In this gallery we discover famous celebrities who we had no idea were adopted. Sometimes, genuine talent and success doesn’t have to run in the blood. The following famous figures who spent their former lives as adoptees and bloomed into superstars in their own field.
Born William Jefferson Blythe III in Hope, Arkansas in 1946. Bill Clinton was born to a widowed mother; his biological father was killed in a car accident three months before Clinton was born. Soon after his birth, his mother decided to travel to New Orleans in order to study nursing, and sent her baby son to his grandparents (her own parents).
Soon after Clinton’s mother returned from nursing school in 1950, she married Roger Clinton. Bill eventually adopted his stepfather’s surname. He became only the second US president to have been adopted (another is Gerald Ford).
Apple founder Steve Jobs (1955-2011) was born to a Syrian Muslim father, Abdulfattah Jandali, and an American mother Joanne Schieble. However, Schieble’s parents objected to their mixed relationship and refused to allow them to get married. leading to Jobs’ adoption by Paul and Clara Jobs. He also had a full-blooded sister, Mona Simpson.
Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan (b. 1968) was adopted by an American couple soon after her birth. During the 1990s McLachlan rose to fame through her hit singles “Building a Mystery” and “Adia.”
Known mainly as the wife of the late King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, actress Priscilla Presley was born Priscilla Ann Warner in 1945. Her biological father, James Wagner, was a US Navy pilot who died in a plane crash when she was still a baby. Her mother Anna Lillian Iversen later remarried, and Priscilla’s stepfather Paul Beaulieu adopted and raised her. He was the only father Priscilla Presley had only known. Sometimes she was known as Priscilla Beaulieu, using her stepfather’s surname.
Actor Ray Liotta (b. 1954) was adopted at the age of six months by a couple who were of Italian-Scottish ancestry. He, of course, is not of Italian descent, but later found out from his own investigation that he has a part-Scottish ancestry through his biological mother.
The late South African president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) was adopted by Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo, the acting regent of the Thembu pepole. Mandela was nine years old at the time of his adoption.
American filmmaker Michael Bay (b. 1965) was raised by his adoptive Jewish parents and spent much of his early years searching for his birth mother. The Armageddon and Transformers director never found out about his real father.
Actress and 1950s sex symbol Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) was born Norma Jean Mortenson. Her mother Gladys and her biological father Martin Edward Mortensen divorced when she was still a baby (as proven by her parents’ documents, contrary to popular belief that Monroe’s mother was widowed). Gladys was mentally unstable and financially unable to take care of Monroe, who eventually spent much of her childhood in foster homes.
American actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth (b. 1968) was adopted when she was only five days old, in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. According to Chenoweth herself, she has part-Cherokee ancestry.
Beatle John Lennon (1940-1980) was born to Julia Stanley and seaman Alfred Lennon. Alfred went AWOL and Julia was unable to look after John. She handed her son’s care to her sister, Mary Elizabeth Stanley Smith. Also famous as Lennon’s “Aunt Mimi,” Smith raised him during most of his childhood.
American Baptist minister and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson (b. 1941) was born to a teenage mother and a 33-year-old married neighbor. A year after Jackson’s birth his mother married a post office employee named Charles Henry Jackson, who raised the young boy as his own son.
Known for his films Ray and Django Unchained, the Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx (b. 1967) had little contact with his birth parents. Instead, he was raised by his maternal grandparents during most of his childhood. Foxx often attributes his success to his grandmother’s upbringing and influence.
The beautiful Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982) was known for her Hollywood films Intermezzo, Anastasia, Notorious, and Casablanca. Her mother died when she was two, while her father passed away when she was 13. Soon after, Bergman was sent to live with an aunt, who died six months later; she then moved in with another aunt and uncle.
Country-pop music singer Faith Hill (b. 1967) was adopted as an infant by a devout Christian couple in Ridgeland, Mississippi. Hill rose to become one of the most well-known country music stars, having won five Grammy awards so far. Her most-remembered single “This Kiss” became an international hit during the late 90s. She is married to another country superstar, Tim McGraw.
Known as the founder of the famous fast food chain Wendy’s, Dave Thomas (1932-2002) was adopted by a couple named Rex and Aleva Thomas. He never knew his real parents. His adoptive grandmother Minnie Sinclair, taught him the importance of hard work, service, and treating others with respect. Thomas credited his success to the lessons his grandmother imparted.