Some actors/actresses have a famous mother or father, others come from acting dynasties. These great acting families are multigenerational. They are either born into them or a new dynasty is formed by marriages and their offspring. There have been some brilliantly talented acting dynasties through the ages and they are still being created today. Who are they?
Among the most loved of the acting dynasties is the Fonda clan. Henry Fonda was the good guy of Hollywood and played memorable roles in films such as Young Mr. Lincoln, 12 Angry Men and The Grapes of Wrath. His children Peter and Jane Fonda pioneered a new era of filmmaking with films like Easy Rider in 1969 and China Syndrome. Henry won an Oscar in the last film he played in, and the special thing about the film was that Henry and his daughter Jane made On Golden Pond together. Granddaughter Bridget (son of Peter) is the youngest to join the silver screen brigade.
Martin Sheen was brought up in America by immigrant parents. His real name was ‘Ramon Antonia Gerardo Estevez’ but he had to take up his screen name of Martin Sheen in order to get more acting roles. He never won an academy award but the biggest reward for him was that all four of his children, Charlie, Ramon, Emilio, and Renee, have had a successful acting career. Martin Sheen was himself quite surprised and admitted that he had not expected all of his children to enter into film industry. He can also claim to be a great patriarch of an acting family. Ramon’s son Taylor (stunt man) and daughter (musician) both work in the movies/entertainment industry.
Alec Baldwin is the eldest of the four brothers who have made a name for themselves in the field of acting. His three younger brothers, Daniel, William, and Stephen, formed the quartet of actors from the same family, though none of his brothers enjoy the same fame and success as Alec Baldwin himself. Apart from his acting, Alec Baldwin also writes for the Huffington Post and is a man with strong political beliefs.
Let me just give you the roll call of what must be the greatest of the British acting dynasties. Firstly we have Michael Redgrave and his direct descendants, Corin Redgrave, Vanessa Redgrave, Lynn Redgrave, Joely Richardson (daughter of Vanessa), Natasha Richardson (daughter of Vanessa) and Jenna Redgrave (daughter of Corin). Then you can add Liam Neeson into the mix through his marriage to Natasha, Kika Markham, a British actress who married Corin (and is Jenna’s mother) and other various spouses who are/were involved in the movies, including Vanessa’s husband, Tony Richardson, who won a Best Director Oscar for Tom Jones. I doubt any of the other acting families will ever match up to this cast list.
Will Smith is an actor, comedian, producer and rapper all in one. In 1997 he married Jada Pinkett, who is also an actress. Together they have two children, Jaden and Willow, who are following in their parents' footsteps. Jaden was Will Smith’s co-star in the movie The Pursuit of Happyness and more recently in After Earth, while Willow took the role of Will Smith’s daughter in the film I Am Legend. Will is consistently a part of Fortune magazine’s ‘Richest 40’ list and the family is currently among the most popular acting dynasties as their ages allow them to cater for a large number of audiences.
You don’t need to be a huge family to be an impactful acting dynasty. Sometimes one parent, one child is enough to qualify. To my mind, the father/son combo, the Sutherlands, are just so. Donald Sutherland has been at the top of his game in the movies for nearly 50 years. His acting credits are something to be reckoned with, with roles as diverse as a smart mouth soldier in The Dirty Dozen to the Watcher in the Buffy movie. More recently this legendary actor is reaching new younger audiences as President Snow in ‘The Hunger Games’ series. His son Kiefer Sutherland is also an accomplished actor, most commonly known for his role of Jack Bauer in the Fox TV series ‘24’ and his breakthrough role in The Lost Boys. Another reason to include The Sutherlands in the list of acting dynasties is there are some other names to note. Donald’s son Rossif Sutherland is a working actor and his other son Angus (both of whom are half-brothers to Keifer) also had a career in the movies/TV until 2011.
John Cusack shot to fame in mid-1980s when he did a number of teen films including The Sure Thing, One Crazy Summer, and Sixteen Candles. His father Richard Cusack, who died in 2003, was also an actor. Other than that, his siblings Ann, Bill, Joan and Susie also enjoy acting careers, which makes this family one of the bigger acting dynasties in the film industry. They are not to be confused with another great acting Cusack family – the Irish clan that includes, Cyril, Niamh, Sorcha, Catherine and Sinéad (who is married to Jeremy Irons).
One of the acting families may not be so familiar to you, but they certainly are to British audiences. The four McGann brothers produce a regular flow of movies and television shows with many big hits among them. You might know Paul as the eighth Dr. Who, while Stephen has been much loved recently as Dr. Turner in popular series ‘Call the Midwife,’ which is just about to reach its conclusion. In what must be quite unique, all four of the McGann brothers appeared together in a TV series, ‘The Hanging Gale’ back in 1995.
The Arquette family has bestowed the film industry with at least four highly successful actors. Their dynasty spans over three generations, which is quite a feat compared to other acting families. It begins with Cliff Arquette, who was the father of Lewis Arquette and the grandfather of Rosanna, David and Patricia Arquette. Lewis Arquette also had the honor of doing English dubbing roles for different Japanese cartoons.
When you delve deeper into the dynasties that grace Hollywood and British filmmaking, there really are some great names. I haven’t included, for example, The Caulkins, The Arkins, The Carradines, The Gyllenhaals, The Coppola/Cages and The Wahlbergs, to name but a few. Can you name some others?
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