"May a plague curse both your families."
Mercutio says these famous words at the end of Act 1 in Shakespeare’s Rome and Juliet. And we all know what eventually happens to Romeo, Juliet, and the feuding houses of Capulet and Montague… “for never was there a story of more woe.” Of course, cursed families and blighted bloodlines existed long before Shakespeare. The Ancient Greeks had more curses than the Kennedy clan, from the House of Atreus to the mythical House of Thebes. In the latter, poor Oedipus kills his father, marries his mother, and blinds himself. Is a curse an explanation for bad luck or is something supernatural going on… a divine deus ex machina that strikes down families with wealth, power, and gene pools fouled with hubris and impropriety?
Misfortune and adversity plague all types of families, from royal dynasties to scions of industry. The more famous and powerful a family is, the more scrutiny it receives; the skeletons in the closet don’t remain in the closet for long. Yet some families are magnets for misfortune. Generation after generation is plagued with tragedy, as if their bloodlines are cursed… their lineages tainted. This is seen in families like the Hapsburgs, Romanovs, and Guinnesses. As Tolstoy said, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
10 The Von Erich Family
9 The Agnelli Family
8 The Hemingway Family
7 The Lee Family
Bruce Lee died six days before the release of his kung fu masterpiece Enter the Dragon. He was 33. His death triggered a maelstrom of rumors and conspiracy theories –the Chinese triads and Italian mafia were both blamed for Lee’s untimely death. The official report, however, was less sinister. Lee had a headache and was given a painkiller by the actress Betty Ting Pei; he went to take a nap on her sofa, but never woke up. The coroner concluded that Bruce Lee had cannabis in his system, and that the painkiller and cannabis caused an allergic reaction that poisoned the actor's system.
Twenty years later Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee’s son, died in a freak accident on the set of The Crow. He was 28. A live round was accidentally placed in the prop gun, and Brandon was shot in the abdomen. Once again conspiracy theorists pointed fingers at the Chinese triads and Italian mafia
6 The House of Hapsburg
The House of Hapsburg was a six hundred year European aristocracy and one of the most important royal houses in Europe. But six hundred years is plenty of time for tragedy, misfortune, and a host of inbreeding descendants. Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I married his cousin Elisabeth of Bavaria. Her side of the family was plagued by mental illness, which probably contributed to the untimely death of Rudolph, her only son and heir to the throne. In 1889, Rudolph and his 17-year old mistress Mary Vetsera died in a murder-suicide at the prince’s hunting lodge. Because of Rudolph’s untimely death, Franz Ferdinand, the emperor’s nephew, became the heir apparent. And the rest, as they say, is history: the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in 1914 led to the chain of events that triggered World War I.
5 The Osmond Family
4 The House of Monaco
3 The Brando Family
“The horror… the horror.” The line uttered by Colonel Kurtz at the end of Apocalypse Now sums up the Brando family’s cursed bloodline. Brando’s family suffered from alcoholism and drug addiction. In the autobiography “Songs My Mother Taught Me,” Marlon Brando wrote: "The anguish that her drinking produced was that she preferred getting drunk to caring for us.” Brando’s first wife, Anna Kashfi, developed a drug and alcohol problem after giving birth to their son Christian. But the Brando family’s bad luck didn’t end there.
2 The Getty Family
Kidnappings, affairs, premature deaths, grand wealth and equally grand misfortune –the story of the Getty family is the story of the American Dream turned sour. John Paul Getty, founder of the Getty Oil Company, was America’s first oil billionaire and named the richest man in America by Forbes in 1957. A notorious philanderer, John Paul Getty was married five times. Timmy, Getty’s first son, died of a brain tumor at age 12, and his eldest, George, died under mysterious circumstances.
1 The Kennedy Family
(Photograph: years before he would die in a plane crash, John F Kennedy Jr. salutes the coffin of his assassinated father).
Yet another Kennedy died too young. That’s the backbone of the Camelot curse. The story of the Kennedys is a story about wealth, power, privilege and prestige. But it’s also the story of a family’s tragic fall from grace. Did vengeful gods curse the Kennedys because they were jealous of their power and prestige, or is the number of tragedies that befell America’s royal clan the natural fallout of a family riddled with hubris and entitlement? Perhaps it depends on which side of the political fence you’re on.
The end of "Camelot" began with the assassination of President John. F. Kennedy in 1963, and was cemented with the assassination of his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, in 1968. Senator Edward Kennedy is the only one of four brothers to die from natural causes, but the scandal surrounding his drunken car crash on Chappaquiddick Island in 1969, and the death of campaign aid Mary Jo Kopechne, stalked him for the rest of his life. Murder, rape, suicide, alcoholism, depression, a skiing accident, plane crashes, overdoses, relentless womanizing, and a host other crimes and misdemeanors have haunted the Kennedys.
Sources: TheGuardian.com, TheDailyBeast.com, DailyMail.co.uk
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