name is Smith? Any relation to Rex Smith, the star of ‘Street Hawk?’”

“Your last name is Stallone? Any relation to the singer Frank Stallone?”

“Hmm, your last name is Hatchett? Any relation to Molly per chance?”

It drove me bonkers.

Most folks have someone in their genealogy that is famous, or infamous. And if we don’t have anyone of note in our lineage, we make it up.

For the record, my famous relatives are former Vice President John C. Calhoun and former Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Robbins Curtis. You can tell I’m not fibbing because you probably haven’t heard of them. I have claimed to be related to former President Lyndon Baines Johnson, country singer Marty Robbins, and actor Carl Weathers, although I have no proof of kin to any of the three.

Why do I mention my famous kinfolk? I don’t know. I failed to mention the guy related to me that was the weight-guesser at the carnival or the distant cousin who collected massive amounts of Play-Doh, then ate it all.

We all have famous relatives — we may just not know it.

For instance, a while back, it was revealed that former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney are distant cousins.

According to research by, reported on CBS News, Cheney is also President George W. Bush’s ninth cousin once removed. Obama is also Bush’s 11th cousin, and they are both related to actor Brad Pitt.

John Kerry, who ran for president against Bush in 2004, is W’s ninth cousin, and Princess Diana was Bush’s 11th cousin, twice removed (whatever that means).

Other Bush distant relatives, according to the story, are Marilyn Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, Hugh Hefner, Pocahontas, Madonna, Celine Dion and Tom Hanks.

That family reunion must be a hoot, and lightly attended, since Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe, Hugh Hefner, Abraham Lincoln and Pocahontas are all dead, and Cheney probably is — legally.

“Robbins … any relation to self-help guru Tony Robbins?”

“No,” I said.

But, if George W. Bush can be related to Hugh Hefner — why not?

Email Len Robbins at

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