“The Graduate” star learns his family survived untold hardships during PBS series
Dustin Hoffman was moved to tears after learning about his family’s history on the PBS series “Finding Your Roots.”
Hoffman learned that both his grandfather and his great-grandfather were killed at the hands of Soviet secret police. Moreover, Hoffman’s great-grandmother suffered extreme physical hardships in a Soviet concentration camp, including the loss of an arm, before making her way to the United States.
Host Henry Louis Gates Jr. told Hoffman that his great-grandmother was a hero for surviving all that she did and still being able to make it to the U.S.
“People ask me today, ‘What are you?’ ” Hoffman said with tears in his eyes. “I say, ‘I’m a Jew.’ That was the thought that went through me, forcefully…I’m a Jew. They all survived for me to be here.”
“Finding Your Roots” was the subject of controversy last year when it was discovered that producers on the show hid aspects of Ben Affleck’s family tree at his request. Affleck was uncomfortable with the fact that some of his ancestors owned slaves and did not want the information to be revealed publicly.
“Based on the internal review that we had done on that one particular episode, we decided put some safeguards in place,” Beth Hoppe, chief programming executive for PBS, told TheWrap in October. “We work very closely with professor Gates and his whole team to look at that situation and to make sure that we didn’t have any issues going forward.”
Watch the video above.