Jul 31, 2009
Everyone knows the famous showbiz families – the Carter-Cashes, the Osmonds, the Baldwins. But there are some people with hugely successful relatives in realms other than entertainment. Having an actor, a poetic genius and a celebrity chef in the family makes for some interesting holidays and reunions, I’ll bet. Here are three Tenenbaum-like families, and be sure to share the ones I missed in the comments.
The Bonham Carters
You know Helena, of course – actress extraordinaire and wife of Tim Burton. But fame in the Bonham Carter lineage hardly began with her: her great-grandfather, H.H. Asquith, was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908-1916 (that’s H.H. in the picture). Asquith’s daughter Violet followed in her dad’s political footsteps, and it’s no wonder since she grew up on Downing Street. She ended up marrying her dad’s Principal Private Secretary, Mark Bonham Carter, and together they had four children, including Raymond – Helena’s dad. Violet had a close, lifelong friendship with Winston Churchill. Can you imagine the tales that run in that family? It must be fascinating. You can hear some of them, at least – Violet published a book in 1965 called Winston Churchill as I Knew Him (Winston Churchill: An Intimate Portrait in the U.S.).
But it’s not just Helena’s paternal side of the family that’s famous. Her maternal grandfather, Eduardo Propper de Callejón, was a WWII hero in a sort of unconventional way – as the First Secretary of the Spanish Embassy in Paris, he worked with Portugal to issue more than 30,000 transit visas to Jewish people so they could cross Spain to get to Portugal. When Spain’s Foreign Minister Ramón Serrano Suñer, a Nazi sympathizer, discovered Eduardo’s doings, he had him transferred to Morocco.
Edward Bonham Carter, Helena’s brother, is a well-known financial executive in the U.K. and appears on a BBC finance show on a regular basis. Her cousin, Crispin Bonham Carter, is also an actor who has been in Bridget Jones’ Diary, Pride and Prejudice and Absolutely Fabulous. Another cousin, Jane Bonham Carter, is a British politician.
And if all of that weren’t enough, she’s also distantly related (by marriage) to Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond series.
Daniel Day-Lewis – DDL as we like to call him – is a favorite in our house. But just like Helena, he’s really just the latest in a large family of talented people. His dad was Cecil Day-Lewis (pictured), Britain’s Poet Laureate from 1968 to 1972, but he also wrote mystery novels under the name Nicholas Blake. Cecil has 10 poetry collections to his name, 20 novels as Nicholas Blake and two children’s novels as himself.
Daniel’s mother is Jill Balcon, an actress who has been in various films over the years, but her father (Daniel’s grandpa) was Michael Balcon, a famous filmmaker who headed up Ealing Studios in West London. Alfred Hitchcock worked for Balcon in his early years, and it was Balcon that gave Hitch his first opportunity to direct.
Daniel’s sister, Lydia Tamasin Day-Lewis, who goes by Tamasin, is a chef on British T.V. and has written nine cookbooks. Brother Sean Day-Lewis is a TV critic and writer.
Isabella Rossellini has tons of history in her family. Isabella is, of course, a celebrated actress and model. You probably know that her mother was Ingrid Bergman, the beautiful actress who starred in Casablanca opposite Humphrey Bogart (among other great roles). Her father was Italian film director Roberto Rossellini, who began dating Ingrid when the two of them were both married to other people.
Just as Isabella is famous in Hollywood circles, her twin sister, Isotta Ingrid, is famous in academia. Although she started out in the film world serving as her mother’s makeup artist, she didn’t stay there long. She has taught Italian literature at NYU, World War II Italian Cinema at Princeton and literature of social reflection at Harvard. Her dissertation on Francesco Petrarch’s Il Canzoniere was published in 1995. That’s Isotta Ingrid, Isabella and Robin (Renato Roberto Giusto Giuseppe) in the picture.
The two of them have a half-sister by Ingrid Bergman’s first marriage to Dr. Peter Lindstrom. Pia Lindstrom is a reporter and anchorwoman who has been in the field since 1966 and has two Emmy awards to her name.
Isabella’s daughter Elettra took after her mother and has a successful career as a fashion model. It’s appropriate, really, because her father was a former fashion model as well and her parents met at a Calvin Klein photo shoot. Her first job was for Abercrombie & Fitch and has since modeled for Bill Blass, Ferragamo, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
And although not directly related, I think it’s worth noting that Isabella was once married to Martin Scorsese.