The untold truth of Tracee Ellis Ross’ father

When you grow up under the shadow of one of the biggest superstars of all time, it can be daunting to become a star in your own right. But Tracee Ellis Ross has undoubtedly done so. While her mom, Diana Ross, stole the spotlight as one of The Supremes and later as a solo singer, her actor-producer daughter has found success on the small screen, primarily for starring in Girlfriends and Black-ish. Tracee even picked up a Golden Globe in 2017 for her role as Rainbow Johnson in the critically acclaimed show, per IMDb.

But what about the other side of Ross’ family tree? In December 2020, Tracee posted a rare shot on her Instagram of her father, Robert Ellis Silberstein, also known as Bob Ellis, according to People. “I miss you! Looking forward to hanging out soon,” she wrote. 

Considering that both Tracee — who was born Tracee Joy Silberstein but combined elements of both her parents’ names for her stage name — and her mother live quite public lives, we decided to take a peek into the life of Silberstein to discover the untold truth of Tracee Ellis Ross’ father.

Tracee Ellis Ross' father almost missed his calling

In her post, Tracee Ellis Ross shared a selfie with her dad Robert Ellis Silberstein and linked to his Instagram account, where he has more than 16,000 followers. (Not bad, Bob!) At a glance, you can tell he shares his daughter’s left-leaning political views, supports Ross’ career, and lives an active social life (at least before COVID).

A longtime music manager and executive, Silberstein was born into a well-off Jewish family of garment manufacturers in Elberon, New Jersey, according to a 1976 People cover story. “Since Bruce Springsteen, I say Asbury Park,” he joked about his hometown. 

Although he attempted to go into teaching after graduating from West Virginia University, he had a fight with the principal and instead moved to California — where he became “one of Hollywood’s most likable and few trustable young personal managers” of the time, according to People. He was, naturally, Diana Ross’ manager back in the day.

Silberstein later began investing in real estate and, in addition to Diana, has managed such musicians as Chaka Khan, Meat Loaf, Rufus, Billy Preston, and Ron Wood of The Rolling Stones.

How Robert Ellis Silberstein met his future wife, Diana Ross

When Robert Ellis Silberstein first met his future wife, Diana Ross, in the late 1960s, she was already a superstar, according to People. He had just arrived in town and was unemployed. However, as she asked for his help while at a store gift shopping for her then-beau, legendary Motown founder Berry Gordy, Diana was instantly smitten. She described him as “a rare thing, a gentleman who is young, alive and very handsome — all the fantasy things you think of in a husband,” she told People

The two casually dated for a year and a half until Silberstein gave her some red pajamas to match a pair of his own. It “was the first time we realized we were a couple,” Diana told People, and the two married in 1971. He had already begun managing her career, but by the time Diana said her vows, there were three in the relationship — and we’re not talking about Gordy.

The Ross family tree quickly grew

When Robert Ellis Silberstein and Diana Ross wed, she was two months pregnant with a girl, Rhonda Suzanne Silberstein, whose father was actually Diana’s ex Berry Gordy, per PopSugar. Silberstein adopted the baby, giving her his last name, and Rhonda grew up thinking he was her biological father until age 13, according to the New York Post.

The newlyweds went on to have two more girls, Tracee, born 1972, and Chudney Ross, born 1975. The family of five lived together in a “sleekly modern mansion” in Beverly Hills, according to People. But things weren’t meant to be, as Diana and Silberstein divorced in 1977. However, they stayed amicable, he told People at the time, saying their relationship was “almost too good to believe, like brother and sister,” thankfully for the girls.

Diana went on to date KISS rocker Gene Simmons before marrying Arne Næss Jr., a Norwegian businessman, in 1986. Together, they had two boys, Ross Naess and Evan Ross, before ultimately divorcing in 2000.

Despite the crowded family tree, Tracee and her dad remain super close and share more than just genetics. “My sense of humor, my silly personality, and my nose are all Bob Ellis! I’m very much my father’s daughter,” she told People in 2014.

Today, as evidenced by his Instagram, Silberstein lives in New York City and enjoys spending time with his family, including Tracee, Chudney and her two girls Callaway and Everlee, as well as Rhonda and her son Raif-Henok.

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