Don Cheadle

by ethnic on July 20, 2010

Don Cheadle

Birth Name: Donald Frank Cheadle, Jr.

Place of Birth: Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.

Date of Birth: November 29, 1964

Ethnicity: African-American

Don Cheadle is an American actor, writer, producer, and director. He is the son of African-American parents, Bettye (North), a teacher, and Donald Frank Cheadle, a clinical psychologist. He has two children with his partner, actress Bridgid Coulter.

Don plays James Rhodes / War Machine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Don’s paternal grandfather was Lee Therman Cheadle (the son of William M. Cheadle and Maggie/Odie Lewis). Lee was born in Oklahoma. William was the son of Henderson Hence Cheadle and Mary Kemp. Maggie was the daughter of Henry Lewis and Caroline.

Don’s paternal grandmother was Cynthia Barnes (the daughter of Joseph Smith Barnes and Clennie Carroll). Cynthia was born in Missouri.

Don’s maternal grandfather was Basil Leon/W. North, Sr. (the son of Horace P./Marion North and Rachel S. Kenoly). Basil was born in Missouri. Horace was the son of John Ralls. Rachel was the daughter of Myers Kenoly and Mary Mathilda, who were born into slavery.

Don’s maternal grandmother was named Louisa/Louise Maretta “Louie” Thompkins (the daughter of Rochel Turner). Louisa was born in Missouri.

A DNA test whose results were displayed on the show African American Lives 2 (2008) stated that Don’s genetic ancestry is:

*81% Sub-Saharan African
*19% European

In his 2009 book about the show, In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. wrote that 45% of Don’s African DNA matches Benin and western Nigeria, including specifically the Ewondo, Bamileke, Masa, and Tikar people, 30% matches Upper Guinea (Senegal to Liberia), and 25% matches the Congo-Angola region.

Sources: Clip of Don’s appearance on African American Lives 2 (2008) –

Genealogy of Don Cheadle –

Don’s paternal grandfather, Lee Therman Cheadle, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

Don’s paternal grandmother, Cynthia Barnes, on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Don’s maternal grandfather, Basil Leon/W. North, Sr., on the 1910 U.S. Census –

photo by Prphotos

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

andrew August 15, 2017 at 3:22 pm
phaedra May 13, 2016 at 7:26 am

For an African, he does look older (usually blacks look younger than their age). He looks like he was born in 1956 or something.

fuzzybear44 May 13, 2016 at 11:21 pm

But he’s not African. Also some Black People just aren’t as lucky ,when it comes to their skin

GLXY March 23, 2016 at 4:13 am

CORRECTION: In his 2009 book based on the series, In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past., Henry Louis Gates wrote on page 358 more details about Don Cheadle’s african ancestry:

45 % came from Benin and western Nigeria (including specifically Ewondo, Bamileke, Masa, and Tikar)

30 % came from Upper Guinea (Senegal to Liberia)

25 % came from Congo-Angola region

Forty-three percent of Don’s african ancestry comes from the area around Benin.

Malefactor September 21, 2015 at 6:42 pm

He looks very African, but his kids look very mixed.

stopit December 28, 2013 at 7:09 pm

He was born and raised here in America. He is African American! We are something different!

DGKRocks October 28, 2013 at 7:17 pm

CORRECTION. Cheadle’s ethnicity should be Cameroonian.

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