Family Tree Tuesday – James Spader
James Spader is an America actor best known for his roles in films such as Pretty in Pink; Less Than Zero; Sex, Lies, and Videotape; Crash; Stargate; and Secretary. His best known television roles are in The Practice as Alan Shore and its spin-off Boston Legal, for which he won three Emmy Awards, and in The Office as Robert California.
He was born on February 7, 1960 in Boston, Massachusetts to Stoddard Greenwood “Todd” and Jean (Fraser) Spader, both teachers. During his early education, he attended The Pike School where his mother taught art and enrolled in the Brooks School where his father taught for one year in North Andover, Massachusetts. He later transferred to Phillips Academy, but dropped out of school in the eleventh grade to pursue acting at the Michael Chekhov School in New York City. Spader held a variety of jobs including being a yoga instructor, busboy, truck driver, stable boy, and railroad-car loader before becoming a full-time actor.
Spader has some interesting ancestors on his mother’s side. His great-great grandfather was William Ingersoll Bowditch, he was an avid abolitionist and used his house to shelter fugitive slaves. He owned the historic William Ingersoll Bowditch House from 1845 to 1867 during the height of Underground Railroad activity. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
William Bowditch’s father and Spader’s third great grandfather was American mathematician Nathaniel Bowditch (1773-1838). At the age of 14, Bowditch began to study algebra and two years later he taught himself calculus. He also taught himself Latin in 1790 and French in 1792 so he was able to read mathematical works such as Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. Bowditch is remembered for his work on ocean navigation and is often credited as the founder of modern maritime navigation. His book The New American Practical Navigator, first published in 1802, is still carried on board every commissioned U.S. Naval vessel. His house known as the Nathaniel Bowditch House was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
Spader’s fifth great grandfather was Joshua Babcock (1707-1783) who was a physician, American Revolution general, Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice, and postmaster from Westerly, Rhode Island. He became Westerly’s first Postmaster in the 1770′s, operating a post office from his home. During the American Revolution he served as a major general in the state militia and hosted General George Washington while serving in 1776. As a legislator he signed Rhode Island’s state declaration of independence on May 4, 1776 before the national Declaration of Independence on July 4.
Check out James Spader’s family tree and see how you may be related!