Russell Crowe

Crowe in 2010, photo by Joe Seer /

Birth Name: Russell Ira Crowe

Place of Birth: Wellington, New Zealand

Date of Birth: 7 April, 1964

Ethnicity: Welsh, English, Scottish, Irish, approx. one eighth Māori, 1/16th Norwegian, 1/16th Swedish, 1/32 German, 1/32 Italian

Russell Crowe is a New Zealand-Australian actor, film producer, and musician. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for Gladiator (2000). His films also include Proof (1991), Romper Stomper, The Quick and the Dead, Virtuosity, L.A. Confidential, Heaven’s Burning, Mystery, Alaska; The Insider, Proof of Life, A Beautiful Mind, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Cinderella Man, A Good Year, 3:10 to Yuma, American Gangster, Body of Lies, Tenderness, State of Play, Robin Hood (2010), The Next Three Days, The Man with the Iron Fists, Les Misérables (2012), Man of Steel, Winter’s Tale, Noah (2014), The Nice Guys, The Mummy (2017), Boy Erased, Unhinged, The Greatest Beer Run Ever, and The Pope’s Exorcist. He also directed and starred in the films The Water Diviner and Poker Face.

He was born in Wellington, New Zealand, to New Zealand parents, Jocelyn Yvonne (Wemyss) and John Alexander Crowe, who were film set caterers. His father also ran a hotel. He was raised in Sydney, Australia, from the age of four. Russell’s maternal grandfather, Stan Wemyss, MBE, was a prominent cinematographer. Russell has two children with his former wife, actress, singer, and songwriter Danielle Spencer. Danielle is the daughter of entertainer Don Spencer. Russell and Danielle starred together in the film The Crossing in 1990.

Russell’s father is of Welsh, Scottish, Norwegian, Swedish, and likely English and Irish, descent. Russell’s maternal grandfather was born to a father of Scottish, English, and German ancestry, and to an almost entirely Māori mother, Erana Putiputi Hayes Heihi, making Russell Crowe of approx. one eighth Māori ancestry; he identifies with Ngāti Porou. Russell’s maternal grandmother had Scottish, English, Irish, and one eighth Italian, ancestry.

His uncle (father’s brother) was cricketer Dave Crowe. He is a cousin of cricketers Martin Crowe and Jeff Crowe, who are Dave’s sons. Russell has co-owned National Rugby League (NRL) team South Sydney Rabbitohs since 2006.

Russell’s paternal grandfather was John Doubleday Crowe (the son of William Frederick Crowe and Keziah Marie Davies). John was Welsh, born in Wrexham, Denbighshire, Wales, and later moved to New Zealand. John likely had some English and Irish ancestry, along with Welsh. Russell’s great-grandfather William was the son of Henry Richard Crowe and Sarah Ellen Luggar. Russell’s great-grandmother Keziah was the daughter of Francis Davies and Elizabeth Hannah Doubleday.

Russell’s paternal grandmother was Lois Catherine Jean Cunningham (the daughter of James Cunningham and Maria Kristie “Gangy” Johaneson). Lois was born in Petone, Lower Hutt, Lower Hutt City, Wellington, New Zealand. James was the son of Alex Cunningham and Johanna Fraser, and had Scottish, and probably Irish, ancestry. Maria’s father, Johannes Johansen, was Norwegian, and Maria’s mother, Martha Olofsdotter, was Swedish.

Russell’s maternal grandfather was Stanley James Taihoa Ira/Iria Wemyss (the son of Athol Stanley Wemyss and Erana Putiputi Hayes Heihi). Russell’s grandfather Stanley was born in Carterton, Wellington, New Zealand. Athol’s father, Stanley James Wemyss, was born in Ladhope, Roxburgh, Scotland. Athol’s mother, Hannah Elizabeth Crowe, was born in Croydon, Surrey, England, to an English father, Robert Crowe, and a German mother, Katerine/Katherine Harriette Fried, from Kirn, Prussia. Russell’s great-grandmother Erana was Māori, the daughter of Hone/John Hayes Heihi and Harata/Whainoa Poiwa Te Moko.

Russell’s maternal grandmother was Esmee Jocelyn/Joycelyn Burns (the daughter of John Burns and Rhoda Major). Esmee was born in Wellington, New Zealand. John was the son of a Scottish father, John Burns, and of an English mother, Clara/Clarice Jane Henley. Rhoda was born in Wellington, New Zealand, the daughter of Frederick Major and Annie Ghezzie, whose own father, Luigi Ghezzi, was born in Parma, Emilia-Romagna, Italy, and whose own mother had roots in Limerick, Ireland.


Genealogies of Russell Crowe –

Notes on Russell’s Welsh ancestry –

Notes on Russell’s German maternal great-great-great-grandmother, Katerine Harriette Fried –


Curious about ethnicity

44 Responses

  1. michaelthompson says:

    Is he a white person? He’s usually perceived as such.

  2. Heather Gray says:

    Luigi Ghezzi was my Great Grand Father too. My Great grandfather was Joseph who was Russels Grandmother Anastasia or Annie’s sister. I have loads of interesting information on the Ghezzies.

  3. jackson9 says:

    Russell Crowe is at least 1/32 Italian. He is the son of Yvonne Wemyss, the daughter of Esmee J Burns, the daughter of Rhoda Major (1892-1978), the daughter of Annie Ghezzie (1861-1929), the daughter of Luigi Ghezzi and Mary Ann Lauire Curtain. Luigi was born in Sandino, Italy and died in New Zealand. (1829-1917).

    • andrew says:

      Wow. That is interesting because not many Italians moved to NZ. Luigi Ghezzi appears to have roots in Parma (Ghezzi is typical Northern Italian surname) and his wife in Limerick, Ireland. The couple married in Cape Town, South Africa. There is plenty of material about them.

      Sandino or Borgo, Sandino do not exist. The man went from Italy to Argentina, then to India but ended in SA, where he met the Irish lady with whom moved to NZ. And there you have the Gladiator.

      Cool story.

  4. andrew says:

    He is less than 1/8 Maori because Erana Putiputi Hayes Heihi descended to John Hayes, an Englishman.

    • comrade says:

      So Russell’s more like 7/64th Māori?

      Erana herself was only 1/8th English.

      • andrew says:

        I am not that good at math. I guess a “around/approx. 1/8 Māori” editing by mods for Russell.

        • comrade says:

          7/64th = 10.94%. So Russell is 10.94% Māori as opposed to 1/8th (=12.50% Māori). Not to sound too pedantic but maybe write it in percentages?

          73.44% British Isles (Welsh, English, Scottish and Irish)
          10.94% Māori
          6.25% Norwegian
          6.25% Swedish
          3.125% German
          possibly distant Italian

          Not sure if that 1.56% not Māori makes any difference? What do you think?

  5. andrew says:

    his paternal uncle (father’s brother) was cricketer Dave Crowe. Dave’s sons, cricketers Martin Crowe and Jeff Crowe, are Russell’s cousins. Martin played for New Zealand National Cricket Team.

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