Soaps and the Family Tree, Part Two

(Photo credit: Claudio Edinger)

I’ve mentioned my love of genealogy a few times here, talking about my own experiences in this post.

In another post, I mentioned PBS’ Finding Your Roots, which had featured former ATWT cast member Julianne Moore in one of their segments.

Although the segment didn’t feature any half-sisters/cousins coming back from the dead looking exactly like Julianne but with a strange accent that sounded somewhat like a British accent crossed with Madonna…..well, it was still interesting!

But I was really surprised to see a recent episode of Finding Your Roots. One of the guests in this particular episode was Gaby Hoffmann, who’s had a long and varied career as an actress, but who I know best as Ali Pfefferman from “Transparent.”

I was very surprised, a few years ago, to learn that Hoffmann’s biological father was the late Anthony Herrera, known to soap fans as James Stenbeck from As The World Turns.

I remember learning this via a photo in the New York Times a few years ago – the photo at the top of this post – and Finding Your Roots showed a glimpse of the same photo in their segment on Gaby.

The photo shows Viva, Gaby and Gaby’s older sister…..and a TV set, tuned to ATWT, with Anthony Herrera and Colleen Zenk on the monitor. (Colleen is also in the video clip that was included.)

It’s a connection that, to be honest, I kind of pushed out of my mind. For a few reasons.

One reason, sadly, is that Hoffmann and Herrera apparently did not have a relationship.

And the second, somewhat related reason….is that in some of her earliest Transparent scenes, Hoffmann really resembled Herrera in certain expressions, and I had to sort of block that connection out, so I could just appreciate her work on its own. Which I do.

Hoffmann’s Finding Your Roots segment is very captivating, and very much uniquely Gaby Hoffmann. Her life story could be a movie of its own – her mother, Viva, is a famed part of the Warhol artist and actor community.

It was definitely a compelling story — as well as a sad and surreal one to watch.


NOTE: You can see the episode here.  The episode also features Tea Leoni, with an equally captivating story about Tea’s mother.

One thought on “Soaps and the Family Tree, Part Two

  1. When she said that James Stenbeck died many times (I think she said 30; it was actually 6), I was so hoping they’d cut to the icon shot of James pulling back the monk’s hood as he said, “I’m alive.” Alas, they settled for some generic clips instead.

    Was also fascinated by what the search revealed about Anthony Herrera’s family history.

    Lynn, agreed: I was so hoping for the “Hello, Barbara” moment.

    It was very interesting in a very surreal way. It felt a bit intrusive as a viewer, but it also kind of made his portrayal and demeanor make sense for me, in a way.

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