Zach Braff

Zach Braff

Braff in 2013, photo by kathclick/

Birth Name: Zachary I. Braff

Place of Birth: South Orange, New Jersey, U.S.

Date of Birth: April 6, 1975

*Ashkenazi Jewish (father)
*English, Irish, Scottish (mother, who converted to Judaism)

Zach Braff is an American actor, writer, director, comedian, and producer. He is known for playing the lead, Dr. John Dorian, on the series Scrubs. His siblings are writers Adam J. Braff and Joshua Braff. His step-sister is comedian Jessica Kirson.

Zach’s father is from a Jewish family that immigrated from Austria and Russia. Zach’s mother is of English, Irish, and Scottish, descent; much of her genealogy traces back to Colonial America of the 1600s, in New England. Zach’s mother converted to Judaism when marrying Zach’s father (Zach’s mother likely had an Orthodox or Conservative conversion). Zach had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony in a Conservative synagogue.

Zach’s paternal grandfather was Joseph N. Braff (the son of Herman/Harry Braff and Lena Laurich). Harry and Lena were Jewish immigrants from Austria.

Zach’s paternal grandmother was Lee Tanner (the daughter of Louis Taner/Tanner and Sarah Herman). Louis and Sarah were Jewish immigrants from Russia.

Zach’s maternal grandfather was Howard Arthur Maynard (the son of Fredrick A. Maynard and Elizabeth/Eliza/Lila A. Clowes/Clewes). Elizabeth was the daughter of William Alfred Clowes, who was Irish, and of Eliza Amelia Lindsay, whose parents were Scottish.

Zach’s maternal grandmother was Esther Lord Hutchinson (the daughter of Chester Arthur Hutchinson and Gladys Etta McMurray). Chester was the son of Frederick Everett Hutchinson and Georgianna/Georgia Ann Lord. Gladys was the daughter of John Gregory McMurray and Octavia Elizabeth Grant.

Through Zach’s mother, Zach is a descendant of Rebecca Towne Nurse (1621-1692), one of the women falsely accused of witchcraft and hung because of this, at Salem, Massachusetts. Zach is a ninth cousin of politician Mitt Romney. Both Zach and Mitt are the eight times great-grandchildren of Rebecca Towne, and of her husband, Francis Nurse.

Sources: Zach’s father, Harold Braff, on the 1940 U.S. Census –

Zach’s paternal grandfather, Joseph N. Braff, on the 1910 U.S. Census –

Zach’s paternal great-grandparents, Louis Taner/Tanner and Sarah Herman, on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Genealogy of Zach’s maternal grandmother, Esther Lord Hutchinson –


Curious about ethnicity

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