Hollywood is full of nepotism. Many actors, directors, and writers make their way into show biz with the help of celebrity parentage (and family money). But it’s hard to knock this process, as some of our greatest stars have come about due to the clout of family members that preceded them.
Of course, there’s no guarantee of success, even if your mom or dad is an Oscar winner. However, there are a few celebrities on this list who have passed their legacies in fame, and siblings who have — ouch — left their brother or sister in their shadow. Regardless of how they got there, these are the families that continue to dominate Hollywood.
Actress Goldie Hawn actually began her stage career as a dancer, but quickly transitioned to TV and film, soon winning an Oscar. Hawn became a comedy sensation, and married her second husband, musician Bill Hudson of the Hudson Brothers, in 1975. Though they were only married a few years, she and Hudson had two children together, actors Oliver and Kate.
Oliver has starred on TV shows like Rules of Engagement and Nashville. Meanwhile, Kate is a popular rom-com actress, and has been involved with two lead singers of popular bands, Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes and Matt Bellamy of Muse. She has a son with each of them.
Hawn raised her children with partner Kurt Russell, another actor and the son of actor Bing Russell. Together, the pair have a son, Wyatt Russell. Though he played hockey professionally for many years, Wyatt has now taken up the family business, and starred in the Season 3 Black Mirror episode, “Playtest.”
How do four brothers, raised in a New York suburb by high school teachers, end up in show biz? It’s hard to say, but the Baldwin brothers managed it very well. Alec, Daniel, William, and Stephen have all achieved various levels of success, with the most notoriety going to eldest brother, Alec. They also have two sisters, Elizabeth and Jane, who stay out of the limelight.
Now, their offspring are beginning to follow suit. Ireland Baldwin, Alec’s eldest child with ex-wife and actress Kim Basinger, is an up-and-coming model. Daniel has five children with four different women, including ex-girlfriend Isabella Hofmann, an actress. William, also known as Billy, has three children with his wife, Chynna Phillips, who sings in the group Wilson Phillips and is the daughter of John and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas. Finally, youngest brother Stephen has two daughters, Alaia and Hailey, both of whom are models.
Director Francis Ford Coppola, best known for The Godfather films, was born into a musical family. His father, Carmine, was a flautist, and his mother, Italia, was the daughter of a composer. Francis’ uncle, Anton, is a retired composer, and is still alive at the age of 100. Francis has three children with his wife, Eleanor, a documentary filmmaker: Roman, Gian-Carlo, and Sofia. Roman is a producer who has collaborated with many of his family members, including his sister Sofia, a well-known writer and director. Gian-Carlo passed away at 22, but his daughter, Giana, is an actress.
Meanwhile, August, Francis’ brother, also had three children: Marc who is a DJ, Christopher who is a director, and Nicolas, an actor. The latter adopted the stage name Nicolas Cage, and is known for his extensive body of work. Cage has been married to actress Patricia Arquette and singer Lisa Marie Presley (daughter of Elvis). He has a son, Weston, a musician, and another named Kal-El.
Carmine’s only daughter, Talia Shire, is a working actress, who was once married to composer David Shire and producer Jack Schwartzman. From her second marriage, she has two sons, Jason and Robert Schwartzman. Jason is an actor and screenwriter known for frequently working with Wes Anderson and his cousin, Roman.
Hollywood’s Golden Age produced many memorable stars, but very few are still alive today, and even fewer have a legacy like that of Kirk Douglas. Kirk married actress Diana Dill, and they had two sons, actor Michael Douglas and producer Joel Douglas. After they divorced, Kirk married actress Anne Buydens, and they also had two sons together, producer Peter and comedian Eric. The latter died of a drug overdose at 46.
As for the third generation, things are not going quite as well. Michael’s son, Cameron, pursued a career as an actor, but is best known for his legal troubles involving drugs. Michael also has two teenage children with his second wife, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Martin Sheen is another actor that rose to fame despite the odds. One of 10 children born to immigrants living in Ohio, he was born Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez. Sheen’s mother passed away when he was a child, and he fought to break into the industry in his 20s, eventually adapting his stage name in order to get jobs.
During his early years, Sheen married actress Janet Templeton. Together, they had four children, all of whom became actors. While Emilio, Ramón, and Renée kept the surname Estevez, Carlos chose to follow his father’s path, taking the professional name Charlie Sheen. Of Sheen’s offspring, Charlie and Emilio are the best known, and Martin has acted with both of them on more than one occasion, often portraying their father.
Though many families choose to break out into different factions of the industry, the Wayans family has, for the most part, stuck to comedy. Howell and Elvira Wayans brought up 10 children in the housing projects of New York City. From oldest to youngest, their offspring include Dwayne, Keenen, Damon Sr., Kim, Shawn, Marlon, Nadia, Elvira Jr., Diedre, and Vonnie. Confused yet? Just wait.
Among them, Keenen, Damon Sr., and Marlon are likely the best-known, but all have worked with their siblings in show biz at some point. The second generation has produced stars, too, most notably Damon Jr., who has starred on popular network sitcoms like New Girl and Happy Endings. His cousins, Damien and Craig, created a BET series called Second Generation Wayans, which was sadly short-lived. Still, there’s plenty of time to see where all of these potential comedians will go.
Canadian actor Donald Sutherland got his start in the U.K., and starred in popular films like Animal House and Ordinary People. He has been acting steadily for several decades, though despite the acclaim of his work, has never been nominated for an Oscar.
Sutherland has been married three times, and with his second wife, Shirley, has twins Kiefer and Rachel, the former is known for his starring role in the TV series 24. Rachel is a successful post-production supervisor. From his third wife, Francine Racette, Sutherland has three sons, actor Rossif, producer Angus, and Creative Artists Agency executive Roeg. The third generation is also getting started: Kiefer’s daughter, Sarah, has a recurring role on the hit comedy, Veep.
Many of Hollywood’s biggest stars have come from across the pond. English photographer Mark Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes and his artist wife, Jini, raised seven children, five of whom continued on the creative path set by their parents.
While sisters Martha and Sophie became directors, and brother Magnus opted for a more musical route, Ralph and Joseph Fiennes have both become well-known actors. The second generation has begun to pick up speed in the industry as well: Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, Martha’s son, played the younger version of his uncle Ralph’s Harry Potter character, Tom Riddle.
Another large family full of performers, the Smollett siblings Jazz, Jocqui, Jake, Jojo, Jurnee, and Jussie were the foundation for the short-lived sitcom, On Our Own, in which they played orphaned siblings trying to stay together. In reality, the six children were raised by their parents Janet and Joel in New York City. After the series, most have continued in the business, to varying degrees of success.
Brothers JoJo and Jake are the producers and stars of the Food Network show, Smollett Eats. Eldest daughter Jazz is a producer and is married to model Troy Warwell. Next is Jussie, an actor and singer who is known for his lead role in the series Empire. Not much is known about Jocqui, but his Instagram says that he’s a businessman and public speaker. Perhaps most successful is Jurnee, who had a regular role on Friday Night Lights and currently stars as Rosalee on Underground.
Despite their fame, all of the siblings support one another and regularly appear on each other’s social media channels.
Of course, nepotism occurs behind the screen as well. Documentary filmmaker Nicolas Noxon, who has won several Emmys for his National Geographic specials, has four children with his first wife, Mary. Two went on to creative pursuits, and became well-known: Marti and Christopher.
The elder of the two, Marti, is a writer, producer, and (newly-minted) director. She cut her teeth on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and mixed the personal with the professional on Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce. Her latest project is a film, To the Bone, that premiered at Sundance this year.
Christopher is a journalist, and has appeared on shows like The Colbert Report. Though he’s not exactly prominent in Hollywood, you probably have heard his wife’s name before. Jenji Kohan, creator of popular TV shows Weeds and Orange Is the New Black, is the daughter of a novelist, Rhea, and a producer, Buzz. Additionally, her brother, David, has also worked behind-the-scenes on several TV shows. Jenji, Buzz, and David all have Emmys.
Any list of this kind without the Barrymores would be remiss. Dating back to the 19th century, actor Maurice Barrymore, a stage actor, married his co-star Georgiana Drew. The pair had three children together, all of whom became actors. The youngest, John, married actress Dolores Costello, and their child, John Drew Barrymore, is the father of actress Drew Barrymore.
Confused? The family tree is overwhelming, to say the least. And, unfortunately, the story isn’t always a happy one. Drew’s father had four children with four different women, and suffered from addiction for most of his life. The two were estranged, but in his final year of life, the actress helped to take care of him. Drew has two very young daughters, so it’s hard to know at this time whether or not the family tradition will continue.
Acclaimed actress Debbie Reynolds came from a working class background, something she had in common with her first husband, singer and actor Eddie Fisher. Though he infamously left her for actress Elizabeth Taylor (the second of his five wives), they had two children together, Carrie and Todd Fisher. Todd dabbled in Hollywood for sometime, and is currently married to actress Catherine Hickland.
Carrie went on to become a beloved actress and humanitarian, best known for her iconic role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise. Fisher was married to singer Paul Simon briefly, and had her daughter, Billie, with her partner Bryan Lourd, a partner at CAA. Billie is now an actress in her own right, starring in the FOX series Scream Queens and appearing in the latest iterations of the Star Wars series.
Finally, there are two additional Fishers in the business: actresses Tricia Leigh and Joely, daughters of Eddie through his second marriage to Connie Stevens.
While several of the Hollywood marriages on this list didn’t last long, that wasn’t the case for Lloyd and Dorothy Bridges. The pair met while studying at UCLA together, and were married for almost 60 years, until Lloyd passed away in 1998. They had four children together, and two are well-known actors Beau and Jeff Bridges.
The brothers have been able to act together during their careers, most notably in The Fabulous Baker Boys, in which they played siblings. Beau has been married twice, and his son, Jordan, is an actor, best known for his lead role on Rizzoli & Isles. Jeff has also had a prominent career, winning an Oscar for his role in Crazy Heart, and is often remembered for his starring turn in the cult hit The Big Lebowski.
Walter Huston was an Oscar-winning actor who had one child with his wife Rhea, a son they named John. John is the writer and director of many classic films, including The Maltese Falcon and The African Queen. John was married five times, and had several children, most of whom went into show business.
Most notable is Anjelica, who is well-known for her role as Morticia in The Addams Family films. The actress doesn’t have any children, but was involved with actor Jack Nicholson for more than a decade. Her brother, Tony, is currently a lawyer, whose son, Jack Huston, was a regular on Boardwalk Empire. Tony and Anjelica’s half-brother, Daniel, is an accomplished actor, and was once married to actress Virginia Madsen.
Academy Award-winning actor Henry Fonda began a family tradition that has held strong for many, many years. Fonda was married five times, and with his second wife, Frances, he had two children, Jane and Peter. However, Fonda had a strained relationship with his kids, especially after the death of their mother.
Jane, a seven-time Oscar nominated actress, fitness mogul, and political activist, has been married three times herself: First to writer/director Roger Vadim, with whom she has a daughter, Vanessa; then to politician Tom Hayden, who is the father of her son, actor Troy Garity, and with whom she adopted daughter Mary Luana Williams; and finally to CNN founder Ted Turner. Jane also recently ended a long-term relationship with record producer Richard Perry.
Her brother, Peter, who is known for writing and starring in the iconic film Easy Rider, has a similar marital track record. Peter has two children, Justin and Bridget. Bridget acted steadily until 2002, and married composer Danny Elfman, known for scoring many of Tim Burton’s films.
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