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.