Julie Chen announced in September of last year on The Talk during “Secrets Week” that her grandfather was a polygamist.
As the audience gasped, Julie Chen continued explaining that her grandfather had nine wives who bore him 11 children that they know of. But, he had many mistresses so that number could be much bigger.
“As you can imagine this was very hard on my grandmother,” continued Chen.
She also revealed that her grandfather’s wives lived in separate residences and that her mother never knew which wife’s home her father would be spending the night at.
However, Julie Chen got to explore her roots a little further for the celebrity ancestry show, Who Do You Think You Are?.
The story Julie Chen knew about her grandfather was a gritty one, but the side she got to know on her visit to the small village he lived in changed her perspective quite a bit.
“I didn’t think of him beyond the rich successful guy who had lots of women,” Julie Chen said as she reviewed her experience for the show. “But this journey allowed me to see him as a patriot.”
Julie Chen’s grandfather started a school in the small village he lived in after his mother was captured by bandits for ransom. When his family couldn’t pay the ransom, his mother was murdered.
Julie Chen’s grandfather wanted the children of his village to know that with an education, there is a way to a better life than those bandits chose.
Julie Chen later got to meet some of the children from the school.
She said, “That was amazing, to see these little faces, the future of this town where my grandfather hails from and that they’re getting an education and they all knew who he was and they said it with pride. It really filled my heart.”
After exploring more about her grandfather’s past, Julie Chen found herself touched as she read the words of her grandfather’s obituary.
“That surprised me, because I never knew him,” Julie Chen admitted. “It wasn’t a revelation that I was going to read about his death, and it just struck me. Seeing his picture, that I saw in family photo albums growing up, in the newspaper article and talking about who he’s survived by, it just caught me off guard.”
What a cool concept for a reality show. So interesting!
Who Do You Think You Are? premieres March 8th on TLC.
Will you be watching?