Jake Gyllenhaal

by ethnic on September 16, 2009

Birth Name: Jacob Benjamin Gyllenhaal

Place of Birth: Los Angeles, California, United States

Date of Birth: December 19, 1980

*father – Swedish, English, Swiss-German, German, distant Welsh and French
*mother – Ashkenazi Jewish

Jake Gyllenhaal is an American actor. He is the son of Stephen Gyllenhaal, a director and poet, and Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal, a screenwriter and director. His sister is actress Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Jake’s father is of one quarter Swedish ancestry, with Jake’s father’s other roots being English, Swiss-German, German, and distant Welsh and French. The surname Gyllenhaal originates from Sweden.

Jake’s mother is Jewish (of Polish Jewish and Latvian Jewish descent). Jake was raised mostly in the Jewish religion. He has stated that he considers himself Jewish.

Jake’s patrilineal ancestry can be traced back to Gunne Olofsson Haal, who was born, c. 1634, in Härene, Sweden.

Jake’s paternal grandfather was Hugh Anders Gyllenhaal (the son of Leonard Efriam/Efraim Gyllenhaal and Virginia Philola/Philo Pendleton). Hugh was born in Pennsylvania. Leonard was the son of Anders Leonard Gyllenhaal and Selina/Selma Amanda Nelson, who both had Swedish ancestry, although one of Leonard’s five times great-grandfathers, George Fleetwood, was English. Virginia was the daughter of Charles Rittenhouse Pendleton and Sarah/Sara “Sallie” Patterson Peeples/Peoples.

Jake’s paternal grandmother was Virginia Lowry/Lowrie Childs (the daughter of Geoffery Stafford Childs and Olivia Hughes Waelchi). Virginia was born in New York. Geoffrey was the son of Walter Cameron Childs and Edith Worcester Smith. Olivia was born in Canada. Olivia’s father, The Rev. Frederick Edwin “Fred” Waelchi, was the son of Swiss parents, of Swiss-German descent. Olivia’s mother, Elizabeth Alivia/Elwina/Alena Hawke/Hughes, was from Ontario, Canada, and had English, German, and distant Welsh, ancestry. Most of the rest of Jake’s father’s ancestry is English, with distant French.

Jake’s maternal grandfather was Samuel Achs (the son of Morris L. Achs and Etty/Ety/Etta Schneir). Samuel was born in New York, to Polish Jewish parents.

Jake’s maternal grandmother was Ruth Silbowitz (the daughter of Schmuel Benjamin Silbowitz and Yetta Schklar/Sklar). Ruth was born in New York, to Latvian Jewish parents. Benjamin was born in Dvinsk, the son of Chaim Nosson/Nathan Zelbowitz and Fruma Gore. Yetta was the daughter of Jackob Schklar and Seroh Domge. It is possible that Jake is related to actor Logan Lerman through Jake’s Silbowitz line, which may lead to common ancestors with Logan’s Zelbovitz line.

Sources: Genealogies of Jake Gyllenhaal – http://www.geni.com

Genealogies of Jake Gyllenhaal (focusing on his father’s side) – http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com

Marriage record of Jake’s paternal great-great-grandparents, Anders Leonard Gyllenhaal and Selina/Selma Amanda Nelson – https://www.familysearch.org

Death records of Jake’s paternal great-great-grandparents, Anders Leonard Gyllenhaal and Selina/Selma Amanda Nelson – https://www.findagrave.com

Jake’s paternal grandmother, Virginia Lowry/Lowrie Childs, on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org

Jake’s paternal great-grandmother, Olivia Hughes Waelchi, on the 1900 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org

Genealogy of Jake’s paternal great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth Alivia/Elwina/Alena (Hawke/Hughes) Waelchi – https://www.findagrave.com

JWeekly column mentioning Jake’s Jewish heritage – http://www.jweekly.com

DFree / Shutterstock.com

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

andrew November 3, 2017 at 2:00 pm
Wolfman August 28, 2015 at 7:52 am

How did he play a Iranian Persian Prince? Just kidding, but you can find Iranians like him only in Northern Iran, Afghanistan and even Northern India, but they’re a minority.

Wolfman August 28, 2015 at 7:44 am

How did he play Iranian Persian Prince? Just kidding, but you can find Iranians like him only in Northern Iran, Afghanistan and even Northern India, but their a minority.

California July 24, 2015 at 5:30 pm

I must be the only one who doesn’t find him attractive. He’s so overrated.

phaedra March 22, 2016 at 10:47 pm

Agreed. His eyes are too big.

But he’s a good, enjoyable actor.

andrew July 29, 2014 at 4:43 pm
ShawntheGod July 27, 2014 at 8:54 pm

meep meep

Fatmonkey July 27, 2014 at 5:00 am

How exactly does one differentiate between a Jewish person with typically German name and surname and a German person with typically German name and surname? For example, Einstein’s great-grandfather’s name was Ruppert Einstein. If no one ever knew that Ruppert was related to Albert, nor that he was Jewish, wouldn’t he absolutely seem German to all genealogists? Not all German/ Polish Jews are actually named ‘Leb’, ‘Yitschak’, ‘Amrom’, “Moscheh”, etc.

Nothing exactly to do with Jake’s family tree, but just for the future researches (and potential misunderstandings therein).

follers July 27, 2014 at 11:50 am

In Eastern Europe “of old”, it was generally easy to differentiate between Jews and non-Jews based on names, because almost all Jews had “very Jewish” names, other than the rare upper-class/assimilated Jews (for example, the names Samuel Achs, Morris Achs, Ruth Silbowitz, Benjamin Silbowitz, and Yetta Sklar, especially in combination, could more or less not possibly be those of non-Jewish Polish/Latvian/Russian people).

As for German Jews and non-Jewish Germans, I agree, it’s harder. The name Ruppert Einstein wouldn’t be definitive. So there are two ways:
1. Birth/marriage records, if taking place at church.
2. Ruppert Einstein’s parents’ names. We simply go back up the family tree and see if the names are more definitive. For example, Ruppert’s father was Naphtali Hirsch Einstein and another ancestor was Moyses Einstein. Usually we’re dealing with more than one generation.

Did you have a particular genealogy in mind?

Fatmonkey July 29, 2014 at 11:33 am

For example, I was wondering whether Bud Brutsman (the TV producer and husband of the model Adrienne Janic) was of Jewish or German ancestry?

follers July 29, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Bud Brutsman is the son of Faye and James W. Brutsman, of Cheyenne, Wyoming. I’d rule him out of being Jewish pretty much based on that information.

More specifically, I believe his paternal grandfather was Everett Melvin Brutsman, of Iowa. His parents were Frank Deshler Brutsman and Lois Simpson. Frank’s parents were Peter Brutsman and Marcia Ella Harriott. Peter’s parents were John Frederick Brutsman and Catherine Yetter. John’s parents were Phillip Jacob Brotzman and Christina Barbara Lattig. Phillip’s parents were Jacob Heinrich Brotzman and Maria Margaretha Ficen. Jacob’s parents were John Frederick Brotzman and Maria Barbara Weber.

Given everything we know about them, from their names to their history (moving from Germany to Pennsylvania in the 1700s), it’s pretty obvious that the name originally comes from a non-Jewish German, Lutheran, background. This site, for example, even mentions that John Brotzman and Maria Weber’s marriage took place in a Reform (Lutheran) church.

lelo4 February 13, 2017 at 12:44 pm

Easy, Ashkenazi Jews look more like Italians and not German/Eastern Euro.

ShawntheGod July 27, 2014 at 4:27 am

He’s a shitty actor.

ShawntheGod July 27, 2014 at 4:26 am
Boriqua March 22, 2012 at 10:28 pm

That is what I want my future husband to look like. ;~)

I love you, Roger Scientist March 23, 2012 at 12:18 am

He is biracial and the epitome of mixed-race beauty.

andrew July 18, 2013 at 6:50 am
fuzzybear44 July 18, 2013 at 7:23 am

@I love you, Roger Scientist

(He is biracial and the epitome of mixed-race beauty.)

I’m confuse,how is he bi-racial or mixed-race?

follers July 18, 2013 at 1:44 pm

He’s biracial because his dad is of European descent and his mother is of Israelite origin.

I don’t know, I think there are many biracial men who are better looking than him. Boris Kodjoe, for example.

fuzzybear44 July 19, 2013 at 3:15 am


Ok,I know those racist guys on sites like stormfront,refer to Ashkenazi Jews as non-whites,but I never thought you guys saw yourselves that way.Anyhow,I lost all respect for Jake when he did brokeback,as was the chick

follers July 19, 2013 at 3:32 am

I was just kidding. And I love you, Roger Scientist/Levangelista was just having a little fun/trolling.

bearboy November 24, 2016 at 1:05 pm

I don’t get the joke his mother is of Israelite origin?

bearboy November 24, 2016 at 7:30 pm

I love you, Roger Scientist you’re 100% right he is!

ONLY ANGLO-SAXONS ARE WHITE March 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Why did Megan Fox say he was a white guy? He’s Jewish!

ONLY ANGLO-SAXONS ARE WHITE March 13, 2012 at 12:57 pm

He was the right choice for the Prince of Persia! Most Persians look like Ashkenazi Jews. :D

Rased Oren July 17, 2013 at 7:55 pm

You mean he’s green?

murican March 9, 2014 at 3:32 pm

But why does it matter if he’s white or not?

Haley January 28, 2012 at 2:57 pm

He is very handsome! Born to a Russian Jewish mother and a 1/4 Swedish father.

Cherno January 24, 2012 at 4:09 pm

He reminds me of Henrik Zetterberg!!!

vilgotaan June 18, 2014 at 10:50 am
Malin Ljungstedt December 14, 2011 at 2:15 pm

He should be proud of his surname Gyllenhal.
Its a very old surname,i think he is related to a woman who was queen in
sweden in the seventeenth century.
And my english is very bad,hehe

Wolfman March 7, 2016 at 11:02 am

Really? I know Jake related to Queen Elizabeth, Prince William and Charles through his dad.

Fox July 10, 2010 at 8:56 pm

He’s a real looker

Anonymous January 19, 2010 at 11:53 am
lookatme May 25, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Yes indeed. My sexy Prince.

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