Unless they’re flaunting their family life for the benefit of a lucrative reality TV deal, celebrities usually do their best to keep their private life separate from their glamorous Hollywood lifestyle. While some celebrities come from Hollywood dynasties, whose family trees have a long and noble history, others are self-made successes with slightly murkier pasts.
While partners and kids are typically tabloid fodder and paparazzi gold, most celebrities’ siblings and parents get overlooked in the rush to the journos’ ongoing attempts to dig up dirt about the world’s favourite A-listers. That’s why celebrities’ most embarrassing family members are often successfully shielded from the limelight.
The following relatively unknown family members of high profile celebrities have all embarrassed, concerned or upset their famous relatives at some point. Some are tragic tales, some are amusing, and some are just plain cringe-worthy. The following are ten of the most embarrassing celebrity relations these celebs would probably rather you didn’t know about.
10. Mel Gibson’s Father – Hutton Gibson
Mel Gibson really doesn’t need any help embarrassing himself, but it seems he comes from an embarrassment dynasty. His father, Hutton Gibson, is a World War II veteran and a writer with some extreme and controversial ideas.
Now a venerable 96 year old, some have connected Hutton’s views to his son’s notorious anti-semitic rants. Mel’s father has written widely on ‘Sedevacantism’, a view which rejects the reformations of the Second Vatican Council. He has been quoted as calling it a plot “backed by the Jews”.
Hutton is also a Holocaust denier – perhaps there was very little hope for the troubled Mel Gibson.
9. Noelle Bush – George W. Bush’s Niece
Just a year after her uncle’s inauguration, Noelle Bush was arrested. The charges against the 25 year old included prescription fraud – she was reportedly found trying to file a prescription for Xanex that wasn’t under her own name. She was also charged with possession of crack cocaine.
None of this looked good for the presidential family, and the situation became even messier when Noelle spent no more than a fortnight behind bars. Rumours abounded of judicial bribery. It was reported that the judge overseeing Noelle’s case had links to a charity that had benefited from hundreds of thousands in government grants.
There might be a case to be made that Noelle should be more embarrassed by her former-President uncle than he should be of her. But whatever your political affiliation, there’s no doubting that Noelle’s behaviour has drawn unfavorable publicity to her high-profile political family.
Her father, Jeb Bush, is currently a leading Republican candidate in the Presidential race, drawing Noelle’s past indiscretions back into the public eye.
8. Cheryl Cole’s Brother – Andrew Tweedy
British popstar and reality TV darling Cheryl Cole came from a disadvantaged background. While her voice and appearance has secured Cole the position of a national treasure, her troubled family life is never far from the tabloids.
In 2008, brother Andrew even opened up to a British tabloid about his many arrests, his drug abuse and his litany of criminal activity. Cheryl reportedly visited her brother in prison and offered to pay for a stint in rehab for her down-and-out sibling. But all was to no avail: In 2011, 20 year old Andrew Tweedy was sentenced to six years behind bars for armed robbery.
7. Mariah Carey’s Sister – Alison Carey Scott
The story of Alison Carey Scott is a tragic one, and it contrasts starkly with the charmed life of her famous diva sister.
Alison Carey Scott is a former sex worker, and is estranged from her songstress sibling. Alison, who is eight years older than Mariah Carey told papers that she took to the streets to support her family before Mariah made it big. She has been diagnosed as HIV-positive, and at last reports Alison was in a rehabilitation facility.
Mariah and Alison have not spoken since 1994, and Alison has publicly appealed to her sister to get in touch – she says she’d love to meet her niece and nephew for the first time.
6. Hania Barton
The Barton family have had their share of woes with Mischa Barton’s struggles with alcohol and drugs. And while older sister Zoe is a barrister, younger sis Hania has had her own struggles. Mischa’s career took off when her Irish-English family moved to the U.S. early in her life, but after wild success in TV show the O.C., Mischa’s roles dried up and she was later diagnosed with mental problems.
Unfortunately, similar troubles seem to run in the family. In 2007, Hania – who has also tried her hand at acting, although with less success than her big sister – was checked into rehab. It emerged that she was addicted to prescription pain killers. Her stint in rehab lasted a month, and she has maintained a low profile since.
5. Jane Etta Pitt
Brad Pitt has been embarrassed by his family on a number of occasions. Although there’s no crime in his family history, the liberal actor was publicly shamed when his conservative mother wrote an open letter for a Missouri publication. In the letter, she spoke out against Obama due to his pro-gay rights stance. Pitt has made clear that he is pro equal rights for the LGBT community.
But the lesser-known Pitt brother, a noted businessman and philanthropist, also embarrassed his brother when he made a cringe-worthy attempt at acting in 2012. Virgin Mobile Australia had the inspired idea to put Doug in front of the camera. Presented as ‘the second most famous Pitt in his family’, Doug good-humouredly profiled his very sweet, very normal middle-class life in an MTV Cribs-style advert. It was a genius stroke of marketing, and Doug Pitt showed himself to be a good sport, but he still became the public manifestation of the underdog celebrity sibling.
4. Gordon Ramsay’s Brother – Ronnie Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay is one of the world’s most famous, wealthiest chefs and one of the decade’s most notorious reality TV stars. The 48 year old Scot is worth an estimated $120 million. His brother Ronnie is homeless.
In a tragic tale of a family being torn apart by addiction, Ronnie Ramsay was jailed in 2007. The charge was possession of heroin. Ronnie has been quoted saying that his wealthy brother refused to lend him the cost of a decent lawyer, claiming his family has wiped their hands of him. In an interview with Sunday People, Gordon spoke frankly about his younger brother’s troubles. He said that although he has tried to help his brother on several occasions, he has also tried to ‘introduce tough love’.
3. Reese Witherspoon’s Brother – John Draper Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon’s older brother was charged with sexual battery and burglary in 2002. The incident in question was believed to have been linked to drunkenness. John was also charged with drinking and driving.
41 year old John is a real estate agent who has stayed clear of the law since, and seems to have outgrown his troubled past. He and Hollywood superstar sister Reese are still very much in contact, and appear to have moved past his tumultuous history. Of course, Reese would do well to avoid judging her brother too harshly; she herself had a brush with the law when she was arrested in 2013 for disorderly conduct.
2. Alec Baldwin’s Brother – Daniel Baldwin
The four Baldwin brothers have always been something of a Hollywood enigma. They are by turns talented, badly behaved and erratic. Alec, the most successful sibling, has had his fair share of negative publicity associated with mistreating his daughter and making homophobic slurs.
But it’s Daniel, the second eldest brother, who has had the most negative publicity. The actor has had a reasonably prolific career, appearing in TV series Homicide: Life on the Street and in Grim in 2012. But his legal troubles have overwhelmed his acting successes.
Some of the more embarrassing incidents involving Daniel Baldwin included an arrest in 1998, when he was found in possession of cocaine after running naked around the Plaza in New York – reportedly crying, “Baldwin!” Subsequent charges throughout the 2000s included grand theft auto. He was fired from Celebrity Rehab in 2007 for sending inappropriate messages to a fellow patient.
1. Barack Obama’s Uncle – Onyango “Omar” Obama
The president’s uncle faced deportation to Kenya after having been arrested for drunk driving in 2011. It was revealed he had flouted a deportation order in 1992. However, immigration authorities ruled that he was a man of good character and, as he had arrived in America prior to 1972, he was eligible for a green card.
Despite the controversy stirred by his uncle’s case, the President and the White House declined to comment on the proceedings or on the President’s relationship to Omar Obama. Barack Obama’s uncle reportedly arrived in America in the 1960s in order to study there, but when his visa expired he failed to renew it.
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