Mario Van Peebles

Mario Van Peebles at the Los Angeles premiere of "The Manchurian

Van Peebles in 2004, photo by Starfrenzy/

Birth Name: Mario Cain Van Peebles

Place of Birth: Mexico City, Mexico

Date of Birth: January 15, 1957

*father – African-American
*mother – German, English

Mario Van Peebles is an American director and actor. He is known for directing and starring in the films New Jack City, Posse, and Panther (1995), among others.

He is the son of Melvin Van Peebles, an actor, director, screenwriter, playwright, novelist, and composer, also known as Brer Soul and Block; and Maria Marx, an actress and photographer. His father was African-American. His mother is white, of German and English heritage. He has seven children, including, with his former wife, actress Lisa Vitello, actor and rapper Mandela Van Peebles.

Mario has said:

We did our DNA and just found out West Africa, some German, French, British, Spanish and Portuguese.

Mario’s paternal grandfather was named Marion Peebles. Marion was from Birmingham, Alabama.

Mario’s paternal grandmother was named Edwin Griffin. Edwin was from Natchitoches, Louisiana.

Mario’s maternal grandfather was Fritz Morstein Marx, known as F. M. Marx (the son of Ludwig Morstein August Marx and Amanda Plumhof). Fritz was born in Hamburg, Germany, and was a political and administrative scientist. He moved to the U.S. in 1933, because of the rise of the Nazis. Ludwig was the son of Wilhelm Nicolaus Jürgen Marx and Emma Margaretha Hinriette Südhölter. Amanda was the daughter of Friederich/Friedrich Wilhelm Julius Plumhof and Amanda Caroline Henriette Möller.

Mario’s maternal grandmother was Barbara Spackman (the daughter of Henry Spencer Spackman and Jennie Fryer Spencer). Barbara was born in Pennsylvania. Henry was the son of The Rev. Henry Spencer Spackman and Anna Cornelia Elliot. Jennie was the daugher of Robert Smithurst Spencer and Katharine Violetta Fryer.

A DNA test whose results Mario’s daughter Maya displayed on Twitter stated that her genetic ancestry is (Maya’s mother is also of African and European descent):

*56.4% European
*41.4% Sub-Saharan African
——–*38.0% West African
——–*1.9% Central & South African
——–*1.5% Broadly Sub-Saharan African
*1.4% Middle Eastern & North African
*0.3% East Asian & Native American
*0.5% Unassigned

Van Peebles with son Marley in 2013, photo by Prphotos

Sources: Mario writes about his upbringing –

Birth record of Mario’s father –

Genealogy of and biographical information on Mario’s maternal grandfather, Fritz Morstein Marx –


Curious about ethnicity

10 Responses

  1. malina30 says:

    I always thought he had an exotic look to him but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Never would have thought German tho…… his children are all so beautiful. I love his father as well and his work.

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