Many celebrities were once orphans, or grew up with absent parents, or just one parent. An orphan, as defined by the English Oxford Living Dictionary, is “a child whose parents are dead or have given them up.” Some of our beloved actors, actresses, models, and musicians became famous despite being raised in poverty. Their success stories are reminders to never give up on achieving our dreams no matter how hard life gets. This is a list of ten celebrities that once were orphans along with their inspiring and true stories.
1) Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage was born to his mother, famous actor and director, June Coppola (née Cage), and father, August Coppola, on January 7 th , 1964. Although the couple was married for four years, they divorced when Nicolas was three-years-old. A year later his mother, June, and her brother died in a car accident. Eighteen months after the accident, Nicolas’ dad married August’s first wife. This new family created tension between Nicolas and his father for years. It wasn’t until he was twelve-years-old that Nicolas was legally adopted by his father’s third wife. Nicolas credits his dad for encouraging him to become an actor despite the early tension they experienced together.
2) Robert Downey Jr .
Robert was born April 4 th , 1965, in Manhattan New York City to author and filmmaker Robert Downey Sr. and actress Elsie Ann Ford. Robert’s parents divorced when he was only two-years-old, leaving his older sister Allyson alone with them to take care of the household. The family relied on government assistance for their living expenses since Robert Sr. was an alcoholic who couldn’t keep a steady job. After spending time in prison, the courts revoked Robert’s visitation rights with his son, leaving Allyson to raise him on her own.
3) Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth was born September 27 th , 1972 in Los Angeles California to actress Blythe Danner and director father Bruce Paltrow. Gwyneth’s parents divorced when she was eleven-years-old after being married to one another for twenty years. Her father remarried three times since the divorce, while her mother has only remarried once. At eighteen-years-old Gwyneth’s mom gave birth to her daughter, actress Blythe Danner, the only child Gwyneth had known for ten years.
4) Johnny Depp
Johnny was born June 9th , 1963, in Owensboro Kentucky to John Christopher Depp Jr., and his wife, former waitress Betty Sue. Johnny’s parents divorced when he was fifteen-years-old. The couple refused to pay much child support or alimony, forcing Johnny to work full time at fourteen-years-old. He dropped out of school at the age of sixteen after becoming depressed and drinking alcohol with friends nearly every day. His parents eventually reconciled their differences, but before reconnecting Johnny was sent to live with his grandparents.
5) Anne Hathaway
Anne was born November 12th , 1982, in Brooklyn New York City to actress Kate McCauley and Dr. Gerald Hathaway. Shortly after Anne was born her father abandoned the family, leaving Kate to raise her on her own as a single-mother. After completing her studies eighth grade, Anne was accepted into the elite Vassar College in Poughkeepsie New York. This triggered a strained relationship with her father, who believed she would be better off pursuing a more traditional education not only for herself but to make him happy as well.
6) Jim Carrey
Jim was born January 17 th , 1962, in Newmarket Ontario, Canada to unemployed father Percy Carrey and his mother Kathleen. After Jim’s birth the couple opted against a life of parenthood choosing instead to put him up for adoption. Jim was raised by Ronald and Janet Carrey, an Irish Catholic couple in the middle-class district of Scarborough Ontario. He credits his parents and their devout Catholicism as a major influence on him becoming a comedian with such an unconventional style.
7) Drew Barrymore
Drew was born February 22nd, 1975, in Los Angeles California to actress Irmelin DiCaprio and actor-director John Barrymore Jr. Drew’s parents divorced when she was only a year old, leaving her to live full time with each of them until age nine-years-old, when her mother had the courts declared her unfit to care for her daughter. At that time Drew returned to live with Irmelin permanently. Four years later, after overcoming a near lethal combination of alcohol and drug abuse, Drew returned to acting in the film “Firestarter.”
8) Alec Baldwin
Alec was born April 3rd, 1958, in Massapequa New York to Alexander Rae Baldwin Jr., an high school history teacher and football coach, and his wife Carol Newcomb. His father had married his mother only six months after divorcing actress Carol Roberts with whom he had five children. Alec was the oldest of seven-children of which he is the only son.
9) Al Pacino
Al was born April 25th , 1940, in East Harlem New York City to Angel “Diane” Pacino and seamstress Rose Pacino. Both of his parents were children of Italian immigrants, although his father’s family emigrated from Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto, Sicily and his mother’s from Piacenza, Italy. His siblings include actors Diane, a book keeper; Frank, an aspiring actor; Theresa, a registered nurse and peace activist; Julie Marie, an office manager.
10) Tina Fey
Tina was born May 18th, 1970, in Upper Darby Pennsylvania to Joan, a brokerage employee and former war-time journalist. She grew up in the more affluent western suburb of Mt. Airy Philadelphia where she attended private school Nazareth Hall Convent School for Girls. After high school Tina received her B.A degree from University of Virginia majoring in drama before joining the Great Lakes Theater Festival to study acting.