Jennifer Aniston

Aniston in 2011, Helga Esteb /

Place of Birth: Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, California, United States

Date of Birth: February 11, 1969

*father – Greek
*mother – Scottish, Italian-Arbëreshë/Albanian, English, possibly Irish

Jennifer Aniston is an American actress, director, producer, and businessperson. She is known for her roles in Leprechaun, Friends, The Good Girl, Office Space, Bruce Almighty, and Office Christmas Party, among many other works. She is the daughter of Greek-born actor John Aniston (born Yiannis Anitios Anastasakis) and American-born actress Nancy Dow. Her half-brother is assistant director and second-unit director John T. Melick III.

Jennifer’s father was a friend of actor Telly Savalas. Savalas was Jennifer’s godfather. Jennifer’s mother was of one quarter Italian-Arbëreshë (Albanian), as well as of Scottish, and some English, descent; some of her ancestors were from Canada. Jennifer was raised in New York City.

On Inside the Actors Studio (2011), Jennifer stated that her mother also had Irish, as well as “a little splash of Greek,” ancestry; it is not clear where on her mother’s family tree Greek ancestry came from. Jennifer’s great-grandfather’s surname, Grieco, is a variant of the Italian surname Greco, which literally means “Greek.” The name may occur among the Arbëreshë.

Jennifer’s paternal grandfather was Antonios John Anastassakis (the son of John Anastassakis and Helen Metzidaki). Antonios was born on the island of Crete, Greece.

Jennifer’s paternal grandmother was Stella A. Joanna Koume/Mazethek (the daughter of Marcus Koumis and Katina Piplaki). Stella was born on Crete.

Jennifer’s maternal grandfather was Gordon McLean Dow (the son of Francis Dow and Ellen Sarah McLean). Gordon was born in Houlton, Maine. Francis was born in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada, to a Scottish immigrant father, James Dow, and a mother of Scottish descent, Katherine Stewart. Ellen was born in St. Francis, Maine, the daughter of Neil McLean and Mary Henderson; three of Ellen’s grandparents were Scottish immigrants, while Ellen’s maternal grandmother, Sarah Ann Diamond, was born in Campbelltown, New Brunswick, to American parents, who were descended from English emigrants of the Colonial American period.

Jennifer’s maternal grandmother was Louise Mae Grieco (the daughter of Louis Grieco and Mae/May I. Dunbar). Louise was born in New Jersey. In U.S. Censuses, Jennifer’s great-grandfather Louis lists himself as having been born in either Italy or New York; on the 1920 and 1930 U.S. Censuses, Louis states that his parents were born in Albania and spoke Albanian. Jennifer’s mother Nancy wrote in her book, From Mother and Daughter to Friends: A Memoir, 1999, that Louis was born in Mèlito di Porto Salvo, Italy. It is likely that his family was from the Arbëreshë community, ethnic Albanians who lived in Italy. They may have been from Maschito, an Arbëreshë enclave in Basilicata.

Jennifer’s matrilineal great-grandmother Mae/May I. Dunbar was born in Pennsylvania, to parents who were also born in Pennsylvania. It is unclear what Mae’s ancestry was. The surname Dunbar is usually found in Scotland and England.

Jennifer Aniston and Steve Zahn on the Red Carpet for the tiff 08 premiere of Management at Isabel Bader Theater

Aniston with Steve Zahn in 2009, photo credit: christopherharte

Sources: Jennifer’s paternal grandparents, Antonios J. Anastassakis and Stella Joanna Koume/Mazethek, on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Jennifer’s mother’s ancestry –

Jennifer’s mother on the 1940 U.S. Census –

Jennifer’s maternal grandmother, Louise Mae Grieco, on the 1910 U.S. Census –
Louise Mae Grieco on the 1920 U.S. Census –
Louise Mae Grieco on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Genealogies of Jennifer Aniston (incorrectly identify Jennifer’s maternal great-grandparents as Michael Grieco and Carmela Pecoraro) –


Curious about ethnicity

148 Responses

  1. Pegzi says:

    She’s so sweet and pretty

  2. Hill says:

    why don’t racists get banned off this website? Jesus.

  3. madman says:

    Her great-grandfather and his parents spoke Albanian in Italy:

    So I guess the issue is solved.

    • madman says:

      I don’t want to dwell on this point, but I really think we can be sure that Louis Grieco’s parents were ethnic Albanians. This is what the censuses says about him:

      1910: Born in Italy. Parents also born in Italy.
      1920: Born in Italy, spoke Albanian. Parents born in Albania, spoke Albanian.
      1930: Born in New York. Parents born in Albania.

      If he was ethnically Italian, he would’ve never listed his language as Albanian or his parents’ birth places as Albania anywhere, it would say Italy and Italian everywhere. Just because the information varies doesn’t make it more uncertain in my book. The birth places and languages for ethnic minorities sometimes vary between their ethnic homeland and their birth country, or between different sized entities (like Russia and Ukraine).

      In my opinion, it should only say “Arbëreshë/Albanian”, not “Italian or Arbëreshë/Albanian”.

  4. madman says:

    Jennifer has said herself that she is part Italian, and her mother Nancy has written in her book “From Mother and Daughter to Friends: A Memoir”:
    “My maternal grandfather, Louis Grieco, was a hardworking Italian immigrant who came from Melitto, Italy, around the turn of the century.”

    Isn’t this enough to conclude that Louis Grieco was from Italy rather than Albania? I would just put “Italian or Arbëreshë”. If he was not an ethnic Italian it seems more likely he was an ethnic Albanian from Italy than from Albania.

    • Drea K says:

      The Arbereshe ARE Albanians that hundreds of years ago migrated to Southern Italy. They are a people that have completely preserved their Albanian culture even better than most Albanians of modern day Albania whom got screwed over by Turks (except for the Catholic and the Orthodox Albanians). The Arbereshe are actually very proud to be Albanians and Italy has always historically respected and supported this community in its land.

      Does it bother you that she’s part Albanian?

      • madman says:

        I never said that the Arbereshe aren’t Albanians, they clearly are (which I thought I made perfectly clear). I wrote Louis Grieco most likely was from Italy rather than from Albania, therefore “(possibly Arbereshe)” makes less sense than simply “Italian or Arbereshe/Albanian”. And it baffles me that you would think I have something against Albanians for simply making a comment (something that appears to be common on this site).

    • follers says:

      Well, I don’t know, two censuses list their country of birth as “Albania”…

      BTW, where is Melitto, Italy?

      • madman says:

        Isn’t it possible that minorities sometimes listed their birth place as the country of their ethnic origin?

        It appears that there are some towns in Italy called Melito, followed by another or a couple of other words.

        • bablah says:

          The censuses are not always correct. It mostly depends on the person writing it. I’ve seen people listed as speaking Austro-Hungarian on American censuses. If someone says ”We’re Albanian” and nothing else, the census taker will just deduce that they’re from Albania, even if they’re not.

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