EXCLUSIVE: Aisha Tyler Solves Her Family's Old Paternity Scandal in 'Who Do You Think You Are?' Premiere
By Antoinette Bueno
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Aisha Tyler is learning plenty about her family history.
The 45-year-old co-host of The Talk travels to Cleveland, Ohio, to find out more about her 2x great grandfather, Hugh Hancock, in the premiere episode of TLC's Who Do Think You Are?, and finds out some bombshell truths, to say the least. It turns out that although some townspeople at the time thought Hugh's father was Winfield Scott Hancock, a presidential candidate, Aisha found out that her 3x great-grandfather was actually ex-Congressman John Hancock, who was white and worked hard to make sure he was not seen in public with his "cream-colored son."
"Hugh's genealogy traced back to old John Hancock of Texas, who seems to have loved not wisely, but too numerously," Aisha reads from an old investigative article kept by the Western Reserve Historical Society. "I was in hopes that General Hancock would be his father, but after a careful search I have been convinced that ex-Congressman John Hancock of Texas was his illegal sire."
Aisha learns that Hugh would go to Washington to visit his father, but that John would not allow his son to recognize him in public. John did, however, continue to give Hugh money.
"Old man Hancock did all he could to have Hugh change his name, but the young man was too smart to do that," the article reads.
"Well, he is smart. Keeping his father's name would have forced his father to acknowledge him and to care for him," Aisha muses.
The article later reveals that Hugh eventually left school and went to Texas, where his father had purchased him a ranch.
"You know, you wonder about the tenor of the relationship, and maybe you can never really know," Aisha says about the revelations. "We'll never know."
Friends star Lisa Kudrow produces the show, which follows celebrities as they embark on personal journeys of self-discovery to trace their family trees. The program has uncovered some difficult revelations in the past. For example, both Reba McEntire and Bill Paxton discovered that they had family members who owned slaves in previous episodes.
"We talk to them before we start, to make sure that they're aware that we can find things that are unpleasant, and the people who agree to do the show feel like, 'Whatever you find, that's why I'm doing it,'" Lisa told CBS' The Insider last July about the fascinating series. "I think information is good."
Who Do You Think You Are? premieres this Sunday at 9/8c on TLC.
Last March, singer Josh Groban uncovered his ancestor's amazing secret life on the show. Johann Zimmerman -- Groban's grandfather, eight generations removed -- held a lucrative position in his community's very powerful church, while at the same time was publishing books on mathematics and astronomy.