For the most part, celebrities come from nice families, 2.5 kids, white picket fence out front and a minivan in the paved driveway. This is the image we have of them because they all seem so blessed. But not every soon-to-be-famous-kid went to a private school and had a nanny removing the crusts from their sandwiches, some had much darker pasts. Besides, even if they were all rich growing up, rich people can be criminals too. Living a life of fame comes with its costs. Secrets are rare in show business. This doesn’t only mean that everything a celebrity does will be aired out for the general public to see and enjoy either. Celebrities have their entire lives documented. We know where they come from and what their families are like. If your families are anything like ours, this is a scary prospect. Despite the efforts of celebs to keep their family issues a secret, the world learned them. Maybe you missed it. Many celebrities came from a troubled home of sorts, and we think you’ll be interested in hearing those stories.
What makes a criminal? Well, plenty of parents of celebs have been arrested, so we’ve had to be a bit more selective. We looked at parents who either have been arrested numerous times or did something so crazy that they would be the villain of their own movies. It’s a strange way to judge people but it works extremely well. Many of the stars on this list were estranged from their criminal parents, which might explain how they grew up so well-adjusted. In almost all cases, the celebs on this list have proven that, sometimes, the apple does fall far from the tree. So let’s take a look at whose parents are screw-ups. Here are 15 Celebrities Whose Parents Were Criminals.
15. Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves has one of the most turbulent pasts of all celebrities. His life has been marked by tragedy of various sorts, but, yet, he seems like one of the nicest people on the planet. When Keanu was a young boy, his father, Samuel Reeves, was arrested in the Hilo International Airport while trying to sell heroin. Reeves was sentenced to 10 years in prison but got out on parole after only serving two years. Reeves’ mom was a former Paris showgirl who raised Keanu and siblings on her own for the most part. Samuel admits that he also spent 20 years battling a heroin addiction that was likely a large contributor to the estrangement from his family. By all accounts, Keanu has little, if any, contact with his father. In terms of publicity, that’s probably best for Keanu’s career.
14. Kellie Pickler
Kellie Pickler is a musician who garnered most of her fame from reality television, specifically American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. Her father, however, has become almost as famous as she is for all the wrong reasons. The story goes that he had long battled with alcohol problems leading up to his arrest in 2003, when he was caught and sentenced to three years in prison for assault and battery in regards to a stabbing. Years later, Clyde left the state without reporting to his probation officer and was declared a fugitive by the state of Florida. Despite all this, Pickler has remained supportive of her father and declares that he is not a criminal, he just has some issues with the sauce.
13. Leighton Meester
Leighton Meester has a unique distinction of not only being the child of a criminal, but she is also born to a criminal while the criminal was still in jail. Technically, Meester was born in a hospital and nursed in a halfway house for a few months, but, after that, her mother, Constance, went right back to prison to serve out the rest of her drug trafficking sentence. You see, Meester’s mom was part of a huge drug ring that transported marijuana between the US and Jamaica. Once Meester got famous, she would defend her mother and say that her mama bear is living proof that you can’t judge someone for their pasts. But that was before Meester sued her mother and her mother countersued her. Turns out, if Meester had just judged her mother based on her past as she should have, she could have avoided that future headache.
12. Woody Harrelson
The tales of Woody Harrelson’s father are well-known by now. In case you didn’t know, we’ll tell you. Harrelson’s pops, Charles, was a convicted hitman who died while serving a life sentence in prison. If you’re hearing this for the first time, you’re probably pretty shocked. We were too when we first heard it. Woody claims that Charles left their family home in 1968. He didn’t see or hear from his father for many years until he heard on the news his dad had been arrested for the murder of Judge John Wood. Apparently, Texas drug lord Jamiel Chagra hired Charles to assassinate the judge who was overseeing the trial. Wood was known to be harsh on drug criminals, so the drug lord must have been worried about his chances. The murder was also the first assassination of a federal judge in the 20th century, making Woody’s dad pretty famous. Charles died in prison in 2007.
11. Kevin Spacey
Even though Kevin Spacey doesn’t have much to say about his father, the accusations against the man are condemning. Truthfully, Kevin doesn’t just avoid speaking about his father. He has gone so far as the say the accusations from his brother, Randall Fowler, about their father, Thomas Fowler, aren’t true. We don’t know what to believe because the legendary actor has distanced himself from his family, changing his last name to his mother’s maiden name and refusing to speak about his past, so take this all with a grain of salt. It all comes from Spacey’s brother, Randall, who has spoken at length about how their father was a Nazi sympathizer and would dress up like Hitler. The pictures of the man do have a Hitler-esque look to them. That’s not the crime though, even if it is crazy and weird. Randall also claimed that their father would sexually abuse him and another family member when they were children. While Randall claimed their father always left Kevin alone, Spacey’s father sounds like a despicable human being.
10. Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj has talked about her troubled childhood in the past, detailing how her parents would fight and yell and hit each other all the time. She’s spoken about how the police would be called to the house quite often and even how, one night in 1987, her crack-addicted father flew into a rage and started demanding money from Nicki’s mother. The fight culminated in Nicki’s father, Robert, burning down their house with his wife, Nicki’s mother, still inside. In addition to this attempted murder, Nicki recalls another time when Robert pulled her mother out of a car and dragged her on the ground for two blocks. It’s unclear if he ever spent any time in prison for these malicious actions, but he’s a criminal in our books.
9. Tobey Maguire
Tobey Maguire doesn’t speak a whole lot about his past other than the fact that his parents were young when they had him and custody battles were ongoing and tiresome, but there’s a claim out there that his father, Vincent, was arrested back in 1993 for robbing a bank. Admittedly, the reports are sparse and pretty vague, so there’s a chance that this is all a misunderstanding, but it has been picked up and regurgitated over the years as fact and Maguire has never disputed it. Maguire’s dad, Vincent, allegedly entered a bank in Reseda, California without a mask in broad daylight and robbed the institution, leaving with a bag of money. One of his neighbors reportedly called the police when he saw Vincent carry the satchel into his garage. For his crime, Vincent was jailed for two years.
8. Lilly and Alfie Allen
Lilly and Alfie’s father, Keith Allen, is a pretty well-known British actor himself. Keith has long been known as a bit of a wild one and he’s been that way his entire life. Lilly doesn’t have a lot of good to say about her dad either, but that’s neither here nor there. It all started when Keith was expelled from school at the age of 13 and was put into a detention center by the age of 15. As an adult, Keith has been arrested a few times for various things, usually involving drugs and alcohol and different forms of vandalism and violence. Keith also spent time in prison for damaging the Zanzibar club in the 80s. It seems that Mr. Allen never did grow up and the fact that he’s obviously quite proud of his crimes shows that he doesn’t intend to. It’s clear that this is a man who is stuck in a different era and refuses to accept that the world has moved on from sex, drugs, rock and roll and trashing hotel rooms.
7. Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore’s family is a very well-known and prestigious family in the industry, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have their share of legal problems. Drew had her own problems, many of which she attributes to her unconventional childhood. But Drew’s issues are well documented. She was into drugs early and forced to grow up too fast. This might have had to do with her father, John Drew, who had many issues with the law. By the mid-50s, John Drew had served jail time for various drinking and driving infractions and even some domestic abuse. He was involved in a series of street brawls in the 60s and went to jail for possession of marijuana in 1964. All in all, he has a rather long rap sheet.
6. Hope Solo
Even though, today, Hope Solo is one of the most despicable and spoiled rotten athletes in the world, her childhood was one that elicits quite a bit of empathy from people. While her father, Jeffrey, was in prison for embezzlement at Walla Walla State Penitentiary, Solo was conceived during a conjugal visit. Years, later, when Solo was seven and her parents were separated, Jeffrey took her and her brother to a baseball game and ended up kidnapping them for several days. Eventually, Jeffrey was arrested and charged for taking the children. Hope would go on to praise her father’s influence over her, saying that he was a big reason that she became the soccer player she was. Hopefully he wasn’t an influence on her becoming the snotty poor-sport she proved herself to be in the last Olympics.
5. Jackie Chan
Jackie Chan’s parents have a wildly interesting story full with crime and excitement. After two crazy lives separate from each other, Jackie’s mother and father met in Shanghai. Lee-Lee, Jackie’s mother, was selling opium in order to survive when she was caught by a police officer. Not only did the officer let her go, he also gave her the opium back. This cop was Charles, the man who would become Jackie’s father. He was also part of the street gang called the “Shandong Gang.” After this encounter, Lee-Lee got into gambling and had a long string of wins, but when that turned south, she resorted to pawning everything she owned. Apparently, Charles, who remained close with Lee-Lee during this time, would get back all of these goods and return them to her. If he paid for these goods is up to our imagination. They later got married and had Jackie.
4. Terrence Howard
Terrence Howard has a dark history as it relates to his father. When Howard was only two, he and his family waited in line to sit on Santa’s knee in a shopping mall. During the wait, a fight broke out between Terrence’s father, Tyrone, and another man, who accused them of cutting in line. How exactly everything went down depends on whose side of the story you’re hearing, but, what is known to have happened is the other man struck Tyrone in the pelvic region several times, causing him to bleed. Tyrone ended up stabbing the man many times with an unknown sharp object. The man would die from his injuries and Tyrone would serve 11 months in prison for manslaughter.
3. Charlize Theron
Prior to the big event in Charlize Theron’s teenage life, neither her father, Charles, nor her mother had been involved in any criminal activity. Her father was an alcoholic and would get angry from time to time but nothing serious ever occurred until she was 15. On that fateful night, when coming home drunk, Theron’s father started shooting his gun, threatening to kill both Charlize and her mother. It was then that Charlize’s mother, Gerda, grabbed another gun and shot and killed Charles. Gerda was declared innocent due to self-defence and that was that. The two moved away from South Africa and the rest is history.
2. Judith Barsi
Judith Barsi was a child actress best known for her voice acting in The Land Before Time and All Dogs Go to Heaven, voicing the characters of Duckie and Anne-Marie respectively. Barsi’s father, Jozsef, was a notorious alcoholic and had been arrested on drinking and driving charges multiple times. Barsi’s mother, Maria, had gone to the police numerous times regarding some disturbing death threats from Jozsef. Despite several attempts to reach out for help, no police action was ever taken against Jozsef. There was even an investigation into child abuse, but it was left at Maria promising she would leave the man for the good of her and her daughter. Sadly, it never got that far as Jozsef shot and killed both Maria and Judith before burning their bodies. He then shot and killed himself before police found him.
1. Jamie Foreman
Actor Jamie Foreman is recognizable even though his name isn’t the most familiar. Jamie’s father, Freddie Foreman, was a well-known gangster in South London and was an associate of the Kray twins, the twins who are portrayed by Tom Hardy in the recent film, Legend. Freddie was accused of several murders, but was charged with disposing the body of Jack “the Hat” McVitie, getting 10 years in prison for his involvement. Later, Freddie was imprisoned for nine more years for being part of the Shoreditch Security Express robbery, the largest cash robbery in the UK at the time. After that, Freddie confessed to the murders of Frank “Mad Axeman” Mitchell and Tommy “Ginger” Marks as well. Jamie Foreman’s father is a movie-quality criminal.