It was a teary episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” with Rita Wilson tonight, as she visited Greece and Bulgaria in search of information about her father Allan’s mysterious past.
This is a more-recent search than in most episodes, which made it closer to home for the celebrity.
Wilson’s father, who passed away a few years ago, was born in 1920 in Oraion, Xanthi, Greece.
There was a lot to be sad about in this episode. Bulgaria occupied Xanthi dring World War II. Required to serve in the military, Allan was imprisoned for a petty crime.
After he was paroled and settled in Bulgaria, he married and had a son, Emil—news to Wilson. His wife died when the baby was three days old, and Emil died at four months.
After attempting to leave the country, Allan was detained by the occupying Communists and sent to a labor camp. This information was in a file in the “Secret Files Commission.” A guard’s report detailed his escape.
When Wilson traveled to Greece to meet her father’s brother for the first time, he gives her a letter Allen wrote from America. He was making good money, going to school and having fun. It was the perfect hopeful ending for a tearful show.
If you missed it, you’ll be able to watch it on NBC’s website.
Got Greek roots? Here’s our free online Greek Genealogy Toolkit. You’ll find more Greek research advice in the May/June 2012 Family Tree Magazine, which starts mailing to subscribers in April.