Joseph Gordon-Levitt


Gordon-Levitt in 2012, photo by Debby Wong/

Birth Name: Joseph Leonard Gordon-Levitt

Place of Birth: Los Angeles, California, United States

Date of Birth: February 17, 1981

Ethnicity: Ashkenazi Jewish

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an American actor, filmmaker, singer, and entrepreneur. He is known for playing Tommy on the television series 3rd Rock from the Sun, as well as for his roles in the films 10 Things I Hate About You, (500) Days of Summer, 50/50, and The Dark Knight Rises.

Joseph is the son of Jane Gordon and Dennis Levitt. His brother was photographer and fire spinner Daniel Gordon-Levitt, and his maternal grandfather was director Michael Gordon. Joseph is married to businessperson Tasha McCauley, with whom he has two children.

Joseph’s parents are both Jewish. His father’s family were Russian Jews and Polish Jews, while his mother’s family were Lithuanian Jews, Romanian Jews, and Russian Jews. A picture of Joseph’s parents can be seen here.

Joseph’s paternal grandfather was Milton R. Levitt (born Milton Levitz, the son of Louis Levitz and Fraudel “Fannie” Isaacson). Milton was born in Ohio, to Russian Jewish parents. Louis’s parents were Meyer Levitz and Lena Friedsohn (the daughter of Nathan Friedsohn and Rachel). Joseph’s great-grandmother Fraudel was the daughter of Dave Isaacson and Irene/Lena Ida/Riva Feinstock. While census records list Fraudel as having been born in Russia, one source states that Fraudel was born in then-Ottoman Palestine, in 1894. At the time, known as the First Aliyah, many Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe had moved to the area.

Joseph’s paternal grandmother was Celia Roth (the daughter of F. Charles Roth and Fanny/Fradel Mekel). Celia was born in Pennsylvania, to Polish Jewish parents. Fanny was the daughter of Boruch Mekel and Sarah.

Joseph’s maternal grandfather was film director Michael Gordon (born Irving Kunin Gordon, the son of Paul Gordon and Eva Kunen). Michael was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Paul and Eva were Jewish. They are listed as being born in Russia in some records, Lithuania in another record, and in yet another record, Paul is listed as having been born in Russia, while Eva is listed as having been born in Pennsylvania, to parents who were born in Russia. Paul’s parents were Leyb/Louis Gordon and Rachel Gviemer/Gviener/Greiner.

Joseph’s maternal grandmother was Elizabeth A. Cohn (the daughter of Isaac “Isak” Cohn/Cohen and Mollie Fineberg). Elizabeth was born in Ohio. Isaac was a Romanian Jewish immigrant, the son of Frank/Efraim Cohn and Hanna/Hena. Mollie was a Russian Jewish immigrant.

Gordon-Levitt in 2010, kathclick/

Sources: Genealogies of Joseph Gordon-Levitt –

Marriage record of Joseph’s paternal grandparents, Milton Levitz (later Milton Levitt) and Celia Roth –

Joseph’s paternal grandfather, Milton Levitz, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

Joseph’s paternal grandmother, Celia Roth, on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Joseph’s maternal grandparents, Michael Gordon (“Mickeal Gordon”) and Elizabeth Gordon, on the 1940 U.S. Census –

Joseph’s maternal grandfather, Irving Kunin Gordon (later Michael Gordon), on the 1920 U.S. Census –
Irving Kunin Gordon on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Obituaries of Joseph’s maternal grandfather, Michael Gordon –

Joseph’s maternal grandmother, Elizabeth A. Cohn, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

Joseph is able to speak French and is a self-confessed Francophile. The YouTube link below shows an interview with Joseph on a television show where he speaks French –


Curious about ethnicity

183 Responses

  1. Rekta says:

    He looks Eurasian.

    With a Turkic/Mongolian hat and a horseshoe mustache, he could pass as a Central Asian Turk.

  2. ashash says:

    He looks Jewish.

  3. Shlomo Goldberg says:

    He is an Ashkenazim Prince.

  4. passingtime85 says:

    Jews didn’t originally keep surnames, they usually just used the designations of (insert male first name here) Ben(son of) (parent’s name) or (insert female first name here) Bat(daughter of) (parents name).

    There were only 3 surnames that have been used for the last few thousand years.

    Cohen, Levy, and Israel. Cohen and Levy come in many, many variations. Cohn, Cahn, Cone, Coen, Kohn, Kahn, Katz, Kain, Cain, Cane, etc. Levi, Levin, Levenson, Leven, Levine, Levitt, Levay, Levey, Lever, etc.

    JGL’s original surname of Levitz seems to fit the mold.

  5. jim says:

    Vladimir Lenin, for example was of Ashkenazic Jewish, Yakut, and Slavic Russian ancestry

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