Last night I finally found time to curl up in front of the fireplace and read the biography of a favorite actor of mine, Claude Rains. (Image left) My daughter Vienna gave me the book, as we regularly get together and watch his old movies recorded on DVR.

As I made my way through the tales of the years of his youth in London, I came across a name that had surfaced during my Cooke family history research a few months ago:  renowned British actor and theater producer Herbert Beerbohm Tree.

Rains got his start in early 20th century theater working for Tree at his Her Majesty’s Theatre as a page and call boy, and was soon promoted to prompter. At the same time, London actress Roberta E. Munns (born 1876) was a hit on the London stage – specifically Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s Her Majesty’s Theatre stage.  According to Grandfather Cooke’s unpublished autobiography, his Aunt Roberta had become quite famous, most notably starring in the lead in The Eternal City.

Based on these accounts, the Six Degrees of Separation between a film buff (me) and Claude Rains emerges:

1) I married Bill
2) Bill knew his Grandfather
3) Bill’s Grandfather knew Roberta Munns
4) Roberta Munns was prompted on her lines by Claude Rains.

Actually that may just be Four Degrees.  The Invisible Man appears in the Cooke Family History!

Are there Six Degrees of family history separating you from a famous figure or someone you admire?  Post your comments here!

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