In 2019, I decided to post a series of interviews with members of both the genealogical and old Hollywood communities, hoping to find common ground between the two and learn more about some people whose online presence I truly enjoy. Welcome to the Hollywood/GenesCrossover Interview series! For the original post in this series and to see the complete list of interviewees, click here.
Ernie is a most generous Twitter pal and it’s an honor and pleasant surprise to find yourself on one of his Follow Friday lists. I already was a fan of Ernie’s online offerings, but seeing that he “rarely leaves a theater until the lights come up” on his Bloodywhisper.com author bio sealed it. Definitely a kindred spirit is Ernie. Let’s see if you feel the same! Heeeeeere’s Ernie!
Name: Ernie Fink
Tell us a little about yourself (anything goes!):
I have lived in the Philadelphia area all my life. I didn’t want to be an accountant and was lucky enough to find something that was a living and allowed me time to help raise a family. I am currently sneaking up on 30 for the second time.
What made you become interested in family history? Was there a particular moment, person, thing that first sparked your interest?
The interest in the family history came when I got back to work. I did the Mr. Mom thing for about a year, then got a job at the IRS. Then, I got furloughed. During this time, I found that my Mom knew little about her side of the family. Her stepmother made sure of that. So, I started to look into her family. I got howls of laughter from family members as I could be found during the day, pushing a stroller around local graveyards, looking for her relatives.
Genealogically speaking, what takes up most of your free time at the moment (a family history blog, researching a particular family line, etc.)?
Currently, I’m winding down the search. Having been at it for 30 years, most of the possible stories have been found. Now it’s just upkeep. I search Legacy.com for obituaries. I’m considering another run through Newspapers.com for other articles. But it seems that much of what I could find, I did. I am trying to become a storyteller, which was a dream of mine since 8th grade. I does help to have an appreciation for the past, which is why my stories are set in 1879.
What was/is your biggest brick wall and how did you bust it down/how are you working on busting it down?
One of the things that started the ball rolling for my side of the family was the records that my aunt brought over in 1950. For those unaware, in Germany, during the war, people were required to trace their history back five generations to check for racial purity. My aunt had a copy of those papers and they were the start of my search. But they only went so far. A letter from the town hall revealed that my family didn’t originate in that town. They gave me the name of the other town. The Mormons had church records for the place. (German Script is a dog!!). As a result, I have my line traced to 1590 in Germany. My mom’s side, the best I could do is back to the 1870s in Prussia. Sadly, the records for Prussia were transferred to Berlin and were bombed during the War. All gone.
What is your favorite website(s) related to family history research and genealogy? Why would you recommend it and what makes it special?
The website that did the most work for me would have to be Familysearch.org. They are free and often have many of the same files as on Ancestry, which you have to pay for. Legacy.com is a repository of obituaries. Findagrave.com can really open your eyes and give you great direction to head. I found a couple of lost branches through them.
What advice would you give genies just starting out?
Advice? Don’t wait! Talk to everyone, especially your oldest family members THAT YOU ARE ON GOOD TERMS WITH. Cold calls to possible relatives are not a good idea. And write everything down. Memories fade. Stories get jumbled. Things get lost.
What is your favorite classic film(s) and why (1900s-1960s)?
First, let me say that I like that you are looking at the sixty years ending in the 1960s. I have run into many who call an “old film” as something from the 1980s. My absolute favorite film is Casablanca. In Philly, the TLA on South Street was a theater for the longest time. They would show Casablanca every three months for two nights. I could usually be found there both nights. There are just so many things right with the film. And it’s Bogart at his best.
Who is your favorite classic film star(s) and why(1900s-1960s)?
Aside from Bogart, the classic Monsters are among my favorites. No one beats Karloff, Lugosi, Lorre and Price. I think that the women on the screen were more beautiful back then. Paulette Goddard, Myrna Loy and Claudette Colbert… well, you just couldn’t touch their beauty and their acting ability. They could play it straight one moment and make you laugh hysterically the next. There was a book called “They Had Faces Then.” How true!
rWhich film star are you most often compared to or you think you look the most like? Does anyone else in your family (parents/grandparents) have a Hollywood lookalike?
No Hollywood lookalikes here. As a kid, we used to joke that so-and-so looked like a Hollywood star…yeah, Frankenstein! That’s about as close as it came.
Have you ever come across a connection to Hollywood (new or old) in any of your family history research? How so?
Apparently, my brother-in-law has Imogene Coca as an aunt through one of the many marriages in his family. I have yet to nail down the connection. The best that I have been able to do is a distant relation to two turn-of-the-century baseball players, one of whom holds the lifetime record for hitting batters. Fame is fame.
What is your favorite TV show or film that relates to family, family history, and/or genealogy and why?
I have often kidded people saying that “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” reminds too much about my childhood. I’d have to give that one some thought. Not much rings a bell.
Where can we find you online?
I can be found on Twitter and Facebook as ernie fink.
On Instagram, After the Lightning 2, but I do very little on Instagram.