‘Big Bang’ actor traces roots to New Orleans

Best known for his role as Sheldon on the CBS comedy “The Big Bang Theory,” actor Jim Parsons shows up Tuesday on TLC in search of his family heritage.

Parsons is featured on the season finale of TLC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” at 8 p.m. (cable Channel 5). Parsons grew up in Texas, but was always told he had French roots.

This leads him to New Orleans, where he meets with genealogist Judy Riffel at the Louisiana History Center, professor Jeanette Keith at Tulane University and steamboat historian Robert Gudmestad aboard the steamboat Natchez.

Parson learns much from the three, including that his paternal great-great-great-grandfather was a physician who treated victims of the yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans in 1853, and that his ancestor died the next year in a steamboat fire.

On a subsequent meeting with Riffel, this time at LSU’s Hill Memorial Library, Parsons finds out that some of his earlier ancestors were indeed born in France, and takes his genealogical search to Paris.

“Even though I’m tracing my specific family, it’s connecting me to people and places that reach beyond that,” Parsons says.