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

*37.5% Ashkenazi Jewish
*25% mix of English and Scottish
*25% German and Swiss-German
*12.5% 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/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 Elias (the son of Yosef/Joseph W. Elias and Golda/Gussie/Augusta Goldberg). 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 “Morris” Chies Goldberg and Khala/Khaia/Chala Gitel “Ida” Algaze/Algazy.

Robert’s paternal grandmother was Elizabeth “Betty” Jesse 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 “Eddie” Webster 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). Cyrus was the son of Henry Lewis Schoch, who was from Bavaria, Germany, and of Catherine/Katherine Schucker, who was of German descent. 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 Elias –

Robert’s paternal grandmother, Elizabeth “Betty” Jesse McLoughlin/McLauchlen, on the 1930 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

{ 10 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.

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