Robert Schenkkan

Schenkkan in 2016, photo by kathclick/

Birth Name: Robert Frederick Schenkkan, Jr.

Place of Birth: Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S.

Date of Birth: March 19, 1953

*father – Ashkenazi Jewish, Sephardi Jewish
*mother – English, Scottish

Robert Schenkkan is an American playwright, screenwriter, and actor. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play The Kentucky Cycle (1992), and the Tony Award for Best Play for All the Way (2014). He has co-written the films The Quiet American (2002) and Hacksaw Ridge, written the mini-series The Andromeda Strain (2008), and co-written the mini-series The Pacific (2010).

Robert is the son of Jean Gregory (McKenzie) and Robert Frederic “Bob” Schenkkan, Sr., a professor at the University of Texas at Austin. His father worked on passing the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. Robert’s nephew, brother’s son, is actor Ben McKenzie.

Robert’s father was from a Dutch Jewish family, and had Ashkenazi and Sephardi ancestry, including more distant German Jewish, English Jewish, French Jewish, Italian Jewish, Iranian Jewish, and Polish Jewish, ancestors. He was, however, most likely raised Catholic. His own parents, Robert’s paternal grandparents, likely converted from Judaism to Catholicism. Robert’s mother had English, and some Scottish, roots.

Robert has two children with his former wife Mary Anne Dorward.

Robert’s patrilineal line can be traced to Abraham Juda Schenkkan-Levie, who was born, c. 1781, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and to Abraham’s parents, Juda Eliaser Levie and Roosje Isaac, who were born in Stuttgart, Germany.

Robert’s paternal grandfather was Jozef/Joseph Schenkkan (the son of Levie Hyman Schenkkan and Roosje Ensel). Jozef was born in Amsterdam, to a Jewish family. Levie was the son of Hijman Abraham Schenkkan and Judic Levie Smit. Roosje was the daughter of Mozes Joseph Ensel and Sara Joseph Rimini, whose father was born in London, England.

Robert’s paternal grandmother was Flora/Flortje Josephine/Josefina Van Der Zyl/Zijl (the daughter of John/Izak/Isaac Van Deziel/der Zijl and Anna Eva/Theresia Wolf). Flora was born in Amsterdam, to a Jewish family. John was born in Groningen, the son of Jacob Comprecht van der Zijl and Carolina Pinias van der Velde. Anna was the daughter of Levie Wolf, who was born in Nijmegen, Netherlands, and of Rosette Levij, who was born in Koblenz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

Robert’s great-aunt, Martha van der Zijl, died in Auschwitz, in 1943. Martha was the sister of Robert’s grandmother, Flora/Flortje Josephine/Josefina Van Der Zyl/Zijl.

Robert’s maternal grandfather was Francis Clement “Frank” McKenzie (the son of Robert Ernest McKenzie and Julia Adelia Selvidge). Francis was born in Georgia.

Robert’s maternal grandmother was Lallie Beall Keese (the daughter of William Shelton Keese and Lucille M. “Lucy” Beall). Lallie was born in Georgia.

Sources: Genealogy of Robert Schenkkan (focusing on his father’s side) –

Genealogy of Robert’s father –

Robert’s father on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Obituary of Robert’s father –

Robert’s mother on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.