With Game of Thrones a keen promoter of the incest, you may be interested to hear they aren’t the only ones to channel such a different way of living. That’s right, famed for marrying their nearest and dearest, quite literally, a number of famous faces have also married into their family. Yep, cousin marriage, as it is sometimes referred to, has been a popular form of marriage since the very beginning. Highly common in some cultures and communities, cousin marriage is considered the ideal form of marriage due to the whole ‘keeping it in the family’ idea.
With the bloodline thought to be sacred in some cultures, cousin marriages enable families to stay within their own bloodline and therefore, marrying your cousin is ideal. With opinions on the matter often quite varied it seems the western world has taken a step back with regards to marrying into the family, choosing to distance themselves from the whole incest thing. Plus, children of cousin marriage have a risk of genetic disorders especially if both parents carry a harmful recessive mutation. And no one wants that right?
Nevertheless, marriage between cousins is still rather prominent in the western world with a number of high profile celebrities getting in on the act. So here are 15 famous people who married their cousins and seemingly got away with it.
15. Rudy Giuliani
The former mayor of New York City and “informal adviser on cyber security to the white house” whatever that means, Rudolph William Louis Giuliani is a prominent figure within the realm of the United States democracy. Loved by many and hated by some Giuliani was among those who were honored for their leadership skills during the aftermath of September 11th. Obviously having no problem with the idea of marrying into the family Giuliani married his second cousin Regina Peruggi in 1968. The daughter of his father’s first cousin, Peruggi and Giuliani had known each other their whole lives. The pair lasted a whopping 14 years before separating with Giuliani going on to marry two other (unrelated), women.
14. John Adams
John Adams was the second President of the United States and often unfairly forgotten between the iconic leaders of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. However, it was Adam’s wife Abigail who went on to make more of a lasting impression especially with regards to women’s rights and her historical letters that served as an eyewitness account to the goings on of the time. Third cousins, Abigail and John had known each other since they were children with their respective families extremely close. Producing a whopping six children throughout their marriage, John Quincy Adams is one of them, the pair stayed together until their deaths and were buried side by side.
13. David Lean
Famed film director Sir David Lean is responsible for some of the best movies the world has ever seen. From Brief Encounter and Oliver Twist to The Bridge Over the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia, Lean is most definitely a contender for the best film director ever. Known for having a keen eye for the ladies, Lean was a notorious womanizer and often bragged with regards to the number of women he had bedded. In fact, Lean loved women so much that he married a mighty six times with the first being that of his first cousin Isabel Lean who gave him his only child Peter. With cousin marriage not exactly accepted in their family, Isabel’s father and Lean’s uncle disowned them.
12. Dennis Wilson
In his short thirty-nine years on earth, Dennis Carl Wilson sure had a crazy life. From co-founding one of the greatest bands ever, the Beach Boys, to hanging out with one of the most disturbing criminals to have ever graced this world, Charles Manson, Dennis Wilson sure got around (get it). Married five times (one of them twice) as well as producing four children, Dennis had a keen eye for the ladies. However, it was his fifth and last wife that really turned a few heads when it was revealed that the new lady in his life was his cousin/band mate Mike Love’s 18-year-old illegitimate daughter. With the union a somewhat happy one, despite protests from family members, the pair had one son, Gage Dennis in 1982. Separating the next year Dennis’s life spiralled out of control resulting in his death not long after.
11. Queen Elizabeth II
Royal families all over the globe are renowned for marrying into their own families a practice that has been a common occurrence since time began. With the British blue bloods no different current Queen Elizabeth II followed suit and married her third cousin Prince Phillip. Yep, directly related through the one and only Queen Victoria, Elizabeth and Phillip have known each other since birth and are now going on 70 years of marriage. However, although once extremely common, inbreeding has somewhat died down as of late with Royals now free to wed whoever they like. A notable example comes in the form of Prince William and his wife and baby mama the popular peasant Kate Middleton.
10. Edgar Allan Poe
Dark and mysterious poet Edgar Allan Poe was known for his macabre style of writing and peculiar tales. No stranger to controversy Poe’s private life often reflected the odd goings on in his own art. Distraught over the loss of his mother, 20-year-old Poe moved into his aunt’s home where he first met his 7-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm. As time went on the two became close and eventually married when Clemm was 13. Obviously displaying an unhealthy interest in such a young girl some have argued that the relationship was, in fact, more of a brother and sister bond rather than that of a marriage. Nevertheless, the pair stayed together until her death of tuberculosis at 24 years old.
9. H.G. Wells
Acclaimed writer and famed ‘father of science fiction’ HG Wells is best known for his blustering novel The Time Machine. Highly involved in politics Wells was an outspoken socialist and pacifist. Often compared to Dickens due to his observations of class and politics within his work, Wells was also nominated for the Nobel literature price a mighty four times. With his love for writing much more prominent than his love for women, Wells’ relationships with women were always somewhat problematic. Marrying his cousin Mary Wells in 1891 the marriage was an unhappy one. Unable to stay faithful the relationship lasted only three years with Wells embarking on an affair with one of his unrelated students whom he later married.
8. Jesse James
America’s most famous outlaw Jesse Woodson James was the famed leader of the notorious James-Younger Gang. Known for robbing banks, trains and anything they could get their hands on, the gang garnered national fame across the country. Somehow managing to find time for girls while out robbing trains, James married his cousin Zerelda Amanda Mimms who he had known all his life. Going on to have four children, two of which survived, the related love birds lasted until James was shot and killed by gang member Robert Ford. With the murder occurring in the living room of the family home, it was said that Zerelda had heard the gun blast from the kitchen and was later inconsolable.
7. Saddam Hussein
Fifth President of Iraq and all round bad guy Saddam Hussein was known for a number of awful and shocking things. Famed for his large amount of wives, it was his first wife who attracted the most attention. That’s right, marrying his first cousin Sajida Talfah in 1958, the pairing was an arranged marriage which had been planned from the minute they were born. Going on to have five children, the pair were very much in love and were often pictured together laughing and smiling. Preferring to take a backseat with regards to her husband’s politics, Sajida hardly ever appeared in public. However, when it was revealed that Hussein had gone on to marry again, later marrying four times, Sajida was said to be enraged and had taken the marriage as an insult.
6. Charles Darwin
Probably the most famous scientist to have ever graced our world, Charles Darwin is best known for his mammoth contributions to science. Mostly famed for his natural selection theory, Darwin later released a book titled “On the Origin of Species” causing a mighty stir among the population of the mid-1800s. Causing quite the scandal in his private life too, Darwin married his first cousin Emma Wedgwood with whom he had known his whole life. The couple, who were madly in love, went on to have ten children together. A devoted father Darwin was also extremely fearful of their lives, especially with regards to the effects of inbreeding and various other diseases. In fact, Darwin was so fearful of inbreeding that he would examine the consequences in his studies but also highlight the advantages. Sadly two of Darwin’s children died in infancy as well as the death of another daughter at the age of ten.
5. Thomas Jefferson
What is it with these American Presidents and their love for their own relatives? Founding Father and principal contributor to the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was also the third President of the United States and a huge figure within the birth of the country. Marrying third cousin Martha Wayles in 1772, the pair went on to have six children with only two reaching adulthood. Sadly Martha also died young and requested that Thomas never marry again as a dying wish. Respecting her wishes, Thomas never did but it was said he embarked on a life long affair with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings. In fact, it was also rumored that Jefferson and Hemings had children together, a story that has been the matter of discussion and disagreement throughout the last century.
4. Albert Einstein
German born famed physicist Albert Einstein is probably best known for his theory of relativity and his huge influence on the philosophy of science. However, Einstein was also making waves within the realms of his private life causing a stir when he married his cousin Elsa Lowenthal in 1919. With incest seemingly running throughout their family, the love birds were cousins paternally and maternally making them somewhat extra related. Due to their close family ties, Elsa was born with the surname Einstein but changed the name to Lowenthal during her first marriage only to change it back to Einstein when she met Albert. Sadly Elsa died in 1936.
3. Jerry Lee Lewis
Rock n roll superstar Jerry Lee Lewis is mostly famous for his great balls of fire and raging piano sets. Now a musical legend in his own right, Lewis is also known for his exciting personal life and equally scandalous controversies. Partial to marriage, which he did seven times, Lewis’s most famous spouse came in the form of his 13-year-old cousin, Myra Gale Brown. Causing an uproar across the globe, the 22-year-old Lewis began pretending that his new wife was in fact 15 thinking it would soften the reaction. It didn’t, and as a result, Lewis was blacklisted from radio and the music scene. Somehow managing to redeem himself and get back to the music charts, Lewis’s career was never quite the same again. That’s what you get for marrying your thirteen-year-old cousin.
2. Kevin Bacon
Well, of course, Mr. Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon married his cousin, it would have been impossible not to! Yep, just like the legendary game goes, every single person in this universe is somehow connected to Kevin Bacon. Married to fellow actress Kyra Sedgwick since 1988 the long term love birds met while working on a play together. Instantly smitten the pair is still growing strong with Bacon often speaking out with admiration for his wife. However, little did they know that they were actually related as Bacon and Sedgwick are ninth cousins once removed, a fact they learned on the TV series Finding Your Roots. Obviously not letting their distant relation scare them the pair went on to have two children who turned out perfectly fine.
1. Greta Scacchi
Italian born actress Greta Scacchi is best known for her roles in classics such as The Player and Presumed Innocent. However, Greta caused quite the scandal when it was revealed that she had been dating her first cousin, Carlo Mantegazza. Discussing the relationship and the effects it had on her traditional Italian family, Greta stated, “my dad Luca was deeply offended and quite devastated. He was very angry”. Things continued to get worse when Greta later revealed that she was also pregnant, a fact which caused the rest of her family to say she was “unacceptable and against the Catholic Church”. And now more than ten years later her family have still yet to forgive her with Greta claiming that some members of her family still continue to react negatively towards her and her husband as well as their twelve-year-old son.
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