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August 2010

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Hollywood Nepotism — Famous Family Trees

Written by , Posted in General

Everyone knows that Hollywood plays favorites, and I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing. After all, isn’t the entire world based on connections — Hollywood or not? Some of our greatest actors come from famous families, and most of them have proven themselves worthy. Plus, isn’t it better to use a family connection than to sleep your way to the top? Obviously those are not the only two options, but I’m all for arbitrary comparisons to prove my point. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorites below. Enjoy!

Michael Douglas and Kirk Douglas are two of my favorite actors. Though they went through some troubles at one point, they kissed and made up and are now very close.  Michael Douglas recently told Letterman that he’s suggested that Kirk should retire and enjoy his old age, but Kirk refuses.  Good for him.


Anjelica Huston makes history, coming from a family with three generations of Oscar winners. That includes Anjelica, her father, director John Huston, and her grandfather, actor Walter Huston. Her father won twice, as a director and writer of The Treasure of Sierra Madre, and her grandfather won as a best supporting actor in the same film.

Nicolas Cage always tells the story about he changed his last name from Coppola to Cage, as a way to proving himself on his own. Personally, I think that story is an old wise tale that Cage started. I can’t imagine that he actually auditioned for roles without anyone knowing he was Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew. He probably just changed his last name to deceive the public. Not to pick on Cage though, because Family Man and It Could Happen to You are two of my favorite films (Seriously).


Kiefer Sutherland and Donald Sutherland are also two favorites of mine. Kiefer once said in an interview, that he took an entire day to watch his father’s movies, and he was overwhelmed by what a great actor he is.  He said he was embarrassed he had not done it sooner.


Liv Tyler is a real life example of that show My Two Dads. Her mother, Bebe Buell, led her to believe that musician Todd Rundgren was her biological father, and she found out that Steven Tyler was really her father at age nine, after noticing her strange resemblance to Steven’s other daughter, Mia. That story is so insane, I’d like to interview Liv to get to the bottom of it.

I first noticed Scott Caan as the good-looking guy from Oceans 11. When I looked him up, I was shocked to discover that he is James Caan’s son. I just don’t think they look anything alike.  But as I’ve previously mentioned, I’m not very good at spotting resemblances.


Christian Slater got his start in the industry through his mother, who was a high-powered Hollywood agent. That might be an even better connection than having a high-powered actor parent.

Gwyneth Paltrow was destined to have both good looks and a good career. Her mother is the very beautiful actress, Blythe Danner and her father is director Bruce Paltrow.


There’s not much to say about Colin Hanks and Tom Hanks. They both look alike, and they are equally charming. Colin is Tom’s son from his first marriage, before he met Rita Wilson. I’ve also heard that they are both very nice guys. Though that might not seem like a big deal, please keep in mind that most actors are total douchebags.

Kate Spade is obviously a designer and not an actress, but I just could not resist adding her to list, and revealing that she is actually married to David Spade’s brother. Now there’s an interesting factoid. Update: People I forgot the first time around


I’ve received a lot of criticism for forgetting to include the Stiller family in my original post. I simply forgot, which is no excuse, as I’m a huge fan of the entire family. I loved Ben Stiller since Reality Bites, and his father, Jerry Stiller had one of the greatest roles in television history, as George Constanza’s father on Seinfeld. His mother, Anne Meara, is also immediately recognizable as Steve Brady’s quirky mother on Sex and the City.  I can’t leave without also mentioning his wife, Christine Taylor, who played Melody on Hey Dude — another one of my favorite shows.

The story of name-changing in the Sheen family is much different than I originally thought.  Apparently, Martin Sheen’s birth name is Ramon Antonio Gerard Estevez, and he changed it to Martin Sheen, as a stage name.  His son, Charlie Sheen, was named Carlos Estevez, but he changed it to Charlie Sheen, presumably to intentionally associate himself with his father’s fame.  Emilio didn’t get the memo, and chose to stick with his birth name, which was probably not the best idea.  If I were trying to make it in Hollywood, or even to resurrect my dormant career, I would have no problem riding my father’s acting coat tails.


George Clooney’s father, Nick Clooney, once said, “I spent the first half of my life as Rosemary Clooney’s brother, and the second half as George Clooney’s father.” For those of you that don’t know of Rosemary Clooney, aside from being ashamed of yourself, you should know that she was a famous singer and actress. She starred in White Christmas with Bing Crosby, and later appeared with him on television multiple times.  It’s nice to see Hollywood connections based on a famous female.