Birth Name: Ansel Holby Elgort
Place of Birth: Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
Date of Birth: March 14, 1994
*father – Eastern European Ashkenazi Jewish
*mother – Norwegian, as well as English, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, and German
Ansel Elgort is an American actor, singer, DJ, and music producer. His DJ name is Ansølo. He is known for starring in the films The Fault in Our Stars, Baby Driver, The Goldfinch, Carrie (2013), and West Side Story (2021), and on the show Tokyo Vice. He is the son of Grethe Barrett Holby, an opera director, and Arthur Elgort, a fashion photographer. His sister, Sophie Elgort, is also a photographer. His cousin is stand-up comedian and actor Sam Morril, who is his father’s brother’s son.
Ansel’s father is of Eastern European Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. Ansel’s mother has English, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, and German ancestry on one side, and Norwegian on the other.
On his surname, which is Russian Jewish, Ansel has said:
I think it’s Russian. His father was a Russian Jew who fled and was an immigrant in New York City and grew up in Washington Heights. My dad grew up in Washington Heights. I grew up in New York in Manhattan. So we’re purebred New Yorkers.
Ansel has released a song, To Life (2015), with a Bar Mitzvah theme, mixing electronic and klezmer music.
Ansel was named after photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams.
Ansel’s paternal grandfather was Henech “Harry” Elgort (the son of Samuel Shimel Elgort and Etel/Ethel/Etta Ushomesky/Schumerska). Henech was a Jewish emigrant from Roternissel, Russia. Samuel was born in St. Petersburg, the son of Mottel Elgort and Bloom. Etel was the daughter of Tellig Ushomesky/Schumerska and Thena Kiratt.
Ansel’s paternal grandmother was Sophie/Sophia Didimamoff (the daughter of Rafael Didimamoff and Katharine/Katherine/Katarzyna/Catherine/Katherina Kurtz). Sophie was born in New York, to a father from Akhaltsikhe, Russian Empire, now Georgia; and a mother from Lemberg, Austria, now in Lviv, Ukraine. Ansel’s grandmother’s exact heritage is not clear. She had a Catholic funeral (she re-married to a Catholic). It is not clear if she was of Jewish heritage, but it is possible, given her emigrant roots in Lviv and the surname Kurtz. Ansel’s cousin Sam Morril referred to his own father simply as Jewish (Ansel’s biological uncle).
Ansel’s father had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony. He attended a Jewish summer camp, Camp Windsor, c. the late 1940s. A picture can be seen here.
Ansel’s maternal grandfather was Warren Barrett Holby (the son of John Duncan Holby and Alice Quimby). Warren was born in Connecticut, and was a founding partner of Merritt & Holby, a housing development firm. John was the son of Frank Regnault Savoy Holby and Margaret Jane Duncan Avil, who was born in Iowa, to a father from England and a mother who lived in Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Ansel’s great-grandmother Alice was the daughter of Charles Linneaus Quimby and Kittie Moore.
Ansel’s maternal grandmother was Aase-Grethe Hall (the daughter of Wegard Hall and Margrethe Olsdatter Mauset). Aase-Grethe was Norwegian, born in Oslo; during World War II, she worked for the Resistance and the Norwegian government-in-exile, and helped save Jews from the Holocaust, including many children. Aase-Grethe was imprisoned in the Falstad concentration camp by the Nazis for these activities. She married Ansel’s American grandfather after World War II and moved to New York. In New York, she was a member of the American-Scandinavian Society Social Committee, and of the Norwegian Seamen’s Church. Ansel’s great-grandfather Wegard was born in Næs, Jodalen, Valdres, Oppland. Ansel’s great-grandmother Margrethe was born in Mausetgården, Surnadalsøra, Surnadal, Møre og Romsdal, the daughter of Ole Ingebrigtsson Mauset and Maria/Marie Engelsdatter Husby.
Sources: Family history of Ansel Elgort – https://www.hollywoodancestry.com
Genealogy of Ansel Elgort – https://www.geni.com
Ansel’s paternal grandmother, Sophie/Sophia Didimamoff, on the 1910 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
Sophie/Sophia Didimamoff on the 1920 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
Sophie/Sophia Didimamoff on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
Obituary of Ansel’s paternal grandmother, Sophie/Sophia (Didimamoff) Elgort Bednarczyk – https://www.newspapers.com
Genealogy of Ansel Elgort (focusing on his mother’s side) – http://worldconnect.rootsweb.ancestry.com
Ansel’s maternal grandfather, Warren Barrett Holby, on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
Obituary of Ansel’s maternal grandfather, Warren Barrett Holby – http://www.nytimes.com
Ansel’s maternal great-grandfather, John Duncan Holby, on the 1910 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
Obituary of Ansel’s maternal grandmother, Aase-Grethe (Hall) Holby – http://query.nytimes.com
Numbers 19 and 20
Katarzyna is listed as a Pole from Lemberg, Austria (Lviv, Ukraine).
Rafael has no ethnicity listed (not even a ditto sign), but his place of birth at the far right is listed as Kavkaz (Caucasus).
What do you think their ethnicities were? There were many Jews in Lviv. And which language is “Kavkaz” written in, and does that provide a clue for Rafael’s ethnic origin? By now, we can be certain he was from Georgia, it’s just his ethnicity which remains unclear.
Catherine’s ethnicity says Polish, her children seem to be Catholic. I’d say she’s likely a Polish woman (maybe with a German stepfather, as she’s going to see her stepbrother whose last name is also Kurz).
Kavkaz is a transliteration from Russian Кавказ.
Georgian would be კავკასია (Kavkasia).
All the slots next his name on the left sheet are empty except age, sex, marriage status, occupation and ability to read and write.
According to the right sheet, he’s 5’9”, fair complectioned, black haired, brown eyed, born in Kavkaz.
His wife is brown haired, blue eyed and has a lazy eye.
Elgort’s paternal grandmother Sophie re-married to a Polish-American and had a Catholic funeral when she died.
Previously, Sophie’s mother had re-married to a Czech-American. Sophie’s brother married a Hungarian-American. And of course her first husband was Jewish.
Sophie’s sister also married a Czech-American, and what’s interesting is that her census record lists her father (Elgort’s great-grandfather Rafael Didimamoff) as having been born in Georgia (the country).
Funny thing, I just googled Didimamashvili and came up with a street in Akhaltsikhe, Georgia.
Rafael’s declaration of intention says he was born in Achalzich, Russia. Achalzich is a different transliteration of Akhaltsikhe.
This unfortunately doesn’t clear up his ancestry. Akhaltsikhe had an Armenian plurality in the 19th century, and in addition to Georgians, a large number of Jews, and interestingly, Poles (??).
In the last some time, I’ve found that Elgort’s father had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony and went to a Jewish summer camp in the late 1940s. His cousin Sam Morril also referred to his own father (Elgort’s uncle) as Jewish many times. If Morril posted a DNA test it would be pretty helpful.
Maybe you’ve already seen, but on the 1920 census, the Didimamoffs’ father is listed as born in Russia, and his language, I think, says Caucasian (I’m bad at reading handwriting) crossed over and replaced with Russian.
Are you saying we should add Caucasian to the list of possible ethnicities?
Obviously not. But it is another clue pointing towards a Georgian background (Georgia being located in the Caucasus mountains).
I don’t think it’s that obvious. Caucasian (from the Caucasus mountains) can be considered an ethnicity.
At the time, there was about as much ethnic Georgian immigration to the U.S. as ethnic Russian (so if anyone came, it was basically celebrities and the extremely rich).
Georgians are also not usually Catholic. There were Georgian Jews, too.
The question remains as complex as ever.
While we’re on the topic, I think Nolan Sotillo looks like a Cuban Ansel Elgort.
I am actually now pretty sure they were indeed from Georgia, but their ethnicity remains a mistery.
Both Rafael Didimamoff and Katherine Kurtz, or just Rafael?
Kurtz seems to either be an ethnic German or Jewish surname. I think there may be a handful of ethnic Polish people with that name, but it may be a misspelling in those cases.
No matter Rafael’s background (he may well not have been an ethnic Georgian), isn’t it very likely that he was indeed from Georgia, given the birth place and language respectively on two censuses, and the link between his surname and a place in Georgia? To me, the text is more sceptical than needed.
I don’t know, a lot of records say Russia, and some even say Poland (and, in 1910, that he spoke Polish).
Georgia was part of Russia, not a big deal. And one census saying Poland against the other ones doesn’t concern me much either.