Successful Stars Who Were Raised By Single Parents
Being a parent is difficult enough, but being a single parent has its own set of challenges. A 2016-2017 report by the Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs found that 27% of American households consisted of single parents with one or more kids, and over 9.5 million American families are run by one woman.
Despite the challenges, many successful people were raised by a single parent. Every one of the celebrities on the list was raised by a single parent, and they all turned out to be very successful in their respective industries.
Did you know that Stephen Colbert’s mother raised eight kids on her own? It’s not for the reason you might assume.
Jon Voight Was Not Involved In Angelina Jolie’s Childhood
Angelina Jolie is the daughter of Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand, but the couple separated when Angelina was still a baby. Marcheline raised Angelina and her brother James Haven on her own, and Voight was out of the picture for most of Angelina’s childhood.
Voight and Angelina later reconnected and now they have a pretty close relationship. Voight is involved in the lives of Jolie’s children, and they seem to be on good terms.
Kanye West’s Father Was A Black Panther
Kanye West has been very vocal about the influence his mother has had on his life. Kanye’s parents got divorced when Kanye was just three-years-old. His mother raised him alone in Chicago, Illinois.
Kanye’s father, Ray West, is a former Black Panther and was one of the first black photojournalists at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. After all of that political work, Ray became a Christian counselor. Unfortunately, Kanye’s mother, Donda West, died when she was 58-years-old in 2008 from post-operative complications.
Kate Beckinsale Has Five Step-Siblings
Kate Beckinsale was five-years-old when her father, Richard Beckinsale died of a heart attack. Richard was just 31-years-old at the time. Kate was raised by her mother, Judy Loe for the next four years.
When Kate was nine, her mother remarried director Roy Battersby. Judy and Kate moved in with Roy Battersby and his five children. Kate has become a single mother herself and says she felt the need to always be around her daughter. She told Gulf News, “I was a single mom for a really long time. Even when my daughter was a teenager, I wanted to be home or within shouting distance.”
Read on for a comedian who changed his name because of his absent father.
Barack Obama Became President Thanks To A Single Mom
President Barack Obama was raised by his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. She was a single mother from the time Obama was born until she married Obama’s stepfather, Lolo Soetoro.
Obama’s mother is white and his father is black. His parents met in 1960 in a Russian language class at the University of Hawaii. They got married on February 2, 1961, six months before Obama was born. The future president’s father didn’t stick around, but his mother did a great job raising him on her own.
Halle Berry’s Father Left When She Was Four
Halle Berry’s parents, Judith Ann Hawkins and Jerome Jesse Berry, divorced when she was four-years-old. Berry was then raised by her mother and she didn’t have much contact with her father.
In 1992, Berry said, “I haven’t heard from him since [he left]. Maybe he’s not alive.” Berry’s Father, Jerome was abusive to her mother, and Halle has spoken about witnessing her father pushing her mother down the stairs and hitting her in the head with a wine bottle.
Alicia Keys’ Parents Were Never Really Together
Alicia Keys’ parents, Teresa Augello and Craig Cook, divorced when she was two years old, at which point she was raised by her mother in New York. Alicia was her mother’s only child. Keyes has said that her parents never really had a relationship.
In 2001, she said of her father, “I’m not in contact with him. That’s fine. When I was younger, I minded about that. [It] made me angry. But it helped show me what a strong woman my mother was, and made me want to be strong like her. Probably, it was better for me this way.”
Jon Stewart Changed His Name Because Of His Absent Father
Jon Stewart’s parents, Marian and Donald Leibowitz, divorced when the Daily Show host was 11-years-old. After his parents broke up, Jon was exclusively raised by his mother.
Because he had mixed feelings about his father, Jon dropped his real last name, Leibowitz, and started using a variant of his middle name, Stuart, as his surname. In 2015 Jon said, “There was a thought of using my mother’s maiden name, but I thought that would be just too big a [expletive] you to my dad … Did I have some problems with my father? Yes. Yet people always view [changing my surname] through the prism of ethnic identity.”
Christina Aguilera’s Home Life Was Chaotic
Christina Aguilera’s parents, Fausto Xavier Aguilera and Shelly Loraine, divorced when Christina was six-years-old. Growing up, Aguilera used music as a form of escape from her chaotic home life, and her talent blossomed despite her turbulent upbringing. Christina didn’t speak to her father for years, but in 2012, she expressed an interest in reconciling with him.
On Ellen, Christina said, “More power to single moms and those out there doing it. I was raised by a single mom– I’m a smart girl and I make choices for specific reasons.”
Jay-Z’s Mother Raised Four Kids On Her Own
Sean Carter, AKA Jay-Z was raised by his mother in New York after his father abandoned his family. Carter was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Marcy Houses, a housing project neighborhood. Jay-Z has three siblings, and his mother, Gloria raised all four kids on her own.
Together, Jay-Z and his mother Gloria started the Shawn Carter Foundation, with the aim, Gloria says, to help “single moms like me, first-generation children– children who don’t have parents and never went to college.” She continued. “I truly love my children, and I have great children who love their mother unconditionally.”
Eva Mendes’ Parents Got Divorced When She Was Young
Hitch actress Eva Mendes was raised by her mother after her parents got divorced. She told Hola! “I basically come from a single-parent household; although I love my dad, my mom mostly raised four of us on her own.”
Eva says although she and her siblings didn’t have much, they were grateful for everything. And that’s something she carries with her in her own parenting, raising her two daughters with her partner, Ryan Gosling.
Eddie Murphy Came From A Broken Home
Eddie Murphy’s father died when Eddie was just eight-years-old. He was raised by his mother, Lillian, in Roosevelt, New York. Eddie once said on stage:
“My mother and father broke up when I was three, and he died when I was eight, so I have very dim memories… He was a victim of the Murphy charm (laughs). A woman stabbed my father. I never got all the logistics. It was supposed to be one of those crimes of passion: ‘If I can’t have you, no one else will’-kind of deal.”
Demi Moore Was Raised By A Single Mother Until She Was Three
Demi Moore was raised by a single mother from the time that she was born until she was three-years-old. When Demi was three, her mother, Virginia King, got married again to a man named Dan Guynes.
Her biological father was an Air Force airman named Charles Harmon Sr. He was only married to Demi’s mother for two months and he left before Demi was born. In 1991 Moore said, “My dad was Dan Guynes. He raised me. There is a man who would be considered my biological father who I don’t really have a relationship with.”
Read on for a singer who made it big despite her rough upbringing.
Keanu Reeves’ Father Abandoned His Family
Keanu Reeves’ father, Samuel Nowlin Reeves, Jr., abandoned his family when the Matrix actor was just three-years-old. Samuel Reeves earned his GED while he was imprisoned in Hawaii on drug charges. Although he left Keanu when he was three, Keanu knew him until he was six-years-old.
The last time Keanu saw his father, he was 13-years-old. After Reeves’ parents split up, his mother married Paul Aaron, a director for Broadway and Hollywood. They moved to Toronto, Canada, and then got divorced one year after they got married.
Mariah Carey Is Estranged From Her Father
When Mariah Carey’s parents, Alfred Roy and Patricia Hickey, got married, Patricia’s parents disowned her for marrying a black man. The couple divorced when Mariah was three-years-old. Carey lived with her mother and had little to no contact with her father growing up.
Mariah’s sister Alison lived with their father after the separation. Over the years, Mariah saw less and less of her father until she stopped seeing him altogether.
Pierce Brosnan Never Knew His Father
Pierce Brosnan’s father abandoned his family when the actor was a baby. He was raised by his mother, May Smith, until he was four years old.
Brosnan said, “I never knew my father. He left when I was an infant and I was left in the care of my mother and my grandparents. To be Catholic in the 1950s, and to be Irish Catholic in the 1950s, and have a marriage which was not there, a father who was not there, consequently, the mother, the wife suffered greatly. My mother was very courageous. She took the bold steps to go away and be a nurse in England. Basically wanting a better life for her and myself. My mother came home once a year, twice a year.”
Marilyn Monroe Didn’t Know Who Her Father Was
Marilyn Monroe was raised by her mother, Gladys Pearl Baker. Her father is believed to be Martin Edward Mortensen, but Monroe claimed that Charles Stanley Gifford was her father. Gladys was a young mother who wasn’t entirely prepared to take care of a child.
For a while, Marilyn (then Norma Jean) was raised by foster parents, Albert and Ida Bolender. When Gladys felt stable enough to care for her child, she took Marilyn back.
Keep reading for an actress who learned how to be a strong woman by watching her mother.
Sean Combs’ Father Was Killed
Sean Combs was raised by his mother, Janice Combs. Janice was a model and a teacher’s assistant. Sean’s father, Melvin Earl Combs, was in the U.S. Army.
When Melvin was 33 years old, he was shot to death while he was sitting in his car on Central Park West. Sean was just two-years-old at the time, so he never really got a chance to get to know his father.
Jodie Foster’s Parents Broke Up Before Her Birth
Jodie Foster’s parents, Brandy Foster and Lucius Fisher Foster III, split up before Jodie was born. Jodie never established a relationship with her father. After the divorce, Brandy raised her children with her partner in Los Angeles.
Jodie Foster’s given name is actually Alicia, but her siblings started calling her “Jodie” when she was a baby, and the name stuck. Jodie Foster now has children of her own with her partner Cydney Bernard.
Samuel L. Jackson’s Father Died Of Alcoholism
Samuel L. Jackson was raised by his mother, Elizabeth Jackson. He has only met his father twice in his life. Jackson’s father didn’t live near him and he died of alcoholism when he was middle-aged. Samuel L. Jackson grew up as an only child.
Samuel Jackson managed to become a world-class actor even though his father wasn’t in his life. It just goes to show that single moms are powerful and influential.
Read on for a superstar who grew up in extreme poverty.
50 Cent Was Raised By His Grandmother
Curtis Jackson III was raised by his mother, Sabrina in Queens, New York City. His mother was a drug dealer who died in a mysterious fire when 50 Cent was just 8 years old. After Sabrina died, the young 50 Cent was left without parents, as his father left when he was a baby.
He was raised by his grandmother for the remainder of his childhood. Now he’s one of the most successful rappers of all time.
Jason Momoa Was Raised By A Strong Single Mother
Actor Jason Momoa was born in Hawaii to a single mother. His mother is a photographer and his father is a painter of native Hawaiian ancestry.
In a short film with Carhartt, Momoa says, “I was raised by a strong single mother. My mom’s an artist in every way. She’s a painter, a photographer. She’s a wanderer, always searching, always seeing. I guess you could say my mom gave me her eyes.”
Barbra Streisand’s Mother Worked Hard To Make Ends Meet
Barbra Streisand was raised by a single mother after her father died from an epileptic seizure when Barbra was just a year old. Barbra’s father was 34-years-old at the time. After her father died, the family struggled to make ends meet financially. Her mother was working as a bookkeeper to feed her children.
Barbra explained that she felt like an outcast. She said, “Everybody else’s father came home from work at the end of the day. Mine didn’t.”
Clive Owen Had A Rough Childhood
Clive Owen’s parents split up when he was a young boy. He was raised solely by his mother until she remarried. His father was a country western singer who left his family when Owen was three years old.
When Owen was 19, he briefly reconciled with his estranged father, but the two haven’t had much of a relationship since then. Owen has described his childhood as “rough,” which is understandable.
Gene Simmons Left His Father In Another Country
Simmons was born as Chaim Witz in Israel on August 25, 1949. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Hungary. Gene has said that he grew up “dirt poor” and that sometimes they barely had enough money for food.
When Gene was eight-years-old, he moved to America with his mother while his father stayed in Israel. Once in America, Chaim Witz changed his name to Eugene Klein, taking on his mother’s maiden name.
Mary J. Blige Was Raised By A Strong Woman
Mary J. Blige’s father abandoned her family when she was eight years old, so she was primarily raised by her mother, Cora, who was a nurse.
The family had to live on the money her mother made as a nurse after her father left the family in the 1970s. Her father, Thomas Blige, was a Jazz musician and a Vietnam War veteran who suffered from alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Stephen Colbert’s Family Suffered A Terrible Loss
Stephen Colbert was raised by his mother, Lorna Colbert. He was one of eleven children, but tragedy struck when his father, James William Colbert Jr., and two of his brothers died in a plane crash.
After that, Colbert’s mother was left to raise Stephen and his siblings on her own. James William Colbert Jr. was an immunologist and a medical school dean at Yale University. Stephen’s mother worked as a homemaker.
Michael Phelps’ Home Life Had A Negative Impact On Him
Olympian Michael Phelps was raised by his mother, Deborah Phelps after his parents divorced in 1994. Phelp’s mother is a middle school principal and his father is a retired Maryland State Trooper.
When Phelps was nine years old in the year 2000, his father remarried. Phelps later said that the divorce had a negative impact on him and his siblings and he had a hard time reconnecting with his father after the breakup.
Shaquille O’Neal’s Father Was In Jail
NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal was primarily raised by his mother, Lucille O’Neal. He has never spoken to his father who was in prison for most of Shaq’s young life. He was arrested for drug possession when Shaquille was a baby.
After Shaq’s father was released from prison, he decided that he didn’t want to be a part of his son’s life and relinquished his parental rights. Shaq has no desire to reconnect with his father.