Julie Chen's Family Secrets Revealed on 'Who Do You Think You Are?'

by Meredith B. Kile 4:39 PM PST, March 03, 2015
Playing Julie Chen's Family Secrets Revealed on 'Who Do You Think You Are?'

Celebrity ancestry show Who Do You Think You Are? kicks off its sixth season on March 8, and the first episode takes The Talk host Julie Chen to China to learn more about the grandfather she never met.

"My big secret is my grandfather was a polygamist," Chen revealed on The Talk back in September. "He had nine wives."

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Chen admitted she saw her grandfather as a "womanizer," but doing more research into his life on Who Do You Think You Are? allowed her to see a different side to his story.

"I didn't think of him beyond the rich successful guy who had lots of woman," the TV personality said in a visit to the ET stage. "But this journey allowed me to see him as a patriot."

Chen, who also met a distant cousin on her trip to China, learned that her grandfather started a school in his village after his mother was kidnapped and killed by a group of bandits.

"It was because of that incident that my grandfather built a school in his village," she revealed. "He wanted to teach people that there was another way of life if you get an education."

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The Talk host found herself unexpectedly emotional when reading her grandfather’s death announcement and obituary in local papers.

"That surprised me, because I never knew him," 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."

Distant relatives still pray to the memory of Chen's grandfather, and she was even able to meet some living tributes to his work: the children who attend the school that her grandfather founded.

"That was amazing," she said. "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."

Who Do You Think You Are? premieres March 8 on TLC.

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See Rachel McAdams learn more about her great-great-great-grandfather's life on Who Do You Think You Are? in the video below.