Winona Ryder

Ryder in 2011, DFree /

Birth Name: Winona Horowitz

Place of Birth: Olmsted, Minnesota, United States

Date of Birth: October 29, 1971

*father – Ashkenazi Jewish
*mother – Belgian/Walloon, English, German, Irish, Swedish

Winona Ryder is an American actress. A Golden Globe winner, she is known for starring in the films Beetlejuice, Mermaids, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Little Women, A Scanner Darkly, and Black Swan, and on Stranger Things, among many other roles.

She was given her first name after a city near her hometown, in Minnesota. Her parents are Cynthia V. (née Istas), an author, video producer, and editor, and Michael D. Horowitz, an author and archivist.

Her father is Jewish (his family emigrated from Romania, Russia, and Belarus). Many of her father’s relatives died in the Holocaust. Winona’s mother’s maiden name, Istas, is found in Belgium. Winona’s mother is of English, Belgian/Walloon, German, Irish, and one eighth Swedish, ancestry.

Winona’s father is an atheist and Winona’s mother is a Buddhist. Winona has identified herself as Jewish, at least in an ethnic sense.

Winona’s paternal grandfather was Sol Horowitz (the son of Louis Jorge Tomchin and Mary Yetta Friedland). Sol was born in Minsk, Belarus, to Jewish parents. His family’s surname was changed from Tomchin to Horowitz. Louis was the son of Leib Tomchin.

Winona’s paternal grandmother was Ethel Frankel (the daughter of Joseph Frankel and Bertha Yuffe). Ethel was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Romanian Jewish parents, from Botoșani. Joseph was the son of Aaron Frankel and Gitza Rivka Godel. Bertha was the daughter of Avram Yuffe and Perla Weidenfeld.

Winona’s maternal grandfather was Everett Frank Istas (the son of William Paul Istas and Edna Frances Bennett). Everett was born in Shawno, Wisconsin. William was born in Wisconsin, the son of a Belgian father, Frank Alphonsius Istas, who had at least partial Walloon ancestry, and of a mother, Ida Zachou/Zachow, who was born in Wisconsin, to German parents, with her own mother being from Bergrade, Parchim, Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Winona’s great-grandmother Edna was born in Collingwood, Simcoe, Ontario, Canada, the daughter of English parents, Eli Brian Bennett, from Ringwood, Hampshire, and Frances Maria/Myva Halfred/Halford, from Ross, Herefordshire.

Winona’s maternal grandmother was Margaret Newman (the daughter of Alger Bernard Newman and Josephine Ford). Margaret was born in Illinois. Alger was the son of Swedish parents, John August Newman and Anna Matilda Johnson. Josephine was the daughter of Frederick D. Ford, who was born in Yorkshire, England, and of Margaret Wiggins.

Sources: Interview with Winona Ryder about her Jewish background –

Genealogy of Winona Ryder –

Winona’s maternal grandfather, Everett Frank Istas, on the 1910 U.S. Census –

Death record of Winona’s maternal grandfather, Everett Frank Istas –

Death record of Winona’s maternal great-great-grandmother, Ida (Zachou/Zachow) Istas –


Curious about ethnicity

32 Responses

  1. jackson9 says:

    She is 1/8th Swedish. maternal grandmother: Margaret Newman, who was the daughter of Alger Bernard Newman (1891-1969) and Josephine Ford (1895-1984). Alger was born in Chicago, to Swedish parents John August Newman and Anna Matilda Johnson. Josephine Ford was born in Chicago to Frederick D. Ford (Yorkshire, England) and Margaret Wiggins (New York). Margaret was of mainly English descent.

  2. ses101 says:

    I can see why she would change her surname. It wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing.

    • RadDaddy says:

      How do you know why Winona changed her name?
      Seems to me you don’t and are once again posing spam.

      Countless non Jewish celebrities use “stage names” and have for a very long time.

  3. bablah says:

    Her maternal grandparents were possibly Everett Frank Istas and Margaret.

    • bablah says:

      *Margaret Colter

      One of Wynona’s uncles has a middle name Everett and he is from Marrinette, Wisc. Margaret Colter was from Marrinette (but born in Illinois). The other uncle is called Douglas (Everett’s brother was called Douglas). After Everett died, I believe she remarried to a man called Robert Yaeger. Robert Yeager is also a name of one of Wynona’s uncles.

  4. Capricious says:

    She’s a cute thief.

  5. everyoneisthesame says:

    Tomchin is Russian surname not Jewish.

Leave a Reply

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