Celebrity magician Penn Jillette learns grandfather is from Carbonear

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A famous American magician and comedian already aware of his family’s Newfoundland roots learned this week his grandfather came from the Conception Bay North area.

American magician and comedian Penn Jillette poses for a photo with Newfoundland actor and comedian Shaun Majumder.

Penn Jillette — one half of the comedic magic duo Penn and Teller known for its edgy brand of entertainment — has visited Newfoundland and Labrador in the past.

On Tuesday, Newfoundland actor and comedian Shaun Majumder posted a photo of himself with Jillette taken after Majumder watched him perform in Las Vegas, remarking it was “(just) a coupla Newfoundlanders hanging out.”

A reply post from CBC reporter David Cochrane asking about Jillette’s Newfoundland and Labrador connection attracted a response from the magician, who said he wasn’t really sure where exactly his grandfather came from.

“Don't really know,” he said. “Lost in the fog of time. We went up there and could find no records.”

A further question from Twitter user @RobandDenise asking about the last name enticed Jillette to offer more clues. He said the last name was Jillette and had been changed from Gillette.

“(I)f ‘Samuel Edgar,’ he was b.1872 in Carbonear,” responded @RobandDenise. “Gillett's not a common name there now. All moved.”

Jillette confirmed that was the right one.

“(W)ow. That's him. I never knew him.”

Samuel Edgar Jillette eventually moved to Massachusetts, the state where the magician’s father, Samuel Herbert Jillette, was born in 1910. Penn Jillette was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts in 1955.


Organizations: Penn and Teller, CBC

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Carbonear, Las Vegas Greenfield, Massachusetts

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Recent comments

  • Kate LeDrew
    March 04, 2016 - 07:36

    I am very interested in this as my grandmother Margaret (Jillette) Pilgrim from Carbonear. & later years the surname was changed to a letter G. Who had family move to NY state & to Boston.

  • Aud
    February 25, 2016 - 23:18

    Shaun Majumder;s name came up when i did research on my family tree.

  • c
    February 25, 2016 - 15:08

    His wife Emily Zolton has Nfld roots as well............!!

  • george p b
    February 24, 2016 - 17:04

    It's amazing when it comes to Newfoundland connections. Chuck Connors (the Rifleman etc) was born in New York; his parents were immigrants from the "Dominion of Newfoundland"... I believe Newfoundland's most significant export over the years has been brains & talent of all kinds...

    • Expat
      February 25, 2016 - 10:54

      Wow. I've been watching that show for the past few month (runs back-to-back on select Saturday mornings). Chuck has terrific magnetism. That show is TV done right; worth checking out.

  • Genie Ology
    February 24, 2016 - 16:56

    http://ngb.chebucto.org/C1945/45-car-part-3-bdv.shtml Jillet Household starts at 190 http://ngb.chebucto.org/C1921/21-carbonear-41-59-car.shtml Gillet Household starts at 129, 133, 140

  • Deb
    February 24, 2016 - 15:40

    Back in 1979-1980, I worked with two "Gillette" women from Carbonear. I believe they lived in the Crocker's Cove area, but, later moved to Ontario.

  • Jason Dawe
    February 24, 2016 - 15:19

    Whitey Bulger (Subject of the movie, Black Mass) father was from Harbour Grace. http://www.thetelegram.com/Opinion/Columnists/2015-09-30/article-4293727/Evil,-with-Newfoundland-roots/1

  • Grandpa Pike
    February 24, 2016 - 12:50

    There is a Gillett's Motel in Burgeo. I've stayed there. According to E.R. Seary: Gilletts in the Grand Falls and Twillingate areas. (Source Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, [Fourth printing April 1984]

    • Howard Ball
      February 24, 2016 - 14:22

      Gillett families in Corner Brook .4 Brothers 4 Sisters offsprings still there.