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, director, producer, and screenwriter. He is known for playing the lead, Dr. John Dorian, on the series Scrubs.

Zach is a the son of Anne, a clinical psychologist, and Hal Braff, a trial attorney. His siblings are writers Adam J. Braff and Joshua Braff. His step-sister is stand-up comedian Jessica Kirson, as his father married her mother.

Zach’s father was 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). Joseph was born in New Jersey or New York, to Austrian Jewish parents.

Zach’s paternal grandmother was Lee Tanner (the daughter of Louis Taner/Tanner and Sarah Herman). Lee was born in Connecticut, to Russian Jewish parents.

Zach’s maternal grandfather was Howard Arthur Maynard (the son of Fredrick A. Maynard and Elizabeth/Eliza/Lila A. Clowes/Clewes). Howard was born in Cranston, Providence, Rhode Island. 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). Esther was born in Maine. 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 on the 1940 U.S. Census –

Obituary of Zach’s father –

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 –

Birth record of Zach’s maternal grandfather, Howard Arthur Maynard –

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

Zach’s maternal grandmother, Esther Lord Hutchinson, on the 1930 U.S. Census –


Curious about ethnicity

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