Jim Parsons appeared on the “Who Do You Think You Are?” television show to trace his family roots. The “Big Bang Theory” actor explains that he still misses his father, a charismatic man who supported his son’s interest in acting.
Unfortunately, his father died in a car accident several years ago, when he was only 51. He is still in mourning; he raves about his father’s loyal nature and capacity for friendship. Between the memories of his father and the family photos and the distant footage of him walking down the street, this episode is off to quite an emotional start, which is why we are so happy to meet his incredibly buoyant mom, Judy.
The woman is so cute with her pictures and her hairdo, and their relationship is just plain adorable. When Parsons learns that one of his ancestors lived to be 91, he’s psyched. “We got good blood,” he quips to his mom. “Well, I do. This wasn’t your blood.” Ha!
The Texas native then heads to New Orleans, Louisiana, to learn more, and boy, does he ever. Essentially, his paternal ancestor J.B. Hacker was a Dr. Quinn-type medicine man, an educated doctor at a time when a lot of so-called doctors were just snake oil salesmen who threw up a shingle to try to make a fast buck.
“Some still do,” Parsons jokes. “I feel certain about this. I come from helpful people. I’m nowhere near a doctor, but it’s nice to know that I’m related to one.” And not just any old doctor: Dr. Hacker was the 55th person to graduate from the Medical College of Louisiana, which was established in 1834. And Hacker wrote extensively about the yellow fever epidemic of 1854 that killed 8,000 people in New Orleans. Parsons marvels at Hacker’s “real commitment to humanity.”
Hacker died in a steamboat fire when he was only 44 years old. When Parsons visits a replicate steamboat, he learns that these vessels were made out of wood at that time, which makes his death at 44 seem even more tragic.
“That’s only 4 years older than I am now,” says Parsons. “It’s hard to hear of him putting so much work into this and have it end so suddenly and so soon. He couldn’t have been more in the prime of his working.”