5 Celebrities With Arguably More Interesting Parents

Want to be famous? It helps to have talent and a strong will, but it mostly helps to have famous parents. They don't even have to be famous in the same field. Which is why so many of today's celebrities have some real surprises in their family trees. For instance ...

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5
The Directors Of American Pie Had A Nazi-Hunting Fashion Icon Father

Though their careers have diverged in recent years, the Weitz brothers made their name as a duo, co-directing American Pie, About A Boy, and Down To Earth. On a scale from Coen to Farrelly, they're probably somewhere in the middle. But it seems like they could have scored some awards and box office gold by doing a movie about their dad, who was a spy turned world-famous fashion designer. Yeah, "successful Hollywood director" seems like quite a step down when you put it like that.

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The Parent You Didn't Know:

John Weitz was born into a wealthy German family in 1923, but they eventually had to flee to the U.S. when Hitler rose to power. There John joined the OSS -- the precursor to the CIA -- and was promptly sent back to his homeland as a spy, with the specific mission of helping the German resistance kill Hitler.

Obviously, Hitler achieved that particular mission for them, but the young spy still had a role to play, and he was among the troops who liberated the Dachau concentration camp. After the war finished, Dachau became an Allied prison camp for German soldiers, and John was sent in, posing as a former SS officer to get inside information. He was so committed to the role that he got an SS tattoo, and then burned it off when it was over.

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But the war eventually ended, so what was a great spy to do after that? Well, everything, it seems. Weitz became one of the most successful fashion designers in the world, and modeled all of his clothes himself, because he was apparently too handsome not to. Later on, he became a best-selling author of both fiction and nonfiction after John Steinbeck himself encouraged him to write. Oh, and he also donated advertising space on 200 New York City buses to help raise the profile of a drug abuse charity. And he was a race car driver.

But what did he think of his sons making a movie in which a guy jerks off into a pie? He loved it. And when someone told him that the movie was "vulgar," he snapped back with "Haven't you ever masturbated in your life?"

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Related: 13 Celebrities Whose Parents Should Be The Famous Ones

4
The Lead Singer Of The Strokes Was Born To Fashion Royalty

While Julian Casablancas' band is sometimes credited with headlining the garage-rock revival of the early 2000s, it's never really been a secret that The Strokes didn't form in an actual garage. Instead of a dingy suburban tool shed, Julian met guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. at Institut Le Rosey -- which, to be fair, is like the grubbiest, most grunge boarding school in Switzerland. As for why a kid from New York City went to a Swiss boarding school, well, it was his father's alma mater.

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The Parent You Didn't Know:

Being a modelling agent isn't all that much of a claim to fame, and before the 1970s, models were to be seen and not heard. But John Casablancas changed all of that with the concept of the "supermodel."

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He created Elite Model Management, with a teenage surfer girl named Christie Brinkley as one of his first signings. Later in the decade, Casablancas moved his operation to New York City, triggering a war with the other agencies. What did Casablancas offer that his competitors didn't? The chance for true stardom. Casablancas once said, "We gave them huge amounts of money, and we gave them names and personalities. We let them give interviews ... They became supermodels." That sounds great, especially if most of your job so far has been people telling you that you need to lose more weight.

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But John eventually grew to hate the industry that made him so successful. We know this because he eventually quit Elite and bluntly said of the models "I hate them all." Hard to get much more clear than that. Even worse than the slash-and-burn campaign on the business he'd revolutionized was his romantic preference for teens (his second marriage ended due to an affair with a 15-year-old, and his third marriage was to a 17-year-old).

Back in 2003, Julian blamed his own bad habits on his father John, but considering that he hasn't been charged with a felony yet, I'd guess the apple has still fallen pretty far.

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Related: 5 Famous Celebrities With Insane Family Backgrounds

3
Olivia Wilde's Mother Was An Acclaimed Journalist (And Lost The "Bigfoot Erotica" Election)

Olivia Wilde has built quite the IMDb page, with a stack of movies and TV shows and a directorial debut, Booksmart, that killed it with critics. But she wasn't always known as Olivia Wilde. She said in an interview she decided to borrow Oscar Wilde's moniker as a tribute to the writer. In fact, her actual last name is Cockburn. On one hand, it was probably nice to prevent having the same joke turn up in the comment section of every single article about her, but on the other, it hides her connection to a very impressive mom.

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The Parent You Didn't Know:

Leslie Cockburn has had a long and storied career as a journalist, and in 1976 she became one of the first women on a major network to work as a combat correspondent. Over the years, she covered six wars, interviewed Muammar Qaddaffi, and dined with Saddam Hussein's sociopath sons (which she described as being "a really sort of white trash dinner"). She also produced a piece about the CIA's role in international drug trafficking, and another about how the U.S. was working to bring the Khmer Rouge -- the brutal Cambodian regime that murdered millions -- back to power.

Unfortunately, there's a decent chance Cockburn will be most remembered for a political career that never really got off the ground. In 2018, she ran as the Democratic nominee for the House of Representatives in Virginia's 5th District. But despite fighting to improve the Affordable Care Act, what you probably remember about this particular race is the hullabaloo over Bigfoot's dong.

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Having written a book titled The Mating Habits Of Bigfoot And Why Women Want Him, Sasquatch enthusiast Denver Riggleman posted a picture on Instagram of the legendary Sasquatch with certain parts of his anatomy tastefully blocked out. This led Cockburn to accuse her opponent of being a "devotee of Bigfoot erotica." It was all for nothing, though, as Cockburn lost the race and could only take solace in having provided social media with a bunch of amusing headlines.

Related: 19 Celebrity Relatives Who Really Deserve Some Fame

2
Dr. Doom's Dad Was An Infamous Australian Politician

It's been a quiet decade for Julian McMahon. But in the mid 2000s, during which he played Dr. Christian Troy on Nip/Tuck and Dr Doom in the first two Fantastic Four movies, he had enough heat to get the biggest achievement a male actor can receive: an unsuccessful audition to be the next James Bond. It's been a long career with a brief stay near the top ... which is weirdly similar to what his father accomplished in politics.

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The Parent You Didn't Know:

Julian's father, Sir William McMahon, was one of Australia's most prominent politicians, serving in cabinet for more than 20 years, including a a stint as prime minister from March 1971 to December '72. Perhaps his most notable achievement was a policy of "accelerated withdrawal" from Vietnam, although he had also helped to oversee the conscription that sent more than 15,000 Australians to war. So you'd have to say that area's a bit of a wash.

But despite most of his big political decisions seeming almost sarcastic in hindsight, he was still plagued with the same tasteless questions that most politicians face -- in this case, about his sexuality. In fact, one newspaper called McMahon's wife and asked her about such rumors, leading to the all-star headline "My Billy's No Poofter -- Sonia Tells."

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Ultimately, McMahon lost the 1972 election in a landslide, causing his party to concede power for the first time in more than 20 years. He's often regarded as one of Australia's worst prime ministers. But at least his son was by far the best part of two desperately average mid 2000s Marvel films. That has to count for something.

Related: 6 Celebrities With Family Histories Crazier Than The Movies

1
Maya Rudolph's Mother Wrote A Hugely Famous Song For Her When She Was A Baby

Maya Rudolph has a long list of successes, including an eight-year run on Saturday Night Live and whole bunch of parts in comedies like Bridesmaids. But while she's generally seen filling the role of "best friend who's way funnier than the lead," she's also very willing to sing if the situation (or sketch comedy) calls for it. And that's at least partially the result of good genes -- her mother being the singer who hit probably the most famous note in modern music and all.

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The Parent You Didn't Know:

Minnie Riperton had been the singer for a band called Rotary Connection, which had a few hits but didn't exactly change the world. With her career seemingly winding down, she went into semi-retirement to look after her young family, but was coaxed into recording another album. With her husband Richard Rudolph being a record producer, she decided to go along with it, although she wanted an old friend of hers to be co-producer: Stevie Wonder.

However, Wonder was signed to Motown at the time, so he had to go by a pseudonym, which is why Riperton's album Perfect Angel is produced by Rudolph and "El Toro n***o." As for the album, Perfect Angel had a couple of middling hits and one song that was a hit all over the world: "Lovin' You." Yeah, the one with the high F:

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As a sweet aside, the song was actually written as a lullaby for Maya, who was two years old at the time (that's why she sings "Maya, Maya, Maya" at the end). But Riperton's career trajectory changed dramatically in the late '70s after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She then shifted her focus to raising awareness for the disease, becoming a national representative for the American Cancer Foundation and the first black woman to be the group's national education chairwoman. She'd wind up being given the Society's Courage Award by President Jimmy Carter.

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Sadly, she died in 1979, only 31 years old. But her legacy continued, with her husband establishing the Minnie Riperton Fund. A fundraising concert was also held in her honor in 1989, raising over a million dollars. The headline act was Stevie Wonder, who got to use his real name that time.

For more, check out 6 Shockingly Out-Of-Touch Celebrities - The Spit Take:


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