Hollywood Nepotism

3 Conversations

Keeping It In The Family

“It is so much more difficult if your father/mother/ sister/cousin/uncle is/was/are/were in the business”.

This is a work-in-progress.

Some stars have surely had some help from mummy or daddy. Some have become even bigger stars in their own right.

Michael Douglas has eclipsed his father Kirk Douglas in the eyes of most filmgoers under 40. Melanie Griffiths, daughter of Tippi Hedren (The Birds, Marnie) has established her own reputation, although her fame has not been enough to drag her half-sister Tracy Griffiths (Crazy in Alabama, directed by her brother-in-law, Antonio Banderas) to the top.

Rebecca de Mornay(ER, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle) didn’t have so far to go to surpass dad Wally George’s (self styled founder of combat TV) reputation.

Kate Beckinsale(Pearl Harbor, Serendipity) is well known in the UK as the daughter of TV actress Judy Loe(Casualty) and the late and much loved Richard Beckinsale(Porridge, Rising Damp). Another British actress, Phyllida Law (Emma, Peter’s Friends – where she was cast and directed by her then son-in-law, Kenneth Branagh)and her husband Eric Thompson(who wrote, directed and narrated The Magic Roundabout) gave the world Emma Thompson (Primary Colors, Remains of the Day) and her much less successful sister Sophie Thompson(Emma).

Other famous offspring include the obvious: Douglas Fairbanks Jr., anglophile son of the swashbuckling Douglas Fairbanks. Ed Begley Jr. (Get Over It, Joey)son of, who else, Ed Begley (Sweet Bird of Youth). Lon Chaney Jr.(The Wolf Man, The Mummy’s Tomb) was obviously not shy about his father, Lon Chaney(The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, The Phantom of the Opera) and neither are Robert Downey Jr,son of Robert Downey or Michael Landon Jr,son of Michael Landon.

Edward Albert(A Time To Die, Power Rangers, Beauty and the Beast) shares his name with his more successful father, Eddie Albert(Green Acres and too many movies to mention).

Sons whose have enjoyed success – occasionally rivaling or exceeding that of their father include:

  • Jake Busey(Enemy of the State, Contact) son of Gary(The Buddy Holly Story);

  • Adam Arkin(Chicago Hope), son of Alan (The Russian Are Coming, Catch-22 and a guest appearance playing his son’s father on Chicago Hope);

  • Matthew Broderick, son of James

    Keifer Sutherland, son of Donald

Less successful attempts to exploit the family name include: Scott (James) Caan,Chad(Steve) McQueen,Christopher (Robert) Mitchum,Mike (Chuck) Norris, Barry (Dick) Van Dyke, Brandon (Bruce) Lee and Francesco(Anthony) Quinn. Sir Laurence Olivier’s son Tarquindoes not seem likely to repeat his father’s success; and nor does Ethan(John) Wayne. The suicide of Carroll O’Connor’s adopted son, Hugh O’Connor further demonstrates that a famous name isn’t always enough to ensure success or happiness.

Neither Chris (Jack) Lemmonnor Charles (Walter) Matthau was able to re-create the success of their father – together or alone.

And who can forget these daughters who tried to follow the family business – well we all can I suspect: Amy Hart Redford, Robert’s daughter and Tahnee Welch, daughter of Raquel.

By and large however, daughters have proven more worthy of the family name: Geraldine (Charlie) Chaplin, Natassja (Klaus) Kinski, Elizabeth (Robert) Montgomery; Tatum (Ryan) O’Neal, Mira (Paul) Sorvino, Liv (Steve) Tyler and Zoe(Sam) Wannamaker.

Joan Rivers now works with Melissa in a mother and daughter team.

Stretching the showbiz connections a little turns up the fact that Mackenzie Phillips is the daughter of John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas.

Some children are a little more reticent about their parentage – at least passing on the opportunity to exploit the famous name too transparently, like Kate Hudson, daughter of Goldie Hawn and Jon Voight’sdaughter, Angelina Jolie. Jamie Lee Curtiss went the other way to make sure we would remember that she comes from two celebrity parents – Janet Leighand Tony Curtiss. She then married Christopher Guest, whose brother is Nicholas Guest.

Others who have inherited a double dose of the celebrity gene include:

  • Laura Dern whose father is Bruce Dern and whose mother is Dianne Ladd

  • Christian Slater and his less prominent brother Ryan are the sons of Mary Jo Slater and Michael Gainsborough.

  • Gwyneth Paltrow’s dad Bruce directed her in Duets and her mother is Blythe Katherine Danner.

  • Sigourney Weaver’s father Pat Weaver ….. and her mother Elizabeth Inglis …..

  • Kate Winslet‘s father is Roger Winslett and her uncle is Oliver Bridges.

  • Friends star Jennifer Aniston is the daughter of John Aniston(Days of Our Lives) and god daughter of Telly Savalas (Kojak). Meanwhile her co-star, Matthew Perry is the son of John Bennett Perry(The Sweetest Thing, Independence Day, Old Spice commercials and an appearance of Friends) and the stepson of Keith Morrison, a correspondent for Dateline NBC. Oh, and another Friend, Courtney Cox, is the step cousin of Stewart Copeland, the other ex-member of Police alongside Sting.

The incredibly successful screenwriter and director Nora Ephron is the daughter of Henry and Phoebe Ephron,and so of course is her sister ________.

Nick and Zoe Cassavettes are the children of John Cassavettes and Gina Rowlands (Gloria, A Woman Under The Influence).

However there is a select group whose parents rank as superstars and who would seem destined for Hollywood:

  • Liza Minnelli whose father, Vincente Minnelli was one of the great movie directors and her mother was of course the incomparable Judy Garland.

  • Jennifer Grant is the daughter of Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon

  • Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini’s tempestuous marriage produced Isabella Rossellini.

Sean Connery has opened doors for both his son Jason and his brother Neil. And George C. Scott made a few introductions for his son Campbell and daughter Devon. John and Joan Cusak were presumably helped by father Richard

Brothers and sisters benefiting from daddy’s clout include Tori and Randall Spelling, children of the powerful producer Aaron.Spelling.

A famous sibling can also be of help in getting a career off the ground :

  • Ben and Casey Affleck

  • Kieran and Macaulay Culkin

  • Joan Fontaine
    and Olivia de Havilland

  • Joseph
    and Ralph Fiennes

  • Edward and James Fox

  • Warren Beatty
    and Shirley Maclaine

  • Joaquin and River Phoenix

  • Julia
    and Eric Roberts

  • Tony
    and Ridley Scott

  • John
    and James Belushi

  • Joan
    and Jackie Collins

  • Randy
    and Dennis Quaid

  • Luke
    and Owen Wilson(Royal Tennenbaums)

  • Nick
    (NYPD Blue) and John Turturro(Quiz Show)

  • Dan Ackroyd
    and brother Peter

  • Angela Cartwright
    and sister Veronica

  • Kim Delaney
    and brother Dana

  • Matt Dillon
    and brother Kevin

  • Woody Harrelson
    and brother Brian

  • Ron Howard
    and brother Clint

  • Stacey
    and James Keach

  • Michael
    and Virginia Madsen

  • Bill
    and Brian Murray

  • Michelle
    and Deedee Pfeiffer

  • Geraldo
    and Craig Rivera

  • Tim Robbins
    and sister Adele

  • Elizabeth
    and Andrew Shue

  • Bruce Springsteen’s
    photographer sister Pamela

  • Sylvester
    and Frank Stallone

  • Joey
    and Ellen Travolta can’t seem to keep up with brother John

  • Shannon
    and Tracy Tweed

  • Lora Zane
    and brother Billy

  • Jerry Zucker
    and brother David

  • Sarah Jessica Parker
    has tried to help siblings Andrew and Megan Forste

Slightly more distant relatives include cousins Sissy Spacek and Rip Torn and nephew/uncle combinations like Billy Crystal and Milt Gabler, Ewan McGregor(Moulin Rouge, Star Wars Part 1) and Dennis Lawson, Alexander Siddig and Malcolm McDowell. The late Aaliyah was the niece of Gladys Knight. And as well as being daughters of Gordon Hunt, Helen
and Bonnie Hunt are nieces of Peter Hunt. James Van Patten is the son of Dick Van Patten and the nephew of Joyce and Timothy Van Patten.

Off screen, Stewart Stern is the nephew of Adolph Zukor and a cousin of Arthur Lowe Jr’s. Also scoring two useful connections are Dean Cain whose mother is Sharon Thomas and whose stepfather is Christopher Cain.

Collin Bernsen is brother to Corbin and son of Jeanne Cooper and still seems to lack enough talent to make the grade. Daryl Hannah’s mother is Susan Wexler and her step dad is Jerry Wexler. Melissa Joan Hart is daughter to Paula Hart and stepdaughter to Leslie Gilliams.
Feeling that being Rob Lowe’s (The West Wing) brother wasn’t enough, Chad Lowe married Hilary Swank. Susan Sarandon got into the business well after she married Chris Sarandon.

And now we are getting into the royal families of Hollywood – or wannabe royal families – or at least princelings. There are the Wayans brothers – Keenan Ivory, Marlon and Shawn. And the four Baldwins – Alex, Daniel, Stephen and William.

Lloyd Bridges produced two notable sons – Beau and Jeff, while Sir John Mills and playwright wife Mary Hayley Bell produced two actress daughters Hayley and Juliet. Meanwhile Jerry Stiller (Seinfeld) and Anne Meara produced son Ben (Meet the Parents) and daughter Amy.

Three sons of Dom DeLuise, Brian, Michael and Peter are trying, with little success to make the big time, as did the three younger Carradines, David, Keith and Robert – all sons of John Carradine.

Somewhat more successful are the sons of Leo Penn and Eileen RyanChris, Michael and Sean Penn.

George Clooney is the son of Nick Clooney, whose sister, Rosemary married Jose Ferrer and therefore makes him cousin to Miguel Ferrer.

Cliff Arquette has to answer for his son Lewis and Lewis’s four children Alexis, Patricia, David and Rosanna. However Ernest Heminway’s influence skipped a generation to reach his granddaughters Mariel and Margaux.

Francis Ford Coppola has provided jobs or encouragement to his daughter Sophia, his nephew, Nicholas Cage, his sister Talia Shire (Rocky) and his parents. Another useful son is Martin Scorsese, whose mother Catherine has been seen in his films.

Carl and Estelle Reiner begat Bob who married Penny Marshall and became stepfather to Tracy Reiner. Meanwhile Martin Sheen (The American President and The West Wing) gave us Ramon and Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez, who in turn produced JoeEstevez.

Walter Huston played a memorable role in Treasures of the Sierra Madre directed by his son John. Anjelica carries on the family name.

Henry Fonda’s children Jane and Peter won fame and fortune and Peter’s daughter Bridget is following the tradition.

Drew Barrymore comes from a very prestigious line. Her father John Barrymore Jr. followed his father and mother John Barrymore and Dolores Costello into show business.

Finally, the Redgrave dynasty. Sir Michael Redgrave and his wife Rachel Kempson had three notable children, Vanessa,
and Corin. Corin’s daughter Jemma is following the family business, but the showbiz gene ran strongest in Vanessa who married Tony
and had three daughters – Joely, Miranda and Natasha.

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