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The Southern Charm Cast's Family History Is Full of Famous Faces (UPDATED)
Which Southern Charm star is related to a former vice president of the United States?
The Southern Charm crew is made up of the who's who of Charleston, South Carolina, and they definitely have a way of always being the talk of the town. But their influence on Charleston society these days is basically in their genes.
That's because the Charmers come from a long line of well-known individuals that have left their mark on history in areas such as politics, society, sports, and the arts, not only in Charleston but also around the world. Get to know more about some of the Southern Charm cast's famous family tree below, and you're sure to recognize many of these names.
1. Kathryn Calhoun Dennis
Kathryn is a direct descendant of the seventh vice president of the United States, John C. Calhoun.
It's easy to see Kathryn Calhoun Dennis' famous lineage since it's right in her name. She is a direct descendant of John C. Calhoun (pictured above) on her mother's side, the seventh vice president of the United States under Presidents John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. He would go on to serve as secretary of state and spend the rest of his life representing South Carolina in the United States Senate. Luckily, Kathryn did a bit better in the hair department than her ancestor.
Kathryn's family has also been extremely political on her father's side. Her grandfather Rembert C. Dennis served as a legislator in the South Carolina Senate from 1943 until he retired in 1998. During his time as state senator, Rembert would go on to become the chair of the Finance Committee in 1972 and president pro tempore in 1984.
The mom of two is keeping her family's legacy alive by passing along the family name to her and Thomas Ravenel's 4-year-old daughter, Kensington Calhoun Ravenel, and 2-year-old son, St. Julien Rembert Ravenel.
2. Thomas Ravenel
Charleston's iconic Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is named after Thomas' dad.
Speaking of Thomas, he also comes from a highly influential family in the South Carolina political scene. He is the son of Arthur Ravenel Jr., who served in the South Carolina Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. He also ran for the Republican nomination for governor of South Carolina in 1994.
Arthur made the construction of a new bridge connecting Charleston and Mount Pleasant, South Carolina to replace the John P. Grace Memorial Bridge and Silas N. Pearman Bridge a cornerstone of his state senate campaign in 1996. The bridge (pictured above) was eventually named after Arthur and opened in July 2005.
Thomas' family history even traces back to the French Huguenots who arrived in what was then known as Charles Town in 1686, according to an interview Arthur did with Mount Pleasant Magazine. It's no wonder he whips out his French skills any chance he gets on Southern Charm.
3. Whitney Sudler-Smith
Whitney's late stepfather Edward Stitt Fleming was a relative of James Bond Creator Ian Fleming.
Whitney Sudler-Smith's family is filled with notable individuals, including his grandfather and Patricia Altschul's father, who was a diplomat and retired surgeon.
One of his stepdads, Edward Stitt Fleming, was a Washington, D.C.-based psychiatrist who founded the Psychiatric Institute of Washington and the Psychiatric Institutes of America in the late 1960s, according to his 1997 obituary in The Washington Post. He was also related to James Bond creator Ian Fleming (pictured above), as we've learned on Southern Charm.
Whitney's other stepfather, Arthur G. Altschul, was even more well-known. He was a New York investment banker, art collector, and philanthropist who served as a member of the chairman's council of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a trustee of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and a member of the trustees' council of the National Gallery of Art, according to his New York Times obituary from 2002. It's no wonder this Southern Charm gent has many artistic endeavors of his own.
4. Shep Rose
Shep is related to the Boykin spaniel's namesake.
Thomas isn't the only Charmer whose family name can be found throughout South Carolina. Shep Rose is also related to the Boykin family through his paternal grandmother, he told The Post and Courier in January 2016. William Boykin II settled the community of Boykin, South Carolina in 1755, and it has a population of about 200 today, according to the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center's website.
The Boykin family also has a dog named after it: the Boykin spaniel. This dog was originally bred by South Carolina hunters, according to the American Kennel Club's website. It is said that after a small dog was found wandering near a Methodist church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, it was sent to train with a man named L. Whitaker Boykin, who taught it how to help hunters. The Boykin spaniel eventually became South Carolina's state dog. Ironically enough, Shep does not have a Boykin spaniel — or any pets for that matter — but he would definitely look great with one.
Shep also revealed on Southern Charm that one of his family members was immortalized in one of the most iconic novels of all time, The Great Gatsby. "The character in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald named Jordan Baker, that's my great aunt. It was written after her," Shep shared on the show, adding that his great-grandfather was also a two-time NCAA champion in golf. "She's a champion golfer, so I've got golf in my blood."
The Southern Charm gent later shared on Twitter that his great aunt, Edith Cummings, was friendly with Fitzgerald, and she was quite the trailblazer for women in sports as the first female athlete to be featured on the cover of TIME magazine in 1924.
5. J.D. Madison
Shep may know how to throw a raging Kentucky Derby party, but Southern Charm regular J.D. Madison actually may have some real connections to the big race. His grandfather John Gentry Madison got into horse racing after retiring from his career as a politician and real estate developer. After winning races across the country, he eventually got a horse that was said to have a bloodline that could be traced back to the fourth Triple Crown winner in history, War Admiral, and bestowed the Gentry name upon him, according to Gentry Bourbon's official website. J.D. has named his new Gentry Bourbon business seen on Southern Charm in honor of his grandfather and his horse. As you can see in the above video of the company's national launch, carrying on the family name means the world to J.D.
See all of the Charmers' past histories in these throwback pics, below.
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