Bryan Cranston

Cranston in 2012, image via kathclick/

Birth Name: Bryan Lee Cranston

Place of Birth: Canoga Park, Los Angeles, California, United States

Date of Birth: March 7, 1956

*62.5% German [with more distant Swiss-German]
*25% Irish/Northern Irish
*12.5% Ashkenazi Jewish

Bryan Cranston is an American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter. His roles include Malcolm in the Middle, Breaking Bad, Trumbo, Argo, Why Him?, The Upside, The One and Only Ivan, and the second Total Recall (2012).

Bryan is the son of actors Peggy Sell (Audrey Anneliese/Annalisa Dorothea/Dorethea Sell) and Joe Cranston (Joseph Louis Cranston). His parents were from Chicago. Bryan is married to actress Robin Dearden, with whom he has a daughter, actress Taylor Dearden.

Bryan’s paternal grandfather was of Irish descent, and Bryan’s paternal grandmother was of half Austrian Jewish and half German ancestry. Bryan’s mother was the daughter of German parents, and also had more distant Swiss-German roots.

He grew up in Canoga Park, California. He was also raised partly on his maternal grandparents’ farm in Yucaipa, CA, working with poultry. He was raised Catholic.

A 23andMe DNA test taken by Bryan stated that his genetic ancestry includes:

*10% Ashkenazi Jewish

Bryan’s paternal grandfather was Edward Bennett/Bernard “Eddie” Cranston (the son of Daniel James Cranston and Margaret J. Blake). Edward was born in Illinois, and was raised in a Catholic household. Daniel was born in Montréal, Québec, Canada, the son of Irish-born parents, Joseph Henry Cranston and Sarah McLeod. Bryan’s great-grandmother Margaret was born in Ireland, the daughter of John Blake and Margaret Sullivan. Bryan has roots in County Clare and Armagh.

Bryan’s paternal grandmother was Alice Rose Bower (the daughter of Joseph B. Bauer/Bower and Bertha/Birdie Berg). Bryan’s grandmother Alice was born in New York. Bryan’s great-grandfather Joseph was born in New York, the son of Jewish emigrants from Austria or Hungary, Jacob Bauer and Kate/Katie Hartmann; Jacob was the son of Samuel Bauer and Rachel Wolff, and Kate was the daughter of Maurice Hartmann and Rachel Pariesa. Bryan’s great-grandmother Bertha/Birdie Berg was born in New York, the daughter of German parents, Arthur Berg and Pauline Mathilde Figel, whose religion was Lutheran. Arthur was likely Bertha’s stepfather; Bertha’s biological father was likely a man with the surname Stein. Arthur Berg was the son of John Berg and Dorothea Koch or Klein. Bryan’s great-great-grandmother Pauline Figel was from Ditzingen, and was the daughter of Christian Heinrich “Henry” Figel and Friederike Pauline Mathilde Charlotte Haering/Hiring.

Bryan’s maternal grandfather was Otto Frederick William Sell (the son of Albert Ferdinand Franz Wilhelm Sell and Katharine Dorothee Niebuhr). Otto was German, from Rendsburg.

Bryan’s maternal grandmother was Augusta Liza “Gussie” Marchert (the daughter of Josef Marchert and Helene Magdalene Kebbel). Augusta was German, from Danzig. Josef was the son of Friedrich Marchert and Wilhelmine Kebbel. Helene was the daughter of Christian Friedrich Kebbel and Auguste Justine Kebbel.

Bryan is a second cousin, once removed, of actress Arielle Kebbel. Bryan’s maternal great-grandparents, Josef Marchert and Helene Magdalene Kebbel, were also Arielle’s paternal great-great-grandparents. The two are also more distantly related through Arielle’s patrilineal line.

Sources: Genealogy of Bryan Cranston –

Genealogy of Bryan Cranston (focusing on his father’s side) –

Bryan’s paternal grandfather, Edward Bennett/Bernard “Eddie” Cranston, on the 1900 U.S. Census –

Bryan’s paternal grandmother, Alice Rose Bower, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

Marriage record of Bryan’s paternal great-grandparents, Joseph B. Bauer/Bower and Bertha/Birdie Berg –

Bryan’s paternal great-grandfather, Joseph B. Bauer/Bower, on the 1880 U.S. Census –
Joseph B. Bauer/Bower on the 1900 U.S. Census –

Marriage record of Bryan’s paternal great-great-grandparents, Jacob Bauer and Kate/Katie Hartmann –

Bryan’s paternal great-grandmother, Bertha/Birdie Berg, on the 1900 U.S. Census –

Death record of Bryan’s paternal great-great-grandfather, Arthur Berg –

Baptismal record of Bryan’s paternal great-great-grandmother, Pauline Mathilde Figel –

Death record of Bryan’s paternal great-great-grandmother, Pauline Mathilde (Figel) Berg –

Marriage record of Bryan’s paternal great-great-great-grandparents, Christian Heinrich “Henry” Figel and Friederike Pauline Mathilde Charlotte Haering/Hiring –

Bryan’s mother on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Cranston with his daughter (left) and wife (right) in 2013, pic by Prphotos

21 Responses

  1. andrew says:

    Joseph Henry Cranston was born in County Armagh, Northern Ireland.

    Since Cranston and McLeod both are Scottish surnames, they were Scots-Irish.

    • Preservationist says:

      Exactly! This site will always call Scots-Irish simply “Irish” and invariably state the religion as “Catholic” (not the proper “Roman Catholic”).

      I’m sure his Cranstons were Presbyterians prior to removing to Northern Ireland.

      • markpo24 says:

        From my experience it is the opposite. They call anyone with Ulster ancestry ‘Scots Irish’ or ‘Northern Irish’ even if the ancestry is Catholic. Catholics in Northern Ireland don’t tend to use the term ‘Northern Irish’. Not to mention that Northern Ireland didn’t even exist when these people’s ancestors lived there.

        I wonder what this site would do if they found someone from the south of Ireland with a Scottish name. They are logically “Scots-Irish” too

    • markpo24 says:

      Maybe in this case it is true but it isn’t always as simple as that. Some Irish Catholics have Scottish names, Scottish soldiers called Gallowglasses used to fight for the Irish against the English. Examples of Scottish names common among Catholic’s are McNeill, McAllister and McDonald.
      Even in the south of Ireland you get Scottish surnames, noone would consider them “Scots-Irish”. It just seems to be a tag given to Ulster Protestants.

  2. ses101 says:

    He is at least partly Scottish. This site seems to want to whtewash Scottish ancestry out of existence and repace it with Irish. The name Cranston comes from Midlothian in Scotland. I’d bet anything that his ancestors arrived in America via a few decades in Ulster (Northern Ireland).

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