Hollywood Dynasties: Famous Families That Keep Entertaining Us

Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen

Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen by Sam (CC BY-SA)

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Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen
Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen by Sam (CC BY-SA)

Showbiz Genes

Nearly every town has a family that has operated the same business for generations, from construction companies to insurance agencies. But in Hollywood, the “family business” is often the entertainment industry, be it acting, producing, directing, or singing. These “dynasties” feature famous siblings or cousins, parents, children, and more. Read on for a star-studded look at families where the business called show seems to be in the blood.

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Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola by RV1864 (CC BY-NC-ND)

The Coppola Family

There’s iconic director, producer, screenwriter and winemaker Francis Ford Coppola (“The Godfather,” “Apocalypse Now” and more). He’s got five Academy Awards to his name. His sister is Academy Award nominee Talia Shire of “Yo, Adrian” fame from the “Rocky” movies and, of course, her role as Connie Corleone in “The Godfather” films. His daughter is Academy Award-nominated director Sofia Coppola (“The Virgin Suicides, “Lost in Translation”), while his granddaughter Gia also directs. Actors Jason Schwartzman and Nicolas Cage are his nephews. And that’s for starters, so we think the word dynasty is legit on this one. 

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Nobel Peace Price Concert 2009 Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith with children2
Nobel Peace Price Concert 2009 Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith with children2 by Harrywad (CC BY-SA)

The Smith Family

Academy Award-nominated actor, Grammy Award-winning rapper, and film producer Will Smith (who remains banned from the Oscars after last year's slapping incident) and wife Jada Pinkett Smith (“The Nutty Professor,” “Girls Trip,” and, of late, the talk show “Red Table Talk”) are Hollywood royalty. Their children, actor/rapper Jaden and Willow, a singer, actress, and dancer, bring the story to the next generation. 

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Jane, Peter and Henry Fonda
Jane, Peter and Henry Fonda by kate gabrielle (CC BY)

The Fonda Family

The awards and accolades have been numerous for the Fonda family, from patriarch Henry Fonda (Academy Awards for “The Grapes of Wrath” and “On Golden Pond”) all the way through to his children multiple-nominee and Academy Award-winning Jane (“Klute” and “Coming Home”) and Peter (Academy nominee for the screenplay of “Easy Rider” and for his acting in “Ulee’s Gold”). But it doesn’t end there: Peter’s daughter, Bridget, is perhaps best known for “Single White Female,” while Jane’s son Troy Garity is known for his acting in the “Barbershop” series.

Drew Barrymore Berlin 2014

The Barrymore Family

Today’s daytime TV fans might not be aware of talk-show host Drew Barrymore’s pedigree. The one-time child actor forever associated with “E.T. The Extraterrestrial” continues the acting tradition of the iconic Barrymore family, which reaches back several hundred years in theater, radio, and film, with its most notable members including Drew’s great-aunt Ethel, her great-uncle Lionel, and her grandfather John.

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Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen
Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen by Sam (CC BY-SA)

The Sheen-Estévez Family

Not long ago Emilio Estévez (“The Breakfast Club,” “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “The Outsiders,” “Young Guns”) made news when he lost his role in “The Mighty Ducks” series because of his anti-vax stand. This is one family that is never far from the spotlight, it seems. The son of actor/activist Martin Sheen (“Badlands,” “Apocalypse Now” and “The West Wing”), Emilio is also the brother of actor and perennial bad boy Charlie Sheen (“Platoon,” “Two and a Half Men”).

The Marx Brothers in "A Day at the Races"
The Marx Brothers in "A Day at the Races" by Insomnia Cured Here (CC BY-SA)

The Marx Family

Wanna go really old school? Tip your hat to the Marx Brothers, known by the stage names of Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, and Zeppo. From the turn of the 20th century into the 1950s, these brothers ruled the comedy worlds of vaudeville, Broadway, and film (“Duck Soup” and “Animal Crackers”). Ask an elder and you’ll likely hear a funny story.

Patricia Arquette at the BAFTA Film Awards 2015
Patricia Arquette at the BAFTA Film Awards 2015 by Ibsan73 (CC BY)

The Arquette Family

This is another family with deep roots in entertainment – a vaudeville family most notable for Cliff Arquette, an actor noted for creating a persona, Charley Weaver, whom he played on various TV shows. Cliff would have a son named Lewis, who would not only manage the famed Second City theater in Chicago but also appear on “The Waltons.” His children include actor Patricia (“True Romance,” “Medium,” and an Academy Award for “Boyhood”), the late transgender actor/activist Alexis (“Last Exit to Brooklyn,” “The Wedding Singer”), actor/director Rosanna (“Desperately Seeking Susan,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Crash”), actor, director and former pro wrestler David (“Scream”) and actor/writer Richmond (“Zodiac”). That’s a lot of Arquette history.

Stephen Baldwin and Hailey Baldwin (cropped)
Stephen Baldwin and Hailey Baldwin (cropped) by Movieguide® (CC BY-SA)

The Baldwin Family

While Alec, the most famous of the famous Baldwin brothers, has been in the spotlight for the 2021 tragedy on the “Rust” movie set, the family has been legendary in entertainment for years. The Long Island, New York-born brotherly quartet is led by Alec (who’s also the father of model Ireland Baldwin), whose big break came on TV’s “Knots Landing” and would lead him to Academy Award-nominated film work as well as stage roles and TV mega-success on “30 Rock.” There’s also Daniel (“Vampires”); William (“Backdraft,” “The Squid and the Whale” and notable for being married to Chynna Phillips, daughter of John and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas fame); and Stephen (“The Usual Suspects”). Stephen is also the father of model Hailey Baldwin Bieber …  you may have heard of Justin Bieber?

Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell
Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell by Alan Light (CC BY)

The Russell-Hawn-Hudson Family

This one’s a doozy, so follow along. Goofball actress Goldie Hawn of “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In” fame and who would go on to earn the Academy and Golden Globe awards for “Cactus Flower,” had two children with Bill Hudson (he of the zany musical group The Hudson Brothers). Those kids — actors Kate Hudson (Academy Award nominee for “Almost Famous” and now also a fitness entrepreneur) and Oliver Hudson (“Rules of Engagement,” “Nashville”) — would be raised by Goldie and her longtime partner, Kurt Russell, a former child actor who went on to find fame in films including “Escape from New York” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”). The pair, so quirkily lovable in “Overboard,” would together have son Wyatt Russell, who is … also an actor.

Jeff Bridges
Jeff Bridges by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA)

The Bridges Family

Patriarch Lloyd Bridges was a veteran actor known for adventure roles in “Sea Hunt” and flat-out comedy in “Airplane,” which exemplified the breadth of his Hollywood career. His sons Beau and Jeff carry on the tradition, with actor/director Beau perhaps best known for his role opposite brother Jeff in “The Fabulous Baker Boys.” Jeff, beloved for “The Big Lebowski,” is an Academy Award winner (“Crazy Heart”) and multiple nominee. The next generation is already at work in the acting field, as well, including Beau’s son Jordan of many a Hallmark movie, as well as “Dawson’s Creek” and “Rizzoli & Isles.”

Meryl Streep December 2018
Meryl Streep December 2018 by Neil Grabowsky / Montclair Film (CC BY)

The Streep-Gummer Family

When it comes to iconic actors, Meryl Streep is among the top of the list, having been nominated for more than 20 Academy Awards and winning three. She’s known for her versatility (and accents), evidenced by everything from “The Deer Hunter” to “Sophie’s Choice” to “Mamma Mia!” to “The Devil Wears Prada.” While her two younger brothers are also in acting, it’s Streep’s children with husband Don Gummer, a sculptor, who have made the biggest impact in the creative fields. Son Henry Wolfe Gummer is a musician, while daughters Mamie and Grace are actors and Louisa a model.

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Tippi Hedren
Tippi Hedren by Kristine (CC BY-NC)

The Hedren-Griffith-Johnson Family

Tippi Hedren, the actor, one time model, and animal activist, is perhaps best known for her roles in the Alfred Hitchcock films “The Birds” and “Marnie.” She’s also the mother of Melanie Griffith (“Something Wild” and an Academy Award-nominated turn in “Working Girl”) and the grandmother of actor-model Dakota Johnson (the “Fifty Shades” series), whose father just happens to be Don Johnson of “Miami Vice” fame.

The Wayans Brothers
The Wayans Brothers by Drew Osumi (CC BY-ND)

The Wayans Family

There are 10 “original” siblings in this comedy dynasty, Dwayne, Keenen Ivory, Diedre, Damon, Kim, Elvira, Nadia, Devonne, Shawn, and Marlon, who would often team up to produce, direct, write and/or star in films and TV shows from “White Chicks” to “In Living Color” to the “Scary Movie” franchise to “My Wife and Kids.” Today, the next generation continues to thrive and features Damon Jr., Damien Dante, Chaunté, and Craig. 

Vanessa Redgrave (2011) 2 cropped
Vanessa Redgrave (2011) 2 cropped by Siebbi (CC BY)

The Redgrave Family

Few may be familiar with silent-film star Roy Redgrave, or even his son Michael, a theatrical star in Britain who would marry fellow actor Rachel Kempson. But their children – Vanessa (“Julia”), Corin (“Persuasion”), and Lynn (“Georgy Girl”) — part of what The New York Times called “the royal family of English theater” — would become notable in the age of movie stardom, with countless roles and accolades. But it didn’t end there. The next generation would include, for example, Vanessa’s children, the late actor Natasha Richardson (“The Parent Trap”), Joely Richardson (“Nip/Tuck,” “The Tudors”), and screenwriter Carlo Nero. The tradition continues, with actors Micheál Richardson (son of famed actor Liam Neeson and the late Natasha Richardson) and Daisy Bevan, daughter of Joely Richardson and film producer Tim Bevan.

137223_5306 by Walt Disney Television (CC BY-ND)

The Kardashian-Jenner Family

The family reportedly “famous for being famous” can elicit groans on any given day. The “media personalities” — considered Hollywood’s new royalty by many — are well-entrenched in the Hollywood machine as reality stars, influencers, models, entrepreneurs, fashion designers… and it goes on. Kris Jenner and first husband, lawyer Robert Kardashian, had Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, and Robert. Her second marriage to Bruce Jenner, the one time Olympic gold medalist who transitioned to Caitlyn Jenner, produced international model Kendall and cosmetics mogul Kylie. The Kardashian clan’s entanglements — and their devotion to showcasing the next generation already — hints that this bunch is not leaving the spotlight any time soon.

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James Gandolfini @ Toronto International Film Festival 2011
James Gandolfini @ Toronto International Film Festival 2011 by gdcgraphics (CC BY-SA)

The Gandolfini Family

One almost heard the nods of approval when it was announced that rising actor Michael Gandolfini would portray Tony Soprano, the definitive character his late father, James Gandolfini, portrayed — earning multiple awards — during the six-season run of the HBO drama “The Sopranos.” The younger Gandolfini, a veteran of “Ocean’s 8,” plays the younger version of Tony in the prequel, “The Many Saints of Newark.”

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Owen Wilson 2011
Owen Wilson 2011 by MyCanon (CC BY-SA)

The Wilson Family

Owen Wilson, the ubiquitous comic actor recently in Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” is one of a trio of Texas-born siblings in the entertainment industry who first gained attention in the breakthrough 1996 indie film “Bottle Rocket” (written by Owen Wilson and Anderson, with whom the brothers frequently collaborate). Sons of creative parents, a photographer and a public-television station operator, the Wilson brothers may see Owen most in the spotlight (from “Wedding Crashers” to “Zoolander”) but also include Luke (who today appears in “Stargirl”) and actor-director Andrew. The three famously collaborated on “The Wendell Baker Story” in 2005.

134291_5830 by Walt Disney Television (CC BY-ND)

The Cyrus Family

Who knew that the mullet made famous by Billy Ray Cyrus of “Achy Breaky Heart” fame would not be his most memorable feature? Nope, this singer-actor today is notable not only for his resurgence (thanks to the “Old Town Road” collab with Lil Nas X) but also his offspring, which includes megastar Miley Cyrus. She, of course, gained early fame as a child star in “Hannah Montana,” had movie roles, and, most notably, a very grown-up career as an outspoken singer with hits such as “Wrecking Ball” and “Party in the U.S.A.” Billy Ray’s other kids, his own and stepchildren, are all involved in entertainment as well.

Sean and Robin Wright Penn, All the King's Men Premiere
Sean and Robin Wright Penn, All the King's Men Premiere by Attit Patel (CC BY)

The Penn-Wright Family

Another generation of this dynasty was cemented when Dylan Penn — who has modeled, appeared in a Nick Jonas video, and done some early acting work – garnered acclaim co-starring with her father, Sean Penn, in “Flag Day,” which he directed as well. The daughter of actor-director Robin Wright (“The Princess Bride,” “Forrest Gump”) and actor-director-producer-activist Penn (an Academy Award winner for “Mystic River” and “Milk” but forever loved as Jeff Spicoli from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”) is the latest in this Hollywood tradition. Sean, his musician brother Michael, and late brother Chris, also an actor, were born to actor and noted TV director Leo Penn, a life member of The Actors Studio, and actor Eileen Ryan.

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Elizabeth Taylor, Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Tropicana, 1958
Elizabeth Taylor, Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Tropicana, 1958 by Dan Perry (CC BY)

The Reynolds-Fisher Family

The love triangle was a scandal back in its day. Debbie Reynolds, perhaps most famous for “Singin’ in the Rain,” was reportedly blindsided when her husband, the singer-actor Eddie Fisher left her for her best friend, Elizabeth Taylor. With Reynolds, Fisher had iconic “Star Wars” actor Carrie Fisher and director/actor/producer Todd Fisher. Fisher would later marry Connie Stevens, having actors Joely Fisher (“Ellen”) and Tricia Leigh Fisher. It’s all tangled up in one interconnected tale.

Save The World Awards 2009 show07 - Andie MacDowell
Save The World Awards 2009 show07 - Andie MacDowell by (CC BY-SA)

The MacDowell-Qualley Family

Actress-model Andie MacDowell, perhaps best known for “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” and, more recently, “Cedar Cove,” has pretty much lived her life in the spotlight. Her first marriage, to fellow model Paul Qualley, produced three children, including actor Margaret Qualley (a regular on “The Leftovers” and with whom McDowell has appeared in the Netflix show “Maid”), actor-singer Rainey Qualley (“Miss Golden Globe 2012” who records as Rainsford), and the “odd man out,” Justin Qualley, who’s reportedly in real estate.

Cindy Crawford Cannes 2013
Cindy Crawford Cannes 2013 by JJ Georges (CC BY-SA)

The Crawford-Gerber Family

Take one supermodel, Cindy Crawford. Add one model-handsome nightlife entrepreneur in Rande Gerber, and that’s the making of both a star-power marriage and the parents of Crawford doppelganger, the in-demand model-actress Kaia Gerber, and her brother, Presley, who’s also an international model.

Jake Gyllenhaal (22373266462)
Jake Gyllenhaal (22373266462) by Bart ryker (CC BY-SA)

The Gyllenhaal Family

It might have taken the second generation to earn box-office name recognition, but stage and screen actors Maggie Gyllenhaal (“Crazy Heart, “Secretary”), an Academy Award winner and Golden Globe nominee, and her brother, Tony- and Academy Award nominee Jake (“Brokeback Mountain”), are the children of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner. It remains to be seen if Maggie’s offspring with fellow actor Peter Sarsgaard will follow in the family biz.

Chris Hemsworth
Chris Hemsworth by Eva Rinaldi (CC BY-SA)

The Hemsworth Family

The Brothers Hemsworth are more than just pretty faces, but these Australian siblings have certainly left a mark on the entertainment industry over the past few years. There’s Liam (“The Hunger Games”) who was once married to singer Miley Cyrus. There’s also Chris of “Thor” and “Men in Black: International” fame, and then there’s Luke of HBO’s “Westworld.” What will they do next? 

August 05
August 05 by GabboT (CC BY-SA)

The Roberts Family

Long before America’s sweetheart Julia Roberts and her oversize smile dazzled the big screen, her older brother Eric was a star (“King of the Gypsies,” “The Pope of Greenwich Village,” and “Star 80,” plus an Academy Award nomination for “Runaway Train”). His career has thrived for decades, though Julia’s not done too poorly, either. Think “Pretty Woman,” “Notting Hill,” and an Academy Award-winning turn as “Erin Brockovich.” Emma Roberts, Eric’s daughter with actress/film producer Kelly Cunningham, is also an actor and singer who got her big break in “Unfabulous,” on Nickelodeon, going on to films such as “Nancy Drew,” “We’re the Millers,” and “American Horror Story.” Emma’s had a baby with her beau, actor Garret Hedlund (“Tron: Legacy”), so stay tuned.

Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow by Jasn (CC BY-NC)

The Paltrow-Danner Family

While she certainly has her share of detractors — how insufferable is Goop? — actor, entrepreneur, and lifestyle guru Gwyneth Paltrow is an integral part of an iconic Hollywood family as the daughter of veteran actor Blythe Danner (a Tony Award winner for “Butterflies Are Free”) and TV and film director and producer, the late Bruce Paltrow (“The White Shadow,” “St. Elsewhere”), and the sister to screenwriter/director Jake Paltrow. The Academy Award-winning performance for “Shakespeare in Love” solidified Gwyneth’s status — and with two children from her first marriage to Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, it’s a good bet the youngsters have inherited that creative gene.

Uma Thurman 2009 by David Shankbone
Uma Thurman 2009 by David Shankbone by David Shankbone (CC BY)

The Thurman-Hawke Family

The marriage of actor/writer/producer/model Uma Thurman (“Dangerous Liaisons,” “Pulp Fiction”) and film and theater actor/producer/screenwriter Ethan Hawke (“Dead Poets Society” and Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy, among others) produced Maya Ray Thurman Hawke, whose Juilliard School training has led to a career in the spotlight, as a model and actor (the BBC’s “Little Women” and HBO’s “Stranger Things”).

Jason Ritter Paleyfest 2013
Jason Ritter Paleyfest 2013 by Genevieve (CC BY)

The Ritter Family

Actor Jason Ritter (“Joan of Arcadia,” “Parenthood”) is the oldest son of actors Nancy Morgan and John Ritter, the comedic actor best known for the classic sitcom “Three’s Company.” The couple’s other children, Carly and Tyler, are also in the business, while Noah Ritter, John’s child with his second wife, Amy Yasbeck, has also acted. This marks the third generation, as John was the son of mid-century “singing cowboy” Tex Ritter, an actor and country music star.

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Tori Spelling (45171700311)
Tori Spelling (45171700311) by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA)

The Spelling Family

Film and TV producer Aaron Spelling was a Hollywood fixture, the man behind such hits as “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Love Boat,” “Dynasty,” “Beverly Hills, 90210,” “Charmed” and more. But along with his children, Tori (forever Donna Martin of “Beverly Hills”) and Randy (an occasional actor-turned-life coach), the Spelling name came to be equated with nepotism and Hollywood excess. Who can forget wife Candy and her room(s) dedicated to wrapping gifts? Tori is still active (and was admittedly stellar in the 90210 reunion in 2019).

Sharon Osbourne and Kelly Osbourne at the 38th People's Choice Award (2)
Sharon Osbourne and Kelly Osbourne at the 38th People's Choice Award (2) by jjduncan_80 (CC BY)

The Osbourne Family

Four seasons of the reality show “The Osbournes” may have brought heavy metal icon Ozzy Osbourne and his family to a wider audience and increased popularity — but not everyone remains a fan of the wacky antics of the bumbling rocker. Sharon, his beleaguered manager/wife, has had her own ups and downs (health issues, her troubled run on “The Talk”), while his most famous children, Kelly and Jack, are making their own way in the biz hosting shows and taking on varied roles in the industry. 

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