Catherine Zeta Jones Is NOT Greek

July 16, 2019

The ancestry of British actress Catherine Zeta Jones is Welsh and Irish, but people keep claiming she's part Greek, and it was just repeated in a Jeopardy question. The source is an old CNN interview she did with Larry King which was transcribed online like this:

Zeta is my grandmother's name, who is of north Greek origin. But Zeta is a Greek name. And everyone thinks that I just put Zeta in to spice up Catherine Jones. And that's completely untrue.

But there's a disclaimer at the beginning that says it's a "rush transcript" that "may not be in its final form". If she were saying that her grandmother was Greek, there would be no "But..." after the first sentence. That only makes sense if she's denying having Greek ancestry, which is what she actually said:

Zeta is my grandmother's name, who is of not Greek origin. But Zeta is a Greek name. And everyone thinks that I was, just put Zeta in to spice up Catherine Jones. And that's completely untrue. [...] I've always been called that. And in my school in Wales, Jones is a very, very popular name in Wales. And so there were like three Catherine Joneses in my class, so they always called me Zeta.

It's thought that her last name is "Zeta-Jones", but she added the hyphen later. "Zeta" was originally her middle name and her grandmother's first name, and this is where it actually came from:

"I've been performing since I was 11 years old," said Catherine, named for her maternal grandmother Catherine Fair and her paternal grandmother Zeta Jones (Zeta was the name of a ship that her great-grandfather had sailed on).

Many people have also claimed, with no evidence, that she's Hispanic or even half black because they believe Nordicist stereotypes and can't accept the fact that some Northern Europeans are naturally darker and more "exotic" looking. A sane commenter responds:

Whenever a N.European has darker hair, eyes or complexion, somebody (predictably) uses a stereotype of another ethnic group to suggest they're an "outsider" to their own heritage. Despite popular stereotypes, differences in appearance are normal within any one group due to expected genetic variation within families and their older tribal histories. This is the norm--and not the exception. Anyone proud of their heritage won't like racists taking that from them.

Catherine Zeta Jones is just a dark Brit. That's all.


Latinus said...

Yeah, I have heard before about those rumours regarding Catherine Zeta Jones's supposed Greek ancestry, but I Always thought it was a lie, you know, some people can't accept that ethnic Britons/Northern Europeans can look "dark", and now you refuted that fallacy. To me, she is a good example of the Paleo-Atlantid phenotype, a dark Northern Euro type with robust features.

Regarding the claims of Jones being half black or Hispanic, here is my opinion:
Half black: LOL, not at all, pure ignorance, she doesn't look like a mulata or octoroon, some ignorant people think Euro looking is synonymous with the stereotypical Northern European looks and that darker features are not native to Europeans, so any type like Jones is mixed race to these people, they are not aware of the phenotypical diversity of Europe.

Hispanic: hum... makes sense... of course, by "Hispanic" I mean white Hispanic, not mestizo(a) or triracial... Jones has a face that would never be associated with Gringa looking in a country like Mexico, for example. Maybe some people think she is Hispanic because she blend in better among common white Hispanic than average white American/Canadian, which are mainly British Isles/Germanic. stock, and she doesn't look like a typical Welsh/Irish, despite being a mix of these ethnicities.

Jason Muniz said...

Her look is probably the original Bell Beaker look. She has a resemblance to Ava, the Bell Beaker girl. Why and how did Brits get lighter pigmented?

Lucian said...

Indeed, native dark types in Britain (especially Welsh or Irish) are more frequent than people usually think, it's not just Catherine Zeta Jones.

Here are just two more examples of definite Mediterranean types (there is no indication so far of "mixed", i.e. other than British, ancestry for these people that I know of):

Chris Coleman (football player and coach)
Tom Jones (singer)

From a historical point of view, Mediterranean types have been known in Britain for a very long time, aside from the Roman conquest. There are descriptions by Tacitus of some British tribes who were dark-skinned, of Mediterranean type, I don't remember the details. Not all Britons were blond, brown-haired or red-haired, it seems.

Also, there are some theories which attribute the Stonehenge megalithic complex to Mediterranean populations migrated to the British islands. Again, I don't remember the sources exactly. But this is highly plausible, in my opinion, considering that these megalithic complexes were not just very frequent in the Mediterranean regions thousands of years ago, but they are almost like a mark for those civilizations. At any rate, the oldest Mediterranean megalithic structures preceded the ones from Stonehenge.

Finally, it's ironic that it was a Brit (Laurence Waddell) who claimed the Britons were the descendants of Phoenician colonists. For me, this is clearly a fantasy, but maybe the author had exactly this in mind: that some Mediterranean populations migrated to Britain thousands of years ago. Now, what would the Nordicists say about this: refute their countryman's theories, pretend that the Phoenicians were blond, light-skinned people, or acknowledge the Mediterranean element in the modern British population?

Latinus said...

Chris Coleman looks Berid, to me, pass easily in Southern Europe.
Tom Jones still looks very British Islander, to me, I would say pan-Western European.


she is probably of Roman ancestry since Wales in antiquity had a lot of Romano-Brits escaping the Anglo-Saxon invasions. The Romans were the first historians of Britain and after the first attempt at colonizing Britain, a Roman historian wrote that the Briton he encountered resembled "Iberians" (modern day Spaniards, Portuguese, Catalonians, Asturians and Basques)