I admit that I have absolutely no idea how difficult it must be to attain even a modicum of success as an actor or actress, either in the theatre or on the silver screen, yet it seems to me that at least some of this success can be put down to having been born with the right genes. There appears to be no shortage when it comes to successful thespians from the same family, so let us take a look at some of the more prominent ones.

Feud: The Sibling Rivalry of Olivia de Havilland & Joan Fontaine | by MarriedAtTheMovies | Medium

L to R  Joan Fontaine & Olivia De Havilland


As far as sibling rivalry goes, we need look no further than the relationship between real life sisters Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine. For virtually their entire careers they enjoyed a bitter rivalry second to none. According to legend, the animosity probably began when the sisters were nine years old, when precocious little Olivia, undoubtedly the prettier of the two, bequeathed a little of her beauty to Joan because, ‘she has none of her own.’ Ouch! The animosity may have started even before then. Anyway, Olivia became an actress before Joan did, but it was Joan who first tasted Oscar success when she won for Suspicion in 1942 It would be another five years until Olivia won the first of her two Academy Awards for To Each His Own (1947). Joan even married (and divorced) before her sister. Although Joan lived to be ninety-six, Olivia finally had a win, living to the more than ripe old age of one hundred and four!


Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty: All About the Iconic Sister-Brother Duo


Shirley won an acting Oscar for Terms of Endearment (1984), while her younger brother Warren won a Best Director Oscar for Reds (1982). Both siblings have been nominated a further four times each as actors, so it is fair to say that Warren is more than Shirley’ good-looking brother. The two stars have a sound relationship with one another.


Jane Fonda Details Relationship With Late Dad Henry | Closer Weekly


Henry’s wife gave birth to their daughter Jane in December 1937 while Henry was making Jezebel. At the time he was involved in an affair with co-star Bette Davis who was actually pregnant to director William Wyler! Bette ended her affair with Fonda upon receiving a phone call from Henry’s pregnant wife. Henry won a solitary Oscar for On Golden Pond (1982), and was nominated twice more for The Grapes of Wrath (1941) and for 12 Angry Men (1958).

Where Is Peter Fonda's Daughter Bridget Fonda Now?


Peter Fonda, Jane’s younger brother, was Oscar-nominated for Ulee’s Gold (1997), not for Easy Rider (1969), as is popularly believed. He passed away in 2019 aged seventy-nine. His sister, Jane, won two Academy Awards (for Klute (1972) and Coming Home (1979). She was considered to be a ‘shoo-in’ for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1970), but her stance against the Vietnam War and various drug issues put paid to her chances. She was also nominated on four other occasions. Her niece, Bridget Fonda, the daughter of her brother Peter, is an accomplished actress herself. Jane’s son acts under the name of Troy Garity and appeared with Henry and Jane in On Golden Pond.


ICONS - Pier Angeli and twin sister, Marisa Pavan. | Facebook


The beautiful sisters were born in Sardinia. At sixteen Pier began to be noticed for her extraordinary beauty and started to appear in films. She and James Dean were said to be deeply in love and hoping to be married, but Pier’s mother was against the union because of Dean’s behavior and the fact that he was not a Catholic. Her mother helped arrange Pier’s marriage to singer Vic Damone. The girl was also engaged to Kirk Douglas for a while. Friends say she was terrified of turning forty. She died aged thirty-nine! Marisa Pavan was her twin sister. She made several films without attaining the status of her sister. Even so, Marisa earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her stint in The Rose Tattoo (1955).

Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez are two for the road | The Australian


Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez are the sons of under-rated actor Martin Sheen, a performer who has enjoyed outstanding success in numerous quality productions down the decades. Both sons have also experienced the highs (and, in Charlie’s case), the lows of celebrity status during their careers. Charlie has managed to find the headlines on far too many occasions via his seemingly sex-driven private life, the details of which are far too sordid (and plentiful) to enlarge upon here. Suffice to say his issues with the fairer sex, distorted by his drug problems, could fill several publications. Emilio has led a more subdued existence, highlighted by his performance as Billy the Kid in the iconic westerns Young Guns and Young Guns II As for their father, Martin Sheen, arguably his greatest moment on-screen came with his portrayal of General Robert E. Lee in the outstanding film Gettysburg

Donald and Kiefer Sutherland at the Toronto International Film Festival Forsaken premiere | Daily Mail Online


Donald Sutherland was first noted as a future star with his scene-stealing stint in the sixties war pic The Dirty Dozen. Scarcely a screen ‘hunk’, he went on to play romantic leads in several major films, to emerge as a most unlikely screen idol. His son Kiefer certainly had the looks his father seemingly lacked, squiring around town several beauties, most notably the nineties star Julia Roberts, to whom he was notoriously engaged until the wedding was called off (by her) following Kiefer being caught dallying with another woman. Julia promptly tootled off to Ireland with actor Patrick Bergin for a little ‘tit-for-tat’ affair of her own.

There have been many more acting ‘families’ down the years – Kirk Douglas and his son Michael, the Baldwin clan, the Australian Hemsworths, the Talmadge sisters, Don Johnson and his daughter Dakota, Douglas Fairbanks Junior, (the son of Doug Senior and Mary Pickford), John and Joan Cusack, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, and the list goes on generation after generation. Ingrid Bergman and her daughter Isabella Rossellini, the Culkin family brothers and so on. There appears to be no end to the procession of ‘gifted’ actors and actresses whose extraordinary abilities may very well lie in their genes.

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