Jenna Elfman

Jenna Elfman

Elfman in 2013, photo by DFree/

Birth Name: Jennifer Mary Butala

Place of Birth: Los Angeles, California, United States

Date of Birth: September 30, 1971

*father – Croatian
*mother – English, Scottish, German

Jenna Elfman is an American actress. She is the daughter of Susan (Grace) and Richard Gregory Butala. Her uncle (father’s brother) is singer Tony Butala (Anthony Francis Butala), the lead singer of the pop trio The Lettermen. Jenna is married to actor Bodhi Elfman, who is the son of filmmaker Richard Elfman and the nephew of composer and musician Danny Elfman. The couple has two children.

Jenna’s paternal grandfather was John George Butala (the son of Miko/Michael John Butala and Helen Sinkovich). Jenna’s grandfather John was born in Pennsylvania, to Croatian parents. Miko was the son of Michael Butala and Mary Drost. Helen was the daughter of George Andrew Sinkovich and Mary Birskovich.

Jenna’s paternal grandmother was Mary Ann Ference (the daughter of Joseph Peter Ference and Helen Gladich). Mary Ann was born in Pennsylvania, to Croatian parents. Joseph was the son of Ivan Ferenac and Magdalena Povina.

Jenna’s maternal grandfather was Thomas Logan Grace (the son of Jackson Marion Grace and Sarah C. Shaw). Thomas was born in Nebraska. Jackson was the son of Elijah/Elisha Grace and Sarah A. Laird. Jenna’s great-grandmother Sarah Shaw was the daughter of Joseph Henry Shaw and Rachel Trosper.

Jenna’s maternal grandmother was Susan Mildred Hart (the daughter of Enos Bernard Hart and Lucia Blanche/Blanch Reaugh/Ray Ertel). Susan was born in Kansas. Enos was the son of Jacob Stansbury B. Hart and Mary Elizabeth Beeson.

Sources: Genealogy of Jenna Elfman –

Jenna’s paternal grandparents, John George Butala and Mary Ann Ference, on the 1930 U.S. Census –


Curious about ethnicity

5 Responses

  1. follers says:

    To La Boricua 54 – Richard Wayne Butala, who was born in 1939 in California, was not Jenna’s father. Richard Wayne Butala died in 2012, and was married to Virginia Chapin.

    This is the correct genealogy for Jenna’s father (the one already listed here).

    So her grandmother’s surname was not “Gleason”. And her father’s name is Richard G. Butala.

  2. La Boricua 54 says:


    Jennifer Mary Butala IS mostly of Croation descent by way of her Father’s side. Per the CBI her father is Richard Wayne Butala. He was born in LA County on 7-12-1939. His Mother’s maiden name is listed as Gleason. (This is confusing to me, but the birth dates match what is found on other websites)

    Her father’s mother (her grandmother) was named Mary, so most likely she was given the middle name of Mary for 2 reasons: 1) to honor her grandmother and 2) honor The Blessed Mother- AKA- Mary, the Mother of Jesus. The majority of Croations are Roman Catholic Christians and from the start of Christianity until the 70’s it was customary to give the name Mary to as many of one’s children as possible.

    Per the California Birth Index Jenna’s birth certificate lists her MOTHER’S MAIDEN NAME AS: (Sue) Grace. This surname is usually associated with those of English ancestry.


    Although Jenna was raised Roman Catholic, she and her husband Bodhi have been active members of Scientology for many years now.

    Per the CBI, Jenna has 2 older siblings: Deborah S, born 12/6/1957 and Richard T, born 3/7/1961.

    REGARDING JENNA’S FAMOUS UNCLE: He is Anthony (Tony) Francis Butala, the lead singer for the group The Lettermen. He is the ONLY remaining original member. His father’s name was John & his mother’s name was Mary. Mary was a nurse. He has 10 siblings. The family hails from Pennsylvania. It appears his parents were born in the US, making Jenna a 3rd generation American. However, per accounts, his grandparents immigrated to the US from Croatia. One of his grandfathers is named MIKO.

    INFO: Wikipedia, IMDb & California Birth Index – Tony Butala, Mary Butala, Jenna Elfman and general surname of Butala.

  3. La Boricua 54 says:

    5/20/13 CORRECTION TO STATEMENT “NO RELATED CELEBS FOUND”: According to the websites Wikipedia & IMGd, Jenna Elfman has been married to Bodhi Elfman since 1991. They have one son together. She is RELATED BY MARRIAGE to the director RICHARD ELFMAN (Bohdi’s father) and she is niece by marriage to musician/composer/actor & former OINGO BOINGO front-man DANNY ELFMAN. (Danny has composed probably 100 full motion picture scores & is currently married to his SECOND wife … Bridget Fonda. This also makes Jenna related by marriage to ALL the Fonda’s). It’s a small world.

    • ethnic says:

      sorry, related celebs means people with similar backgrounds not relatives of the celeb. I think I will change that text.


      • La Boricua 54 says:

        5/22/13 CORRECTION TO MY POST: Jenna & Bodhi have TWO children.(oops! My bad). First child – Story Elias Elfman, born 2007. Second child – Easton Quinn Monroe, born 2010. Also, thanks for clarifying the phrase “related celebs.” I agree it can cause confusion. Maybe “ethnically similar” could be an option.

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