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Michael Douglas left stunned by discovery about famous family, and Catherine Zeta-Jones is a fan

The A-list star is the son of Kirk Douglas and Diana Dill

Michael Douglas attends the opening ceremony gala dinner at the 76th annual Cannes film festival at Carlton Hotel on May 16, 2023 in Cannes, France
Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
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Michael Douglas may just have the ability to create an impact in his blood, as the star joins the latest episode of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.

The actor, 79, featured in a teaser snippet shared ahead of the episode's release in which the host reveals to him that one of his famous ancestors actually has a statue in his name.

Michael was shown a photograph of Colonel John Neilson, one of his ancestors, being a descendant through his mother Diana Dill, whose own mother was Ruth Neilson.

Engraved portrait of John Neilson, New Jersey delegate to the First and Second Constitutional Congress and Brigadier General of the New Jersey militia during the Revolutionary War. From the New York Public Library© Getty Images
Michael is actually a descendant of Colonel John Neilson

"That's my great-great-great-great grandfather," he remarked, but was surprised to discover that a statue in his honor existed at Monument Square Park in New Brunswick.

"Have you ever seen that?" the host asked, and Michael, who was in a daze, responded: "No, I never knew what to look for!" and was then told about Colonel Neilson's legacy.

"On July 9, 1776, John stood on a table in the middle of a tavern in New Brunswick, and read the Declaration of Independence out loud," he shared, which was one of the earliest public readings of the Declaration of Independence. Michael replied: "I love him already, god bless him."

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Colonel Neilson commanded the New Jersey militia in the northern part of the State during the American Revolution and was a member of the New Jersey state legislature.

Fans found the revelation to be pretty fascinating, with his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones commenting: "So great," with a pair of heart emojis. Other fans replied: "Brilliant show, and Michael is aging like a fine wine," and: "I see that statue every morning!!! I didn't know that!!" as well as: "Wow…what a surprise. You're a true legend and definitely deserve this all so much."

EXCLUSIVE: Michael Douglas' 'generous' offer to artist Joseph Feury ahead of his star-studded art exhibition for Ukraine

And speaking of founding fathers, Michael will next appear on the screen in his new Apple TV+ series Franklin, playing Benjamin Franklin, and spoke to CBS about taking on the role. Watch the first trailer below...

Franklin's first trailer starring Michael Douglas

"For me, this series is such a reminder of how fragile democracy is," he said. "When you start thinking about the time we first created our Constitution, and to see the kind of shape that we're in now, it's a reminder."

FLASHBACK: Michael Douglas looks unrecognizable for adorable Easter celebrations in unearthed photo with late father

He continued: "He got in a lot of trouble with his fellow Continental Congress members – John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, a couple of others because it took eight years while he was over here to achieve what he wanted to."

Diana Douglas, Kirk Douglas, Michael Douglas and Cameron Douglas© Getty Images
His mother Diana Dill is a direct descendant of Colonel Neilson

His journey was even compared to Franklin's, with interviewer Mo Rocca citing that Franklin and Michael have both had strong third acts in their lives and careers.

MORE: Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones' appearance in sun-drenched new video sparks fan response

The two-time Oscar winner responded: "Yeah, this has been a great time for me, but I've been very fortunate. Catherine and I have been together, it'll be 25 years this year."

The celebrity couple live primarily in New York © Getty Images
Michael and Catherine celebrated 25 years to their first date last month

It was in March 1999 that Michael and Catherine began dating, and over a year later, in November 2000, they tied the knot, cementing themselves as one of Hollywood's most beloved power couples. They've also welcomed son Dylan, now 23, and daughter Carys, who will turn 21 later this month.

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