Joe Manganiello’s DNA Deep-Dive Unveils His Great-Grandmother’s Harrowing Escape From Genocide


Leena Nasir Entertainment Reporter
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“Magic Mike” star Joe Manganiello told the harrowing tale of his great-grandmother’s escape from the Armenian Genocide on the PBS show “Finding Your Roots.”

Manganiello discovered his great-grandmother became his only surviving ancestor from that time period, as Turkish assailants invaded her home in 1915, according to a clip of Tuesday’s episode obtained and shared by People prior to its release.

“The Turks came into her home in 1915 under the guise of World War I and tried to enact the genocide that they had begun,” he told host Henry Louis Gates Jr. during the episode. “They shot her husband: dead. Shot her. She laid on the ground, pretended that she was dead while seven other gunshots that went off, which were her seven children.”

“Finding Your Roots” examines the DNA of famous people and allows them to trace their ancestry. Manganiello went on to say his great-grandmother played dead in order to survive the Turks’ attack.

“She laid there unmoving, and the Turks left the house and left the eighth child, who was an infant in the crib, to starve to death, which is just the way that they did business,” he continued.

His great-grandmother strapped her only surviving child to her back and fled the town, according to Manganiello.

“For people who don’t know, there were these death marches, where they would just handcuff, chain the Armenians together and march them out to the desert, and release the Kurds, give them military coats, horses and guns, to then go do what they wanted with their mortal enemies, the Armenians,” he said. “She escaped that.” (RELATED: ‘My Mind Is Blown’: Famous Actress Julia Roberts Takes DNA Test, Discovers She’s Been Living A Lie Her Entire Life)

The actor’s great-grandmother attempted to swim across the Euphrates river to seek refuge, but discovered her child had drowned on her back during the process, Manganiello said.

“She had a bullet in her still, and she lived in a cave, to my understanding, with other refugees, until she was picked up by German military who were stationed in Turkey at the time because the Turkish government worshipped German military might, so a lot of officers were invited to come spend time in Turkey during the war,” Manganiello told Gates.

He added his great-grandmother became pregnant with a German officer’s child and gave birth to a half-German child, the clip shows.