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#BravoGenealogy Blog Series: Lisa Rinna

It has been quite awhile since I’ve written a formal #BravoGenealogy post on the family history of a bravolebrity, and I'm sorry for that! I own it! But I’ve been committed to several genealogy projects during this time of social distancing, so I figured it was time to jump back into the swing of things. Going through my options, I realized that I had not yet researched a Beverly Hills housewife. In the spirit of owning it and for your reading pleasure, here is a rundown on the family history of Lisa Rinna.

What We Know

Lisa Deanna Rinna was born on July 11, 1963, in Newport Beach, California, but moved to Medford, Oregon, at age 7 with parents Frank and Lois (DeAndrade) Rinna. She has two older half-sisters, one who died of a drug overdose at age 21 and has been discussed on the show. She is married to actor Harry Hamlin with whom she shares daughters Delilah Belle and Amelia Gray.

Lisa Rinna in her Junior Year, 1980.

She has Italian, Portuguese/Azorean, English, and possible French-Canadian ancestry.

Through her father, Lisa is half-Italian. Her paternal grandparents immigrated to the United States in the early 20th century, married, and settled in Colorado before moving to California. Her maternal grandfather was of Portuguese/Azorean descent and her maternal grandmother is of at least English descent with roots in Nova Scotia. Although not definitive, I found strong evidence that Rinna’s great-grandmother, Sadie St. Clair/Sinclair’s (1867-1924) father was John Baptiste Sinclair born in Quebec before moving to Halifax, NS, which would indicate Rinna also has French-Canadian in her DNA.

Google Earth Italy
A Google Earth overhead view of Castro Dei Volsci, Italy, where the Rinnas called home.

Her grandmother was initially deported.

On 4 October 1907, Lena Bartolomucci, age 3, arrived with her mother, brother, and sister at Ellis Island. They had been sailing on the S.S. Konigin Luise from Naples, Italy, since 20 Sept. The ship manifest notes that Lena and her family were detained and flagged as L.P.C., which means likely to become public charges, a not uncommon label for a woman traveling alone with children who did not have a male relative to vouch for them. Although they had a set destination to Colorado, they were deported a couple weeks later.

Ship manifest deported
Note the deported stamps.

On 21 December of the same year, Lena returned to Ellis Island on the same ship, this time with both her father and mother and were admitted without any issues.

Admittance ship manifest
Rinna's grandmother and great-grandparents were admitted to the United States.

Creativity runs in her family.

The arts run deep in Rinna's family. Obviously, she is an accomplished actress best known for her roles on Melrose Place and Days of Our Lives.

One of my favorite #BravoGenealogy finds ever. Besides accomplished actress, Rinna apparently could see into the future.

Her father, Frank, was the executive art director of Harry & David, a premium food and gift producer and retailer, and enjoyed water painting in his retirement. After his father died in 1938, his mother, Lena, went to work, and in the 1940 census, she reported her occupation as decorator with industry as "Potteryworks." On Rinna's maternal side, her great-grandfather, Antonio/Anthony Deandrade worked for years as a house painter.

Excerpt from the 1940 Census of Grandmother Lena's occupation and industry.

Her 2nd great-grandfather reportedly died from eating lobster.

The death of Rinna's 2nd great-grandfather, Antonio Gomes, made me appreciate that I don't eat lobster. According to his death record, Antonio died of "ptomaine poisoning" (effectively food poisoning) from eating lobster.

death record
The death record of Rinna's 2nd great-grandfather. Note the primary and contributory causes of death.

Digging into the family deeper, this story made the news. On 28 August 1905, the Boston Globe ran the details and photos of the deaths of not only Rinna's 2nd great-grandfather, but also her 2nd-great aunt's husband and her first cousin twice removed.

Lobster death newspaper
An excerpt from the Boston Globe detailing the deaths in the family.

The following day, the Boston Globe ran another article that retracted death by lobster. Instead, their deaths were attributed to drinking water out of a rusty can. According to a statement from Mrs. Louise Oliver, Rinna's 2nd-great aunt:

"My husband did not partake of any of the lobster served at supper Saturday night. The statement that his death was due to decayed lobster is therefore incorrect...It is preposterous to believe that my husband, an expert lobster fisherman, would select a bad lobster to be boiled and served on his table...My little boy only had half of one of the small claws to suck. My father did eat the lobster."

The headline for the story the following day.

Yet a few days later on 1 September, another article ran in The Boston Globe declaring all three deaths would be attributed to ptomaine poisoning, which is what was recorded on all three death records.

Final ruling on the deaths in Rinna's family.

She descends from a strong work ethic.

Rinna is known for her hustle, and it's very possibly hereditary. Besides earlier mention of her grandmother, Lena, who went to work to support her family after the death of her first husband, Rinna has several ancestors that clearly hustled in their respective fields. Her great-grandfather, Thomas Ryder, worked several jobs over the years as a laborer. He was recorded as a teamster, a wagon driver, and lumber unloader. On 23 May 1893, Thomas was injured on the job when a log fell on his leg.

Crushed by log Boston Globe
The Boston Globe recorded when Rinna's great-grandfather was injured on the job in 1893.

Also highlighting the importance of hard work and hustle is Rinna's maternal grandfather, A.J. DeAndrade, who was a union man for decades. His obituary, an excerpt listed here from The Pittsburgh Press on 22 January 1970, noted his many accomplishments, including AFL-CIO vice-president and appointment by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1961 "to serve on the labor advisory council to the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunities and also on a similar committee on employment of the handicapped."

Rinna's grandfather that ran with his obituary in The Boston Globe.

Excerpt of Rinna's grandfather's obituary that ran in several newspapers across the country..

In case you didn't know, her mother Lois is a survivor.

On an episode of #RHOBH, Rinna shared the story of how her mother, Lois, was David Carpenter's, aka The Trailside Killer, earliest known victim. This story made the rounds of several California newspapers at the time, and to read the details will make your skin crawl. Lois Rinna is beyond brave.

Just one of the many articles on Lois Rinna's survival. This one is from The Daily Independent Journal (San Rafael, CA), 13 July 1960.

Lois Rinna senior year
Lois in her senior year of high school, 1946.

Enjoy learning about Lisa Rinna's family history? Genealogy is not just for Bravolebrities! Contact me at, and I can do the same for you!


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