What does Walt Disney have in common with Josephine Baker? They both adopted children.
Constant media exposure makes American society well aware of the most recent celebrity adoptions. Information about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Madonna and any other hot star of the week with a new adopted child is almost unavoidable in the mainstream media. But what about the adoptions that occurred before it was in fashion? Here we highlight some of the more notable celebrity adoptions you may have never heard of.
Walt and Lillian Disney
Walter Elias Disney, the creator and brainchild behind the Disney magic, was also an adoptive parent. Walt and his wife Lillian Disney had two children, both girls. Their youngest daughter, Sharon Mae Disney was adopted when her older sister Diane was three years old.
Ruth Elizabeth Davis, better known as Bette in her over 100 films, adopted two children and had one biological child. While Bette was married to her third husband, William Grant Sherry, she gave birth to her only biological child, Barbara Davis Sherry (also known as B.D.). She adopted son Michael and daughter Margo during her fourth marriage to Gary Merrill in the 1950s.
Bob and Dolores Hope
Bob Hope married his second wife Dolores in 1934. The duo adopted four children, all from the same orphanage in Evanston, Illinois. In the first years of their marriage, Dolores performed with her husband in his vaudeville act, but took time off to raise their children for roughly 10 years. The four children all had successful careers in various fields including entertainment.
Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson
Quinton Reynolds is the adopted son of Burton Leon Reynolds Jr. and Loni Kaye Anderson. Burt and Loni wed in 1988 and pursued adoption after they had trouble conceiving their own biological child. The contentious divorce between Reynolds and Anderson made it so that many fans only remembered their fighting.
Cecil B. DeMille
While Cecil B. DeMille is known for being one of the most influential and prolific moviemakers of all time, what many do not know is that he was a family man as well. DeMille was married to Constance Adams for 60 years. The couple had one biological child, Cecilia and adopted three children, Katherine, Richard and John.
Dan Marino may be most well-known as one of the best professional football players to never win a championship, but he is also an adoptive father. He and his wife Claire had four of their own biological children, three boys and one girl. After having their own four children, the Marinos added two more girls to their family by adopting them from China. The family has made other more headlines in recent years because their son Michael has mild autism and the family has donated large sums to the medical field to help with treatment.
Ed McMahon has done much more with his life than play sidekick to the infamous Johnny Carson. McMahon and his second wife, Victoria Valentine, felt that they didn’t want to have children when they first married, but when they tried a decade into the marriage they had no luck. The couple decided to look into adoption and ended up adopting Katherine Mary when McMahon’s children from his first marriage were well into their own adulthoods. Sadly, the duo split when Katherine was just three years old.
George Burns and Gracie Allen
George Burns is remembered for the tenacity of his love for his beloved wife Gracie, but the married couple also created a strong family unit in their many years together. Gracie Allen lived with a congenital heart defect and could not carry children so she and George decided to adopt instead. They began in 1934 with their daughter Sandra Burns, and adopted Ronnie Burns when he was just two months old in 1935.
Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta has a son with a familiar talent. Moises de la Renta was adopted when he was just one day old from an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. He has had his designs grace the runway during his father’s shows, designed for the popular United Kingdom brand Mango and even had First Lady Michelle Obama sport one of the dresses from his own line MDLR.
Like many women, Andrews had trouble conceiving her own biological children so in the late 1970’s she and her husband Blake Edwards looked into adopting. The couple found and embraced two Vietnamese orphans and named them Amy Leigh and Joanna Lynne. Andrews spoke in recent years about the joy that her children bring her, including the seven grandchildren she now gets to spoil.
The singer and dancer earned the nickname “the black Venus” with her stage talents, but her mothering talents were even more monumental. Baker was pregnant and gave birth to a stillborn baby in 1941 and the birth was so traumatic that it led to an emergency hysterectomy. Though she could no longer bear her own biological children, Baker adopted a dozen children over many years, nicknaming them her “Rainbow Tribe” because they were of all different ethnicities.
Some Americans think Ronald Reagan stands out because he was the first American president to have been divorced, but he also had one biological and one adopted child from his short-lived first marriage. Before wedding Nancy Davis in 1952, he had been married to Jane Wyman for eight years. During his marriage to Wyman the couple had a biological daughter one year after getting married, then adopted a son four years later in 1945. The couple also had a daughter born several months premature just one year before their marriage fell apart.
The celebrities listed are certainly not the only ones to have ever had the grace to adopt a child, they are just some of the more unexpected ones. it does not take a celebrity, or a special person picked out by some higher power to adopt a child and make them a member of the family.