Chuck Norris

12th Annual Movieguide Faith & Values Awards - Arrivals

Norris in 2004, photo by Prphotos

Birth Name: Carlos Ray Norris

Place of Birth: Ryan, Oklahoma, U.S.

Date of Birth: March 10, 1940

Ethnicity: English, smaller amounts of Scottish, Welsh, and German, remote French, Swedish, and Dutch, possibly other

Chuck Norris is an American martial artist, actor, film producer, and screenwriter. His many film roles include Way of the Dragon, Breaker! Breaker!, Good Guys Wear Black, The Octagon, Lone Wolf McQuade, the Missing in Action franchise, Code of Silence, Invasion U.S.A., and The Delta Force, as well as the series Walker, Texas Ranger.

Chuck is the son of Wilma (Scarberry) and Ray D. Norris. He was raised partly in Prairie Village, Kansas, and then Torrance, California. He is married to model Gena O’Kelley. He has five children, including actor Mike Norris and stock car racing driver and stuntman Eric Norris.

Chuck has stated that both of his parents were of half Irish and half Native American ancestry (“Genetically speaking, I am equal parts Irish and Native American”). Specifically, he has said that his paternal grandfather was an Irish immigrant, his paternal grandmother was of Native American descent (“a full-blooded Cherokee Indian”), his maternal grandfather was of Native American descent (“a Cherokee Indian from Kentucky”), and, finally, that his maternal grandmother was of Irish descent.

However, these statements do not appear to be accurate, at least not strictly speaking. Most of Chuck’s recent ancestors, including his paternal grandfather, were U.S.-born. His family tree contains mostly English surnames and English-born distant ancestors, along with a smaller amount of Scottish, Welsh, and German, roots, and remote French, Swedish, and Dutch. No Native American ancestry has been verified/documented in any publicly available family trees of Chuck Norris, and all of Chuck’s grandparents are described as “white” on U.S. censuses.

Chuck’s patrilineal line traces to a John Norris, who was born, c. 1525, in Norfolk, England.

Chuck’s paternal grandfather was named James Henry Norris (the son of William/Simon Norris and Eliza Ann). James was born in Tennessee. William was the son of Samuel/Sam Norris and Melissa/Malissa Curtis.

Chuck’s paternal grandmother was Ella May “Ellie” Tinker (the daughter of James Asbury Tinker and Clarisa Ann “Clara” Cofer). Ella was born in California. James was the son of Jesse Tinker and Margaret McArthur.

Chuck’s maternal grandfather was named John Porter Scarberry (the son of Martha Scarberry). John was born in Kentucky. Martha was the daughter of Richard E. Scarbrough and Eliza Jane Smith.

Chuck’s maternal grandmother was Ada Agnes Hargrove (the daughter of Zachary Phelon Hardgrove/Hargrove and Alice/Jemimie Hill). Ada was born in Texas. Alice was the daughter of Moses Perry Hill and Ellen Elizabeth Nix.

Sources: Genealogies of Chuck Norris –

Genealogy of Chuck’s father –

Chuck’s father on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Chuck’s paternal grandmother, Ella May “Ellie” Tinker, on the 1880 U.S. Census –

Chuck’s maternal grandparents, John Porter Scarberry and Ada Agnes Hargrove, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

Genealogy of Chuck’s maternal grandmother, Ada Agnes (Hargrove) Scarberry –


Curious about ethnicity

124 Responses

  1. andrew says:

    His family tree is rather poor, with several omissions. Though he is unlikely what he claimed to be, some of his family lines have lived in the South for long so it’s possible he has distant NA ancestors. For example through the Youngbloods (a NA surname), though I hadn’t looked in depth.

    • Oaken05 says:

      While it’s certainly possible it could be a indigenous name, it’s probably just – of not more – likely to be European. It’s a name found it various European countries with various different spellings. It can be Dutch, English, etc.

  2. ethnogenesis says:

    The Jacqueline Keeler’s pretendians list doesn’t seem to include Chuck Norris – but his “Kentucky Cherokee Grandma” was a promotional tool used by publicity agents, and there is no Irish father or any family directly in Ireland found in his genealogy.

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