Random Celebrity Trivia!

This is mostly about celebrity relationships, but there are other things as well. Culled from sources all over the Internet:

– Actor Ken Jeong (The Hangover, Community) is a licensed medical doctor! Internal Medicine is his specialty. He was born in Detroit, but moved to Greensboro, NC when he was young (his father was a professor at North Carolina A&T State University for 35 years). Jeong got his undergrad degree from Duke and his MD from UNC in 1995.

Melissa Gilbert, Jonathan Gilbert (Laura Ingalls and Willie Olesen from Little House on the Prairie) and Sara Gilbert (Darlene from Rosanne) are all legally (but not biologically) related. Melissa was adopted by actor Paul Gilbert and his wife, Barbara Crane. A couple of years later they adopted Jonathan. A couple of years after that the couple divorced. Barbara then married Harold Abeles, and they had Sara Rebecca Abeles in 1975. Sara changed her last name to Gilbert in 1985 when she started acting.

– Oh, and Paul Gilbert’s name at birth was Ed MacMahon!

– Believe it or not, George Clooney is one of the closest living relatives of Abraham Lincoln, being a direct descendant of Lincoln’s aunt. Tom Hanks (and, some say, Camille Hanks, Bill Cosby’s wife) are also members of this family.

– Speaking of politics, Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Douglas MacArthur and the George H.W. Bush family all descend from a 17th century Masachusetts farmer named Benjamin Barney.

Charlie Chaplin’s father-in-law was the playwright Eugene O’Neill. Not that the connection did Chaplin any good: after Chaplin (then age 54) married Oona O’Neill (then age 18), O’Neill refused to speak to her.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the daughter of William Louis-Dreyfus, a French attorney and businessman. His great-grandfather founded the Louis Dreyfus Group in France in 1851, a large private company that employs some 35,000 people worldwide. The Dreyfus family is worth around $2.9 billion, and Julia will inherit most of that when her father passes.

The Everly Brothers are first cousins of James Best, the actor most remembered as Roscoe P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard.

– Comedians Bob Einstein and Albert Einstein are brothers. You probably them as “Super Dave” Osborne and Albert Brooks. Their father, comedian Harry Parke, died quite famously: on stage at a Friar’s Club Roast of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz on November 24, 1958.

Lauren Bacall and Israeli President Shimon Peres are first cousins. Both had the last name “Persky” at birth.

Phylicia Ayers-Allen is the sister of Debbie Allen of Fame. Phylicia was married to Vic Willis (the cop from The Village People). She divorced him and married former football star Ahmad Rashad.

Chip Taylor, born James Wesley Voight and author of the song “Wild Thing” (the “you make my heart sing” one, not the Tone Loc version) is the brother of actor John Voight. It’s somewhat interesting that, of the four publicly known Voights, only John goes by that name. Angelina Jolie and her brother James Heard changed their names out of dislike of their father.

Gloria Steinem is Christian Bale’s stepmother, and Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles is married to Jay Roach, director of Meet the Parents and the Austin Powers movies.

Roxie Roker, who played Helen Willis on The Jeffersons, was not only Lenny Kravitz’s mother, she was also a close cousin of TV personality Al Roker.

– Not only is actress Kyra Sedgwick married to Kevin Bacon, she is related to Andy Warhol protégé Edie Sedgwick, and her half-brother is jazz guitarist Mike Stern.

Jimmy Swaggart and Jerry Lee Lewis are first cousins, and country singer Mickey Gilley is a cousin to one or both of them.

– This is an odd one, but child actor Gary Jasgur (“Junior” from the Our Gang films) was the uncle of Max Yasgur, who owned the farm in Bethel, New York where the Woodstock festival took place.

Mirielle Enos (Big Love, The Killing) is married to Alan Ruck, most known for playing Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Telly Savalas was Jennifer Aniston’s godfather. Mindy Cohn (Natalie from The Facts of Life) is the godmother of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s children. Cohn and Pitt met at an acting class just after Pitt arrived in Hollywood and have been friends ever since.

– In the “there’s gotta be a clever joke in there somewhere” department, Geraldo Rivera was married to Kurt Vonnegut’s daughter.

Max Born, a German scientist who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1954, was one of Olivia Newton-John’s grandfathers.

– SNL comedienne Maya Rudolph is the daughter of singer Minne Ripperton (of the 70s hit “Lovin’ You”). In fact, Ripperton has said that the melody of the song (the long “la-la-la-la-la” bit) was something she came up with so that Maya, a baby at the time, would go to sleep so that Minnie could spend time with her husband Robert. “Lovin’ You” was also, incidentally, the 400th #1 song on the Billboard chart.

– Actor Mark Harmon’s father, Tom Harmon, won the Heisman Trophy at the University of Michigan. His wife, actress Pam Dawber, is famous for her role on the sitcom Mork & Mindy. Harmon’s sister – the “Tic Tac Girl” in a series of TV commercials in the early 1990s – married former teen heartthrob Ricky Nelson, and his nephews Matthew and Gunnar formed the 80s band Nelson.

– Although most people know Jason Miller from his role as Father Karras in The Exorcist, he was actually more successful as a playwright. That Championship Season, his 1973 play, won a Pulitzer Prize. He also married Jackie Gleason’s daughter and is the father of actors Jason Patric and Joshua John Miller.

Talia Shire (Adrian from the Rocky movies) is the sister of director of Francis Ford Coppola (she was born Talia Rose Coppola). She is the mother of Bored to Death and Rushmore star Jason Schwartzman, and is Nic Cage’s aunt.

– A lot of folks know this, but Anthony Stewart Head from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and singer Murray Head (of 80s hit “One Night In Bangkok”) are brothers.

Helena Bonham Carter is the great-granddaughter of former British PM H.H. Asquith.

Sean Astin, of Lord of the Rings and 24 fame, is the biological son of Patty Duke and the adopted son of John Astin, of The Addams Family.

– Lots of people know that Anderson Cooper’s mother is clothing designer Gloria Vanderbilt. But many don’t know that, despite the riches of the “Vanderbilt” name, Gloria has fallen on hard times. Her father left her a $2.5 million trust fund in the 1920s ($30m in current dollars), but the Great Depression and her mother’s frivolous spending (leading to an infamous custody trial in 1934 between Gloria’s mother and her more financially savvy aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney) reduced this to almost nothing. After Vanderbilt’s fame as a clothing designer peaked in the 80s, she occasionally has had to rely on Anderson for financial support.

– Many also know that Ravi Shankar is the father of singer Norah Jones. You might not know that Jones didn’t meet Shankar until she was grown… much like how 80s actress Ione Skye didn’t meet her father, British singer Donovan, until she was fully grown. And Liv Tyler grew up thinking her father was musician Todd Rundgren (her name at birth was Liv Rundgren). She didn’t find out that her real father was Steven Tyler until she was 9.

Charles Dickens is the great-great-great grandfather of actor Harry Lloyd (Viserys Targaryen in HBO’s Game of Thrones).

Henry Winkler and Richard Belzer are cousins.

– Lastly, Pierce Brosnan adopted the two children his wife Casandra Harris had with her first husband, Dermot Harris, brother of famous actor Richard Harris. And Richard’s son Jared Harris plays Lane Pryce on Mad Men. Jared’s mother, after divorcing Richard Harris, married actor Rex Harrison

2 Replies to “Random Celebrity Trivia!”

  1. Great list. One correction, though: It’s Minnie Riperton (two “i’s” in Minnie, one “p” in Riperton).

  2. Also, Minnie’s husband (Maya’s father) is Richard (rather than Robert) Rudolph. Sadly, Minnie Riperton much too young from breast cancer in 1979.

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