Peter Ustinov

by ethnic on January 15, 2008

Birth Name: Peter Alexander Baron von Ustinov

Date of Birth: 16 April, 1921

Place of Birth: Swiss Cottage, London, England

Date of Death: 28 March, 2004

Place of Death: Genolier, Vaud, Switzerland

*50% Russian
*12.5% Ashkenazi Jewish
*12.5% German
*12.5% Italian
*6.25% Ethiopian (Sub-Saharan African) and Portuguese
*6.25% French

Peter Ustinov was a British actor, humorist, writer, dramatist, filmmaker, theatre and opera director, television presenter, stage designer, comedian, newspaper and magazine columnist, and radio broadcaster. He twice won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for Spartacus (1960) and Topkapi (1964).

Peter’s father, Iona von Ustinov (known as “Klop”), was born in Jaffa, Israel, then part of the Ottoman Empire, and was of approximately one half Russian, one quarter Polish Jewish, one eighth German, and one eighth Ehtiopian (including Sub-Saharan African and Portuguese), ancestry. He was a journalist and diplomat for Germany.

Peter’s mother, Nadezhda/Nadeshda/Nadia Leontievna (Benois), was a Russian-born painter. She was of approximately one eighth French, one eighth German, one quarter Italian, and one half Russian, ancestry.

Peter’s paternal grandfather was Platon/Plato Grigorivich/Grigorievich von Ustinov (the son of Grigori/Grigorij Mikhailovich/Mihailovich Ustinov/Oustinov and Maria Ivanovna Panshina). Platon was born in Russia, of Russian ancestry. Grigori was the son of Mikhail/Mihail Adrianovich/Andrianovich Ustinov/Oustinov and Varvara Guerassimovna Ossorgina or Marfa Andreevna Veshnyakova.

Peter’s paternal grandmother was Magdalena Hall (the daughter of Moritz Hall and Katharina Zander). Magdalena was born in Magdala, Ethiopia. Moritz was born in Krakow, Poland; Moritz is said to been a Jewish-born convert to Christianity. Katharina was born in Ethiopia. Katharina was the daughter of Christoph Eduard Zander, who was born in Kothen, Germany, and of Woizero Essete/Isette Work/Verq Meqado de Choa, who was an Ethiopian (of Sub-Sarahn African and Portuguese descent), and was the daughter of Meqado.

Peter’s maternal grandfather was Leontij/Leontiy/Leon Ludovic Nikolaevich Benois (the son of Nikolai Leontievich/Leontievitch Benois and Camilla Albertovna/Albertnova Cavos). Leontij, a prominent architect, was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Nikolai was born in Russia, the son of Louis Jules Caesar Auguste Leontie Benois, who was French (born in Brie, St-Ouen-sur-Morin), and came to Russia during the French Revolution of the late 1700s, and of Anna/Anne Katarina/Catherine Christina Concordia Groppe, who had German ancestry. Peter’s great-grandmother Camilla was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Camilla’s father, Alberto Cavos (Alberto Catterinovich Cavos), was a prominent architect, who built the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow; he was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, to Italian parents, Catterino Albertovich Camillo Cavos (a famous composer) and Camilla Baglioni/Bagnoni. Camilla’s mother, Peter’s great-great-grandmother, was Aloysia/Aloisa Carolina Carobio, who was also of Italian ancestry, and was born in Venice.

Peter’s maternal grandmother was Maria Alexandrovna Sapjhnkoff/Sapojnikova (the daughter of Alexander Sapojnikov and Nina Alexandrovna Kozachenko). Peter’s grandmother Maria Alexandrovna was of Russian ancestry. Peter’s great-grandfather Alexander was the son of Alexander Petrovich Sapojnikov/Sapozhnikov and Pelageya Ivanovna Rostovtseva. Peter’s great-grandmother Nina was the daughter of Alexander Petrovich Kozachenko and Ekaterina Nikiforovna Yavlensky.

Sources: Genealogies of Peter Ustinov –

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

andrew May 19, 2016 at 5:07 pm

Peter’s mother was a Russian painter and Peter’s father was a German journalist and diplomat (Jaffa was part of the Ottoman Empire).

Alberto Cavos was a prominent architect (he was the builder of Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow). Leon Benois was also a prominent architect.

madman May 19, 2016 at 1:03 pm

I’d just write:
*6.25% Ethiopian and Portuguese
I think ethnicities made up of ethnicities should be reserved to the new world (Mexicans, Brazilians, Jamaicans etc.)

follers May 19, 2016 at 11:26 pm

Aren’t all ethnicities made up of other ethnicities?

madman May 20, 2016 at 7:07 am

Yes, but I meant ethnicities where there is sometimes a presicion inside brackets. We don’t write English (Angle, Saxon, Frisian, Jute), yet we do write Mexican (Spanish, African, Indigenous).

Fatmonkey April 2, 2015 at 4:03 am

His “Ethiopian” paternal ancestress, Wayzaro Esette Work Meqado de Choa, was allegedly descended from Portuguese colonists, not original Ethiopians. Page 45 in the following source:

follers April 2, 2015 at 8:03 am

Are you saying his Ethiopian great-great-grandmother had no Sub-Saharan African ancestry at all?

Fatmonkey April 2, 2015 at 11:41 am

Perhaps somewhat clumsy on my part, I meant to say she did have partial native Ethiopian ancestry (i.e. through her maternal ancestors) but the patrilinear ancestry of her father, Johannes Meqado de Choa, appears to have led to people of Portuguese rather than African ethnicity. In the same manner, e.g., in which the British politician, Desmond de Silva, is considered to be of Sri Lankan nationality but of distant patrilinear (though not total) Portuguese ancestry.

All that said, I was planning to research the family tree of the British record producer and Shania Twain’s former husband, Mutt Lange, who is also descended from European colonists in South Africa. I think (I don’t know how precisely, perhaps you might possibly advise me) I found the trace of some relatives of his on ‘wikitree’.

follers April 2, 2015 at 11:51 am

I don’t really know how to research South African ancestry. Their recent records don’t seem to be publicly available.

Fatmonkey April 3, 2015 at 2:29 pm

The very first paragraph of the chapter “Family background and early life” in the wiki article about Ustinov claims he was also of Polish and Armenian ancestry through his father?

follers April 3, 2015 at 2:36 pm

Well, he had Polish Jewish ancestry. I don’t know where Armenian would have come from.

neiltennant May 11, 2013 at 11:22 am

ethopian ?????????????????

fuzzybear44 May 12, 2013 at 4:07 am


(ethopian ?????????????????)

Yes,you’ve never seen this before?

Anita March 10, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Again, the first 5 listings are European so just say he is biracial.

Affellay February 3, 2013 at 5:55 am

Hes Swiss as well

Affellay January 6, 2013 at 10:36 am

He also has Spanish ancestry on his mom’s side,9171,993829,00.html

andrea June 17, 2011 at 6:32 am

He was considered the first actor of African descent to win an Academy-Award.

ahahahha yeah!

aps June 25, 2010 at 3:38 am
Mike February 10, 2010 at 5:34 pm

He is also part Jewish.

Previous post:

Next post: