Peter Ustinov

Birth Name: Peter Alexander Freiherr von Ustinov

Date of Birth: 16 April, 1921

Place of Birth: Belsize Park, London, England

Date of Death: 28 March, 2004

Place of Death: Genolier, Vaud, Switzerland

*50% Russian
*12.5% Ashkenazi Jewish
*12.5% German
*12.5% Italian
*6.25% Ethiopian [Sub-Saharan African] and Portuguese
*6.25% French

Peter Ustinov was a British actor, humorist, writer, dramatist, filmmaker, theatre and opera director, television presenter, stage designer, comedian, newspaper and magazine columnist, and radio broadcaster. He twice won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for Spartacus (1960) and Topkapi (1964). He also played Hercule Poirot in several films.

Peter’s father, Iona von Ustinov (known as “Klop”), was born in Jaffa, Israel, then part of the Ottoman Empire, and was of approximately one half Russian, one quarter Polish Jewish, one eighth German, and one eighth Ehtiopian (including Sub-Saharan African and Portuguese), ancestry. He was a journalist and diplomat for Germany.

Peter’s mother, Nadezhda/Nadeshda/Nadia Leontievna (Benois), was a Russian-born painter. She was of approximately one eighth French, one eighth German, one quarter Italian, and one half Russian, ancestry.

Peter was married to Helene du Lau d’Allemans, until his death. He had a daughter, actress Tamara Ustinov, with his former wife Isolde Denham; and three children with his former wife, Canadian actress Suzanne Cloutier. Tamara was the half-niece of actress and singer Angela Lansbury; her mother Isolde was the daughter of actors Reginald Denham and Moyna Macgill, who was Angela’s mother.

Peter’s paternal grandfather was Plato Freiherr von Ustinov (born Platon Grigorivich/Grigorievich Ustinov, the son of Grigori/Grigorij Mikhailovich/Mihailovich Ustinov/Oustinov and Maria Ivanovna Panshina). Platon was born in Russia, of Russian ancestry. Grigori was the Russian consul in Hong Kong. He was the son of Mikhail/Mihail Adrianovich/Andrianovich Ustinov/Oustinov and Varvara Guerassimovna Ossorgina or Marfa Andreevna Veshnyakova.

Peter’s paternal grandmother was Magdalena Hall (the daughter of Moritz Hall and Katharina Zander). Magdalena was born in Magdala, Ethiopia. Moritz was born in Krakow, Poland; Moritz is said to been a Jewish-born convert to Christianity. Katharina was born in Ethiopia. Katharina was the daughter of Christoph Eduard Zander, who was born in Kothen, Germany, and of Woizero Essete/Isette Work/Verq Meqado de Choa, who was an Ethiopian (of Sub-Sarahn African and Portuguese descent), and was the daughter of Meqado.

Peter’s maternal grandfather was Leontij/Leontiy/Leon Ludovic Nikolaevich Benois (the son of Nikolai Leontievich/Leontievitch Benois and Camilla Albertovna/Albertnova Cavos). Leontij, a prominent architect, was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Nikolai was born in Russia, the son of Louis Jules Caesar Auguste Leontie Benois, who was French (born in Brie, St-Ouen-sur-Morin), and came to Russia during the French Revolution of the late 1700s, and of Anna/Anne Katarina/Catherine Christina Concordia Groppe, who had German ancestry. Peter’s great-grandmother Camilla was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Camilla’s father, Alberto Cavos (Alberto Catterinovich Cavos), was a prominent architect, who built the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow; he was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, to Italian parents, Catterino Albertovich Camillo Cavos (a famous composer) and Camilla Baglioni/Bagnoni. Camilla’s mother, Peter’s great-great-grandmother, was Aloysia/Aloisa Carolina Carobio, who was also of Italian ancestry, and was born in Venice.

Peter’s maternal grandmother was Maria Alexandrovna Sapjhnkoff/Sapojnikova (the daughter of Alexander Sapojnikov and Nina Alexandrovna Kozachenko). Peter’s grandmother Maria Alexandrovna was of Russian ancestry. Peter’s great-grandfather Alexander was the son of Alexander Petrovich Sapojnikov/Sapozhnikov and Pelageya Ivanovna Rostovtseva. Peter’s great-grandmother Nina was the daughter of Alexander Petrovich Kozachenko and Ekaterina Nikiforovna Yavlensky.

Sources: Genealogies of Peter Ustinov –


Curious about ethnicity

17 Responses

  1. andrew says:

    Peter’s mother was a Russian painter and Peter’s father was a German journalist and diplomat (Jaffa was part of the Ottoman Empire).

    Alberto Cavos was a prominent architect (he was the builder of Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow). Leon Benois was also a prominent architect.

  2. madman says:

    I’d just write:
    *6.25% Ethiopian and Portuguese
    I think ethnicities made up of ethnicities should be reserved to the new world (Mexicans, Brazilians, Jamaicans etc.)

  3. Fatmonkey says:

    His “Ethiopian” paternal ancestress, Wayzaro Esette Work Meqado de Choa, was allegedly descended from Portuguese colonists, not original Ethiopians. Page 45 in the following source:

    • follers says:

      Are you saying his Ethiopian great-great-grandmother had no Sub-Saharan African ancestry at all?

      • Fatmonkey says:

        Perhaps somewhat clumsy on my part, I meant to say she did have partial native Ethiopian ancestry (i.e. through her maternal ancestors) but the patrilinear ancestry of her father, Johannes Meqado de Choa, appears to have led to people of Portuguese rather than African ethnicity. In the same manner, e.g., in which the British politician, Desmond de Silva, is considered to be of Sri Lankan nationality but of distant patrilinear (though not total) Portuguese ancestry.

        All that said, I was planning to research the family tree of the British record producer and Shania Twain’s former husband, Mutt Lange, who is also descended from European colonists in South Africa. I think (I don’t know how precisely, perhaps you might possibly advise me) I found the trace of some relatives of his on ‘wikitree’.

  4. fuzzybear44 says:


    (ethopian ?????????????????)

    Yes,you’ve never seen this before?

  5. Anita says:

    Again, the first 5 listings are European so just say he is biracial.

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