Famous Figures with Messed-up Family

Family is a complex thing. As they say, you can’t choose who your parents are, and in most action movies, this is even more of a disappointing truth than usual since the main characters are usually the son or daughter of a vicious mob-boss or assassin. However, it can be reassuring to know that you’re not the only person in the world with a messed-up family background. Even some of the most famous people in the world, history and television-wise, can have some pretty weird upbringings.

1.)    Charles Dickens Grew Up In Prison

Charles Dickens

Luckily, he managed to get away without any tear-drop tattoos

By this point in your life, you probably have a reasonably good idea of who Charles Dickens is. He was probably one of the most famous authors to come out of the Victorian Era, so much so that he has a whole style of writing named after him now, “Dickensian”. Although many of the stories you can expect to read by Dickens will often be heart-warming and life-affirming in some way or another, his own tale doesn’t start with a particularly joyful introduction. The majority of Dickens’ early life was actually spent wiling away the days in a prison for debtors. Basically, his father couldn’t afford to pay off the money that he owed, so his whole family was thrown into a jail cell – pretty typical for good old Victorian England. Eventually, Charles got a job in a factory to help him pay off his Dad’s debts, and the terrible conditions that he encountered in that time actually provided some inspiration to his future writing.

2.)    Woody Harrelson’s Dad Killed People For A Living

Woody Harrelson

At least

Woody’s a stand-up guy

Remember when you were in school and the other kids used to pick fights with the old ‘My dad could beat up your dad’ thing? Well you really didn’t want to have that argument with Woody Harrelson. A brilliantly likeable character, (I particularly enjoyed True Detectives recently), Woody makes it difficult to believe that his daddy-dearest was actually a contract killer who got away with two murders before the state finally managed to sentence him with fifteen years in jail. Apparently, the time inside helped to straighten Charles Harrelson out (I’m sorry if a theme seems to be emerging with people named Charles in prison), and he was released after five years, presumably for good behaviour. In what I assume to be a celebration of some kind, Charles promptly went about murdering a judge that a drug-dealer had hired him to kill in an attempt to avoid too-harsh a punishment. Strangely, the whole ‘murdering someone to get off scot-free’ concept didn’t really take, and everyone ended up going to prison.

3.)    Charlie Chaplin Dealt With a World Of Family Trauma

Charlie Chaplin

This guy wears eyeliner better than I do.

Sir Charlie (I swear this is the last Charles) Chaplin is known throughout the world for his amazing comedic films produced in the 1920s, but his family life wasn’t exactly a barrel of laughs. His mother, not the best role model in the world, had two illegitimate children as the result of random affairs and eventually died after gradually becoming psychotic from exposure to malnutrition and syphilis. When he grew up, Chaplin then had to pay out child support for a child that wasn’t his own. Even though he actually had a blood test that proved the child in question was not his, the judge in court decided that this piece of evidence didn’t matter, and made Chaplin pay out a huge chunk of cash anyway. Even after he died, Chaplin didn’t get much rest, with his body being stolen in 1977 for ransom money.

4. Dylan McDermott’s Dad Was a Legitimate Gangster

Dylan McDermott

Getting paid to look that handsome and threatening is a good deal

This another one of those ‘My dad’s tougher than your dad’ situations you really don’t want to get yourself into. Famous for playing sexy villains in shows such as American Horror Story, Dylan McDermott is fantastic at being a handsome bad guy, which might have something to do with his Dad being an actual real-life villain. Although he wasn’t his biological father, Dylan was born to the teenage girlfriend of an infamous gangster called John Sponza. Far from the fun and frolicking gangsters of West-side story, Sponza was actually a violent heroin addict who murdered Dylan’s mother when he was five. Apparently, without the guidance of his step mother, Eve Ensler, McDermott could have grown up to be a genuinely scary guy, but she set him on the right path by informing him that it’s much more profitable to act like a murderous, evil thug, than to actually be one.



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