*Multi-talented performer Ben Vereen opens up about his past and his “blood family” in his new autobiography, revealing that he didn’t know he was adopted until he was 25-years-old and needed to apply for a passport to tour Europe with Sammy Davis, Jr.
He told BlogTalkRadio.com:
“I didn’t have a passport so he told me to send for my birth certificate. I didn’t think about the fact that I didn’t have one or there were no baby pictures of me. Turns out they didn’t have my birth certificate under the name Ben Vereen but they had Essie Middleton as the mother of Benjamin Vereen.
“I told my mother about it and she told me she was hoping I’d never know. That’s how I found out, so the story is about my journey of finding them (birth parents) and blessing the woman who raised me.”
Vereen, now 64, admits he’s still coming to terms with his forgotten family after finally tracking them down just four years ago.
“The whole idea of hearing my older sister’s voice for the first time was just amazing. We were both nervous seeing each other for the first time. Now she’s always on my case.
“I also discovered I have a brother, Jimmy, and (another, called) Eugene. Can you imagine you’re sitting at home and one day my sister gets a phone call: ‘Do you know who your brother is?’ She said, ‘Yeah, my brothers are Eugene and Jimmy, why?’
“When they told her you have another brother and his name is Ben Vereen, she said, ‘Get outta here, the guy who plays Chicken George in Roots?’
“Both mothers have since gone on (died), so finding aunts and cousins and a whole slew of people who are now in my life and my children’s lives is wonderful and very rich. We had 110 people come to the family reunion and they embraced us into their family.”