Ever found out that two actors or singers were related and it kind of blew your mind? I mean, it almost seems that Hollywood likes to keep it in the family? Or is it really true that it helps to know someone in Hollywood? I would imagine that its easier to get into the business when you have someone in your corner. Especially when that person is your mother, your brother or your great-uncle. So with that being said, I present to you my pick of the most influential Hollywood Dynasty families.
Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Most Influential Hollywood Dynasties:
Honorable Mention: Bridges –
Before branching out on an extremely successful movie and TV career, actor Lloyd Bridges was finding success on Broadway; but by the 60s he had his own TV show on CBS. Lucky for Beau and Jeff; he often featured his two sons. Beau and Jeff both went on to star in critically acclaimed roles. I mean, Jeff is the Dude…man.
10. The Stillers –
Jerry Stiller and his wife Anne Meara were the cream of the comedy crop during the 1960s. They went on to star in movies and even legendary TV shows like Seinfeld, The King of Queens, and Alf. The couple went on to have kids and their son is an Emmy award winning actor. Their son, Ben Stiller, is one of comedies biggest names and this family is definitely a comedy and Hollywood dynasty.
9. The Douglases –
The movie industry was booming in the 1950s and dramatic roles in war and Westerns went to Hollywood’s leading men. Kirk Douglas was one of those men. But by the time 1955 rolled around, he was bucking the system and formed his own production company to produce his own projects. He even famously collaborated with the infamous Stanley Kubrick. He defied Hollywood’s blacklist and then gave his son Michael the rights to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which he produced back in 1975. Besides the 1975 movie becoming a best-picture winner, it continued to spring board Jack Nicholson into superstardom. Michael has had his fair share of accolades by winning everything from an Oscar and a SAG Award to receiving an A.F.I. Lifetime Achievement Award. And also Michael is married to Catherine Zeta-Jones…which is an accomplishment in itself. Michael’s oldest son has been a bit of a disappointment but the two children he shares with Zeta-Jones are set to slide right into their place in their Hollywood Dynasty.
8. The Wayans –
What would be considered to be Hollywood’s largest and most successful comedic dynasties; Keenan, Damon, Kim, Shawn, Marlon, Dwayne, Nadia, Elvira, Diedre, and Vonnie Wayans have found success in TV and film. The members of the Wayans family have starred in, written, directed, and produced more than a dozen TV shows and films. Together they boast a net worth of over $100 million. In the early 90s, brothers Damon and Keenan were shot to stardom in their groundbreaking sketch-comedy TV series In Living Color. In Living Color helped launch the careers of Hollywood elite: Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Lopez and many more. In the early 00s, Keenan also created the successful Scary Movie franchise. The children of the Wayans are now entering the business and are slated to be just as dynamic as their parents.
7. The Baldwin brothers –
The eldest Baldwin brother, Alec, may be the most well known but the Baldwin’s boys (Alec, Daniel, William and Stephen) are all in the business. Alec has felt the most time in the limelight, earning himself an Oscar nomination for The Cooler, plus two Emmys, three Golden Globes, and seven SAG Awards for his pivotal role on NBC’s 30 Rock. Thanks to Oliver Stone, brothers: Daniel, William, and Stephen were cast in his 1989 Born on the Fourth of July. Together they have appeared in over 300 films and TV shows. They have produced a flock of famous daughters and many have famous wives and ex-wives.
6. The Sheens –
Ramon Gerardo Antonio Estevez was born to an Irish mother and a Spanish father. Despite opposition from his hard working father, he borrowed money from a priest and moved to New York City in hopes of fulfilling his dreams of becoming an actor. He invented a new, more Hollywood friendly name “Martin Sheen” by combining the last name of two big TV stars: CBS casting director, Robert Dale Martin and televangelist archbishop, Fulton J. Sheen. He decided to change his name after receiving hesitation when he would try to call for an appointment with a casting director. He honed his acting skills and started a family. His son Carlos Estevez took on his father’s Americanized last name when he started acting while his other famous son did not. So…you get it now. Martin Sheen is the father of Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez (though Martin’s other children are also in the business they are not quite as successful). So the son of immigrants becomes a world famous actor and one of his son’s becomes the highest paid actor in the television series. Not only did he start a dynasty but I would say that that is an amazing success story.
5. The Smiths –
“Meat is murder.” Wait…no. I am not referring to the English rock band formed in Manchester, England back in the 1982 led by vocalist Morrissey whose song “Asleep” has been listened to by me 452 times according to my iTunes account. I am of course referring to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, his wife and their progeny. Will Smith became the only actor in history to have eight consecutive movies that grossed over $100 million in the domestic box office, while his wife Jada Pinkett Smith has starred in over 30 films and starred as Fish Mooney in the critically acclaimed crime drama Gotham. They have two children who started out with their parents in some of their movies; but Jaden (their oldest son) starred in the remake of The Karate Kid and their daughter Willow became the youngest artist to be signed to rap mogul Jay-Z’s record label after her debut single went platinum. They are the definition of the new generation of what it means to be a Hollywood dynasty.
4. Garland/Minnelli –
Hollywood is full of power couples. Whether they are still together or sadly broken apart like Brad and Angelina, the power couple sometimes produces an offspring who has that automatic ‘in’. This was definitely the case for infamous actress Judy Garland (yes I’m talking about Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz) and director Vincent Minnelli. That last name ring a bell? Well if your first thought was to Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award-winning singer and actress; then you would be correct. Judy Garland and Vincent Minnelli birthed a star: Liza Minnelli. Despite being married four times, the actress and singer has never had any children. While the dynasty ends with Liza; you can’t deny the Pop Culture power in this family.
3. The Barrymores –
Drew Barrymore may be known for being the little girl in ET and that girl who starred in most of Adam Sandler’s Rom-Com movies…but her lineage is nothing short of impressive. She could possibly be more than a dynasty…they could almost be Hollywood Royalty. Drew’s great-grandfather Maurice Barrymore (birth name Herbert Blythe) was an Indian born stage actor. His second wife (Georgie Drew Barrymore was an American stage actress and comedian. Their youngest son Lionel was a film director as well as a famous actor of stage, screen and radio. Lionel starred in over 200 films; including and the 1946 classic It’s a Wonderful Life. His brother John also became an actor and in the 1920s was known as the ‘greatest Shakespearian actor of his generation’. He and second wife, poet Blanche Oelrichs had a daughter who became an actress in the 40s and 50s. His third wife, Dolores Costello, was known as the “Goddess of the Silent Screen” and was one of the most successful silent film stars in history. Their son John also became an actor and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to television. Despite all of John Jr’s marriages ending in divorce; we come full circle to his daughter Drew. Screen Actors Guild Award and Golden Globe Award winning actress, producer and director. Though Drew had a strained relationship with her family due to her father’s “problems”; hailing from Hollywood royalty had to help her get more than just her foot in the door.
2. Fisher/Reynolds –
In the 1950s, musician and actor Eddie Fisher married actress Debbie Reynolds. Fisher was burning up the pop charts at the height of his crooning career; Reynolds had just had her big break in the classic Singin’ in the Rain. The marriage ended almost as quickly as it began because Fisher struck up a relationship with Debbie’s best friend: the scandalous Elizabeth Taylor. Well, the broken marriage didn’t keep her down and she went on to become an Academy Award winning actress. She was also a mother. A mother to a beautiful daughter: Carrie. Yes! Carrie Fisher, the iconic Princess Leia from the Star Wars movie franchise, was their daughter. Carrie’s brother Todd is a producer and cinematographer while her half-sisters are actresses as well. Carrie went on to have a daughter of her own who is already poised and pouncing upon her Hollywood career.
1.The Coppolas –
If you are a movie buff then you probably recognize the last name Coppola. What you probably don’t realize is just how large the outstretched arm of this family’s Pop Culture influence is. The patriarch of the Coppola family is Carmine Coppola, who studied music at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music before working with Arturo Toscanini with the NBC Symphony Orchestra in the 1940s. When he left the Orchestra in 1951 to pursue his dream of composing music. He worked as an orchestra conductor on Broadway and then became truly famous for contributing music to his son (Francis Ford Coppola)’s movies: The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, The Godfather Part III, and Apocalypse Now. He went on to compose music for nine other movies while his son has went on to become a pivotal figure in the New Hollywood wave of filmmaking. His ability to convey a beautiful story on screen is celebrated around the world. His movies Patton, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II and Apocalypse Now are featured in the Writers Guild of America’s list of 101 greatest screenplays of all time; while The Godfather, Apocalypse Now and The Godfather Part II are listed in AFI’s greats movies of the last 100 years.
That would be enough to qualify the Coppola’s to be a Hollywood Dynasty but the story does not stop there. Carmine’s daughter is none other than Talia Shire (birth name Talia Rose Coppola). That name still not ringing a bell? Connie Corleone from The Godfather films? Or maybe you would recognize her if I were to scream, “YO Adrian!!!” She played a truly iconic role in one of the greatest movie series of all time: Rocky. For her roles, she was nominated for two Academy Awards. She and her first husband, composer David Shire had one child but her other sons Jason and Robert (birthed while married to film producer Jack Schwartzman) are actors.
The last branch on this much larger and ever growing tree that I will explore is the third child of Carmine Coppola: August Floyd Coppola. August is an American academic (earning his doctorate degree at Occidental College), author, film executive and advocate for the arts. Despite his numerous achievements, we are perhaps more familiar with his son: Nicholas Kim Coppola. You may not recognize that name because he changed his name when he entered the entertainment business to forge his own path and not utilize his family name to break into show business. What did he change it to you ask? He kept the first part but change his last name to Cage. That’s right. Nicholas Cage is actually Francis Ford Coppola and Talia Shire’s nephew. And there is no telling as to what the future holds for the latter generations of the Coppola Hollywood dynasty.
Wayans Brothers image attributed to Coachella Valley Weekly, Public Domain, coachellavalleyweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/FP_Wayansbros.jpg
Alec Baldwin speaking at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con International, for “The Boss Baby”, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. Image by and attributed to Gage Skidmore, from Peoria, AZ, United States of America – Alec Baldwin, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56229448
Martin Sheen image by and accredited to Brian McGuirk from Providence, RI – Me and President Barlet, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5114657
Francis Ford Coppola in 2007 image by flickr user squidish; cropped on 02/02/2009 by Before My Ken – flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5852010