What is it? What on earth is it that makes people want to claim kinship to a celebrity? Half of them are morons; many are downright amoral. The few who seem to be accidentally decent would most likely recoil from an army of glinty-eyed, limelight-lusting, would-be cousins, which should bring a sense of shame to said cousins.
Is this an equivalent to or parallel of the desire to prove a link, however remote, to nobility? Is this a mercenary desire to profit from the relationship, in which case a celebrity is probably a better bet than a noble, these days? Do we blame THE MEDIA for turning us all into voyeurs, who once bought newspapers and gossip magazines to know more; and who now throw away our privacy with every mouse click on a lascivious onscreen headline with a well-known name? Is the hugely popular and -- we admit -- intriguing "Who Do You Think You Are", which takes celebs on a genealogy jaunt, more of the same?
We are baffled by the endless requests we receive to help people prove their relationship to some famous French name or other. We want to take the poor soul by the shoulders and utter encouragements along the lines of "Be proud of your own accomplishments and leave those rotters to their tawdry fame!" Alas, it falls on deaf ears.
Thus, we give you today the website entitled GeneaStar. Dreamt up by the French duo Jérôme Galichon and Emmanuelle Visseaux, based on an idea by Frédéric Thebault, it is what it says it is: a website with the genealogy trees of famous people. Available in English, French, Dutch and Swedish, the website currently lists over 1200 famous people and gives their trees. There are, of course, Hollywood movie stars. There are also popes, missionaries, nuns, athletes, politicians, inventors, authors, crooks, mathematicians (but not Pierre de Fermat, the most famous French mathematician of them all) and Adam. Most of them are French. Each entry has an image of the subject, a brief biography (the English versions can be quite entertaining in some cases) and a pedigree. There are a search box and alphabetical pages. The names are grouped by the initial letter of the surname but are not in alphabetical order under that letter, which is a bit of a bore. The site is hosted by and in some cases reverts to GeneaNet.
Increasingly, we refer those hunters of celebrity cousins to GeneaStar. You have been warned.
©2011 Anne Morddel