It’s time to take a look at some creepy relationships throughout history. You might be surprised by just how many famous people have married relatives. Just read through the people here in our list of 15 Celebs Who Married Their Own Cousin. Sure, everyone is eventually related in some way, shape, or form, but marrying your first or second cousin is just plain weird. Yet there are plenty of famous people who have done it throughout the years! From famous politicians and writers to musicians and actors, you are going to be shocked at just who was married to whom!
Before we begin, how about if we look at some of the marriage laws in the United States? Of course, our list of famous people includes individuals from other countries as well, but just for some insight there are currently twenty-one states that allow people to marry their first cousins. When it comes to marriage to second cousins, the rules are a bit more lax. Forty-one states allow that. There is also the question of marrying adopted cousins or half-cousins, but that is when it gets messy. We will just focus on more clear-cut relationships, such as first, second and third cousins.
You might be wondering if you know who all of your cousins are! If you’re like Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, you may find out that you are sixth cousins and yet you are husband and wife; or like some people on this list, you’ll find out that they were even closer than that. Have fun reading, and maybe remember to brush up on your family tree the next time you step out on a date!
15. Albert Einstein
Fun fact: there is a rumor swirling around that Albert Einstein didn’t think of his theory of relativity by himself, but that his wife helped him! However, many scholars and biographers say that the rumor is simply not true. Even so, let’s talk about Einstein’s marriage to his first cousin, Elsa Lowenthal. Elsa was Einstein’s second wife; he had been previously married to Mileva Maric from 1903 to 1919. He married Elsa in 1919 and the two of them divorced in 1936. They married in 1919, but they had been linked since 1912. Einstein was also in love with a childhood friend, Marie Winteler, whom he regularly wrote to for a few years. That relationship didn’t end up being much, but Einstein was very adamant about his “missed life” with Marie. He even wrote those letters when Elsa was pregnant with their second kid. Yikes. Maybe Einstein wasn’t as brilliant as we thought!
14. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, also known as FDR, was President of the United States from 1933 to 1945, a pivotal era in American history, what with the Great Depression and World War II. When he was 23, he married his uncle’s 21-year-old daughter, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt. His mother was appalled by his decision to marry his own cousin, but that didn’t stop Franklin and Eleanor from having six children together. Despite being a married father of six, Franklin had several affairs with other women, and he even slept with Eleanor’s personal secretary, Lucy Mercer. Scummy! Eleanor found out and a divorce almost happened, but Franklin promised that he was done with Lucy. Eleanor accepted his apology but (understandably) never got over it and their marriage was tumultuous from then one. More of a political partnership than an intimate pairing. For her part, Eleanor Roosevelt became a kickass lady and modern role model.
13. Jesse James
Jesse James wasn’t a good dude. He was a gang leader who engaged in guerrilla warfare and regularly robbed people. Yet he managed to be popular with the ladies, one of whom was Zerelda Mimms, his first cousin. Jesse and Zerelda got married after Jesse moved in with Zerelda’s mother in 1865. Super creepy because Zerelda was named after Jesse’s own mother. That would make intimacy kind of weird, right? Zerelda and Jesse remained engaged for a long nine years as he fought and committed crimes with his gang. During the couple’s honeymoon, Jesse was tracked down by authorities, putting a damper on the occasion. Seriously, why would someone go and marry an outlaw? Zerelda bore Jesse four children including a set of twins. The family was witness to Jesse’s capture and death by gunshot. That was pretty traumatizing, and on top of that, Zerelda was left nearly penniless and had to move in with her brother.
12. Johann Sebastian Bach
Bach was a famous composer who is still lauded today for his pieces such as the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, and dozens upon dozens of cantatas. He lived from 1685 to 1750, and he married Maria Barbara Bach, second cousin, in 1707. Three of their children did not make it past infancy, but the surviving children were Catharina Dorothea, Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel, and Johann Gottfried Bernhard. Maria Barbara died suddenly in 1720, leaving Bach widowed with four children. Maria was said to have passed away due to pregnancy complications. After that, Bach went on to marry his second wife, Anna Magdalena Wilcke, a woman with a beautiful singing voice. She had a successful and happy marriage to Bach and was even considered talented enough to be a composer like him! She bore Bach thirteen children, although seven of them died in infancy. After Bach’s death you can imagine Anna had trouble caring for all the kids.
11. Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein is not just a bad guy. He was also a famous person who married their own cousin. Hussein got married to Sajida Talfah through an arranged marriage. How awkward. Even worse was that Hussein and Talfah didn’t meet until their wedding day, but they had 5 kids together. Creepy. Talfah was the daughter of Hussein’s uncle, who also mentored Hussein. His children with Talfah went on to become a professional athlete, politicians and military servicemen, and supporters of their father. Hussein had a second marriage to his mistress, Samira Shahbandar. Hussein demanded that her husband divorce her so that Hussein could marry her. What a jerk. The two of them had one kid together, and then Hussein married yet another woman, Nidal al-Hamdani. There are rumors that Hussein had a fourth wife, Wafael-Mullah al-Howeish. What a mess. Hussein is now dead, and several of his child have obtained sanctuary or asylum abroad.
10. Queen Elizabeth II
It’s sort of a given that British royalty are going to marry someone who has some sort of connection to the family. Still, we thought it weird enough to include on our list, so let’s talk about the Queen! Did you know that she rules over not only the United Kingdom, but New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Belize, and several other nations? Crazy power! Queen Elizabeth II is married to Prince Philip, who is her second cousin. Philip was the Prince of Greece and Denmark when he met Elizabeth, and they are second cousins through King Christian IX of Denmark. They’re also third cousins through Queen Victoria. Elizabeth and Philip began getting romantically interested in each other when she was just 13 years old. By the time she was 21, she was engaged to marry Philip. Despite the family connection, the real controversy was that Philip was nearly financially broke compared to Elizabeth’s family.
9. Mario Vargas Llosa
Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa is known for his publications, his journalism career, and his 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature. What some people may not know about him is that he married his first cousin, Patricia Llosa. He was previously married to Julia Urquidi, a writer from Bolivia, and his marriage to Patricia was his second. Sure, Vargas Llosa leaned more and more towards being a liberal, but this is just weird. Anyway, Mario and Patricia had three children together who worked in photography, business, and writing. Currently, Vargas Llosa is in a new romantic relationship while finalizing his divorce from Patricia, this time with Isabel Preysler, a Spanish social elite and TV hostess. Mario is 80 years old, but who knows if he’s going for marriage number three? Despite his strange dealings with women, he has won numerous awards, including the Miguel Cervantes Prize in 1994 and published countless works, including fiction, non-fiction, and personal essays.
8. Christopher Robin Milne
Born in 1920 in England, Christopher Robin Milne was the son of author A.A. Milne (who wrote the Winnie the Pooh books.) As you would expect, Christopher Robin Milne was the inspiration behind the Winnie the Pooh character of the same name. When Christopher was just a baby, he received a teddy bear named Winnipeg, which became the Winnie the Pooh that we all know and love today. When he was 28 years old, he married his first cousin Lesley Selincourt. The marriage was a source of distress for his family, especially his mother, who didn’t get along with Lesley’s parents. Undeterred, Christopher and Lesley moved away and started their own bookstore (ironically,) which was a success. Perhaps owing to the inbreeding between Christopher and Lesley, their daughter Nancy was born with Cerebral Palsy. Christopher himself developed Myasthenia gravis (a neuromuscular disease) and died at 75 years of age.
7. Thomas Jefferson
Yes, yes, Thomas Jefferson, one of the first guys to sign the Declaration of Independence and the nation’s third President. His history is a bit muddled, because he did good things and bad things. As most of us know, Jefferson owned many slaves and lived in a mansion on a 5,000-acre plantation, yet he signed a national document that granted rights and the pursuit of happiness to everyone. Conundrum! He also married his third cousin, Martha Wayles Skelton, who sort of also worked as his housekeeper. Even so, Martha and Thomas were said to have had a very happy marriage, and it was a high point in the President’s life. They were married for ten years and had six children before Martha fell ill and passed away. In 1821, Thomas Jefferson was 77 years old and he penned his autobiography, sort of to set the record straight about his lifestyle and choices.
6. John Adams
It’s a pretty good time to talk about past United States presidents, isn’t it? After all, the U.S. Presidential election is underway. At least Donald Trump didn’t end up marrying one of his cousins like John Adams did. Adams married Abigail Smith, his third cousin. The couple had six children, one of which died during childbirth and another that became another United States President: John Quincy Adams. As for Adams’ wife, Abigail, she was a prominent women in U.S. history and has been widely studied by biographers and laypeople. John and Abigail Adams often discussed politics together and it was not uncommon for John to ask his wife for political advice. Abigail was a proponent for women’s rights, and she was also a fierce abolitionist. It’s pretty easy to see why she was such a talked-about woman! Even by today’s standards, Abigail is still bada**, even if she did marry her cousin.
5. H.G. Wells
Perhaps you have read some H.G. Wells books such as The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, and The Island of Doctor Moreau. After all, the dude was a Nobel Laureate and was highly regarded in the academic world. He was also a bit of a creep for marrying his first cousin, Isabel Mary Wells. The couple ended up divorcing to no one’s surprise. We find it interesting that Wells married his first cousin in the first place, especially since he took after Charles Darwin in his evolutionary and scientific beliefs. Sure, Darwin married his cousin as well, but some of his kids had some serious physical ailments. We would think that Wells would want to avoid those kinds of inbreeding complications, but no. After his divorce from Isabel, Wells married one of his students, Amy (Jane) Catherine Robbins. With her permission, he had affairs with several women.
4. Jerry Lee Lewis
Jerry Lee Lewis is ancient now (he’s 80 years old), but back in the day he got married to his 13-year-old cousin, Myra Gale Brown. That move almost destroyed his career because let’s be honest: that’s creepy AF. “The Killer,” as he was often called, married the 13-year-old when he was just 22. Isn’t that illegal? Granted, the marriage ended up resulting in a huge controversy that had everyone talking. While Lewis’ agency said that Myra was 15 (like that would be any better), his concert tour ended up being cancelled after just three shows. Bummer! Lewis was soon taken off the airwaves so people couldn’t listen to him on the radio anymore. That all but did away with him. He started playing at bars for chump change compared to his previous salary and kept on going with releasing records. Nothing was the same though, but Lewis still does make concert appearances today.
3. Charles Darwin
We all know about Charles Darwin and his publication The Origin of Species. He made great discoveries and research about evolution, even though some of his ideas have been thrown away today. Anyway, his personal life was also a grey area. Darwin ended up marrying his first cousin Emma Wedgwood. She and Darwin had ten (yes, ten) children. Given the time period, two of these children died while they were still babies, and one of their daughters, Annie, died when she was just ten years old. Darwin was a super-attentive father and he was also extremely concerned whenever his children got sick. He often suspected that it was due to complications from his marrying his first cousin. You think? He wrote about this subject throughout his life, but some of his fears were put at ease because a few of his kids had quite successful careers. In fact, three of his sons were knighted!
2. Edgar Allen Poe
The creepy writer who wrote poems like The Tell-Tale Heart and The Raven may have been even weirder than you first thought. Edgar Allen Poe married his first cousin, Virginia Clemm, when she was just 13 years old. Yuck! He even had a thing for calling her “Sissy.” Poe was mostly likely first engaged to a woman named Sarah Elmira Royster, but the two of them stopped communicating with each other after Poe began attending the University of Virginia. Later on, Poe found out that Sarah had married another guy, Alexander Shelton. Cue more depression and self-pity! Poe turned to military service and after a few years of that, he went to live with his aunt, Maria Clemm. Her daughter, Virginia Clemm was seduced by the 26-year-old Poe and the two married in 1835. Virginia ended up dying in 1846 due to tuberculosis. This no doubt inspired more depressing poetry and short stories.
1. Rudy Giuliani
Right now, Rudy Giuliani is in the news because of the upcoming Presidential election in the United States. He is a backer of Donald Trump (what?!) although he has more backbone than some other politicians. Anyway, we aren’t here to discuss his political views, we are here to discuss his marriage! Rudy Giuliani is a modern-day famous person who married a cousin. Regina Peruggi is Rudy’s second cousin, and Rudy initially thought that she was his third cousin. To be honest, it would still weird us out if he married a third cousin, but whatever. The truth of the matter is that they are more closely related than they thought, and this marriage soon crumbled. It was the first of three marriages for Rudy, who then went on to wed Donna Hanover and Judith Nathan. All three of these marriages were flops, which leads us to believe that Rudy is just destined to be a bachelor.