60 Celebrities and Famous People You Didn’t Know Were Adopted

There are certain known benefits that a child gets when he grows up with his biological parents. These benefits include genuine love, comfort, mentorship, and a sense of belonging. However, some kids are not opportune to be around their parents while growing up, they find themselves in the care of other people and such experience may either be nice, not so nice or not nice at all, depending on the person adopting.

Often, such children struggle through their situation and become successful adults. This article highlights famous people, including world leaders, who were adopted at some point in their lives. Though these men and women were brought up by parents other than their own biological parents, they grew up to be wealthy, famous, and influential.

1. Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton

42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, was raised by his grandparents after the death of his father. Clinton later adopted the name of his stepfather when he was 15 years old.

2. Lance Armstrong

Lance Edward Armstrong is a former professional American road racing cyclist. His mother Linda Armstrong Kelly gave birth to him when she was about 17 years old in an abusive relationship. She latter married Terry Armstrong who adopted Lance when he was 3 years old.

3. Eric Clapton

Eric Patrick Clapton is an English rock and blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. Eric grew up believing his grandparents were his parents and that his mother who was only sixteen years older than him, was his sister.

4. Andy Dick

American comedian, actor, musician, and television/film producer, Andrew Roane is popularly known as Andy Dick, was adopted at birth by Allen and Sue Dick. Following the death of his adopted parents, Nick sought after his birth mother and did find her. He learnt from her that she conceived him after a one-night stand.

5. Ice-T


Popular American rapper, singer, and actor, Tracy Lauren Marrow, better known by his stage name Ice-T, was raised by aunts following the death of his parents when he was 8 and 12 years old.

6. Debbie Harry

Deborah Ann “Debbie” Harry is an American singer-songwriter and actress, best known as the lead singer of the new wave and punk rock band Blondie. She was given up at 3 months and adopted shortly thereafter.

7. Sarah McLachlan


Canadian musician, singer, songwriter, and pianist Sarah Ann McLachlan, was given up and adopted at a young age. Her mother had her as a 19 year old but later gave her up for adoption to her adoptive parents; Jack and Dorice McLachlan. She grew to think of her adoptive mother as her biological mother.

8. Truman Capote


Truman Streckfus Persons, known as Truman Capote, was an American author, screenwriter, playwright, and actor. He was raised by relatives after the divorce of his young parents. It was his adopted father José García Capote that named him Truman García Capote.

9. Tim McGraw


Samuel Timothy “Tim” McGraw is an American singer, songwriter, actor, and husband to Singer Faith Hill. He was raised by his mother and stepfather, who he believed was his father.

10. Nelson Mandela


World Legend and former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, was raised by a tribe chief after his father’s death when he was 9 years old.

11. Gerald Ford


The 38th President of the United States, Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. was raised by his stepfather from the age of 2, after which his mother completely changed his name.

12. Trace Cyrus


Trace Dempsey Cyrus is an American musician, son of country singer, Billy Ray Cyrus and brother of Miley Cyrus. The backing vocalist and lead guitarist of the band Metro Station was adopted by his stepfather when he was only 4.

13. Keyshia Cole


After the death of her biological father at age two, the popular American singer, songwriter, record producer, businesswoman, and television personality was adopted.

14. apl.de.ap


Allan Pineda Lindo better known as apl.de.ap, is a Filipino American rapper, and a member of the Grammy Award-winning group ‘Black Eyed Peas’. He was adopted from the Philippines at age 14 by an American sponsor for young abandoned and orphaned children.

15. Frances McDormand


American actress, Frances Louise McDormand was adopted alongside with her 9 siblings by a minister and his wife named Noreen and Vernon McDonald.

16. Dean Cain


Best known as ‘Superman’ in the television series Lois & Clark, Dean George, American actor, producer, and director was adopted by his stepfather at age 3.

17. Michael Bay


Michael Benjamin Bay is an American filmmaker. He was given up and adopted at a young age. When he became a young adult, he began searching for his biological mother and father but didn’t get to find them.

18. Gary Coleman


Ranked on ‘Best Short Actors, Greatest Former Child Stars’ among other rankings, American actor and comedian, Gary Wayne Coleman was given up and adopted at a young age.

19. Ingrid Bergman


Ingrid Bergman was a Swedish actress who starred in a variety of European and American films. She was raised by aunts and uncles after the deaths of her parents when she was 3 and 13.

20. Steve Jobs

Founder of Apple, and one of the most irreplaceable CEOs of all time, Steve Jobs was given up and adopted at birth.

22. Jesse Jackson

Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. is an American civil rights activist, Baptist minister, and politician. He was born to a 16 year-old girl and a married man. His mother’s new husband adopted him when he was a year old.

23. Kelly Preston


American actress and wife of John Travolta, Kelly Preston, was adopted by her stepfather after her biological father drowned when she was 3 years old.

24. David Berkowitz – The Son of Sam


David Richard Berkowitz, born Richard David Falco, is also known as the Son of Sam. He was adopted a few days after his birth due to the divorce of his birth parents during the pregnancy.

25. John Lennon


John Winston Ono Lennon MBE was an English singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a co-founder of the band the Beatles. He was raised by his maternal aunt and uncle from age 5 after his father’s military desertion.

26. Marilyn Monroe


Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, model, and singer. Famous for playing “dumb blonde” characters, she became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s. Marilyn grew up with foster parents, family friends, and various aunts and uncles as a ward of the state.

27. Jamie Foxx


Jamie Foxx is one of the best assets in Hollywood. He was adopted when he was 7 months old by his maternal grandmother after the separation of his young parents.

28. Nicole Richie


Nicole Camille Richie is an American fashion designer, author, actress and television personality. She was raised by a family friend, Lionel Richie from age 3 and was legally adopted at age 9.

29. Faith Hill

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Faith Hill was given up and adopted at birth. Funnily, she is married to an American actor, Tim McGraw, who had a similar adoption experience like her.

30. Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi


American reality television personality and dancer, Nicole Elizabeth “Snooki” LaValle was adopted at 6 months old. by her Italian-American parents named Andy and Helen Polizzi, Her father worked as a firefighter while her mother worked as an office manager.

31. Ray Liotta


American actor, film producer, and voice actor, Raymond Allen “Ray” was also adopted when he was 6 months old.

32. Babe Ruth


The American professional baseball player, born as George Herman was raised in an orphanage, St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, from age 7.

33. JC Chasez


American singer, songwriter, dancer, record producer, Joshua Scott “JC” Chasez was raised by foster parents who eventually adopted him at age 5.

34. Richard Burton


Richard Burton, CBE was a Welsh stage and cinema actor noted for his mellifluous baritone voice and his great acting talent. He was raised by his sister and her husband following the death of their mother before he turned 2.

35. Edgar Allan Poe


The central figure of Romanticism, Edgar Allan Poe is known for his outstanding literally works. He was raised by a foster family from age 2, following his mother’s death and his father’s abandonment.

36. Lee Majors


Lee Majors was adopted by an aunt and uncle at age 2, following the deaths of his parents in unrelated accidents.

37. Melissa Gilbert


This 2016 Democratic candidate for Michigan’s 8th congressional and American actress, was not so lucky to enjoy the presence of her biological parents. She was given up and adopted at birth.

38. Louis Armstrong


Louis Armstrong was one of the pivotal and most influential figures in jazz music. He was raised by his grandmother, and uncle, and a foster family following his parent’s abandonment when he was very young.

39. Scott Hamilton

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Scott Scovell Hamilton is a retired American figure skater and Olympic gold medalist. He won four consecutive U.S. championships, four consecutive World Championships and a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics. He was adopted when he was only 6 weeks old.

40. Kristin Davis


Popularly known for playing ‘Charlotte York Golden Blatt on Sex and the City, the American actress was adopted by her stepfather when she was 3 years old.

41. Newt Gingrich


Newton Leroy “Newt” Gingrich was once a Republican on Georgia’s 6th congressional district. The American politician, historian, author, and political consultant was adopted by his stepfather at age 3 after the divorce of his young parents.

42. Langston Hughes


James Mercer Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri. He was raised by his maternal grandmother after his parents divorced.

43. James Baldwin


James Arthur Baldwin was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. He was adopted by his stepfather as an infant after his mother divorced his father due to drug abuse.

44. Eleanor Roosevelt


Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was an American politician, diplomat, and activist. She was the longest-serving First Lady of the United States, holding the post from March 1933 to April 1945 during her husband’s tenure. Mrs Roosevelt was raised by her maternal grandmother from age 10, after the deaths of her parents.

45. Tallulah Bankhead


American actress of the stage and screen, talk-show host, Tallulah Brockman Bankhead, was raised by her paternal grandmother from 3 weeks old, following the death of her mother.

46. Daunte Culpepper


Daunte Richard Culpepper is a former American football quarterback. He was adopted a day after he was born by a worker in the correctional facility where his mother was being held at his birth.

47. John Hancock

John Hancock was a merchant, smuggler, statesman, and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution. The former president of the Second Continental Congress and first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, was raised by his uncle and aunt from age 7, after the death of his father.

48. Michael Oher

Michael Jerome Oher is an American football offensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft and has also played for the Tennessee Titans. He was adopted when he was almost an adult – at 17, after spending years in different foster homes.

49. Eartha Kitt

Eartha Mae Kitt was an American actress, singer, cabaret star, dancer, stand-up comedian, activist, and voice artist, known for her highly distinctive singing style. She was raised by foster parents and learned of her adoption when she was 10 years old.

50. Priscilla Presley

American actress and business magnate, Priscilla Ann Presley is the former wife of singer Elvis Presley and the co-founder and former chairwoman of Elvis Presley Enterprises. Priscilla was raised by her stepfather after her biological father was killed in a plane crash when she was 6 months old.

51. Soon-Yi Previn

Soon-Yi Previn was adopted when she was 6 years old from Korea. She is the third wife of famous American actor, writer, and director, Woody Allen,

52. Nancy Reagan

Former First Lady of the United States and widow of the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, Nancy Davis Reagan was raised by an aunt and uncle for several years and later adopted by her stepfather at age 8.

53. Leo Tolstoy


Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, usually referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian novelist regarded as one of the greatest of all time. He was raised by relatives from a young age after the death of his parents.

54. Tommy Davidson


American comedian, film, and television actor, Tommy Davidson was adopted when he was only two years old.

55. Liz Phair


Liz Phair born as Elizabeth Clark is an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. She is also an adopted child and was raised by people other than her biological parents.

56. Ric Flair


Richard Morgan is best known by his ring name Ric Flair. The American semi-retired professional wrestler was given up and adopted at birth.

57. George Washington Carver


George Washington Carver was an American botanist and inventor. He was born into slavery in Missouri and was raised by his master and his wife after the abolition of slavery when he was a year old.

58. Alonzo Mourning


Retired professional basketball player, Alonzo Harding Mourning, Jr. was raised by a foster-mother following the divorce of his parents when he was 10 years old.

59. Christina Crawford


Christina Crawford is an American writer and actress. She was adopted at a young age and is best known as the author of ‘Mommie Dearest,’ an autobiographical account of alleged child abuse by her adoptive mother, famous Hollywood actress Joan Crawford.

60. Malcolm X


Malcolm X, born as Malcolm Little and also known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, was an American Muslim minister and a human rights activist. He grew up in an orphanage and foster care following his father’s suspicious death and mother’s mental breakdown.

Amira Daniel
Amira is a personal finance and entertainment writer by trade with several years of experience covering businesses, CEOs, and celebrity profiles, her favourite subjects include business and personal finance, entertainment, celebrities, and travel. When she's not writing, you can find her reading or catching up on any of her favourite series


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