5 Hollywood stars you probably didn′t know had German roots | High Five | DW | 07.11.2017
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High Five

5 Hollywood stars you probably didn't know had German roots

Hollywood is their home, but worldwide fame was merely a dream to their ancestors. Many celebrities have connections to Germany and some even speak a bit of German, like Leonardo DiCaprio.

In 1984, in a small West German local paper, a photo of the winners of a breakdance competition was published. In the picture is a small blonde boy with a mischievous smile. Surrounded by other dancers, he poses for the camera with a small trophy in one hand and a record in the other.

The young boy is Leonardo DiCaprio at the tender age of nine. In the North Rhine Westphalia town of Oer-Erkenschwick, he performed under his breakdancer's name, "The Noodle," looking much like the self-confident American boy one might expect. Although he only came in at second-place, he got a photo in a local newspaper - probably his first ever.

Summer in the town of Oer-Erkenschwick

DiCaprio regularly visited Germany as a child. His mother, Irmelin Indenbirken, was German. In the 1950s she immigrated to the US and married American George DiCaprio. Then, in 1974, young Leo was brought into the world.

The pair split when Leonardo was a year old. He grew up with his mother, Irmelin, and his grandmother was there to help too. In the summer, they would regularly visit his grandmother, Helene, in the German town of Oer-Erkenschwick in a house that smelled of roasted potatoes. He received 10 German marks pocket money and was rewarded with a large ice cream at the end of the vacation.

Direct, like his grandmother

Even after achieving fame, DiCaprio stayed true to his German roots. He cares for his mother and grandmother, even taking them with him to rehearsals and film premieres. Until her death in 2008, he visited grandma Helene in the Ruhr region of Germany.

He gets his direct way of speaking from his grandmother, said the actor in an interview. His middle name, Wilhelm, was taken from his German grandfather.

What other celebrities have German ancestry? Find out in our High Five Ranking by clicking through the gallery above.

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