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Q: Celebrities with deceased parent/spouse ( Answered,   13 Comments )
Subject: Celebrities with deceased parent/spouse
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Celebrities
Asked by: jweinzimer-ga
List Price: $200.00
Posted: 20 Mar 2006 13:46 PST
Expires: 19 Apr 2006 14:46 PDT
Question ID: 709712
I'm looking for a list of living celebrities who, at age 18 or younger,
suffered the death of a parent or guardian, or who, at any age,
suffered the death of a spouse.
Subject: Re: Celebrities with deceased parent/spouse
Answered By: umiat-ga on 21 Mar 2006 11:29 PST
Hello, jweinzimer-ga!

 The following lists contain names of living celebrities who either
lost a spouse while still married (not an ex) or who lost a parent or
guardian while under the age of eighteen. I am sure there are many
names that I have not found, and I have no doubt that more will pop
into my head once I post this answer. I also invite others to add
names in the comments below! This might actually make an interesting
trivia game!

Living Celebrities who have lost a Spouse

Catie Couric, television host - husband Jay Monahan died of cancer in 1998

Blythe Danner, actress -  husband Bruce Paltrow (producer) died October 2, 2002

Anna Nicole Smith, actress/model - husband J. Howard Marshall died June 1994. 

Lauren Bacall, actress - husband Humphrey Bogart (actor) died of cancer in 1957

Mel Brooks, actor - wife Anne Bancroft (actress) died on June 6, 2005

Pierce Brosnan - wife Cassandra Harris (actress) died of ovarian cancer in 1991

Elizabeth Taylor, actress - husband Mike Todd (producer) died in a
plane crash on March 22, 1958

Yoko Ono, musician - husband John Lennon (musician) was murdered on
December 8, 1980

Paul McCartney, musician - wife Linda McCartney (photographer) died of
cancer on April 17, 1998

Courtney Love, musician - husband Kurt Cobain (musician) died on April 8, 1994

Richard Wagner, actor - wife Natalie Wood (actress) drowned on November 29, 1981

Heather Menzies, actress - husband Robert Urich (actor) died of cancer
on April 16, 2002

Bo Derek, actress - husband John Derek (actor/director) died on May 22, 1998 

Joan Rivers, comedian - husband Edgar Rosenberg (producer) died August 14, 1987

Jane Meadows, actress - husband Steve Allen (actor) died on October 30, 2000

Phyllis Newman, actress - husband Adolph Green (lyricist,
screenwriter) died in 2002

Janis Hansen, actress - husband Joe Mikolas (actor) died circa 1997

Roman Polansky, director - wife Sharon Tate was murdered on August 9, 1969

Evelyn Keyes (actress) - husband Artie Shaw (clarinetist/bandleader)
died on December 30, 2004

Robert Blake, actor - wife Bonnie Lee Bakely was murdered on May 4, 2001.

Gene Wilder, actor - wife Gilda Radner (actress) died of cancer on May 20, 1989

Betty White (actress) - husband Allen Ludden (TV show host) died July 9, 1981

Bradford Dillman (actor/writer) - wife Suzy Parker (model) died on May 3, 2003

Eileen Ryan (actress) - husband Leo Penn (director) died on September 5, 1998

Paul Michael Glaser, director/actor - wife Elizabeth Glaser died of
Aids on December 3, 1994

Rip Torn, actor - wife Geraldine Page (actress) died on June 13, 1987

Gena Rowlands, actress - husband John Cassavetes (director) died on
February 3, 1989

Lynda Day George, actress - husband Christopher George (actor) died on
November 28, 1983

Nancy Reagan, actress/first lady - husband Ronald Reagan (former
President) died June 5, 2004

Esther Williams (actress/swimmer) - husband Fernando Lamas (actor)
died on October 8, 1982

Virginia McKenna (Actress) - husband Bill Travers (Actor) died on March 29, 1994

Princess Caroline of Monaco - husband Stefano Casiraghi died in a
power-boat racing accident in 1990

Yekaterina Gordeyeva, Russian Olympic figure skater - husband Sergei
Grinkov died of heart attack during practice in 1995


There are many celebrities whose "ex-spouses" have died, such as
Priscilla Presley (Elvis), O.J. Simpson (Nicole Simpson murdered),
Elizabeth Taylor (Richard Burton), Prince Charles (Lady Diana) and
many famous "non-celebrities" like Imelda Marcos whom I  * did not * 
include in this list.

Celebrities who lost a parent or guardian at a young age

This search was difficult, at best, but here are a few! 

Priscilla Presley, actress - "Her biological father, James Wagner, was
a pilot who was killed in a plane crash when Priscilla was just an

Lisa Marie Presley, singer - lost her father Elvis Presley when she
was just nine years old.

Sean Lennon, musician - lost his father, John Lennon, on December 8,
1980 when he was about five years old.

Julian Lennon, musician - lost his father John Lennon on December 8,
1980 when he was about seventeen years old.

Prince William and Princy Harry - lost their mother, Diana Princess of
Wales when William was fifteen and Harry was twelve.,_Princess_of_Wales

Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg (famous daughter) - lost her father,
President John F. Kennedy just after she turned seven years old.

Princess Stephanie of Monaco lost her mother, Grace Kelley, to an auto
accident on September 14, 1982 when she was seventeen.

Lee Majors, actor -  "His father was killed in a work accident a month
before he was born, and his mother died in a car accident when he was
a toddler."

Jim Palmer, athlete and commentator - "Palmer was adopted when two
days old by a wealthy New York manufacturer, who also adopted an older
girl. His adoptive father died when he was nine."

Melissa Gilbert, actress -  "was adopted as a new-born baby by a
well-known Hollywood family. Her parents were actors and her
grandfather was a television writer. Her parents divorced when she was
eight and her adoptive father died when she was 11."


 I hope this information proves helpful!



Search Strategy

Cross referenced the Dead People Server site:
celebrity widows OR widowers
famous widows OR widowers
celebrities AND lost parent at young age
actress AND father OR mother 
celebrity AND fathor OR mother died AND young

Other names came from memory..

Clarification of Answer by umiat-ga on 21 Mar 2006 11:31 PST
If you need me to go back through the list and compile each name with
a link attached, please let me know. I will be happy to do so!

Clarification of Answer by umiat-ga on 22 Mar 2006 07:09 PST
Thank you to ltmickey-ga and cryptica-ga who provided helpful
information in the comments below. Here are some additional

Charlize Theron - "When she was 15, her father attacked her mother,
and her mother shot her father in self-defense. Her father died, and
her mother was not charged in the incident."

Madonna - "Madonna's mother died of breast cancer at the age of thirty
on December 1, 1963; Madonna was five years old."

Rosie O'Donnell - "This typical suburban lifestyle ended abruptly when
her mother was diagnosed with what was believed to be pancreatic
cancer in 1972 - O'Donnell has since said that she believes her mother
died of breast cancer. Edward O'Donnell chose to hide the seriousness
of his wife's illness, telling the children that she had hepatitis.
Therefore, the O'Donnell offspring were unprepared when their mother
died at the age of 39. Roseann O'Donnell was buried on her daughter
Rosie's eleventh birthday."


Corrected spellings

Katie (not Catie) Couric
Robert (not Richard) Wagner
Roman Polanski (not Polansky)

Clarification of Answer by umiat-ga on 22 Mar 2006 16:28 PST
I have followed up on voila-ga's list of celebrities who lost parent's
at a young age:

Robert Goulet, actor - "Robert Gerard Goulet was born in Lawrence,
Massachusetts, of French Canadian parents.   At thirteen, after his
father's death, he moved with his mother and sister to Edmonton,
Alberta, Canada."

Anne Heche, actress -  When she was 13 years old, her father died from AIDS

Charles Dance, actor - "When Dance was 4 his father died, he and his
mother then moved to the Plymouth area of Devon."

Dylan McDermott, actor - "Even though he was just 5 when his mother
died, actor Dylan McDermott has very clear memories of her."

Bono, musician - "When Bono was 14, his world was turned upside down
as his mother collapsed at her father's funeral and died a few days
later of a brain hemorrhage."

Sir Ian McKellen, actor -  "When he was 12, his mother, Margery Lois
McKellen (née Sutcliffe) died; his father died when he was 24."

Caryn Mandabach - could not verify information other than her mother
got cancer while Caryn was in high school

Danny Harris, athlete  - "He was raised by his grandmother in Perris,
California; his father died when he was 3, his mother when he was 14."

Tim Allen, actor - "Born in Denver, Allen's father died when Tim was
only 11 years old, something that the comedian would include in his
sitcom by having the same thing occur to his character."

Julia Roberts, actress - " Her parents divorced when she was five, and
her mother remarried. Her father died of cancer when Roberts was

Puffy Combs, musician - "When Sean was a baby, his father was murdered."

Barbra Streisand - "Her father, Emanuel Streisand, died when she was
only 15 months old, and she had a lifelong turbulent relationship with
her stepfather."

Benecio Del Toro, actor - "When he was nine years old, his mother died
of hepatitis."

Kate Beckinsale, actress - There is no age or date, but Kate was
obviously very young. "Beckinsale was born in London to Judy Loe, (a
stage and television actress) and the late Richard Beckinsale, a
well-known television actor who died in 1979, at the age of 31."

Sammy Sosa, athlete - "Sammy Sosa was raised in San Pedro de Mecoris,
Dominican Republic. His family was very poor. Sammy's dad died when he
was seven."

Jenna Jameson, porn actress - "Her mother died of cancer when Jenna
was three years old."

Leslie Bibb, actress - "Her father died when she was 3."

Eddie Murphy, actor - "Murphy's biological father died when he was
quite young, and he, his brother Charlie, and step-brother Vernon Jr.
with the K9 rap group, were raised by his mother Lillian Murphy, a
telephone-company employee, and his stepfather Vernon Lynch, a foreman
at a Breyers Ice Cream plant."

Rosalynn Carter, former first lady - "Her father died of leukemia when she was 13"

Natalie Cole - Natalie Cole was born in 1950 and her father, Nat King
Cole, died in 1965, making her about fifteen.

Freddie Prinze, Jr., actor - "Prinze, Jr. was born in Los Angeles,
California, the son of Katherine Elaine Cochran (a real-estate agent)
and Freddie Prinze, an American actor and comedian who died from an
accidental shooting in 1977, when Prinze, Jr. was ten months old."


Orlando Bloom - not verified. The "father" that Bloom believed was his
was actually not his real father.
Bill Clinton - his father died "before" he was born.
The Nelsons (sons of Ricky Nelson) - all information shows that they
were over the age of eighteen when Ricky Nelson died.

Courtney Love - no verification that her real parents or adoptive
parents died while she was young.
Subject: Re: Celebrities with deceased parent/spouse
From: ltmickey-ga on 21 Mar 2006 11:39 PST
Also Charlize Theron.  When she was very young, her mother killed her
father (in self-defense). 
Subject: Re: Celebrities with deceased parent/spouse
From: cryptica-ga on 22 Mar 2006 05:42 PST
Some errors above:   It's Katie Couric, not Catie.  And it's Robert
Wagner, not Richard.  And it's Roman Polanski, not Polansky.

Celeb who lost spouse while still married:  Dana Reeve -- married to
Christopher Reeve.

Celebs who lost parents at 18 or under:

Rosie O'Donnell   (mother died when she was very young)
Madonna (mother died when she was very young)
Subject: Re: Celebrities with deceased parent/spouse
From: umiat-ga on 22 Mar 2006 06:45 PST
Thank you for those corrected spellings and the references to Madonna
and Rosie O'Donnell. Note that Dana Reeve recently died, so she does
not fit the bill of a living spouse.
Subject: Re: Celebrities with deceased parent/spouse
From: voila-ga on 22 Mar 2006 08:49 PST
Tim Allen - father
Julia Roberts - father
Puffy Combs - father
Barbra Streisand - father
Benecio Del Toro - mother
Kate Beckinsale - father
Sammy Sosa - father
Jenna Jameson - mother
Leslie Bibb - father
Orlando Bloom - father
Bill Clinton - father
Eddie Murphy - father
Rosalynn Carter - father
Natalie Cole - father
Freddie Prinze, Jr. - father
The Nelsons - father

I'll let Umiat fact check me and cook the links.
Subject: Re: Celebrities with deceased parent/spouse
From: umiat-ga on 22 Mar 2006 09:17 PST
Thanks, Voila. I'll look them over!
Subject: Re: Celebrities with deceased parent/spouse
From: voila-ga on 22 Mar 2006 11:41 PST
a few more for ya....

Robert Goulet - father
Anne Heche - father
Charles Dance - father
Dylan McDermott - mother
Kim Jong Il - mother
Courtney Love - mother
Bono - mother
Sir Ian McKellen - mother
Caryn Mandabach - mother and father
Danny Harris - mother and father
Subject: Re: Celebrities with deceased parent/spouse
From: cryptica-ga on 22 Mar 2006 18:58 PST
Here are a few more.  

Actress Patricia Heaton's mother died when she was very young.

And for a celebrity / death of spouse:  Amy Yasbeck, married to the
late John Ritter.
Subject: Re: Celebrities with deceased parent/spouse
From: voila-ga on 22 Mar 2006 19:27 PST
Nelson twins born in Sept. 20, 1967
Ricky died December 31, 1985

Mariska Hargitay - mother

John Goodman - father

Tracey Ullman - father

Portia DeRossi - father
Personal history:  "My father died when I was 9, and I grew up in
Melbourne, Australia, with my mother [a medIcal receptionist] and my
older brother...." (from US magazine, Jan. 1999)

Hank Williams, Jr. - father

Paul McCartney - mother
Maya Rudolph - mother
Richard Belzer - mother

James Woods - father

Billy Crystal - father

Courtney Love's mom is alive and writing:
Subject: Re: Celebrities with deceased parent/spouse
From: voila-ga on 23 Mar 2006 11:02 PST
Part II

Susan Ruttan

Loretta Lynn

Beth Neilsen Chapman

Linda Dano

Neil Simon,1,2720694.story?page=2&coll=la-home-printedition

Jessi Coulter

Cindy Adams

Felicia Farr

George Carlin

Couldn't find any further corroboration online for the Caryn (Sneider)
Mandabach entry but from an Elle 1998 story:
The JOURNALIST sits down on the floor to try on the sandals, looks up
at the racks of gorgeous, scarcely imaginable clothes, and is consumed
with wonder at this colossally vivacious woman who lost her mother and
father when she was sixteen, who was penniless, parentless, and then
adopted by her mother's "wonderful, generous" cousin, went on to
Washington University fell in love with Paul Mandabach, a successful
political consultant, "at first sight," and then by dint of simply
living at a higher pitch of intensity than anybody else, rose in the
world of comedy to become one of Hollywood's richest self-made women.]

V² {fini} except for an overlooked shoutout to the lovely cryptica. ;-)
Subject: Re: Celebrities with deceased parent/spouse
From: cryptica-ga on 27 Mar 2006 18:43 PST
Hey, V! I just saw your last posting -- I've never received a "shout
out" before! I'm thrilled -- I've always wanted one.   OK, so I'll say
something I've also never written or said. . ."Back at you!"
Subject: Re: Celebrities with deceased parent/spouse
From: voila-ga on 27 Mar 2006 23:37 PST
Hey there nurse cryptica,

Everyone loves the shoutout, and always a pleasure seeing you among
the living at GA.  There's some type of Showtime psychodocumentary in
this question somewhere, eh?

I'm afraid these kind of 'list' questions push my OCD overdrive
button, but having found quite a few of these doing a quick pass
sandwiched in with the regular gig, I knew there'd be tons more with
some digging so here's the final list.  Hope I didn't kill off anyone
prematurely this time!

Lost a parent(s):

Aretha Franklin - mother

Cate Blanchett - father

Amy Tan - father

Don King - father

Mike Tyson - mother

Tony Bennett - father

Isaac Hayes - mother

Martin Sheen - mother,1002,274%7C79345%7C1%7C,00.html

James Garner - mother

Michael Richards  - father,2540,23,00.html

John Borkowski - mother and father

50 cent - mother

Tuesday Weld - father

Larry King - father

B. B. King - mother

Mary Gordon - father

Billy Bob Thornton - father

Jane Fonda - mother

Alan Rickman - father

Bill Withers - father

Drew Carey - father

Moby - father

Sherry Lansing - father

Mia Farrow - father

Jet Li - father

Chaney Kley - mother

Merle Haggard - father

Gabrielle Reece - father

Bernie Mac - mother

Joel Schumacher - father

Lalah Hathaway - father

Daniel Day-Lewis - father

Nikka Costa - father

Phil Spector - father

Eric Braeden - father,1002,271%7C93195%7C1%7C,00.html

Jeffrey Wright - father

Ice-T - mother and father

Milos Forman - mother and father

Colin/Jonny Greenwood - father

Oksana Baiul - mother

David Geffen - father

Robert Redford - mother

James Ellroy - mother

Dennis Miller? - father

Sarah Polley - mother

Brad Dourif - father

Nelson Mandela - father

Michelle Phillips - mother

Brent Spiner - father

Ron Eldard - mother

Naomi Watts - father

Sonia Braga - father

Carly Simon - father


Lost a spouse:

William Shatner

Shirley Temple Black

Mary Bono

Ruby Dee

Candice Bergen


Fits both categories:

Bob Barker -- father died when he was 6, wife died in 1981

Mel Brooks -- father died when he was 2, wife died in 2005

Angela Lansbury - father died when she was 9, husband died in 2003

Dr. Ruth Westheimer -- parents died in the Holocaust; husband died in 1997

Roman Polanski -- mother died in the Holocaust; wife died in 1968

Paul McCartney -- mother died when he was 14; wife died in 1998

Search engines used:  Google, Dogpile, Vivisimo, and Exalead
celebrity OR famous + father OR mother OR mom OR dad + died 
celebrity OR famous + "died when he OR she was" 
celebrity OR famous + orphan
celebrity + spouse + died
celebrity + husband OR wife + died
actor OR actress OR famous + spouse + died

And an odd coincidence:  3 cast members of "Law & Order: SVU" lost a
parent at a young age (Hargitay, Belzer, Ice-T), while 3 from "Boston
Legal" lost a spouse (Shatner, Bergen, White).
Subject: Re: Celebrities with deceased parent/spouse
From: umiat-ga on 28 Mar 2006 07:05 PST
Well, voila - you have certainly done a good job of making me feel I
should not have been the one to answer this question! I'm embarassed,
to say the least.
Subject: Re: Celebrities with deceased parent/spouse
From: voila-ga on 28 Mar 2006 17:31 PST
Nah, just offering a contribution.

A couple more lost in my drafts folder:

Eddie Izzard - mother
Bob Geldof - mother

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