Ben McKenzie

GQ 2011 "Men of the Year" Party - Arrivals

McKenzie in 2011, photo by Prphotos

Birth Name: Benjamin McKenzie Schenkkan

Place of Birth: Austin, Travis, Texas, U.S.

Date of Birth: September 12, 1978

*25% Dutch Jewish [Ashkenazi Jewish and Sephardi Jewish]
*75% British Isles [English and Scottish]

Ben McKenzie, also billed as Benjamin McKenzie, is an American actor and producer. He is known for starring on the series The O.C. and Gotham.

Ben is the son of Frances (Victory), a poet, and Pieter Meade Schenkkan, an attorney. His uncle (father’s brother) is playwright and screenwriter Robert Schenkkan. Ben is married to actress Morena Baccarin, with whom he has a daughter.

Ben’s paternal grandfather was from a Dutch Jewish family, and had both Ashkenazi and Sephardi ancestry, including more distant German Jewish, English Jewish, French Jewish, Italian Jewish, Iranian Jewish, and Polish Jewish, ancestors. However, Ben’s grandfather was probably raised a Catholic (his own parents, Ben’s great-grandparents, likely converted from Judaism to Catholicism). The rest of Ben’s ancestry is English, with a smaller amount of Scottish.

Ben’s patrilineal line can be traced back to Abraham Juda Schenkkan-Levie, who was born, c. 1781, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and to Abraham’s parents, Juda Eliaser Levie and Roosje Isaac, who were born in Stuttgart, Germany.

Ben’s paternal grandfather was Robert Frederic “Bob” Schenkkan (the son of Jozef/Joseph Schenkkan and Flora/Flortje Josephine/Josefina Van Der Zyl/Zijl). Robert was born in New York. Jozef and Flora had immigrated from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and were both from Dutch Jewish families (with Ashkenazi, as well as some Sephardi, ancestry). Joseph was the son of Levie Hyman Schenkkan and Roosje Ensel. Flora was the daughter of John/Izak/Isaac Van Deziel/der Zijl and Anna Eva/Theresia Wolf. Joseph and Josephine may have converted to Catholicism in either the Netherlands or in the United States; though they were both born Jewish, their children were evidently raised Catholic (one of their daughters had become a nun).

Ben’s great-great-aunt, Martha van der Zijl, died in Auschwitz (in 1943). Martha was the sister of Ben’s great-grandmother, Flora/Flortje Josephine/Josefina Van Der Zyl/Zijl.

Ben’s paternal grandmother was Jean Gregory McKenzie (the daughter of Francis Clement “Frank” McKenzie and Alice Bell “Allie” Beall). Jean was born in Georgia. Francis was the son of James E. McKenzie and Mary Anne Dahlia Sizemore. Alice was the daughter of William Joseph Bell Beall and Georgia Augusta Roberts.

Ben’s maternal grandfather was Thomas Edward Victory (the son of Thomas Benjamin Victory and Katherine Rugeley Rochelle). Ben’s grandfather Thomas was born in Texas. Ben’s great-grandfather Thomas was the son of James Thomas Victory and Mary Ann Shepherd. Katherine was the daughter of Joseph Pancoast Rochelle and Louisa Jane Carlton.

Ben’s maternal grandmother was Currie Esther Horton (the daughter of Guy Taylor Horton and Currie Belle Farmer). Ben’s grandmother Currie was born in Louisiana. Guy was the son of Thomas Marion Horton and Sarah Frances Taylor. Currie Farmer was the daughter of William Harrison Farmer and Sally Elizabeth Best/Bazer.

Ben is a ninth cousin, once removed, of Dutch actor Michiel Huisman. Ben’s eight times paternal great-grandfather, a Dutch Jew named Moses Hartog/Hirsch Shochet, was also Michiel’s nine times great-grandfather.

Sources: Genealogy of Ben McKenzie (focusing on his father’s side) –

Genealogy of Ben’s paternal grandfather, Robert Frederick “Bob” Schenkkan –

Ben’s paternal grandfather, Robert Frederick “Bob” Schenkkan, on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Obituary of Ben’s paternal grandfather, Robert Frederick “Bob” Schenkkan –

Genealogy of Ben’s paternal great-great-great-grandfather, Hijman Abraham Schenkkan (through Hijman’s brother, Isaac Abraham Schenkkan) (focusing on his own mother’s side) –

Ben’s paternal grandmother, Jean Gregory McKenzie, on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Ben’s maternal grandfather, Thomas Edward Victory, on the 1910 U.S. Census –

Ben’s maternal grandmother, Currie Esther Horton, on the 1910 U.S. Census –


Curious about ethnicity

6 Responses

  1. aroxysimon says:

    Wth, thought he was just Scottish

  2. GLXY says:

    McKenzie is a Scottish surname not Irish. Where did he said that he is Irish ?

  3. Vega says:


    He is Scots-Irish not Irish

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