Jake Gyllenhaal

Gyllenhaal in 2011, DFree / Shutterstock.com

Birth Name: Jacob Benjamin Gyllenhaal

Place of Birth: Los Angeles, California, United States

Date of Birth: December 19, 1980

*father – Swedish, English, Swiss-German, German, Scottish, distant Welsh and French
*mother – Ashkenazi Jewish

Jake Gyllenhaal is an American actor and producer. He has starred in the films A Dangerous Woman, Homegrown, October Sky, Bubble Boy, Donnie Darko, Lovely & Amazing, Highway, The Good Girl, Moonlight Mile, The Day After Tomorrow, Proof, Jarhead, Brokeback Mountain, Zodiac, Rendition, Brothers, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Love & Other Drugs, Source Code, End of Watch, Prisoners, Enemy, Nightcrawler, Southpaw, Everest (2015), Demolition, Nocturnal Animals, Life (2017), Okja, Stronger, Wildlife, The Sisters Brothers, Velvet Buzzsaw, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Spirit Untamed, The Guilty (2021), Ambulance (2022), Strange World, Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant, and Road House (2024); and in many stage plays. He was initially billed as Jacob Gyllenhaal.

He is the son of Stephen Gyllenhaal, a director and poet, and Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal, a screenwriter and director. His sister is actress Maggie Gyllenhaal. Jake’s father is of one quarter Swedish ancestry, with Jake’s father’s other roots being English, Swiss-German, German, Scottish, and distant Welsh and French. The surname Gyllenhaal originates from Sweden.

Jake’s mother is Jewish, of Polish Jewish and Latvian Jewish descent. Jake was raised mostly in the Jewish religion. He has stated that he considers himself Jewish.

Jake’s patrilineal ancestry can be traced to Gunne Olofsson Haal, who was born, c. 1634, in Härene, Sweden. Gunne’s son, cavalry Lieutenant Nils Gunnarsson Haal, was ennobled, changing his name to Gyllenhaal.

Jake’s paternal grandfather was Hugh Anders Gyllenhaal (the son of Leonard Ephraim Gyllenhaal and Philo Pendleton). Hugh was born in Bryn Athyn, Montgomery, Pennsylvania. Leonard was the son of Anders Leonard Gyllenhaal, who was born in Klotens bruk, Ramsberg, Västmanland, Sweden, and of Selma Amanda Nelson, who was born in Chicago, Cook, Illinois, to Swedish parents. One of Leonard’s five times great-grandfathers, George Fleetwood, was English. Jake’s great-grandmother Philo was the daughter of Charles Rittenhouse Pendleton and Sara Patterson “Sallie” Peoples/Peeples.

Jake’s paternal grandmother was Virginia Lowrie/Lowry Childs (the daughter of Geoffrey Stafford Childs and Olivia Hughes Waelchli). Virginia was born in New York. Geoffrey was President and General Manager of the Michigan Sugar Company. He was the son of Walter Cameron Childs and Edith Worcester Smith. Olivia was born in Berlin, now Kitchener, Waterloo County, Ontario, Canada. Olivia’s father, The Rev. Frederick Edwin “Fred” Waelchli, was the son of Swiss parents, of Swiss-German descent. Olivia’s mother, Elizabeth Alena/Elena/Alma Hughes, was from Ontario, Canada, and had English, German, and distant Welsh, ancestry. Most of the rest of Jake’s father’s ancestry is English, with distant French.

Jake’s maternal grandfather was Samuel Achs (the son of Morris L. Achs and Etty/Ety/Etta Schneir). Samuel was born in New York, to Polish Jewish parents, from Galicia. Morris was born in Kolomea.

Jake’s maternal grandmother was Ruth Silbowitz (the daughter of Benjamin Silbowitz and Yetta Schklar/Sklar). Ruth was born in New York, to Latvian Jewish parents. Benjamin was born in Dvinsk, the son of Chaim Nosson/Nathan Zelbowitz and Fruma Gore. Yetta was the daughter of Jackob Schklar and Seroh Domge. Jake likely shares a recent ancestor with actor Logan Lerman through Jake’s Silbowitz line; his ancestors were listed on the same Zelbovitz family site as Logan’s Zelbovitz line.

Sources: Genealogies of Jake Gyllenhaal – http://www.geni.com

Genealogies of Jake Gyllenhaal (focusing on his father’s side) – http://www.wargs.com

Marriage record of Jake’s paternal great-great-grandparents, Anders Leonard Gyllenhaal and Selma Amanda Nelson – https://www.familysearch.org

Death records of Jake’s paternal great-great-grandparents, Anders Leonard Gyllenhaal and Selma Amanda Nelson – https://www.findagrave.com

Jake’s paternal grandmother, Virginia Lowrie/Lowry Childs, on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org

Jake’s paternal great-grandmother, Olivia Hughes Waelchli, on the 1900 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org

Genealogy of Jake’s paternal great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth Alena/Elena/Alma (Hughes) Waelchli – https://www.findagrave.com

JWeekly column mentioning Jake’s Jewish heritage – http://www.jweekly.com


Curious about ethnicity

42 Responses

  1. gudrun says:

    he is aging terribly. is he a heavy smoker? a lot of men are at their prime in their 40s (Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Jared Leto, Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck, etc were all at their peak of hotness in their 40s)

  2. Thenabster says:

    He looks sorta Middle Eastern.

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