The lovely Kim Cattrall was the focus of Friday's NBC Who Do You Think You Are?.
After last week's extraordinary job with actress Rosie O'Donnell, we had high hopes of a repeat for this week! Last week, you will recall, genealogists reviews were overwhelmingly hearty regarding the research process and places of research shown in the O'Donnell search.
This week, I have to give NBC a ...
...thumbs down on their program!
I for one was completely disappointed in the lack of showing, or explaining, the research process. Once more we were entreated to what appears the information magically handed to the celebrity!
I do applaud the program for unveiling a hauntingly sad family history! It certainly made for good television viewing, and I am sure the ratings went up!
However, one could not but feel disheartened for the family who is gathered at the end of the program and made to sit there before the camera as the results of the research are revealed to them. After all, we weren't talking about ancient history here, but rather the father of the three women who sat before the camera.
Let me explain...
Bristish born actress, Kim Cattrall grew up in CAnada. She has been a successful actress since the age of 19, but is probably most well known for her roll as Samantha Jones on the tv program Sex in the City.
Cattrall comes from strong United Kingdom stock, but says the greatest mystery to her family has always been what happened to her grandfather, George Baugh, who disappeared some seventy years ago.
Cattrall visits with her mother, Shane Cattrall, and Shane's two sister's Marjorie and Dorothy. The girls were quite young when their father disappeared, one was only a year old. They tell Kim all that they know, which is little.
George Baugh left his home early one morning, he told his eldest daughter that he wanted her to go with him, she said she wanted to stay with her mother. He then simply left and was never heard from again.
The ladies have one photo of him, and it's not good. It is of a wedding, and the party is standing in front of a house. George's face can be seen peering from a window in the portrait.
The sister's mother was left with no money and no way to support her family. George's family had nothing to dow ith them. Mother, Marion Baugh, was forced to sell everything, even the furniture was sold to support the girls.
"You don't understand what it was like with no furniture and always going hungry!", one of the three told Kim. "It was a nightmare..."
The sisters did produce a newspaper clipping for Kim, which had an article showing George's mother, Amy Baugh, having sewn a wedding gown, which her daughter, Edna Radliffe, then gave to her own daughter, Leslie, to wear when she was wed, in 1980.
It was the only clue Kim had to go on.
Kim stated, "I'm very angry at him and I don't even know who he is!"
Kim enlisted the aid of a London researcher to search for documents which might pertain to her grandfather, George Baugh. While she awaited that, she went on to Liverpool to see if she could find someone who knew Edna Radcliffe or her daughter Leslie, and find more information regarding George if she could.
Going to the address in the newspaper article, Kim found no one at home. So she knocked on the door of the nearest neighbor. Here she actually found a woman who had once worked with her aunt Dorothy in a senior housing facility. She did in fact know Edna and had kept in contact with her. Edna was still living, and the woman gave her the address of Edna Radcliffe.
When Kim arrived at the address, she was pleased to find that not only was Edna at home, but that George's sister, Amy Garrett was still alive as well.
"When George was young he used to run away from home all the time and get into all kinds of trouble with authorities. It broke his mother's heart," they told Kim.
George told his mother, Amy Baugh, that he was unhappy in his marriage and wanted out. Amy told him that in effect he had "made his bed and now he had to lie in it". Amy sent George back home and told him to make things work.
George was never heard from again. Neither his mother, nor his sister's ever knew what became of George.
Amy Garrett and Edna Radcliffe were able to show Kim photographs of the family, although there weren't any of George.
Amy stated, "I'd just love to know what happened to him..."
Unable to learn anything after George's 1938 disappearance, Kim returned to her hotel in time to receive a package from the London researcher.
Opening it up, only moments after beginning to rread Kim let out, "Oh my God! The son of a b- - - - !"
In the contents were the marriage record of George Baugh to Isabella Oliver for 05 Aug 1939.
George was a bigamist.
"I knew he was gutsy," stated Cattrall, "but now he's a criminal."
The marriage record was from the County Durham. This being the biggest clue as to what happened to George, Kim was off to County Durham.
"I need to find out if he had children," cattrall informed Archivist Liz Breazzi.
Found in the Tudhoe directory on 1 Welsh Road, George was living next door to Isabella's family with his own.
Checking parish records, beginning in 1939 forward, they found the birth of three children to George Baugh and Isabella: Penelope Isabella on 07 Aug 1949, John Oliver in Apr 1952 and in 1959, George William Jr. [Kim later discovered there was a daughter born in another Parish before 1949, Irene.]
Off to Tudhoe Cattrall went. She stopped at a local pub in the village to see if anyone knew of the Baugh's or Oliver's. But they didn't. Checking the phone directory, she did locate a Margaret Oliver. Calling the number she found a woman named Maisie Oliver, who was married to William Oliver, Isabella's brother. Yes, she had known Cattrall's grandfather George.
They agreed to meet.
On her way to meet with Maisie, Kim states, "I'm reallu hoping for a picture, I'm hoping to see something of remorse in his face..."
Sheila Curtis, Maisie's daughter, meets Kim at the door and introduces her to Maisie.
"We called Isabella "Bella",' states Maisie.
Maisie stated that George met Bella in Manchester in 1938. They were married and came to Tudhoe to settle. They had four children [the oldest, Irene was born in MAnchester before the move to Tudhoe].
Maisie had a photograph of George and Isabella's wedding. Sadly, George had cut himself out of the photograph, as though he didn't want to ever be identified. She also showed a photo of Bella with her oldest baby.
George was secretive, he never told anyone anything of his past, and Bella never knew.
At long last, came the photo that Cattrall had been waiting for. A photo of George. It showed a fresh faced George in H.M.S. Naval uniform, with a young Isabella and Irene. Following that was a family photo with the couple and three of the children.
"He's living right in the moment and never looking back," Kim stated.
Maisie stated he was loving and thoughtful of his youngest four children, but had never revealed he had three other daughters that he'd literally abandoned.
Maisie states that in 1961 George and his family emmigrated to Australia. Bella didn't want to go, "But his word was law!"
Kim stated, "He altered a lot of peoples lives!"
Cattrall heads back to Liverpool with the knowledge that she uncovered on Ancestry.com that George died in 1994, four years later, Isabella also died.
From here, Kim comes back to her mother and her two aunts with this sad, sad tale.
Kim is loving and concerned as she tells the story, gently, but bluntly.
When handed the photograph of George and Isabella's wedding and told his face was not in his own wedding portrait, Shane responded, "Why am I not surprised..."
Dorothy lowers her head and weeps. "I've waited so long to see his face!", as the other photos are one by one revealed, of George with his happy family.
"It's just a bit too much... too much information!" cried Marjorie.
As she looked at the photo of George with his family lying on the beach, Shane stated, "Not a care in the world! He blanked us out like we didn't even exist!"
George Baugh died with his secret.
"I feel relieved," stated Shane. "Now I have some closure. Well, George Baugh, I wish you could see us now!"
Kim closed the program with this statement, "I think this is the biggest joy George Baugh ever brought, this joy in my Mom and her sisters. And this is my joy!"
A written statement at the very end stated that the three sisters had been in contact with their half-siblings in Australia, and were planning to get together to meet one another soon.
Yes... it was a good story. Heart-rending and heart-touching. But at the same time, I felt intrusive into what should have been a private revealing for these sweet ladies, all of whom are elderly today.
To me, it lacked genealogy. Instead, it was more sensationalism than research.
I for one was underwhelmed, and I hope there will be better research and reveal in next week's celebrity story with singer/ song writer, Lionel Ritchie. You can be assured, I'll be watching!!!