Christian Bale is a Welsh actor who is known for his starring role in American Psycho, and his portrayal of Batman in the Christopher Nolan directed franchise.
Bale was born to David Bale, an entrepreneur, and Jenny James, a circus performer. However, David divorced James in 1991, and married Gloria Steinem in 2000, making her Christian’s step-mother. Steinem is a feminist writer, journalist, activist, and political leader who became a spokesperson for the feminist movement in the 60s and the 70s. Wikimedia Commons
Bill Nye is a beloved TV presenter and advocate who hosted the TV show Bill Nye the Science Guy which taught science to children.
His mother, Jacqueline Jenkins-Nye, worked to crack Japanese and German military codes during WWII. Jacqueline was one of a small group of scientifically accomplished female students at Goucher College that were recruited by the Navy to help break enemy codes. She directly contributed to breaking the code that allowed U.S. fighter pilots to shoot down and kill Isoroku Yamamoto, the mastermind of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.Wikimedia Commons/Personal photo
Tupac Shakur is remembered today as one of the greatest Hip Hop artists of all time and a cultural icon.
Much of the revolutionary attitude that defined Tupac was directly inherited from his mother, Afeni Shakur. She joined the Black Panther Party in 1968, and shortly after was charged, along with 20 other people in the "Panther 21," with conspiring to blow up buildings in New York City. After representing herself, she was acquitted of all charges. Getty Images
Woody Harrelson is an American actor best known for his breakout role as Woody in the TV show Cheers and his numerous roles in film and TV.
His father, though, was underworld hitman Charles Voyde Harrelson. Charles was acquitted on one murder charge, but then convicted on a second when he killed a grain dealer for $2000. After five years, Charles was released and went on to immediately kill U.S. District Judge John H. Wood Jr. at the behest of a Texas, drug lord. He as given life in prison and died in his cell in 2007. Wikimedia Commons
Olivia Newton-John is an Australian singer-songwriter and actress who is most known for playing the iconic role of Sandy in Grease.
Her father, Brinley Newton-John, was an RAF intelligence officer and then Mi5 officer during WWII. A linguist, he worked closely on the project that cracked the Nazi's Enigma code. After the war, he became a professor at the University of Melbourne.Newcastle Regional Museum/Wikimedia Commons
Beck Hansen, known simply as Beck, is an Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist known for his fusion of a wide array of American musical styles.
Beck's father, David Campbell, is an arranger, composer, and conductor who has worked on countless Gold and Platinum records, working with artists like Adele, Beyoncé, Muse, and more. His mother, Bibbe Hansen, was one of Andy Warhol's "Superstars," who acted in his movies in the 60s, and recorded a number of albums with various groups.Getty Images
Joaquin Phoenix is an Academy Award-nominated actor known for his work in Gladiator and his starring role in Walk The Line as Johnny Cash.
Joaquin's parents were John Lee Bottom and Arlyn Dunetz, a California couple who were members of The Children of God cult. As a part of the cult, the couple moved to Puerto Rico to establish a commune and give birth to their children. Many female members were encouraged to engage in Flirty Fishing, a practice where they would use sex to win converts. His parents left the cult in 1978, and took the last name “Phoenix” to represent their rebirth. Arlyn Phoenix is now a social activist and a director of the Peace Alliance.Wikimedia Commons/Getty Images
Paul Giamatti is an Academy Award-winning character actor who has appeared in Saving Private Ryan and Cinderella Man.
Paul’s father, A. Bartlett Giamatti, was once the president of Yale University. He maintained a lifelong interest in baseball and published numerous papers on the sport. From this, he eventually became the MLB's National League president in 1986. Bartlett was selected as commissioner of the entire league in 1988, where he handled the Dowd report which revealed Pete Rose’s betting on baseball. Getty Images
Rashida Jones is an American actress who is best known for her role as Ann Perkins on the popular TV show Parks and Recreation.
Though she has made no effort to hide her last name, few realize that Jones’ father is legendary record producer Quincy Jones. Quincy has won 28 Grammy’s for his work with Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, James Ingram, and more.Wikimedia Commons
Paul Reubens is an actor best known for his children’s character Pee-Wee Herman, who has appeared in two TV shows and a popular film.
Pee-Wee Herman’s father, Milton Rubenfeld, was a WWII pilot who was one of the five founding members of the Israeli Air Force. Rubenfeld, an American Jew, entered WWII before the Americans, joining the British RAF in 1939 to fight the Nazis. In 1941, when the Americans joined the war, Rubenfeld became an American Air Force pilot. When Israel declared independence in 1948, they knew they had to fight against six larger nations, and did not yet even have an air force. They put a call out for Jewish pilots and Rubenfeld, along with four others, joined up and fought as the entire Israeli Air Force. His contributions are seen as integral to Israel’s ability to survive the Independence War.Getty Images/Wikimedia Commons
Hugh Laurie is a renowned British comedian, famous for his hit comedic series A Bit of Fry & Laurie who became an American TV star with his dramatic role as Dr. House in the eponymous TV series House.
Hugh’s father, Ran Laurie, was a rower at Cambridge who competed on Great Britain’s eight-man rowing team in the 1936 Olympics, where they came 4th. The war then interrupted Ran’s budding rowing career as he was deployed to Sudan with his rowing partner Jack Wilson. The two of them returned to the UK after the war, where they competed together in the 1948 Olympic Games in London and won gold. Getty images
Katharine Hepburn is one of the most iconic actresses of all time, having won four Academy Awards, the most of any actor.
Her mother, though, contributed to a much different institution. Katharine Martha Houghton Hepburn was an American suffragette during the turn of the century and campaigned for the 19th Amendment that extended the vote to women. In the 1920s, Hepburn co-founded the reproductive health care organization Planned Parenthood with birth control activist Margaret Sanger. Wikimedia Commons
Stewart Copeland was the drummer for the seminal British band The Police and is regarded as one of the greatest drummers of all time.
Copeland’s parents met while they were both working as spies in the UK during WWII. Miles Copeland Jr. was with the Counterintelligence Corps, a precursor to the CIA. Lorraine Adie worked with the wartime Special Operations Executive department. Miles was involved in talks directly related to the Allied invasion of Normandy Beach. After the war, the couple moved throughout the Middle East, where Miles acted as a CIA operative, working to overthrow governments the US didn’t approve of, and Lorraine followed her passion for archeology and became one of the foremost experts in the Paleolithic era of the Middle East.Getty Images
Richard Branson is a famous adventurer and humanitarian, who is also the billionaire CEO of the Virgin Group, which includes Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Records, and now, even LEGO.
His father, Edward Branson, served in a tank in WWII where he traveled across North Africa, the Levant, and, eventually, Europe. While in North Africa, he worked with famed American Egyptologist George Reisner as his assistant on digs. After the war, he became a lawyer. Wikimedia Commons
Glenn Close is an American actress who has received six Academy Award nominations and has won numerous Emmys, Tonys, and Golden Globes.
In the 1960s, William Close was a surgeon working in the former country of Zaire in the Congo. He had been there during the Congolese revolution where he befriended the future dictator of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko. It was through this relationship that Close came to be in charge of the largest hospital in the nation. During the 1976 Ebola outbreak in Zaire that threatened to engulf the nation, Close coordinated supplies, and quarantine efforts and prevented the disease from spreading widely.Wikimedia Commons
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a former WWE professional wrestler turned actor who has appeared The Fast And Furious franchise.
Professional wrestling was a family business for Dwayne. His father, Rocky Johnson, was a descendent of the Black Nova Scotians, a group of Black American Loyalists who fled the United States during the Revolutionary War to gain freedom in Canada. Rocky wrestled in the National Wrestling Alliance and then the WWF where he, and his partner Tony Atlas, became the first Black tag team to win a title. In 1970, Rocky married Ata Maivia, Dwayne’s mother, the daughter of Peter Maivia, a Samoan professional wrestler, and a member of the famed Anoa'i wrestling family.Wikimedia Commons
Kanye West is a rapper and producer who has become one of the biggest Hip Hop stars of his generation.
Kanye’s father, Ray West, was also a creative force. West was one of the first Black photojournalists in the country. While working for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, West took striking photos of sports, politics, and daily life.Wikimedia Commons/Getty Images
Mariska Hargitay, the actress best known for her portrayal of Officer Olivia Benson on the TV cop drama Law & Order: SVU comes from a unique Hollywood dynasty.
Mickey Hargitay grew up in Budapest, Hungary where he was in an acrobatic act with his family and fought against the fascist Hungarian government. After moving to the U.S., he worked his way up from plumber to bodybuilder after seeing a magazine cover of Steve Reeves. He became Mr. Universe in 1955 and joined Mae West's muscleman revue at New York's Latin Quarter, where he met Jayne Mansfield.
Jayne was a Hollywood sex symbol of the 50s and 60s. She was an actress, singer, nightclub entertainer, and early Playboy Playmate. She appeared in a number of celebrated movies and was even the first major American actress to have a nude starring role in a Hollywood motion picture. Wikimedia Commons
Jackie Chan is a world-renowned martial artist, stuntman, actor, and director from Hong Kong who has started in movies across the globe.
His father, Charles Chan, was joined the Chinese Nationalist Army when he was 20. He was captured and imprisoned by the Japanese during WWII but used his family’s political connections to escape and become an agent for the Nationalists. After the Communists defeated the Nationalists in the Chinese Civil War, Charles fled to Shanghai, where he assumed a different name. It was there that he met Jackie’s mother, Lee-Lee Chan.
Lee-Lee Chan was from Wuhan, China and had a first husband who was killed during a Japanese air raid in WWII. Destitute, and with Japanese forces advancing towards the city, Lee-Lee fled to Shanghai. There, she began importing opium and gambling to support herself. One day, when she was bringing opium through a port, she was caught by Charles, who was working as an inspector in Shanghai at the time. He was going to turn her in but hesitated when she saw she was wearing a blue flower, which meant that she had lost family in the war. After hearing her story, he gave her back the opium, and the two became friends. They married shortly after, and they moved to Hong Kong to further avoid the communist government. Wikimedia Commons/Personal photo