Acting bloodlines run deep through Hollywood. Entertainment is a family business for some of the biggest stars in the industry. As we look at some of the more prominent acting families in the history of show business, keep in mind it’s subjective and always open to opinion and preference (sorry, Three Stooges). That said, here are 25 acting families worth highlighting.
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While the five Arquette siblings are most notable, their father Lewis (The Waltons) and grandfather Cliff (Dave and Charley) were Hollywood staples of their time. Rosanna (Desperately Seeking Susan, Pulp Fiction) is an accomplished actress like her sister Patricia, who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Boyhood (2014). While the work of fellow siblings Richmond and the late Alexis (The Wedding Singer) received less fanfare, brother David (Scream, Never Been Kissed) might be the most recognizable for his acting work, a stint as a pro wrestler, and marriage to Friends star Courteney Cox.
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They’ve settled down some with age, but the famed Baldwin Brothers have had their memorable and infamous moments on and off-screen. Alec is the eldest and most successful of the four brothers (The Hunt for Red October, The Cooler, 30 Rock). William (Backdraft) is still working, Stephen (Born on the Fourth of July, The Usual Suspects) has remained versatile in the business, while Daniel (Mulholland Falls) is better known for his battles with addiction.
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Troubled child star-turned-adult-Hollywood-superstar Drew Barrymore (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Boys on the Side, The Wedding Singer) has been the most recognizable Barrymore for the better part of four decades. But it really began with her great uncle, Lionel, within the realm of the Barrymore entertainment royalty. He won a Best Actor Academy Award for A Free Soul (1931) and starred in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). His brother John was lauded for his work during the silent film era.
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Lloyd Bridges starred in Sea Hunt during the late 1950s and early ’60s and had a fantastic supporting role in Airplane! (1980) and guest spots on Seinfeld. Sons Beau, a three-time Emmy winner and two-time Golden Globe recipient, and Jeff, an Oscar winner for 2009’s Crazy Heart, have more than carried on the family’s acting legacy, which also included the boys’ mother, Dorothy.
While John Carradine was a quality character actor of his time from the 1930s into the ’60s, his sons and grandchildren have truly made Carradine a household name in Hollywood. The late David (Kung Fu, Kill Bill), brothers Keith (Deadwood, Dexter) and Robert (Revenge of the Nerds) have all enjoyed much success, whether on television or in film. Keith Carradine’s daughter Martha Plimpton has been a working actress since childhood.
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Talk about a family tree of Hollywood greatness — and we’re not even including Sofia Coppola’s disastrous acting career. Francis Ford Coppola is one of the greatest directors in film history. His sister, Talia Shire (Rocky), nephew Nicolas Cage (Raising Arizona, Leaving Las Vegas), and Shire’s son Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore) has added to the family dynasty. The direct descendants of Carmine Coppola and Italia Pennino have reportedly been nominated for more than 20 Academy Awards.
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Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Prom Night, True Lies) is arguably more famous than her actor parents, but it had to start somewhere. Her late dad, Tony Curtis (The Defiant Ones, The Boston Strangler), had a film career that spanned six decades. Late mom Janet Leigh (Psycho) might be responsible for Jamie Lee Curtis becoming the “scream queen” of the late 1970s and into the ’80s.
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We know about the Cusack siblings: John (Better off Dead, Say Anything…, High Fidelity), Joan (Working Girl, School of Rock, Shameless), and Ann (Grey’s Anatomy, A League of Their Own, Sully). However, their father was also an actor (My Bodyguard, Eight Men Out) and an even more accomplished documentary filmmaker, following a successful career as an advertising executive.
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Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner Laura Dern (Jurassic Park, Enlightened, Big Little Lies) certainly had the family genes to work with. Her father, Bruce Dern (Coming Home, Nebraska), is one of the most lauded and respected actors of all time. Her mother, Diane Ladd, earned Academy Award nominations for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974), Wild at Heart (1990), and Rambling Rose (1991).
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We know sisters Emily (Bones) and Zooey (New Girl, 500 Days of Summer), but these successful acting sisters grew up in the business. Their father, Caleb, is a well-respected cinematographer and director, while their mom, Mary Jo, is probably best known for her role as John Glenn’s shy, soft-spoken wife in The Right Stuff (1983).
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Kirk and Michael Douglas were the closest thing to father-son Hollywood royalty. Kirk (Champion, Detective Story) passed away in February 2020 at 103 years old. Meanwhile, Michael won an Oscar for his role as corporate raider Gordon Gekko in Wall Street. He is remembered for starring in acclaimed films like Romancing the Stone, Fatal Attraction, and The American President. Not to be forgotten, Michael’s mom, Diana, played Peg in the hit Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
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Singer-actor Eddie Fisher’s marriages to actresses Debbie Reynolds (Three Little Words, The Unsinkable Molly Brown) and Connie Stevens produced two prominent Hollywood actresses. The late Carrie Fisher, daughter of Reynolds, will always be remembered and adored as Princess Leia. Joely Fisher (Ellen, Last Man Standing), daughter of Stevens, has also enjoyed her own successful acting career. Billie Lourd, Carrie Fisher’s daughter, has acted in Booksmart (2019), American Horror Story (2017-22), and Ticket to Paradise (2022).
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Another family that’s produced three generations of fine, quality actors. Henry Fonda was one of the greats and finally won an Oscar for 1981’s On Golden Pond. Son Peter, best known for writing and starring in Easy Rider (1969), earned himself an Academy Award nomination for 1997’s Ulee’s Gold. Daughter Jane is a two-time Oscar winner and one of the greatest actresses of her generation. Peter’s daughter, Bridget, starred in 1990s hit films such as Single White Female and Singles.
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Is there a more famous Hollywood mother-daughter tandem than the legendary Judy Garland (The Wizard of Oz) and Liza Minnelli (Cabaret)? Despite all the issues in her personal life, Garland was one of the most beloved entertainers in the history of the business, while Minnelli is among the most versatile and almost even more beloved in certain fandom circles.
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Goldie Hawn got her start on Laugh-In and earned an Oscar for 1969’s Cactus Flower. She remained a screen staple during the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s. Her children with Bill Hudson, Kate Hudson (Almost Famous) and Oliver Hudson (Dawson’s Creek, Rules of Engagement), have also enjoyed solid careers in Hollywood. If we want to get technical, we’ll throw Hawn’s longtime partner, Kurt Russell, into the mix since he remains one of the biggest names in Hollywood.
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While Walter Huston was one of the talkies’ earliest stars, his son John won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for The Cardinal (1963). However, John Huston is considered one of the great screenwriters and directors ever, giving the world such classics as The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and Moulin Rouge, to name a few. His daughter Angelica was a third-generation Huston to win an Oscar for Prizzi’s Honor (1985) and is also considered one of the great actresses of her time.
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From his early days as Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show to starring as Richie Cunningham on Happy Days to his legendary run as a director that’s still going, Ron Howard is the most notable Howard in Hollywood. However, his brother, Clint (Cotton Candy, The Paper), tends to pop up in just about all of Ron’s films while dad, Rance, appeared in such classics as Cool Hand Luke and Chinatown. Meanwhile, Ron’s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, has made a name for herself with roles in films like The Village and The Help.
The famed comedic brothers — Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Gummo, and Zeppo — enjoyed major success on stage and screen. Classics like Duck Soup (1933) and A Night at the Opera (1935) remain timeless comedy classics. Groucho was the most famous of the brothers, breaking off to shine on his own. Gummo’s grandson Brett Marx starred in the popular Bad News Bears movies of the 1970s.
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Five generations of Redgraves have left their marks in Hollywood. Though Michael Redgrave was an Oscar-nominated actor in the 1950s and ’60s, his daughter Vanessa Redgrave is the most prominent of the group. A six-time Oscar nominee, she won one for a supporting role in Julia (1977). Late sister Lynn, meanwhile, was nominated for an Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy but never won. Vanessa’s daughter Natasha Richardson (The Parent Trap) enjoyed a successful acting career before her untimely death following a skiing accident at age 45. Her sister, Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck, The Tudors), is still going strong in Hollywood.
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Whether we’re talking about Estevez or the family’s stage name, Sheen, this group is up there with the most successful and infamous acting families in Hollywood history. Father Martin Sheen (The West Wing, Apocalypse Now) is one of the great actors of all time. Emilio Estevez (The Breakfast Club, The Mighty Ducks) rose to fame as a member of the 1980s “Brat Pack,” and Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men, Platoon, Wall Street, Major League) is one of the most notorious actors ever to grace a movie or TV screen. Sister Renee Estevez even had her 15 minutes.
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With Will Smith (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Independence Day, Men in Black) and Jada Pinkett (A Different World, The Nutty Professor), it would be odd if the Smith children did not have entertainment in their blood. Jaden (The Karate Kid, Life in a Year) and Willow (I Am Legend) have followed in their parents’ footsteps when it comes to balancing acting and music, though both tend to lean more toward music.
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It began with late parents, Jerry Stiller (Seinfeld, King of Queens) and Anne Meara (Fame, Kate McShane, Southie). Then, it really took off with their son Ben Stiller (Zoolander, There’s Something About Mary), and even daughter Amy got into the family business. Put it all together, and the Stillers have had audiences laughing for decades.
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Another powerful father-son acting duo. Donald (MASH, Animal House, JFK) is a multiple Golden Globe Award winner. His son Kiefer (24, The Lost Boys, Young Guns) has also won an Emmy and Golden Globe over his illustrious film career. Kiefer’s daughter, Sarah, shined as the disgruntled daughter of Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Selina Meyer on the HBO smash Veep.
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Though acting legend Jon Voight (Midnight Cowboy, Deliverance, Coming Home) and his daughter, Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted, Gia, George Wallace), haven’t had the best relationship over the years, the talent they’ve displayed on-screen is hard to top when it comes to father-daughter acting duos. Jolie’s brother, James Haven, has also enjoyed small roles in film and TV.
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There might not be a funnier family on the planet than the Wayans. The family struck it big with the early 1990s sketch comedy series In Living Color, the brainchild of Keenen Ivory Wayans. Fast forward to the present, the Wayans siblings, which include Damon (The Last Boy Scout, My Wife and Kids), Marlon (Scary Movie), Shawn (White Chicks), and sister Kim, are still making people laugh.
A Chicago native, Jeff Mezydlo has professionally written about sports, entertainment and pop culture for nearly 30 years. If he could do it again, he’d attend Degrassi Junior High, Ampipe High and Grand Lakes University.