Money and fame usually go hand in hand with family. If a guy finds success, he wants to help out the people he loves the most, and those he knows he can trust. You see it all the time in Hollywood. One Hemsworth brother got famous and pretty soon the other one did too. Or look at the Coppola family: there’s director Francis Ford Coppola of Godfather fame, then there’s his nephew Nicolas Cage, daughter Sofia Coppola, and another nephew, Jason Schwartzman. Would Solange have ever gotten that record deal without Beyonce helping out? And let’s not forget the altruism amongst the reality-TV booty sisters, the Kardashians.
It’s great to share wealth within the family, but wedding vows, that’s a whole other story. In many parts of the world, marrying a cousin is considered unthinkable. It’s legal in Canada, but in most US states, when you go to the courthouse for a marriage license, they ask you if you’re related. It’s not good for the gene pool, there are birth defects involved, not to mention blows to the IQ level. It’s widely socially unacceptable and creepy, a negative taboo reserved for rednecks and hillbillies.
It’s a shock to discover how often marriage within the family still occurs. And some famous figures on this list aren’t as backwards as you would expect. There are some highly esteemed citizens who may have accidentally partnered up, and there are others who fell in love at the family reunion and didn’t care. Either way, it is still pretty odd. If you found out you were related to your girlfriend, would you still propose? Let’s hope not. There are plenty of other girls out there.
14. Kevin Bacon
Everybody recognizes Kevin Bacon, who has remained active in the business since Animal House back in 1978. The character actor has landed leads in major films like Footloose and Apollo 13, as well as having bit parts in numerous other movies. He’s been in so many films that the game, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon was invented, in which you attempt to connect Bacon to any other actor in six films or less. But he never expected that a bloodline would connect him and his actress wife Kyra Sedgwick. The wedded couple of 20 years are 9th cousins, a discovery made by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on his ancestry based TV show, Finding Your Roots.
13. Henry VIII
Here’s the crazy old Tudor king who beheaded half of his wives. He wanted a divorce from his first wife, but the Pope wouldn’t let him so he separated England from the Roman Church. Then he got married again and again and grew increasingly obese and unstable. His royal story has been retold numerous times on film and TV. Maybe the reason he was having all the marriage problems was because he was related to every single wife—all six of them. In chronological order, it went: Catherine of Aragon, 4th cousin; Anne Boleyn, 7th cousin; Jane Seymour, 5th cousin; Anne of Cleves, 9th cousin; Catherine Howard, 7th cousin; and Catherine Parr, 3rd cousin.
12. Franklin Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was arguably America’s most powerful president. He’s the only one to serve four terms, from 1933 to 1945, twice as long as any other POTUS. Besides the personal triumph of surviving polio, the democrat finally pulled the nation up from the Great Depression with the New Deal, repealed prohibition, and led the people into World War II. His famous quote: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” still resonates today. His wife, Eleanor, was also very outspoken, and was a pioneer in establishing civil rights. She was also FDR’s 5th cousin, and President Teddy Roosevelt was her uncle.
11. Woody Allen
Allen’s name is regarded as one of the biggest in cinematic history. His writing and directing of films such as Annie Hall andMidnight in Paris are legendary. He’s worked with everyone from Diane Keaton to Sean Penn, and Leonardo DiCaprio to Scarlett Johansson. He’s won four academy awards and the Cecil B DeMille award for lifetime achievement. However, not everyone is a fan, mainly because of the incestuous relationship he had with his step-daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, who he married and is still with today. She is 35 years his junior, but the relationship has worked because, according to Allen, “She responded to someone paternal.”
10. Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson was a founding father of the USA. He wrote of the Declaration of Independence, and served as a lawyer, governor of Virginia, and the third president. He built Monticello, commissioned the Lewis and Clark expedition, and completed the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the country. He also married his third cousin Martha Wayles Skelton. They had six children together, but most of them died in childhood, and Martha herself died young at age 33. Jefferson never remarried, and years later, had a long relationship with Sally Hemings, a slave he owned, who had at least six of his kids.
9. Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani is credited with transforming the City of New York from a filthy, crime-ridden mess to the polished high-end metropolis that it is today. Before becoming Mayor of NYC, Rudy cut his teeth as a prosecuting attorney, and went after organized crime. Giuliani was responsible for putting infamous gangster John Gotti away for life, and such toughness led to a mayoral election. Giuliani also ran for president in 2008, and eventually fell out of favor and endorsed John McCain. Perhaps his downfall came when it was leaked, via YouTube star, Obama Girl, that Giuliani had in fact married his second cousin Regina Peruggi. They divorced in 1982 after 14 years of marriage.
8. Greta Scacchi
There had to be somebody super hot on this list, and back in the 1980’s Greta was scorching. The Italian-born Australia native was absolutely stunning and completely clothes-free in films like The Coca-Cola Kid, and White Mischief. In Presumed Innocent she took it all off and laid down on an office desk, with none other than Harrison Ford sucking on her c-cups like a soft-serve ice cream cone. She was so irresistible that even her first cousin, Carlo Mantegazza, couldn’t stay away. They had a child together and were recently wed. The union caused quite a backlash within her family, and the public was shocked as well, which basically stopped the starlet’s career in its tracks.
With his puffy mustache and even wilder hair, Einstein is recognized as the definition of brainpower. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics and developed numerous scientific theories and innovations that still hold true today. Most people aren’t nearly smart enough to understand what E=MC2 actually means, but we’ll take his word for it. A man so smart, however, was allegedly pretty dumb at normal stuff. He is rumored to have a closet full of identical outfits and shoes, and painted the door of his house red so he could recognize it. He also married his second cousin Elsa.
6. Jerry Lee Lewis
Goodness gracious, great balls of fire! If you can popularize some goofy nonsense like that, odds are you’re an uncontrollably wild 1950’s rock star. Jerry Lee Lewis could bang on the piano and sing like nobody else had ever seen. He skyrocketed to success on the record label that was built on the shoulders of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. But Lewis eventually proved to be a little too wild for public opinion and his career took a big hit once he married his 13-year-old cousin, Myra. Come on, man! You have all these screaming, beautiful rock and roll groupies, and you get intimate with your cousin? Unbelievable.
5. Saddam Hussein
The former president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, was a brutal dictator with many wives, and one of them was his first cousin Sajida Talfah. Saddam gained infamy for his corrupt handling of Iraq’s huge amounts of oil income. He was a polarizing figure, often ridiculed and portrayed as an evil bumbling idiot in American media and film. In Iraq, Hussein held the highest rank, ruled with force, and was blamed for killing over 250,000 souls in his lifetime. In 2006 he was tried and hanged for the 1982 Dujail Massacre, in which he killed nearly 150 Shiites after their failed assassination attempt on Hussein himself. He was also accused by the US and UK of possessing nukes, which were never found.
4. Edgar Allan Poe
The poems and short stories of Edgar Allan Poe are known for being rather creepy, so that fact that he married his cousin, Virginia, when he was 27, isn’t all that socking. She was only 13 at the time, which is creepy as hell, though. The violence, gore and tragic romantic plotlines in Poe’s famous works like Tell-Tale Heart and The Masque of the Red Death are most likely based on Virginia’s bloody battle with tuberculosis and her untimely death. Poe was certainly ahead of his time and is credited with inventing the genre of detective fiction, as well as popularizing horror and science fiction.
3. Jesse James
One of the most infamous bank robbers of the Wild West, Jesse James was a complete monster. He was born on a hemp farm in Missouri and then shunned by his stepfather, after his father died and his mother remarried. Before the robberies began, James joined a group of Confederate Guerrillas during the Civil War. He and his band gruesomely killed and maimed hundreds of unarmed Union soldiers and their sympathizers. During one battle he was shot and nursed back to health by his first cousin Zerelda “Zee” Mimms. The girl was named after his own mother. They had two kids together, and soon after, a bounty hunter in his very own gang shot Jessie to death.
2. Charles Darwin
Darwin is best known for his theories on evolution, more specifically the effects of natural selection. Natural selection means survival of the fittest—the idea that certain subtle adaptational mutations can stop a species from becoming extinct, while other populations that don’t adapt die out. Darwin hailed from a very wealthy family and built a foundation for his knowledge in his youth, on a five-year voyage around the world on the HMS Beagle. It seems that after all of Darwin’s research, he wasn’t too concerned with consanguinity, and married his first cousin Emma Wedgwood. The couple had ten kids together.
1. Queen Elizabeth II
First question is: How old is this royal old lady? She’s 89. To most people, she has ruled the UK their entire life. In September of 2015, the queen broke the record for the longest reining monarch in world history, with over 63 years on the throne. She has ruled during the rise of technology, including space exploration, the popularization of television, cellular phones and the internet. She saw the decolonization of Africa, and met with the Pope after a 450-year England-to-Rome hiatus. She has seen so much and met so many people, including her husband, second cousin, Prince Phillip.