Skip to main content

10 Famous People Who Were Born Out of Wedlock

mtkomori and her family have lived in both Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and Yokohama, Japan.

A child born out of wedlock refers to a child who is born to unmarried parents. This may also include children who were conceived from rape. Such children have existed throughout history, even in royal families. They often did not learn of their circumstances surrounding their birth until many years later.

After the illegitimate child is born, he/she would usually be raised in a single parent household, the grandparent(s) would step into raise them, or they were adopted by another couple. Quite often their biological fathers played a limited role, or they have never met their biological fathers. Their families at times struggled financially. Despite these adversities, these famous people have become successful in their professions. Here is a list of 10 famous people who were born out of wedlock. These people are still alive.

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton

1. Eric Clapton

Eric Patrick Clapton is an English musician and singer-songwriter. He was born on March 30, 1945 to Patricia Clapton who was then 16 years old, and Edward Fryer aged 25 who was from Quebec, Montreal, Canada. Edward was stationed in England during World II and had a brief affair with Patricia. He was married at the time and returned to his wife in Canada before Clapton was born. Clapton was raised by his maternal grandparents Jack and Rose in the suburbs of London. He grew up believing his grandparents were his parents and that his mother Patricia was his sister.

He found out that he was born out of wedlock when he was about 9 years old. Patricia later remarried and had children with her new husband. In his autobiography, Clapton stated that he once asked Patricia "can I call you `mother`?" To this, Patricia replied, "You can call Jack and Rose (Clapton`s maternal grandparents) as your mother and father". Clapton was devastated to hear Patricia`s reply and he became withdrawn.

Clapton has achieved phenomenal success as a musician and singer-songwriter. He has received 18 Grammy Awards and received the Order of the British Empire in 2004. He is most remembered for his hits which include among others, "Layla", "Cocaine", and "Tears in Heaven."

Clapton was married to Pattie Boyd between 1979 and 1988. While still married to Boyd, he was in a relationship with Lory Del Santo, an Italian actress. In 1988, they had a son who was named Connor. Connor passed away tragically when he fell from the window of the apartment building at the age of 3. Clapton was devastated, and the song "Tears in Heaven" was written in memory of Connor. He married Melia McEnery in 2002 and the couple have three daughters.

Despite his adversity, he has become one of the leading musicians of his era.

Momoe Yamaguchi

Momoe Yamaguchi

2. Momoe Yamaguchi

Momoe Yamaguchi was a popular Japanese female singer who was active between 1973 and 1980. Yamaguchi was born in Tokyo on January 17, 1959 to unmarried parents.

At the time when she and her sister were born, her father was already married to another woman and even had children. Yamaguchi did not know of this until she was a teenager.

As Yamaguchi became popular in late 1974, her father who had been visiting on a weekly basis but never lived with her family, decided to take advantage of her success.

He tried to control her income and since she was still a minor, he sued for custody but her mother won the court case. Yamaguchi wrote in her autobiography that she was resentful that her father was after her money and she decided to end the relationship with him, stating that she denied his existence.

In 1980, Yamaguchi married her costar Tomokazu Miura with whom she starred in numerous movies. After this, she retired at the height of her popularity at the age of 21. Despite her adverse family life growing up, she had achieved success and was determined to create a happy family with Miura, with whom she has had two sons.

She has not made a public appearance since her retirement.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Reelrundown

Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson

3. Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson is an American political activist, Baptist minister and politician. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as a shadow U.S. senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997.

Jackson was born on October 8, 1941 in Greenville, South Carolina to Helen Burns (1924-2015) a 16-year-old high school student and her 33-year-old married neighbor, Noah Louis Robinson (1908-1997). A year after Jesse was born, his mother married Charles Henry Jackson, a post office maintenance worker. Jackson later adopted Jesse and Jesse took his step father`s last name. He maintained a close relationship with his biological father Robinson, and he considered both men to be his fathers.

As a young boy, he was taunted by other children about his out of wedlock birth. Jesse has stated that this experience helped motivate him to succeed.

Jackson married Jacqueline Lavinia Brown in 1962 and together have five children. Jackson had an affair with a staffer Karin Stanford which resulted in the birth of their daughter Ashley in May 1999.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

4. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Gail Winfrey is an American talk show host, television producer, actress, author, and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history and ran for 25 years, from 1986 to 2011.

Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954 into poverty in Kosciusko, Mississippi to Vernita Lee (1935-2018) who was an unmarried teenager and a housemaid. Her biological father is usually considered to be Vernon Winfrey (born 1933). However, Mississippi farmer and World War II veteran Noah Robinson Sr. (born 1925) has claimed to be her biological father.

After Winfrey was born, her mother left Winfrey in the care of her maternal grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee (1900-1963). When Winfrey was six, she moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her mother. Her mother was less supportive than her grandmother due to the long hours she worked as a maid. Around this time, Winfrey`s mother(Lee) gave birth to another daughter, Winfrey`s younger half-sister Patricia. By 1962, Lee was having difficulty raising both daughters so Winfrey was sent to live with Vernon, her biological father.

Winfrey has gained huge success as the talk show host on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Forbes` list of The World`s Billionaires has listed Winfrey as the world`s only black billionaire from 2004 to 2006 and as the first black woman billionaire in the world that was achieved in 2003.

Despite her adverse circumstance growing up, she has gained fame and fortune.

Layne Beachley

Layne Beachley

5. Layne Beachley

Layne Beachley is a former professional surfer who has won the World Championship seven times. She is currently the chair of Surfing Australia.

Layne Beachley was born Tania Maris Gardner on May 24, 1972 in Sydney. She was conceived during a date rape and since her mother was only 17 years old and unmarried, she was soon adopted by Neil and Valerie Beachley. Valerie died when Layne was only six years old, leaving Layne and her brother to be raised by Neil. Layne did not meet her biological mother until she was 27 years old in 1999.

Layne was brought up in the competitive Manly surfing scene and was competing and winning against men at the age of 15. It is thought that this is where she developed her strength and style.

At the age of 16, she became a professional surfer and by the age of 20 she was ranked sixth in the world. She became the Women`s ASP World Champion in 1998, and won the title again in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006. She is the only woman in history to win 7 World Championships, and the only surfer, male or female to win six consecutive world titles.

She married Kirk Pengilly, a member of the Australian rock group INXS in October 2010.

Despite the fact that she was not raised by her biological parents, she has attained tremendous success as a professional surfer.

Kenichi Mikawa

Kenichi Mikawa

6. Kenichi Mikawa

Kenichi Mikawa (born Yoshikazu Momose on May 15, 1946) is a Japanese singer, actor, and TV personality. He debuted in 1965 and after a string of hits in the 60s and 70s, he continued to perform even as he reached his mid-70s. Although he first projected the handsome boy image, he has since resorted to a feminine image, wearing make up and long dresses.

Mikawa was born in Suwa, Nagano, Japan to unmarried parents. His father was already married to another woman and even had children when Mikawa was born. His mother was raising him alone but contracted tuberculosis when Mikawa was two years old. He was then left in the care of his mother`s sister (his aunt) and her husband. Mikawa did not know that his aunt and her husband were not his parents until he was in 7th grade. In order to financially support his "two mothers", he decided to enter the world of entertainers. He left high school and entered the Toho Talent School. In 1964, he won the talent show "Daiei New Face".

Although already in his 70s, he has kept up to date by starting a YouTube channel and an Instagram account as a means of communicating with his fans. He has achieved status as a TV personality by appearing in talk shows and making humorous but critical comments. His concerts and dinner shows continue to attract fans.

He commented that he was able to sustain his long career because he was determined to support his mother and aunt, whom he refers to as his "two mothers".

Macaulay Culkin

Macaulay Culkin

7. Macaulay Culkin

Macaulay Culkin (born Macaulay Carson Culkin on August 26, 1980) is an American actor and musician most famous for his role as Kevin McCallister in the Home Alone film series (1990 and 1992) for which he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. He is often regarded as one of the most successful child actors of the 1990s. He also starred in the films My Girl (1991), Getting Even with Dad(1994), and Richie Rich (1994).

Culkin was born in New York City to Christopher Cornelius "Kit" Culkin, a former stage actor and Patricia Brentrup, a native of North Dakota who met Kit in 1974 while working as a road traffic controller in Sundance, Wyoming. Culkin`s parents were never married. The couple relocated to New York City and gave birth to a total of seven children. The family struggled financially; his father was a sacristan at a local Catholic church and his mother worked as a telephone operator.

Culkin`s parents split when Culkin was in his teens and his mother filed for custody. He took his parents to court to block them from controlling his trust fund reportedly worth between $15 and 20 million. His parents` names were removed, and an executor was found.

Since 2017, Culkin has been in a relationship with Brenda Song who was his co-star in Changeland. The couple gave birth to their son Dakota Song Culkin in 2021. Their son was named after Culkin`s late sister Dakota.

Rita Mae Brown

Rita Mae Brown

8. Rita Mae Brown

Rita Mae Brown (born November 28, 1944) is an American feminist writer best known for her coming-of-age autobiographical novel Rubyfruit Jungle. The novel is noted for its explicit portrayal of lesbianism.

Brown was born in 1944 in Hannover, Pennsylvania to an unmarried teenage mother and her mother`s married boyfriend. Brown`s mother left the newborn Brown at an orphanage and her mother`s cousin Julia Brown and her husband Ralph retrieved her from the orphanage and raised Brown as their own. They moved from Pennsylvania to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Brown attended the University of Florida at Gainesville and became active in the American Civil Rights Movement.

Starting in 1973, Brown lived in the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles. In 1978, she moved to Charlottesville, Virginia where she lived with American actress and author Flannie Flagg. In 1979, Brown met and fell in love with tennis champion Martina Navratilova. In 1980, they bought a horse farm in Charlottesville where they lived together until their breakup. Brown still lives on the estate in Charlottesville.

Brown received an honorary doctorate from Wilson College in 1992 and received the Pioneer Award for lifetime achievement at the Lambada Literary Awards in 2015.

Despite being adopted, she has achieved fame as an activist and author. It is not known whether or not she has met her biological parents.

Mika Mifune

Mika Mifune

9. Mika Mifune

Mika Mifune (born September 12, 1982) is a Japanese actress and TV personality. She is the daughter of famous actor Toshiro Mifune (who had major roles in Akira Kurosawa`s films) and his lover Mika Kitagawa. Toshiro Mifune was married to another woman when Mika was born. Toshiro Mifune passed away in 1997 and due to his will, Mika was recognized as Toshiro`s daughter.

Mika graduated from Yokohama International School and on her 16th birthday in September 1998, she married George Takahashi who was 24 years older. In 2004, she gave birth to her first child, a daughter. She divorced Takahashi in 2016 and in 2019, she married a man who runs a beauty salon. She gave birth to a second daughter in September 2020.

Mika has received the Japan Academy Award for New Actors and Actresses in 1999 as well as the COTTON USA award in 2006.

Valerie Gatto

Valerie Gatto

10. Valerie Gatto

Valerie Gatto (born 1990) was Miss Pennsylvania in 2014.

Gatto was a product of rape. Her mother was raped at knife point when she was 19 years old and later found out that she was pregnant with Gatto. Her mother initially thought of putting her up for adoption, but her maternal parents supported her and helped her raise Gatto.

Instead of seeing her mother`s terrifying experience as something negative, Gatto has stated that "I believe God put me here for a reason, to give hope that everything is possible and you can`t let your circumstances define your life."

She is now helping to educate young girls about sexual assault awareness.

She has apparently never met her biological "father."

© 2022 Takako Komori

Related Articles