Riley Keough

Riley Keough

Keough in 2010, photo by Prphotos

Birth Name: Danielle Riley Keough

Place of Birth: Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California, United States

Date of Birth: May 29, 1989

*father – Irish, Ashkenazi Jewish, Sephardi Jewish
*mother – German, Norwegian, English, Scottish, along with some French, Irish, Swiss-German, remote Dutch and Danish, possibly other

Riley Keough is an American actress and model. She has starred in the films The Runaways, The Good Doctor, Jack & Diane, Magic Mike, Yellow, Kiss of the Damned, Mad Max: Fury Road, Dixieland, Lovesong, American Honey, The Discovery, We Don’t Belong Here, It Comes at Night, Logan Lucky, Welcome the Stranger, Paterno, The House That Jack Built, Under the Silver Lake, Hold the Dark, Earthquake Bird, The Lodge, The Devil All the Time, Zola, The Guilty (2021), and War Pony, the latter of which she co-directed and co-wrote; and on the shows The Girlfriend Experience, The Terminal List, and Daisy Jones & the Six.

She is the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley, a singer and songwriter, and Danny Keough, a musician. On her mother’s side, Riley is the granddaughter of musician and actor Elvis Presley and actress and businessperson Priscilla Presley.

Riley is married to stuntperson Ben Smith-Petersen, with whom she has a daughter.

Riley has said:

My dad is a little Irish but Mostly Jewish and my mom is Native American and Hillbilly

Riley’s paternal grandfather is named Francis Keough. Francis is of at least part Irish ancestry.

Riley’s paternal grandmother is Janet L. Kohn (the daughter of Robert Samuel Kohn and Miriam Neusteter). Janet was born in Denver, Colorado, and is Jewish. Robert was born in Denver, the son of Samuel E. Kohn, who was born in Illinois, to German Jewish/Hungarian Jewish parents, with roots in Budapest, and of Aimee V./H. Herman, who was of German Jewish descent. Riley’s great-grandmother Miriam was born in Denver, the daughter of Meyer Neusteter, who was born in Austria or in Ohio, to Austrian Jewish parents, with roots in Gorlitz; and of Bernita Greenwald/Greenwold, who was born in Pennsylvania, of German Jewish and English Jewish/Portuguese Jewish [Sephardi] descent. She was the daughter of David Greenwald/Greenwold, who was born in Iowa, to parents from Germany, and of Eva Spats/Spatz; Eva was the daughter of Bernard Spatz, who was born in Germany, and of Miriam Marks, who was of Colonial American Jewish descent.

Riley’s great-great-grandmother Bernita’s line traces to some of the earliest Jews in the U.S., dating to the early 1700s. Through Bernita, Riley is a distant cousin of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo and poet Emma Lazarus. Riley has specified:

One side is from Portugal and is Sephardic Jew, and other side from Eastern Europe, Ashkenazi Jew. My Great Grandfather immigrated in the 1900s from Eastern Europe when he was a boy. And my great Grandmother[‘]s Family were one of the earliest Jews to come to the US in the 1700s.

Riley’s maternal grandfather was Elvis Aaron Presley (the son of Vernon Elvis Presley and Gladys Love Smith). Elvis was born in Tupelo, Lee, Mississippi. Vernon was the son of Jesse/Jessie Dunnan McClowell Presley and Minnie Mae Hood. Gladys was the daughter of Robert Lee Smith and Octavia Lavenia “Dollie” Mansell.

Riley’s maternal grandmother is Priscilla Presley (born Priscilla Ann Wagner, the daughter of James Frederick Wagner and Anna Lillian Iversen). Priscilla was born in Brooklyn, Kings, New York. James was the son of Harold Andrew Wagner, who was of German descent, and of Kathryn Gates Ramsey. Riley’s great-grandmother Anna was the daughter of Albert Henry Iversen, who was born in Egersund, Rogaland, Norway, and of Lorraine Grace Davis, who was born in New London, New London Co., Connecticut, of largely Colonial American (English) descent.

Riley has said:

I had one great grandma who was Creek and one who was full blood Cherokee.

It is not clear if this Creek or Cherokee Native American ancestry has been verified/documented.

Riley’s ancestor, Morning Dove White, who was her maternal great-great-great-great-great-grandmother twice over, is said to have been a Cherokee Native American woman. The story of Morning’s marriage to a caucasian man, William Mansell, Riley’s great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, is known among family researchers. However, it is not clear if any documentary evidence has been produced that Morning Dove White was of Native American ancestry. At least one census entry for Morning Dove White’s son, John Mansell, describes him as “White.” Several other census listings of Morning’s other children list them as “White” as well. Research has shown that it is unlikely that Morning Dove White was a Cherokee, although it is possible that she had ancestry from another tribe. Background information on this can be found here.

There is a claim that Riley’s paternal great-great-great-great-grandmother, said to have been named Nancy J. Burdine, was Jewish. It is possible that Elvis and his family believed this, as well. However, research has shown this claim of Jewish ancestry to be highly unlikely, and that Riley’s great-great-great-great-grandmother was almost certainly a different woman, Celia Anne/Ann Butler. (It is not clear if Nancy Burdine actually existed, much less was Jewish and/or an ancestor of Elvis). Riley’s great-great-great-great-grandfather, Abner Tackett, was not Jewish. Some background information on this can be found here (see “24. Blue Christmas”) and here (from Jim W. Tackitt, of the Tackett Family Association).

Riley does have Jewish heritage from her father’s side, as stated.

Riley is an eigth cousin, once removed, of actress Britt Robertson. Riley’s maternal eight times great-grandparents, Andreas “Andrew” Preslar and Antje “Ann” Wells, were also the seven times great-grandparents of Britt Robertson.

She is also a half-cousin, once removed, of actor, producer, and podcast host Kash Hovey. Riley’s maternal great-grandmother, Anna Lillian Iversen, was also Kash’s maternal grandmother.

Sources: Genealogy of Riley Keough –

Genealogy of Riley’s paternal grandmother, Janet L. Kohn (through her own sister) –

Obituary of Riley’s paternal great-aunt (grandmother’s sister) –

Genealogies of Riley’s paternal great-grandparents, Robert Samuel Kohn and Miriam Neusteter –

Riley’s paternal great-grandfather, Robert Samuel Kohn, on the 1910 U.S. Census –
Robert Samuel Kohn on the 1920 U.S. Census –
Robert Samuel Kohn on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Marriage record of Riley’s paternal great-great-grandparents, Samuel E. Kohn and Aimee V./H. Herman –

Riley’s paternal great-grandmother, Miriam Neusteter, on the 1920 U.S. Census –
Miriam Neusteter on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Riley’s paternal great-great-grandparents, Meyer Neusteter and Bernita Greenwald/Greenwold, on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Riley’s paternal great-great-grandfather, Meyer Neusteter, on the 1910 U.S. Census –

Riley’s paternal great-great-grandmother, Bernita Greenwald/Greenwold, on the 1900 U.S. Census –
Bernita Greenwald/Greenwold on the 1910 U.S. Census –

Genealogy of Riley’s paternal great-great-great-great-grandmother, Miriam (Marks) Spatz –

Genealogy of Riley’s mother –

Discussion of Riley’s maternal grandfather, Elvis Presley’s, possible Native American ancestry –

Genealogies of Riley’s maternal grandfather, Elvis Aaron Presley –

Riley’s maternal great-great-great-great-grandfather, John Mansell, on the 1850 U.S. Census –

Marriage record of Riley’s maternal great-great-great-grandparents, A. White Mansell and Martha Tackett –

Genealogy of Riley’s maternal great-great-great-grandmother, Martha Tackett –

Death record of Riley’s maternal great-great-great-great-uncle (great-great-great-grandmother’s brother), Sidney Tackett –
Death record of Riley’s maternal great-great-great-great-uncle (great-great-great-grandmother’s brother), Jerome L. Tackett –

Riley’s maternal great-great-great-great-grandfather, Abner Tackett, on the 1870 U.S. Census –

Riley’s maternal great-grandfather, James Frederick Wagner, on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Riley’s maternal great-great-grandmother, Lorraine Grace Davis, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

2 Responses

  1. JackB says:

    Keough is an Irish surname and often those who gravitate to Irish identity try to reinforce their Irishness by given Irish surnames as first names, hence Riley.
    However, she is predominantly mixed Jewish from her dad, Danny Keoughs side. Even though again the name Danny is an example of gravitating towards some Irish identity.
    Irish identity is again a very popular identity due to its considered characteristics. Native American seems to be the overriding identity though which many claim though. It has many similar characteristics as the Irish identity but the big draw which it has and no other identities possess is the sense of belonging to the land in America and being native to the place. No other identity can offer that.

  2. andrew says:

    Elvis’granddaughter? That is amazing.

    Agree with her about her mother’s background. Redneck sounds better than hillbilly though.

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