12 Celebrity Offspring Who Are More Successful Than Their Parents

Published on July 10, 2015.

It’s hard to say what equates to more or less success in the world of entertainment. There’s no getting around legacy, and if it weren’t for one celebrity parent offering the shoo-in, the hand-me-up or the proverbial foot in the door, there would be no success for the offspring. Still, the people on this list took what their parents — or famous parent –g ave them, and ran with it. Considering the variables of time, generation and the epic changes in the industry over the past 25 years, here are celebrity offspring who’ve made it even bigger and better than their parents… relatively speaking.

12. Sean Astin

John Astin and Patty Duke once shared a home, and raised the guy we know as Mikey from The Goonies, Rudy from Rudy and Samwise Gamgee in The Lord Of The Rings triology: yes, the ageless Sean Astin. Sean’s pops was best known for his role in The Addams Family, but he had a long illustrious career playing interesting characters from the film version of West Side Story to the NBC favorite sitcom, Night Court. And Sean’s mom? Patty Duke? Well, she starred in The Patty Duke Show. The trivia relating to this fascinating family: Sean’s biological father was none other than Desi Arnaz Jr., the son of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. A short, torrid affair between the young Arnaz and Duke resulted in a child who would be more successful than all of his parents.


11. Ben Stiller

Ben Stiller is comedic royalty. Ben really can do it all, and he learned from the best. His pops is none other than comedic legend, Jerry Stiller, and his mom was none other than… comedic legend Anne Meara. Anne passed away in 2015, but her legacy lives on. Jerry and Anne were a well known comedy duo back in the day, but Anne could not have been more serious about “serious acting.” Regardless of how they made a climb into the celebrity ranks, Ben took it all in stride, and then picked up the pace. Ben has written, directed, starred in and produced box office gold and he shows no signs of slowing down or stopping. Now, it’ll be interesting to see what comes of the children belonging to Ben and wife, Christine Taylor.

Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

10. Drew Barrymore

The name Barrymore is synonymous with theatre and film. The long, family legacy from which Drew Barrymore has come pretty much set her up for immediate success. There is also no denying her strained relationship with parents John and Jaid Barrymore, but it didn’t stop Drew from pursuing and achieving everything she has desired in the movie-making industry. In several ways, Drew has managed more success than her parents. After working through her tumultuous teens, Drew embarked on a stellar career path that has seen her do much more than acting. Now 40, she’s a mother of two in the process of learning how to expertly balance family life with career endeavors.

Photo by Broadimage/REX

9. Jennifer Aniston

Fans of Days Of Our Lives may have known John Aniston long before his daughter, Jennifer Aniston, rose to fame in small horror flicks, and was launched into superstardom via Friends. John Aniston has played the menacing and manipulative Victor Kiriakis on the long-running soap opera since 1985. Yes. 30 years on the same show. Quite an impressive run. Still, John’s success in the industry has been outdone by his lovely daughter. Jennifer was pulling in a million per episode in the late run of Friends, and then went on to enjoy big paydays in several feature films. One thing that Jennifer and John have in common — they’re both talented actors who have underrated ability.

Photo by Picture Perfect / Rex Features

8. Josh Brolin

Josh Brolin is the son of actor James Brolin. James has enjoyed a decades-long career that includes a marriage to the iconic Barbara Streisand. During the 1970s, James Brolin, standing 6’4″, was the go-to in several action flicks, offering that glimpse of a man’s man, and the stereotypical desire of all women. At one point, he was considered to play James Bond, but Roger Moore decided to give it one more go ’round in Octopussy. Eventually, his son Josh, who had no real interest in acting as a kid, took advantage of an opportunity and booked a little film called The Goonies. At 47, Josh is enjoying the prime of his career, and working with the best directors in the business. There’s little doubt that he’s received some wisdom from his dad, and has climbed to that next rung on the ladder.

Photo by REX

7. Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal

Is this a cheat? Should they be two, separately listed entities? Nah. They’re Maggie and Jake. Daughter and son of Stephen Gyllenhaal and Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal. Both the Gyllenhaal kids have taken the advice offered by their director father, and screenwriter and director mother and ran with it. They were raised in an artistic household, so there is little surprise that both have gone on to enjoy incredible success, and their parents forced them to work jobs to support themselves as teenagers to better appreciate how privileged their family was. They shared some of their early acting success in Jake’s star vehicle, Donnie Darko. Maggie and Jake have been nominated and won awards for their roles in several films, and now it seems that every film they do seems to deliver gold.

Photo by REX

6. Lenny Kravitz

This one could get a little complex. No, this is not about Zoe Kravitz, daughter of Lenny and Lisa Bonet, rather Lenny himself, who is the son of the late Roxie Roker, a talented actress who was best known for her role as Helen Willis on The Jeffersons. Roxie was part of a groundbreaking story line in The Jeffersons, as she was one half of the first interracial couple on television. Sadly, Roxie passed away in 1995 of breast cancer, while she was still enjoying and pursuing her industry success. Now, her legacy lives on through Lenny, and even her granddaughter Zoe — who may very well strut to the front of the Kravitz family line by the time it’s all said and done. At this point, Lenny sits on the throne. He’s the guy who does what he wants to do whenever he wants to do it.

Photo by MediaPunch/REX

5. Gwyneth Paltrow

It’s remarkable that Gwyneth Paltrow became the woman everyone loves to hate. Whether it’s taking a few things she has said out of context, or — once upon a time — having some bloggers suggest she was crazy for recommending everyone score a bottle of Sriracha, because that stuff must be outrageously expensive (always do your research, kids), people love to hate her. Gwyneth, however, is actually the daughter of Hollywood’s mom of moms, Blythe Danner, and her father was late film and TV director Bruce Paltrow. Love her or hate her, diss her Goop or live by it, there’s no denying her enormous level of success. It would be nice to see her do something with her momma before it’s all said and done.

Photo by Broadimage/REX

4. Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus was groomed for industry success by her father, Billy Ray Cyrus. And Billy Ray Cyrus is an example of a man milking a cash cow (a mullet and a song, Achy Breaky Heart) for all its worth, then taking the cow, and relying on inspiration from Dr. Frankenstein to turn the cow into a monster (Hannah Montana), which inevitably gave birth to another monster (Illuminati Miley). All kidding aside, Miley Cyrus is raking it in, hand over fist, and her pops is likely wishing he’d have simply invested royalties from his rise to fame, then offered an oral history to his children on how to avoid the pitfalls of life, and how the industry can and will consume you. Still… Miley is more successful than pops… thanks to, and in spite of, pops. Irony.

3. Zooey and Emily Deschanel

More siblings on this list. Yes. Zooey is Queen of The Deschanels, but she’d have been lacking her charm, sweetness and sassy if she didn’t have a sissy to share it with. These two lovely lasses, who’ve taken Hollywood through their adorableness, are the daughters of famed cinematographer, Caleb Deschanel. Some of his films include: The Natural, National Treasure, Passion Of The Christ and The Right Stuff. It’s also worth mentioning, mom Mary Jo Deschanel…? Also an actress. Herein lies serious, variable relativity when considering success. All four Deschanels boast stellar reputations in Hollywood, but it seems that the daughters have become household names, so in the realm of Fame10, they are, by those accounts, more successful. If you’re reading in American Cinematographer Magazine, Caleb is the man.

Photo by Broadimage / Rex Features

2. Jeff Bridges

Jeff Bridges is unabashedly in love with his family. He is a guy who has always raised his hand, tipped his cap and bowed his head to his father, Lloyd, and mother Dorothy Bridges. Without a doubt, the most famous Bridges brothers, Jeff and Beau, scored a wealth of charm and charisma from their parents, and Jeff has taken it, rolled it into a ball of near perfection and delivered time and time again. Seeing Jeff in The Big Lebowski evoked every amazing memory of his father’s career. Lloyd continued doing it until the day he died (1998), and that seems to be a character trait that will live on in Jeff as well. Jeff would be the first to suggest that his success pales in comparison to his father’s, but history will likely tell a different story.

s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

1. Angelina Jolie

They are the only father/child duo who have won an Oscar for acting. There have been other Oscar winning families who have laid claim to more awards, but focusing solely on the acting gene? Jon Voight and Angelina Jolie stand alone. Beyond their common in the realm of visual storytelling, this father and daughter don’t have a whole lot in common. Their political leanings rest on both extremes, and the two simply haven’t gotten along in years. Maybe they never did. Regardless, as Jon has gotten older, he has desired more of a relationship with his daughter. In February of 2015 — he said he’d love to be directed by his daughter in a film. He is a genuine fan of her work, and her “God-given talent as a filmmaker…” That would be something to see.

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