Fairuza Balk

Balk in 2011, image via s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

Birth Name: Fairuza Alejandra Feldthouse

Place of Birth: Point Reyes, Marin, California, United States

Date of Birth: May 21, 1974

Ethnicity: German, English, distant Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, Welsh, and Dutch

Fairuza Balk is an American actress, musician, and visual artist. She is known for starring in the films Return to Oz, The Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick, Valmont, Gas Food Lodging, Imaginary Crimes, Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead, The Craft, The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), American History X, The Waterboy, Almost Famous, Deuces Wild, Personal Velocity: Three Portraits, Don’t Come Knocking, Wild Tigers I Have Known, Humboldt County, and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans; and on television’s The Worst Witch, Ray Donovan, and Paradise City. She has released alternative/indie music under the name Armed Love Militia.

Fairuza’s father, Solomon Feldthouse (born David Earle Scaff), a folk musician, was originally from Pingree, Idaho, and had English, and smaller amounts of Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, Welsh, and Dutch, ancestry. Fairuza’s mother, Cathryn Balk, a dance teacher, is from California, and is of half German and half English ancestry.

Fairuza has stated that her father had Romani and Cherokee Native American ancestry, and that her mother has Irish and French ancestry. Most, or all, of this statement is not accurate. Fairuza’s father, who was born under the surname Scaff and later changed his surname to Feldthouse, had no documented Romani or Native American ancestry; Fairuza’s nephew said of his grandfather, “he play[ed] it up that he [was] a gypsy but [was] probably just a wannabe.” Fairuza’s mother is not predominantly of Irish or French descent. The surname Feldthouse comes from a man named Harry Walter Feldthouse, an Illinois-born man whose parents were Danish immigrants; it appears that Harry was Fairuza’s father’s stepfather.

Her first name, Fairuza, is a Persian and Arabic name meaning “Turquoise,” “Victory,” or “precious one,” although she is not herself of Persian or Arabic ancestry.

Fairuza is a first cousin, once removed, of actress and singer Debra Monk. Fairuza’s paternal great-grandmother, Octavia/Tava Garnet Weaver, was also Debra’s paternal grandmother.

Fairuza’s paternal grandfather was David Stanley Scaff (the son of David Scaff and Octavia/Tava Garnet Weaver). Fairuza’s grandfather David was born in Ohio. Fairuza’s great-grandfather David was the son of William Littleton Scaff and Melcina/Melsena Jefferson. Octavia was the daughter of Benjamin Franklin/Frank Weaver and Anna Laura Greenslaite/Greenslate.

Fairuza’s paternal grandmother was Mary Lorraine Cole (the daughter of Earl Forest Cole and Vera P. Polston). Mary Lorraine was born in Missouri. Earl was the son of Amos Harley Cole and Mary Ellen Giddens. Vera was the daughter of Asa/Asel Marion Polston/Poulson/Polson and Mary Melissa Medlin.

Fairuza’s maternal grandfather was Frederick Franklin “Fred” Balk (the son of Alfred Balk and Emma Matilda Schmidt). Frederick was born in Illinois or Minnesota. Alfred was born in Illinois, to German parents, Dirk Balk and Harmke Hinrichs Lübben. Emma was born in Minnesota, also to German parents, Hermann Schmidt and Meleta.

Fairuza’s maternal grandmother was Lavergne Leoni/Leone White (the daughter of Wilson Bradford White and Leoni Irene Rolfe). Lavergne was born in California, and had English ancestry. Wilson was the son of Wilson Salmon White and Ella Virginia Tully. Leoni was the daughter of Amos Rolfe and Delight Blakeslee.

Sources: Fairuza writes about the persecution of the Roma – http://www.fairuza.com

Fairuza’s father on the 1940 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org

Marriage record of Fairuza’s paternal grandparents, David Stanley Scaff and Mary Lorraine Cole – https://familysearch.org

Marriage record of Fairuza’s paternal great-grandparents, David Scaff and Octavia/Tava Garnet Weaver – https://familysearch.org

Fairuza’s paternal great-grandmother, Vera P. Polston, on the 1910 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org

Fairuza’s paternal great-great-great-grandfather, Greenbury Polson/Poulson/Polston, on the 1850 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Marriage record of Fairuza’s maternal grandparents, Frederick Franklin “Fred” Balk and Lavergne Leoni/Leone White – https://familysearch.org

Fairuza’s maternal grandfather, Frederick Franklin “Fred” Balk, on the 1910 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org

Death record of Fairuza’s maternal grandfather, Frederick Franklin “Fred” Balk – https://www.familysearch.org

Fairuza’s maternal grandmother, Lavergne Leoni/Leone White, on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org

Fairuza’s step-grandfather, Harry Walter Feldthouse, on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org

Some notations on Solomon Feldthouse’s background – http://ofgraceandsin.tumblr.com


Curious about ethnicity

23 Responses

  1. andrew says:

    her paternal grandfather has also distant Welsh and Dutch ancestry: https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/LK1V-MQQ

  2. andrew says:

    >(the daughter of Earl Forest Cole and Vera P. Polston). Mary Lorraine was born in Missouri. Earl was the son of Amos Harley Cole and Mary Ellen Giddens. Vera was the daughter of Asa/Asel Marion Polston/Poulson/Polson and Mary M. Medlin.

    The source of her “Indian” ancestry is from Polson line: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Poulson-35

    “Asel and Elizabeth appeared on census of 19 Oct. 1850 at Marshall County, Virginia. The census taker wrote the following very unusual note:

    “This family can all read though none but the father (Asel) can write. Asel Poulson is the oldest resident in the county. He is called a half-breed Indian but my impression is that he is full breed. He is very frail now, but at 100 years old, could do a full days work…”

    Discussion: https://www.ancestry.com/boards/thread.aspx?mv=flat&m=179&p=surnames.polson

    Trees: https://www.wikitree.com/genealogy/Polston-Family-Tree-18

  3. Real880 says:

    Btw I see this website going off of public record all the time.. you can’t always do that. Do you know how many times ppl changed their surnames or how many women’s surnames were lost after marriage? You don’t know who in her lineage is Gypsy. How about you ask her first, I don’t see a point in lying over ancestry…

    • bablah says:

      If we’re talking about Irish travellers, then yeah, it’s pretty much impossible to tell them from a regular Irish person. If we’re talking about Romany people, then you have to know that up until pretty recently (maybe some 100 years ago) the immigration was only allowed to “free white people”. Many Romany people wouldn’t be able to fit that category in America where people with 1/32 of African ancestry weren’t considered white. I did come across Romany people in U. S. public records (and noticed that many came via Latin American countries). Their race on a census varies from white to Native American to Mexican. The most telling sign is that their adress is most of the time “Gypsy camp”. Oh, and the language is often listed as Romanian (facepalm) even when country of origin is France. Off the top of my head I can remmember Costello and Nicolich families as being of Romany descent in the West Coast (of course since those are Irish and Serbian last names, not everybody who has them will be Romany). There could be some person on this site that has Romany ancestry that has been overlooked, but I doubt it’s Fairuza.

      • madman says:

        It would be interesting if anyone could find an American celebrity who is descended from a Romani immigrant.

        • bablah says:

          I like finding those smaller ethnic groups/sub-groups. Yesterday I got one whole batch of just Arbereshe people, while I was indexing.

          • madman says:

            I like enjoy seeing American celebrities with ancestry from smaller and/or rare ethnic groups being listed here.

            Right now, this site need a Kurdish-American, a Faroese-American, and an Afghan-American celebrity. Maybe we already have a Georgian-American (but probably not) and a Tatar-American one (Glen Powell).

          • madman says:

            Oh, and a Sami-American

          • bablah says:

            Lisa Marie Varon is Tatar-American.

  4. Real880 says:

    I can see Gypsy in her. Many Germans have Gypsy ancestry…. I know someone who is White with a Syrian grandfather. She and Fairuza have a similar look..

  5. White18 says:

    I’m German and can definitely see she has German ancestry. Just the smile alone I can tell this. But the this picture she looks sinister lol

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