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Parents of Famous People

Updated on August 19, 2014

Learn About Parents of the Famous and Infamous

Parents are often blamed or credited for the way their adult children behave, the success that they have, and the misfortunes they experience. We often look to the parents to see where someone's values come from and to see who is "responsible" for the type of person one becomes.

In many instances, it does seem we are primarily a product of our upbringing but certainly there are times that delving into one's past and parenting style just doesn't match up with what we see.

This page is dedicated to some of the parents of the famous and infamous faces we know so well. In reality only a highly qualified psychologist can make even an educated guess as to how much influence these parents had on the success or failure of these individuals but without that expertise, we can still have an opinion and you can give yours below about the parents of famous people.

Parents of Famous People: Albert Einstein

According to information found at HyperHistory.net and SparkNotes.com theoretical physicist Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879 to Hermann and Pauline Koch Einstein in Ulm, Germany. They were a middle class German Jewish family although the parents did not actually practice the faith. His father was a featherbed merchant for a number of years and later moved the family to Munich to join one of Eistein's uncles in an electrical engineering business. It was this uncle in fact, Jakob, who was among those who played a significant role in encouraging Einstein's interest in science and mathematics.

Einstein's mother was a musician. It's interesting to note that neither parent appeared to have any significant knowledge or aptitude for science or math. Both of his parents were primarily interested in Albert's academic progress and he seemed to enjoy suppport related to this from the extended family; from financial support to the provision of educational materials his schools failed to provide. He was reportedly dyslexic and had limited verbal skills for many years. Both he and his parents had to ignore the negative reports from teachers in order to succeed by finding different schools.

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Parents of Famous People: Barack Obama

Barack Obama's parents have been the subjects of questions ever since his entrance into the presidential race. He ws born on August 4, 1961 to Barack Obama, Sr, a black Kenyan and Stanley Ann Dunham, a white woman from Witchita, Kansas. According to articles found at Time.com and MSNBC.com Barack's father left the family when he was two years old and then saw him only one other time when he was 10 years old.

His mother was apparently a stronger influence in his life. She took Barack with her when she married an Indonesian man, Lolo Soetoro, when Barack was six years old. Soetoro was apparently a loving stepfather but Barack left Indonesia to return to Hawaii when he was ten years old, to live with his grandparents.

His mother soon returned to Hawaii, to life with Barack and his grandparents until she left again when he was fourteen years old. She is described as a very positive, intelligent person, one who grew in her confidence and outspokeness over the years, and consistently approached issues from the perspective of how things could be done versus what problems and barriers existed. Barack and his sister both explain that their mother did all she could to keep them in touch with their heritage, informed of issues related to their race, and did not view people based upon stereotypes.

Clearly, Barack's grandparents often played the parental role. Madelyn Dunham was an accomplished and ambitious woman as the first female VP of the Bank of Hawaii while his grandfather, Stanley Dunham was a salesman. Barack himself has noted his grandparents devotion to him but also of the occasional racial slurs. Little else is known about them.

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Do You Think Barack Obama's Mother was Influential in His Success?

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Parents of Famous People: Lewis Hamilton

If you're an F1 fan you probably know a good deal about Lewis Hamilton, and indeed, also about the support of his father. Lewis was born on January 7,1985 in Stevenage Hertfordshire (UK) to Carmen and Anthony. His father first worked on the London Underground but his parents separated when he was only 2 years old. He went to live with his father and his step-mother Linda from the age of 10 on. He received his first go kart when he was only six and began racing competitively by age eight.

His father, Anthony conveyed to Lewis the need to take an "honest" and "positive" approach to issues. He agreed to support all of Lewis' racing endeavors so long has he worked hard in school. At one point, Anthony is said to have worked as many as three jobs at one time to provide the financial backing that was needed. He also helped to manage his career and attended every race. Hard work was the way Lewis was taught to achieve his dreams. To this day, Lewis' father can be seen at his F1 events cheering him on.

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Do You Think Lewis Hamilton's Father Played a Significant Role in His Success?

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Parents of Famous People: Hillary Clinton

Hillary Diane Rodham was born to Dorothy and Hugh Rodham on October 26, 1947 in Park Ridge Illinois. According to this WhiteHouse.gov page, her parents, Republicans, raised her to work hard and urged her to select any career that she wished to pursue. Hillary seemed to strive hard to meet the high expectations of her father.

This page from the HillaryClinton website further describes her parents as being quite frugal, partiotic and religious. Of course, some accounts also describe her father as authoritarian, sarcastic, demeaning, and verbally abusive. Hillary's mother was more nurturing and she managed to endure Hugh's verbal abuse and stay with him. Dorothy it is reported was "intellectually broadminded" and even pursued further education and other developmental activities as she became a grandmother. This MSNBC article provides a further glimpse into the Rodham family.

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Singer/songwriter Lady Gaga was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta to her parents Joe and Cynthia Gemanotta in 1986. She grew up with a younger sister and still maintains a good relationship with her family, including her grandmother. She has described her dad as strict and protective but that both of her parents were very loving, giving, and non-judgemental. She went to a private girls school in Manhattan and later an arts school for a period of time.

She says of her time in high school that she did not fit in, but friends have said that music was always her first priority.

Although she is well educated, she has explained that her grandparents were struggling immigrants and that both of her parents worked very hard outside the home. She also discussed an aunt who, although she died before Gaga knew her, seemed to be a kindred, artisitic spirit. In her own words, she has indicated that her desire to succeed in the entertainment industry is at least partially for the purpose of continuing a legacy for her family, her father in particular. Clearly her parents continue to be supportive of her career and a presence in her life.

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Did Lady Gaga's Parents Play a Significant Role in Her Success?

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Parents of Famous People: Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson is one interesting character. His heavy makeup, long black hair and sometimes Satanistic music has scared many a parent. But where does he come from?

Research from the Internet Movie Database and the book "Marilyn Manson" by Kurt Reighley indicates that MM's real name is Brian Hugh Warner. He is the only son of Barb Wyer and Hugh Warner from Canton, Ohio born on January 5, 1969. His father was a carpet salesman and his mother a licensed nurse. The Warner's raised Manson as an Episcopalian but were not considered overly religious. Manson did attend a church based school for much of his education but it was there he developed a distinct distaste for Christianity, refuting their constant messages to repent for sins.

Manson indicates that his father was often absent and had a violent temper but never abused him. From other accounts it appears that his parents were concerned although perhaps somewhat permissive. Recent stories seem to indicate that his relationship with his parents overall is fairly good now that he is an adult. Manson was rebellious, reportedly molested by another youngster in the neighborhood, and was exposed to graphic sexual content by his grandfather at a young age.

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Do You Think Marilyn Manson's Parents Helped Make Him Who He is Today?

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Parents of Famous People: Michael Phelps

Anyone who watched the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, saw Michael Phelps' mother watching from the stands. Phelps was born June 30,1985 to Fred and Debbie Phelps near Baltimore, Maryland.

According to this JockBio article, Fred Phelps was a state trooper and a pretty good athlete himself. Debbie Phelps was a well respected middle school teacher and later, a principal.

Both parents got their children involved in swimming at a young age. (Michael and his two sisters.) However, by the time Michael was 9 years old his parents were divorced. After this time he lived with his mother and sisters, all of whom were supportive and good role models for hard work. As he got a bit older he also developed a strong relationship with his male coach Bob Bowman who also played a role in developing his outstanding sportsmanship.

Debbie Phelps described herself as a stern mother but one who also lets her kids take part in making decisions. She also never gave up on her son when others voiced concerns about his ability to do well in school due to his attention difficulties.

Meet Michael Phelps Mom

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Were Michael Phelps Parents Instrumental in His Success?

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Parents of Famous People: Ted Bundy

Notorious serial killer Ted Bundy had some unusual cirumstances surrounding his early childhood. He was born on November 24th, 1946 to Eleanor Louise Cowell in Burlington, Vermont. She was an unwed mother who returned to live with her parents after Ted's birth. In fact, for the first several years of his life, Ted was led to believe that his grandparents were his parents, and Louise (his mother) was his sister. He learned the truth about this quite a number of years later. Despite the confusion regarding his parentage, his mother appeared to be a consistently concerned parent and Ted himself reported that he loved his grandfather.

As early as age 3, Ted was exhibiting some alarming behaviors. His aunt reported waking up to find many knives arranged around her body with Ted standing at her bedside grinning. By age 5, Ted and his mother moved away and he gained a stepfather, Johnnie Bundy. Bundy adopted the boy but his efforts to get close to him failed.

This paper from Radford does not indicate any psychological, physical or sexual abuse in Bundy's past. In addition, no known drug or alcohol abuse is reported regarding his parents.

Some have suggested that Bundy's grandfather may have indeed been his father. His grandmother had a history of clinical depression and his grandfather was known as a man with a violent temper.

It seems probable that Ted was involved in stealing as early as age 11 and he admittedly was heavily involved in such activities by 18 years of age.

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Do You Think Ted's Mother and Grandparents Made Ted What He Was?

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Photo Credits

Introduction: KimScarborough. (no derivative work allowed)

Albert Einstein: WalkingGeek.

Barack Obama: Jurvetson.

Hillary Clinton: Llima. (no derivative work allowed.)

Lewis Hamilton: P_C_W. (no derivative work allowed>)

Marilyn Manson: DaigoOiva.

Michael Phelps: M@rcopako

Ted Bundy: Amazon.com

Parents of Famous People: Who Else Would You Like to Learn About?

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    • nukemdomis lm profile image

      nukemdomis lm 6 years ago

      Good work on your lens. I've added your lens to my Best Parents lens here on Squidoo. Here's the link: World's best parents

      https://hubpages.com/family/worlds-best-parents

    • nukemdomis lm profile image

      nukemdomis lm 6 years ago

      Good work on your lens. I've added your lens to my Best Parents lens here on Squidoo. Here's the link: World's best parents

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      mary j. blige parent's name

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      This is an excellent idea for a lens--really interesting. Also an interesting mix of people here. If you had 100 more, I'd have kept on reading!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      OMG, quite an eclectic of people -- famous and infamous. I always wondered about Ted Bundy -- why he was the way he was. How much his parents contributed to his wayward ways. An interesting lens for sure! ;)

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      What a wonderful idea for a lens!

    • kateloving profile image

      Kate Loving Shenk 8 years ago from Lancaster PA

      Interesting to think about contributing factors as to why people become who they are because of or dispite their upbringing.

      Thanks!!

    • Rich-H profile image

      Rich 8 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      Quite a wide spectrum of famous offspring, which gives the lens an added point of interest. Great stuff. 5*s.

    • piedromolinero profile image

      piedromolinero 8 years ago

      Very nice lens showing the parents who are behind the famous ones. Normally you don't read anything about them as long as they are not famous as well. 5*

    • starlitparlit profile image

      starlitparlit 8 years ago

      Very interesting lens content. I love how you've included a poll after each person

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Nice idea for a lens!

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 8 years ago from Austin, Texas

      What a fascinating subject! Although, it's difficult, of course, to determine the exact degree of influence that parents can have on their kids, considering the many character traits we are born with. I know from my own life that I had to work through various issues myself, even though my parents had warned me over and over about them. On the other hand, it's revealing to see the devastating effects of childhood abuse in its many forms on the lives of its victims.

      5*s and a hearty SquidAngel Blessing for this excellent lens.