Sometimes families can get a little too close, and even in modern times, it’s not unheard of for people to marry their cousins. Sure, it’s taboo, but way more people than you probably think, have done it. If you were wondering about the legality of cousins getting married, it depends on the law in each state. Currently, all states allow second cousins to marry, but only 19 states and the District of Columbia allow first cousins to marry. Here are 13 famous people, most of whom you probably know, that took loving their family to a whole new level.
13. Rudy Giuliani and Regina Peruggi
Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City aka “America’s Mayor”, has been married three times. His first marriage was to Regina Peruggi, who is the daughter of his father’s first cousin, making her his second cousin once removed. The happy (at least for a while) couple had been friends since childhood. They were married from 1968-1982, but did not have any children together. It was Giuliani who filed for an annulment after being together for fourteen years, which essentially says their relationship never really existed, at least in the eyes of the Catholic Church. Perhaps Peruggi was very hurt because she never married again.
12. Edgar Allen Poe and Virginia Clemm
Author, poet and literary critic, Edgar Allen Poe was known for many things, including his infamous poem, The Raven. He was also known for being married to his first cousin, Virginia Eliza Clemm. A May-December romance, Poe was 27 when he married Clem, who was only 13 at the time. Throughout history, it has been speculated that the couple had more of a brother and sister relationship, and were less like husband and wife- never actually consummating their marriage, which might actually be true based on the fact that the couple had no children. There have been many Internet rumors that Poe was gay, based on the context of his writing and that he married Clem to try and “convert.”
11. H.G. Wells and Isabel Mary Wells
In 1891, British author, Herbert George “H.G.” Wells, who is best known as the father of science fiction and author of The War of The Worlds, married his first cousin, Isabel Mary Wells. But, the relationship fizzled and they were separated by 1894. He had reportedly been cheating on her with one of his students, Amy Catherine Robbins (later known as Jane), who he married in 1895. Unlike his first wife, Jane allowed her husband to have multiple affairs, including with women’s issues activist, Margaret Sanger, and writers Odette Keun, Elizabeth von Arnim. Wells and Jane had four children together.
10. Saddam Hussein and Sajida Talfah
Iraqi Dictator, Saddam Hussein was married to his first cousin Sajida Talfah. His maternal uncle was Tulfa’s father. They were married in 1963. Hussein had two other wives throughout his marriage. He married Samira al Shahbandar in 1986, and then married Nidal al-Hamdani, four years later, in 1990. Polygamy is legal in Iraq and Hussein was married to all three wives until his death in 2006. Hussein and Sajida had five children together, Uday, Qusay, Raghad, Rana and Hala. Judging from the picture above, it probably wasn’t the happiest marriage, or the marriage was a silly joke.
9. Christopher Robin Milne and Lesley de Selincourt
Christopher Robin Milne, who was the son of famous Winnie the Pooh author, A.A. Milne and the inspiration for the namesake character, married his maternal first cousin, Lesley de Selincourt. His parents did not approve of the marriage, especially his mother who did not get along with her brother, Aubrey. In fact, she was so upset with her son; that they did not speak for close to fifteen years, even on her deathbed. Winnie the Pooh probably would not have approved of this hate. Christopher and Lesley ended up having one daughter together, Clare, who tragically died of cerebral palsy.
8. Charles Darwin and Emma Wedgwood
Charles Darwin, who was majorly influential in developing the theory of evolution, and was the writer of On The Origin of Species, married his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood. The couple had, wait for it, 10 children together, two of whom died in infancy and 1 who died at age 10. Whenever the rest of his children would become sick or ill, he would always worry that it was due to inbreeding. While you would think that marrying his cousin would be embarrassing to Darwin, and he would want to hide it, he saw the irony of the situation and wrote several papers about it.
7. Albert Einstein and Elsa Lowenthal
The most famous Theoretical Physicist, German-born Albert Einstein was married to Elsa Lowenthal. They were double cousins, meaning they were first cousins on his mother’s side and second cousins on his father’s side. It was the second marriage for both of them. While they were married in June 1919, they had actually begun dating in 1912, when Einstein was still married to his first wife, Milea Maric. Like him, Maric was also a physicist. Loewenthal died in 1936, but Einstein never found another betrothed. Lowenthal had two daughters, Margot and Ilse from her first marriage, but Einstein raised the girls as his own.
6. Jerry Lee Lewis and Myra Gale Brown
Goodness Gracious! Singer Jerry Lee Lewis married his 13-year-old first cousin once removed, Myra Gale Brown. It was his third marriage (there are rumors he still wasn’t divorced from his second wife when they married) and obviously her first. Still very immature, when she was married, Ms. Brown still believed in Santa Claus. Shortly after the wedding, the couple went on tour in Europe, telling the press that Brown was actually 15 years old. Brown would skirt around the issue, telling the press “You can marry at 10 if you can find a husband.” Alas, their marriage did not last and Lewis married 4 other women, for a total of 7 marriages.
5. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Elenor Roosevelt
32nd President of the Unites States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was married to Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, who was his fifth cousin once removed. Her father Elliot, was Franklin’s mother’s brother. Eleanor’s mother died from diphtheria when she was only eight years old and her father died from alcoholism when she was ten, so Eleanor was sent to live with her extended family, who raised her. The happy couple met when she was only two years old, and he was four years old. Eleanor ended up being the longest serving first lady in history, from 1933-1945, way before the term limits we have today! They had 6 children together.
4. Greta Scacchi and Carlo Mantegazza
Actress Greta Scacchi is currently in a relationship with her paternal first cousin, Carlo Mantegazza. They have a son together, Matteo. While Greta’s mother just wants her daughter to be happy, her father does not approve of the relationship and the actress has even said this about the situation, “My dad Luca was deeply offended and quite devastated. He was very angry. Some of the Italian relatives were utterly outraged. My dad found it especially hard because he had cut himself off from all his kin (because of personality clashes) except Carlo, who was his favorite nephew. They were close friends and for a while afterwards they didn’t speak. Dad was furious and Carlo was very hurt.”
3. Martin Van Buren and Hannah Hoes
The 8th President of the United States, Martin Van Buren was married to Hannah Hoes, his first cousin once removed. They were childhood sweethearts, who married on February 21, 1807. The couple had five sons and one daughter, throughout their 12-year marriage, which ended when she tragically died of tuberculosis at the age of 35. Because Hannah passed 18 years before her husband became president, she never actually served as First Lady. The former president was reportedly so in love with his late wife, he never remarried. Strangely, he also never mentioned her in his memoirs. You could say he was a true family man…
2. Queen Victoria and Albert
Queen Victoria was married to her first cousin, Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. While she knew for most for her life that she would be married to him, luckily for her, it turns out she was actually attracted to him. The Queen explains this in her kept journal, where she wrote,
“Albert really is quite charming, and so extremely handsome . . . a beautiful figure, broad in the shoulders and a fine waist; my heart is quite going.”
It was likely he fancied the Queen’s looks as well, because they had an impressive total of 9 children together.
1. Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick
They say everyone is 6 degrees away from Kevin Bacon, and it turns out that he and his wife, actress Kyra Sedgwick are a few degrees closer than they thought they were. While filming the PBS show Finding Your Roots, the couple discovered that they are actually ninth cousins once removed. But hey, family sticks together, right? The couple has one of the strongest marriages in Hollywood and has been married since 1982. They even have two children together. When Sedgwick was told the news, her reaction was rather humorous, she said, “I’m having a hot flash. Shit! See? I knew it! As long as we’re not first cousins, it’s fine.”