Robert Downey, Jr.

by ethnic on December 26, 2007

67th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Press Room

Birth Name: Robert John Downey, Jr.

Place of Birth: Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.

Date of Birth: April 4, 1965

Ethnicity: Ashkenazi Jewish (three eighths), as well as English, Scottish, German, Swiss-German, and Irish

Robert Downey, Jr. is an American actor, musician, and producer. He starred in many Hollywood films throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and more recently in Good Night, and Good Luck., Zodiac, Tropic Thunder, and as Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Robert is the son of actress Elsie Ann (Ford) and director, writer, and actor Robert Downey, Sr. His sister is actress Allyson Downey.

Robert’s father is of one half Lithuanian Jewish, one quarter Irish, and one quarter Hungarian Jewish, ancestry. Robert’s mother had Scottish, English, German, and Swiss-German ancestry. Robert’s father was born with the surname Elias, and later changed his surname to Downey, after his own stepfather. Robert is married to producer Susan Levin Downey; the two married in a Jewish ceremony (Susan is Jewish). The couple has two children. Robert also has a son with his former wife, singer and actress Deborah Falconer.

Robert’s paternal grandfather was Robert R. Elias (the son of Yosef/Joseph W. Elias and Golda/Gussie/Augusta Goldberg). Robert’s grandfather Robert Elias was born in New York. Yosef and Golda were Jewish emigrants, from Lithuania, Yosef from Jonava and Golda from Prienai/Pren. Yosef was the son of Meyer Eliasovitz/Elias and Bealia Cohen. Golda was the daughter of Moses Chies “Morris” Goldberg and Khala/Khaia/Chala Gitel “Ida” Algaze/Algazy.

Robert’s paternal grandmother was Elizabeth Jesse “Betty” McLoughlin/McLauchlen (the daughter of James Robert McLauchlen and Ellenore/Eleanor “Ella” Ormay). Elizabeth, who was a model, was born in New York. Robert’s great-grandfather James was born in Massachusetts, to parents from Canada, John Robert McLauchlen, from New Brunswick, and Jessie Murray, from Nova Scotia, and had Irish ancestry. Robert’s great-grandmother Ellenore was Jewish, and was born in Hungary, the daughter of Rudolph Ormay and Ilke/Ilka Helen Stern. Rudolph’s parents were Herman Ormay and Elizabeth Heiman. Ilke’s parents were Rudolf Stern and Ilke Rosisatier.

Robert’s maternal grandfather was John Webster “Eddie” Ford (the son of John Ford and Mary). Robert’s grandfather John had Scottish and English ancestry.

Robert’s maternal grandmother was Fay/Faye Marguerite Schoch (the daughter of Cyrus A. Schoch and Elsie May Peightal). Faye was born in Pennsylvania. Cyrus was the son of Henry Lewis Schoch, who was from Bavaria, Germany, and of Catherine/Katherine Schucker, who was also of German origin. Elsie was the daughter of James Peightal and Sarah Ann, who were of German and Swiss-German descent.

Sources: Genealogy of Robert Downey, Jr. –

Family history of Robert’s paternal grandfather, Robert R. Elias –

Robert’s paternal grandfather, Robert R. Elias, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

Robert’s paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Jesse “Betty” McLoughlin/McLauchlen, on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Robert’s maternal grandmother, Fay/Faye Marguerite Schoch, on the 1910 U.S. Census –

Genealogy of Robert’s maternal great-grandfather, Cyrus A. Schoch (focusing on his own father’s side) –

Interview with Robert, mentioning his background –

photo via PR Photos

{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

neiltennant July 14, 2017 at 9:30 am


he looks AMERICAN yes american

those people who look like him are only found in america

some years my sister said that AMERICANS look different from europeans and i laughed because i thought MOSTLY THEY ARE WITH EUROPEAN ROOTS

but that is very important. in the USA people from 100+ different backgrounds live together

a person that has irish father and italian mother is very unlikely in europe as the countries are far away

but in the us it is possible

midori29 June 30, 2016 at 8:23 am

I think he is a very good looking man. I wonder what his non-white dna is? There is some I can tell.

bearboy May 9, 2016 at 8:31 pm

He is more Jewish than anything else

Hill July 13, 2017 at 6:04 pm
bearboy July 17, 2017 at 10:35 pm

@Hill what ethnicity is Robert Downey Jr. more than 37.5% of?

Hill July 20, 2017 at 6:48 am

@bearboy Everything else combined

bakchoyhurl February 6, 2016 at 10:54 am

This guy…

bearboy April 14, 2015 at 12:47 pm

He is a great actor!

bearboy April 23, 2015 at 4:16 pm

I’m not sure why but I thought only his grandfather was Ashkenazi Jewish?

follers April 23, 2015 at 5:48 pm

Yes, that was what was reported for a long time, that his father is of half Eastern European Jewish and half Irish descent.

As it turns out, though, Downey’s grandmother had a father of Irish descent and a mother who was a Hungarian Jewish immigrant. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. uncovered this during his research on Downey’s ancestry in 2012 and wrote about it in his book. It looks like Downey didn’t know about his additional Jewish great-grandmother, Eleanor Ormay, until then.

bearboy November 21, 2014 at 9:50 pm

A correction I wanted to make was that even though his Jewish ancestry came from his paternal grandfather that had both of his parents from Lithuania which I agree is obviously Ashkenazi, Robert Downey Jr. is of Sephardi or Middle Eastern Jewish roots generation further back. The DNA test said Middle Eastern which they clarified was the approximate quarter Jewish side so I believe that should be added in his ethnicity to the Ashkenazi Jewish part as well.

follers November 21, 2014 at 10:29 pm

“Middle Eastern” is some odd subset of a certain DNA test (not the 23andme one, which just says Ashkenazi, Sephardi, etc.).

Of course his ancestors at some point lived in what is now known as the “Middle East”. The same is true of all Ashkenazi Jews, so it’s a pretty meaningless addition that could be noted for everyone of Ashkenazi descent.

It’s like adding “Germanic” or “Roman” to people of English descent because they all have ancestors from there, or even “Caucasian” since Europeans originated from the Caucus area.

You could also add “Roman” to all Ashkenazi Jews since they’re all partly descended from Roman converts to Judaism.

bearboy November 22, 2014 at 9:32 am

Yes, I am aware that every Ashkenazi Jew has Middle Eastern roots far back enough. The thing is how far back does this DNA test go that Robert Downey Jr took? I have a friend who is Ashkenazi Jewish and got tested from and only came up as two percent Middle Eastern. A test that goes 1000 years ago back

Check7t October 26, 2014 at 3:46 pm


aaa December 16, 2013 at 10:24 pm

No picture?

J.J. October 27, 2013 at 2:04 am

correction; his eyes are hazel (light brown) and his hair is dark brown (brunet) I think it should be listed

nnnnn April 16, 2013 at 12:35 am

Ridiculous actor.

nnnnn April 16, 2013 at 11:51 pm

Dear Follers, if you didn’t see smth, it doesn’t mean,
this smth. doesn’t exist.

sarahle October 19, 2013 at 11:23 pm

His maternal grandmother wasn’t Jewish. Jewish laws say that being jewish comes through mothers blood.period.

leslie2 October 19, 2013 at 11:37 pm

I have known people who become/were recognized by Non-Jews and Jews alike who were Jewish cultural, and raised, as Jewish by their fathers, at least in Canada.

leslie2 October 19, 2013 at 11:47 pm

At least in Canada, the large Jewish community and Hebrew community centres/programs for kids and families and etc., thoughs who were and raised Jewish, etc. and follow Jewish traditions for the most part, were Jews, no matter if it was through their mother or father.

sarahle October 19, 2013 at 11:55 pm

Yes, that’s true. But can’t get it.

sarahle October 20, 2013 at 12:01 am

Well, I think it’s different handled from community to community. Sefardi or Mizrahi communities are stricter. We couldn’t accept that. Secular Sefardi communities are like orthodox Ashkenazi communities LOL

leslie2 October 20, 2013 at 12:09 am

Well, again as I said before, I am not Jewish. I am Native(Indigenous)-Canadian. I can only go by what people have told me and from what I have seen and researched.

Regardless of what you believe, that is your OWN opinion and you are entitled to it. As are the other communities and their rules. If they have Jewish ancestry (which is recent from their grandparents, parents, or one parent, then why can they not be seen as Jews, if they speak the language, follow the Torah, help Jewish society, and were raised in Jewish communities?) As a Jew, you should be more accepting of Fellow Jews and there ways, as I believe that is what the Torah teaches. :) If they are Jewish in their spirit and in their blood (recent) it should not matter.

sarahle October 20, 2013 at 12:17 am

I would accept them – sure! I am not strict myself, but I just mean by the fact what being Jewish means today is worthless.

leslie2 October 20, 2013 at 3:28 am

Again that is your opinion, but I think people who have no connection to being Jewish, in spirit, religion, heart, don’t seem themselves as being Jewish, or raised as such,and it is a past thing,(way far down the line)then I can agree with you, But do not put-down thoughs who are recent and involved in helping Jewish-society and have one-two Jewish parents who raised them with Jewish values, their religion, their language and their ways.
The people who have no connection to this, feel free to question them on their religion and their authenticity , its like anything, are we serious about claiming 1/1000th race or religion? thoughs people are a joke and i agree in that sense.

leslie2 October 20, 2013 at 3:33 am

Part of being Jewish, and they’ve been through alot, and Jewish have always been tolerant, and Judaism, is what you live, and not just(like anything or anybody) you may be born into Judaism, but not all embrace or live a Jew.. so is that make you a Jew?

Being a Jew means living by the Torah, living through their ways, etc.

Thats what i means to me, atleast.

sarahle October 20, 2013 at 7:37 am

I’ve never said I wouldn’t support any person who feels connected with Judaism. I welcome every person and feel glad if families (without Jewish mother) follow Judaism in any way. I don’t need a moral apostle showing me being more tolerant because “Judaism was always a tolerant religion”… People should stop thinking in general. Judaism had develop in different ways. There are Ashkenazim, Mizrahim, Sefardim, Teimanim, “Falashas”…. We all practice Judaism in different ways and we actually THINK in different ways. We’ve adapted cultural influences from the different countries we came from. The point is I grew up with a different view of being jewish than an Ashkenazim. This has NOTHING to do with not being “tolerant”… tolerant… I think we Jews tolerate a lot of things in past, others beside Judaism even didn’t start being tolerant yet…

sarahle October 20, 2013 at 7:39 am

But yes, I understand your opinion. That’s the right way of thinking.

levangelista36 June 18, 2012 at 1:27 am
Mac January 8, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Doesn’t look German or British at all, and not really Irish I don’t get it !!!! he should have somewhat of a native american admixture i thought but……..

COMMONSENSE January 8, 2012 at 7:56 pm

he doesn’t look native American at all. I sometimes wonder if any of you have actually seen a native person

Habe February 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I agree.

leslie2 October 20, 2013 at 12:13 am

THANK YOU! Lmao He doesn’t look Native atall.

tony March 24, 2012 at 4:16 am

You aren’t very good with facial features.

george March 24, 2012 at 8:43 am

nationalities do not have one exclusive look.That is what makes people very amazing. ALL European races have had many migrations over the centuries and that is why people from different countries will look similar.

yoyoyo7 April 11, 2013 at 5:28 am

European races? You mean ethnicities?

tony March 24, 2012 at 4:20 am

But If it makes you feel any better the Roman empire was in Britain too..

yoyoyo7 April 11, 2013 at 5:27 am

Nah, he looks exactly what he is! Stop stereotyping and get educated! Europeans look different from person to person and no, Northern Europeans aren’t pale and no, Southern Europeans aren’t only tanned! Bye

nnnnn April 16, 2013 at 12:31 am

“Russian”!!!! Hihihihi

nnnnn April 28, 2013 at 2:01 pm

He looks like young Sean Connery,
plus solarium, like all in Hollywood.

xoxo August 27, 2015 at 5:15 am

He looks Spanish, or something… IDK

KnowItall September 12, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Jewish is not just a religion; it IS also an ethnicity.

dildoz April 2, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Jewish is a religion.

Moe January 8, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Lol idiot it’s both

COMMONSENSE January 8, 2012 at 6:14 pm

It is a religion as well as an ethnicity.

me January 8, 2012 at 6:20 pm
Habe February 19, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Your right. He is very talented & funny!

sam February 3, 2011 at 3:14 pm

wow i thought he had some east asian or native in him

Mrs. Beznit August 22, 2010 at 5:25 pm

He was really cute in the late 80’s. he looks mixed.

yogo man August 13, 2010 at 10:31 pm

and alot of people are jewish russian lol….that im not

yogo man August 13, 2010 at 10:29 pm

why are so many people irish its crazy lol…i am toooo crazy huhuhuhuh

jjy July 17, 2010 at 8:18 pm

i alaways thought he was Latino. I guess people say i look latino, but im English, Italian, Scots-Irish, and Persian-Iranian. Im exactly 1/4th of each ethnicity.

ethnic July 18, 2010 at 4:35 am

I always thought he was Italian.

Cole October 5, 2010 at 2:43 am

Latino is not a race, There are people from Latin American with blond hair and blue eyes, as well as people of African descent.

Liz June 20, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Hah, oh Gosh I have the EXACT same ethnicity as Robert… I feel very special now.

ethnic April 27, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Brilliant. thanks.

Anonymous April 27, 2010 at 12:51 pm
Arab Soulja April 22, 2010 at 10:01 pm

learn something new everyday :P

ann December 13, 2009 at 7:19 pm

I’m find what Robert father is of Russian-Jewish descent, and his mother German-Jewish descent.

ethnic December 14, 2009 at 8:30 pm

I found an article that has a quote. thanks anyways.

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