Robert Downey, Jr.

67th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Press Room

Downey in 2010, photo via PR Photos

Birth Name: Robert John Downey, Jr.

Place of Birth: Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.

Date of Birth: April 4, 1965

Ethnicity: Ashkenazi Jewish (three eighths), as well as English, Scottish, German, Swiss-German, and Irish

Robert Downey, Jr. is an American actor, musician, and producer, also credited simply as Robert Downey. He starred in many Hollywood films throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and the 21st century, including Good Night, and Good Luck., Zodiac, Tropic Thunder, Back to School, and as Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Robert is the son of actress Elsie Ann (Ford) and director, writer, and actor Robert Downey, Sr. His sister is actress Allyson Downey.

Robert’s father was of one half Lithuanian Jewish, one quarter Irish, and one quarter Hungarian Jewish, ancestry. Robert’s mother had Scottish, English, German, and Swiss-German ancestry. Robert’s father was born with the surname Elias, and later changed his surname to Downey, after his own stepfather. Robert is married to producer Susan Levin Downey; the two married in a Jewish ceremony (Susan is Jewish). Robert has a son with his former wife, singer and actress Deborah Falconer; and two children with Susan.

Robert’s paternal grandfather was Robert R. Elias (the son of Yosef/Joseph/Iosel W. Elias/Eliashovich and Golda/Gussie/Augusta Goldberg). Robert’s grandfather Robert Elias was born in New York. Yosef and Golda were Jewish emigrants, from Lithuania, Yosef from Jonava and Golda from Prienai/Pren. Yosef was the son of Meyer Eliasovitz/Elias/Eliashovich and Bealia/Beylia Cohen. Golda was the daughter of Moses Chies “Morris” Goldberg and Khala/Khaia/Chala Gitel “Ida” Algaze/Algazy.

Robert’s paternal grandmother was Elizabeth Jesse “Betty” McLoughlin/McLauchlen (the daughter of James Robert McLauchlen and Ellenore/Eleanor “Ella” Ormay). Elizabeth, who was a model, was born in New York. Robert’s great-grandfather James was born in Massachusetts, to parents from Canada, John Robert McLauchlen, from New Brunswick, and Jessie Murray, from Nova Scotia, and had Irish ancestry. Robert’s great-grandmother Ellenore was Jewish, and was born in Hungary, the daughter of Rudolph Ormay and Ilke/Ilka Helen Stern. Rudolph’s parents were Herman Ormay and Elizabeth Heiman. Ilke’s parents were Rudolf Stern and Ilke Rosisatier.

Robert’s maternal grandfather was named John Webster “Eddie” Ford (the son of John Ford and Mary). Robert’s grandfather John had Scottish and English ancestry.

Robert’s maternal grandmother was Fay/Faye Marguerite Schoch (the daughter of Cyrus A. Schoch and Elsie May Peightal). Faye was born in Pennsylvania. Cyrus was the son of Henry Lewis Schoch, who was from Bavaria, Germany, and of Catherine/Katherine Schucker, who was also of German origin. Elsie was the daughter of James Peightal and Sarah Ann, who were of German and Swiss-German descent.

Downey in 1990, Creative Commons License photo credit: Alan Light

Sources: Genealogy of Robert Downey, Jr. –

Family history of Robert’s paternal grandfather, Robert R. Elias –

Robert’s paternal grandfather, Robert R. Elias, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

Robert’s paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Jesse “Betty” McLoughlin/McLauchlen, on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Death record of Robert’s paternal great-great-grandfather, Rudolph Ormay –

Death record of Robert’s paternal great-great-grandmother, Ilke/Ilka Helen (Stern) Ormay –

Robert’s maternal grandmother, Fay/Faye Marguerite Schoch, on the 1910 U.S. Census –

Genealogy of Robert’s maternal great-grandfather, Cyrus A. Schoch (focusing on his own father’s side) –

Interview with Robert, mentioning his background –


Curious about ethnicity

70 Responses

  1. nnnnn says:

    Ridiculous actor.

    • nnnnn says:

      Dear Follers, if you didn’t see smth, it doesn’t mean,
      this smth. doesn’t exist.

    • sarahle says:

      His maternal grandmother wasn’t Jewish. Jewish laws say that being jewish comes through mothers blood.period.

      • leslie2 says:

        I have known people who become/were recognized by Non-Jews and Jews alike who were Jewish cultural, and raised, as Jewish by their fathers, at least in Canada.

        • leslie2 says:

          At least in Canada, the large Jewish community and Hebrew community centres/programs for kids and families and etc., thoughs who were and raised Jewish, etc. and follow Jewish traditions for the most part, were Jews, no matter if it was through their mother or father.

        • sarahle says:

          Yes, that’s true. But can’t get it.

          • sarahle says:

            Well, I think it’s different handled from community to community. Sefardi or Mizrahi communities are stricter. We couldn’t accept that. Secular Sefardi communities are like orthodox Ashkenazi communities LOL

          • leslie2 says:

            Well, again as I said before, I am not Jewish. I am Native(Indigenous)-Canadian. I can only go by what people have told me and from what I have seen and researched.

            Regardless of what you believe, that is your OWN opinion and you are entitled to it. As are the other communities and their rules. If they have Jewish ancestry (which is recent from their grandparents, parents, or one parent, then why can they not be seen as Jews, if they speak the language, follow the Torah, help Jewish society, and were raised in Jewish communities?) As a Jew, you should be more accepting of Fellow Jews and there ways, as I believe that is what the Torah teaches. :) If they are Jewish in their spirit and in their blood (recent) it should not matter.

          • sarahle says:

            I would accept them – sure! I am not strict myself, but I just mean by the fact what being Jewish means today is worthless.

          • leslie2 says:

            Again that is your opinion, but I think people who have no connection to being Jewish, in spirit, religion, heart, don’t seem themselves as being Jewish, or raised as such,and it is a past thing,(way far down the line)then I can agree with you, But do not put-down thoughs who are recent and involved in helping Jewish-society and have one-two Jewish parents who raised them with Jewish values, their religion, their language and their ways.
            The people who have no connection to this, feel free to question them on their religion and their authenticity , its like anything, are we serious about claiming 1/1000th race or religion? thoughs people are a joke and i agree in that sense.

          • leslie2 says:

            Part of being Jewish, and they’ve been through alot, and Jewish have always been tolerant, and Judaism, is what you live, and not just(like anything or anybody) you may be born into Judaism, but not all embrace or live a Jew.. so is that make you a Jew?

            Being a Jew means living by the Torah, living through their ways, etc.

            Thats what i means to me, atleast.

          • sarahle says:

            I’ve never said I wouldn’t support any person who feels connected with Judaism. I welcome every person and feel glad if families (without Jewish mother) follow Judaism in any way. I don’t need a moral apostle showing me being more tolerant because “Judaism was always a tolerant religion”… People should stop thinking in general. Judaism had develop in different ways. There are Ashkenazim, Mizrahim, Sefardim, Teimanim, “Falashas”…. We all practice Judaism in different ways and we actually THINK in different ways. We’ve adapted cultural influences from the different countries we came from. The point is I grew up with a different view of being jewish than an Ashkenazim. This has NOTHING to do with not being “tolerant”… tolerant… I think we Jews tolerate a lot of things in past, others beside Judaism even didn’t start being tolerant yet…

      • sarahle says:

        But yes, I understand your opinion. That’s the right way of thinking.

  2. levangelista36 says:


  3. Mac says:

    Doesn’t look German or British at all, and not really Irish I don’t get it !!!! he should have somewhat of a native american admixture i thought but……..

  4. KnowItall says:

    Jewish is not just a religion; it IS also an ethnicity.

  5. dildoz says:

    Jewish is a religion.

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