Today @ Colorado State has been replaced by SOURCE. This site exists as an archive of Today @ Colorado State stories between January 1, 2009 and September 8, 2014.

Research / Discovery

Helping TV's 'Sheldon' find his roots

September 6, 2013

CSU history professor Robert Gudmestad will help actor Jim Parsons unlock secrets about his past in an upcoming broadcast of "Who Do You Think You Are?" on the TLC network.

Actor Jim Parsons, left, and CSU professor Robert Gudmestad pose while working aboard the steamboat.The episode featuring Parsons – the season finale – will air at 7 p.m. MDT Tuesday, Sept. 10.

Robert Gudmestad, an associate professor in CSU’s Department of History, was contacted by TLC after the network learned of his interest in steamboats and their impact on American history. His book, “Steamboats And the Rise of the Cotton Kingdom” was of particular interest.

“Who Do You Think You Are?” explores the family history of celebrities, who learn surprising facts about their past while being filmed. Previous subjects include Susan Sarandon, Spike Lee, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rob Lowe, Reba McIntyre and many others.

Steamboat aficionado

Gudmestad, who said he had no previous experience doing consulting work for TV, said the show’s producers flew him to New Orleans for a day of filming with Parsons. Gudmestad, who has taught at CSU for six years, presented family-related documents to Parsons he had not previously seen. Filming was done on “Natchez,” the last operating steamboat on the Mississippi.

“Jim really was great – he asked a lot of really good questions about steamboats and his past,” said Gudmestad, who specializes in history of the American South. “It was a lot of fun.”

As part of his agreement with producers, Gudmestad is not allowed to discuss details of the show prior to its airing.