Disney Channel Combines Hollywood And History
Disney films TV show with young descendant of Elbridge Gerry.
It was lights, camera, action all over Marblehead Friday, as the Disney Channel filmed a TV show in town. The star was a 12-year old descendant of one of Marblehead's most famous residents.
Noah Gerry, his two sisters and parents were visiting several places around town with links to Elbridge Gerry, America's fifth vice president and Marblehead native.
Noah lives in Jacksonville, Fla., but traces his roots back to Gerry. Noah's dad, William Elbridge Gerry, is named after his famous ancestor.
The Gerry's are part of Disney's new series "My Family Tree," which spotlights kids with interesting family histories. The series will launch in November although no specific date has been announced. Disney spokeswoman Patti McTeague said the children all "have self-esteem and a gift of story-telling -- a true art form."
Noah also visited Elbridge Gerry's historic home on Washington Street, which stopped traffic and attracted many curious onlookers. Noah spoke into the camera, "This is our last stop. Elbridge Gerry was born in this house."
This week was Noah's first visit to Marblehead and it's not exactly what he expected.
"Actually, it's way more modern than I imagined," he said. "I had always pictured it with horses and wagons."
The Gerry family said they were surprised, and thrilled, to realize their family name is such a big part of Marblehead.
"We even have an island named after us," said Noah.
"It's been neat for us all, discovering the past here," said Noah's mom, Dr. Charlotte Gerry. "We've always known we're related to Vice President Gerry, but we'll go home now with a better sense of our heritage ... and with even more pride."
This isn't Noah's first time in front of a camera. Two years ago, he asked his dad to let him audition for a Disney show in Jacksonville. He didn't get the part, but he did catch the acting bug.
Since then, he's appeared in several commercials and even a sitcom pilot. His younger sisters have starred in national commercials. The family now lives part-time in Los Angeles, in hopes of furthering the kids' acting careers.
Marblehead -- and Elbridge Gerry -- may give them the big break they've been waiting for.
Check local listings for when the special will air on the Disney Channel in November.
Who Was Elbridge Gerry?
For those of us who might need a refresher, Elbridge Gerry was born in Marblehead in 1744 and worked in the shipping business with his father and brothers.
He's famous for signing the Declaration of Independence, serving as Massachusetts governor from 1810-1812 and as U.S. vice president from 1813 until his death in 1814. He is perhaps best known for the political redistricting process -- called gerrymandering, named after him -- which favors a governing party during elections.