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12 Celebrities With Surprising Latino Roots

From South America to Spain, these famous names share Hispanic heritage

spinner image Actor Benjamin Bratt and singer Mariah Carey
Actor Benjamin Bratt and singer Mariah Carey
Christopher Willard/ABC; Todd Williamson/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Fred Armisen, 53, actor, comedian

spinner image Actor and musician Fred Armisen
oe Scarnici/Getty Images for New York Magazine

Fereydun Robert Armisen, a Saturday Night Live cast member from 2002 to 2013 and star of Portlandia, is half Venezuelan, a quarter German and a quarter Korean. His mother, the former Hildegardt Mirabal Level, was born in San Fernando de Apure, Venezuela, but met his father when both were students at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, where Fred Armisen was born. The first character he played on SNL, Fericito, was inspired by his mother and grandmother's nickname for him.

Benjamin Bratt, 56, actor, producer

spinner image Actor Benjamin Bratt on Modern Family
Christopher Willard/ABC

Known for his recurring role on TV's Law and Order and supporting roles in Miss Congeniality and Traffic, Benjamin Bratt is the son of the former Eldy Banda, a Native American activist. Banda, born in Peru of Quechuan ethnicity, moved to San Francisco as a teen. In 1969 after fire had destroyed the city's American Indian Center, the divorced mom of three took her 5-year-old son and his siblings to help occupy Alcatraz, claiming the then-shuttered federal prison for all the tribes of North America.

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Bobby Cannavale, 50, actor

spinner image Actor Bobby Cannavale
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Bobby Cannavale has won Emmys for his work in comedy Will & Grace and drama Boardwalk Empire. His mother, Isabel, left Cuba in 1960 for Union City, New Jersey, and fell in love with the boy across the street, Sal Cannavale. When the future actor was 5 years old, his parents divorced and he spent time shuttling between two households, including living in Puerto Rico.

Helena Bonham Carter, 54, actress

spinner image Actress Helena Bonham Carter
Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The British actress most recently known for portraying Britain's Princess Margaret on The Crown has high-society ancestry on her father's side; she's the great-granddaughter of a prime minister. Her maternal grandfather, Eduardo Propper de Callejón, was a member of Spain's diplomatic corps and helped arrange for the escape of thousands of Jews from France during World War II.

Mariah Carey, 50, singer, songwriter

spinner image Singer Mariah Carey
Todd Williamson/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Though Mariah Carey has Irish roots on her mother's side, her paternal grandfather, Francisco Roberto Núñez, emigrated from Venezuela. When he came to the United States, he decided to anglicize his first and middle names and chose an English/Irish surname, becoming Frank Robert Carey. Although she has recorded Spanish language versions of some songs in the past, this month she released an extended-play album, Mariah En Español, with seven hits from the 1990s.

Lynda Carter, 69, actress, singer

spinner image Actress Lynda Carter
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Michael Kors

Known best for her role as Wonder Woman in the 1970s, Lynda Carter was born Linda Jean Cordova Carter in Phoenix. Her mother, the former Juana Córdova, was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. Since her superhero days, Carter has played the president of the United States, President Olivia Marsdin on CW's Supergirl; released three albums, including 2018's Red Rock N’ Blues (plus another one while she was on Wonder Woman); and been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Reggie Jackson, 74, baseball player

spinner image Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson
Adam Hunger/Getty Images

Reggie Jackson's father, Martinez Jackson, was a semi-pro baseball player in the Negro leagues during the Depression. But Martinez Jackson's mom was from Puerto Rico, and Reggie Jackson told the New York Times in 2005 that he is “proud of my Latin blood.” The Hall of Famer, who played for five teams in his Major League Baseball career, also played winter league baseball for the Cangrejeros de Santurce, the Santurce Crabbers, in San Juan, Puerto Rico during the 1970-71 season.

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Martin Sheen, 80, actor

spinner image Actor Martin Sheen
Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Born Ramón Gerardo Antonio Estévez in Dayton, Ohio, Martin Sheen adopted a stage name after experiencing discrimination as he tried to break into show business in 1959 in New York. He combined the surnames of the CBS casting director who gave him his first big break, Robert Dale Martin, and Catholic Bishop Fulton Sheen. Martin Sheen went on to star in hundreds of roles, including in Apocalypse Now and The West Wing but never changed his name officially. In 2003, Sheen told Inside the Actors Studio that his assuming a stage name had bothered his dad, Spanish immigrant Francisco Estévez.

Lee Trevino, 80, golfer

spinner image Professional golfer Lee Trevino
Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The legendary golfer published his autobiography in 1982, They Call Me Super Mex, and Lee Trevino's last name has Spanish roots as Treviño. But many fans think of him as a Texan who vaulted himself from poverty through his mastery of a sport known for its elite air.

Christy Turlington Burns, 51, model

spinner image Model Christy Turlington Burns
Rick Kern/Getty Images for Town & Country

Christy Turlington Burns was a California girl who visited relatives in Central America during the summer before she became a 1990s supermodel based in New York City. Her mother, the former María Elizabeth Parker Infante, was born in San Salvador, emigrated to Los Angeles as a young girl, worked as a flight attendant and married pilot Dwain Turlington. In 2003, after Turlington Burns retired from modeling, she married actor and director Ed Burns and added his surname to her own.

Raquel Welch, 80, actress

spinner image Actress Raquel Welch
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Born Jo-Raquel Tejada in Chicago, Welch didn't learn Spanish as a child because her father, Armando Carlos Tejada Urquizo, wanted his family to assimilate. When she decided to pursue acting, she took the surname of her first husband, James Welch, and kept it for her career. When she had her breakthrough part in the 1966 British fantasy film One Million Years B.C., filmmakers dyed her hair blonde and didn't mention her Latina background. In 2002, about 40 years after she first appeared on TV, she told the New York Times that she wanted to embrace her ethnic identity.

Vanna White, 63, game show cohost

spinner image Wheel of Fortune cohost Vanna White
Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

The Wheel of Fortune's cohost and letter-turner of 38 years was born Vanna Marie Rosich in Conway, South Carolina. Her father, Miguel Angel Rosich, left the family when she was young, and stepfather Herbert White adopted her.

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