Middle children are often portrayed as overlooked and undervalued. Generally, they are not considered the favorite child of the family. It’s either they have the feeling of being “left out” or the need to compete with their eldest and youngest siblings for their parents’ attention. They are also portrayed as having a rebellious streak and seen as the “troublemakers” of the family.
But many middle children debunk these “middle child syndrome” stereotypes by embracing their status and even celebrating it. And it’s proven by this list of middle children who have made it big in several fields – showbiz, business, politics, sports, the arts, and others.
1) Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865)
16th President of the United States
Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, was the second child in a brood of three. He had an older sister, Sarah, and a younger brother, Thomas, who died in infancy.
When Lincoln’s mother died when he was eight or nine years old, Sarah was responsible for running the household and taking care of her younger brother and their cousin. Sarah died while giving birth to a stillborn son, aged only 20.
2) Warren Buffet (b. 1930)
Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
Warren Buffet, one of the world’s most successful investors, is called the “Oracle of Omaha” or “Sage of Omaha.” He was born in Omaha, Nebraska, the second of three children of Congressman Howard Buffet and his wife Leila (nee Stahl). Warren has two siblings: an older sister named Doris and a younger sister named Roberta, making him the only son in the family.
3) Princess Diana (1961 – 1997)
Member of the British royal family
Diana Frances Spencer was the fourth of five children of John Spencer, Viscount Althorp and Frances Spencer, Viscountess Althorp. Diana had two older sisters and a younger brother, and another younger brother who died only a few hours after his birth.
Prince Charles, Diana’s future husband, actually dated her older sister Sarah first.
4) Donald Trump (b. 1946)
Businessman, media personality, and 45th President of the United States
Donald John Trump was the fourth of five children of real-estate developer Fred Trump and his wife Mary Anne. Donald has three older siblings – Mary Anne, Fred Jr., and Elizabeth – and a younger brother, Robert.
5) Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882)
Naturalist, biologist, and geologist
Best known as the “Father of Evolution,” Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shropshire, England, in 1809, the fifth of six children. He came from a family of influential physicians and freethinkers. Although Darwin was an average student in school, he rose to become one of the most influential natural scientists in history with his theory of evolution and natural selection.
6) Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968)
Baptist minister and civil rights activist
Martin Luther King Jr. was the second of three children to the Reverend Michael King, a Baptist minister, and his wife Alberta. Martin had an older sister, Christine, and a younger brother, Alfred, who also became a Reverend and civil rights activist like his older brother.
7) John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963)
35th President of the United States
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the second of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., a prominent businessman and ambassador to the United Kingdom, and his wife Rose Fitzgerald, a well-known socialite and philanthropist. The Kennedys are an influential Irish-American family.
John had an older brother, Joseph Patrick (“Joe”), who was killed in action during World War II while serving as a land-based bomber pilot. Their father actually groomed Joe to become the next U.S. President.
John had two younger brothers, Robert (“Bobby”) and Edward Moore (“Ted”). Both had successful political careers of their own – Bobby was a U.S. Attorney General and Senator from New York (he was assassinated in 1968), while Ted was a Senator from Massachusetts. In addition to his brothers, John had five younger sisters: Rose Marie, Kathleen Agnes, Eunice, Patricia, and Jean Ann (the last-surviving and longest-lived Kennedy sibling; she died in 2020, aged 92).
8) Bill Gates (b. 1955)
Co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft
Middle children are known to be independent and self-motivated. Take tech billionaire Bill Gates. In 1975, he dropped out of Harvard and co-founded Microsoft. Today, he’s probably the wealthiest middle child of all time, with a net worth of $145.8 billion.
Gates is the second of three children of attorney William H. Gates, Sr. and schoolteacher and businesswoman Mary Maxwell Gates. He has an older sister, Kristianne, and a younger sister, Libby.
9) Frédéric Chopin (1810 – 1849)
Pianist and composer
Frédéric François Chopin was the second child and only son of Nicolas Chopin, a Frenchman who came to Poland to work as a teacher, and his wife Justyna Krzyżanowska. Justyna was a poor relative of the noble family, the Skarbeks, for whom Nicolas worked.
Chopin was born with the original Polish name, Fryderyk Franciszek. He had three sisters: the eldest, Ludwika, who was the first to teach him to play piano; third sibling Izabella; and the youngest, Emilia, who died at age 15 from tuberculosis.
Chopin was one of the leading pianists and composers of the Romantic period whose works – nocturnes, mazurkas, polonaises, études, preludes, impromptus, waltzes, and concertos – are still widely performed and recorded today.
10) Britney Spears (b. 1981)
Singer-songwriter, dancer, and actress
Former teen pop star Britney Spears is the second child in a brood of three. She has an older brother, producer Bryan James, and a younger sister, actress and singer Jamie Lynn (known for her titular role in the Nickelodeon sitcom Zoey 101)
11) Madonna (b. 1958)
Singer-songwriter, dancer, and actress
Pop superstar Madonna has two older brothers Anthony and Martin, two younger sisters Paula and Melanie, and a younger brother Christopher. Their mother, Madonna Louise (Madonna’s full name is also Madonna Louise), died of breast cancer in 1963 when little Madonna was only five.
12) Michael Jordan (b. 1963)
Former NBA player and Chicago Bulls superstar
“His Airness” Michael Jordan is the fourth of five children of mechanic and bank employee James R. Jordan, Sr., and his wife Deloris Peoples. He has two older brothers, James Ronald (“Ronnie”) and Larry, older sister Deloris, and younger sister Roslyn.
13) Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919)
25th President of the United States
Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was the second of four children of businessman and philanthropist Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. and socialite Martha Stewart Bulloch (“Mittie”). He had an older sister Anna (“Bamie”), younger brother Elliot, and younger sister, Corinne.
Bamie took care of her brother Theodore’s infant child when his young wife died shortly after childbirth, assuming parental responsibility. Their younger brother Elliot was the father of Eleanor Roosevelt, the cousin and wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, during whose long tenure (1933 – 1945) she served as the First Lady of the United States.
14) Benjamin Netanyahu (b. 1949)
Former Prime Minister of Israel
Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu currently holds the record as the longest-serving Prime Minister of Israel for a total of 15 years, from 1996 to 1999 (three years) and from 2009 to 2021 (12 years). When Netanyahu was first elected in 1996, he became Israel’s youngest-ever Prime Minister at 46 years old. He is also the first Prime Minister of Israel to be born in Israel since its establishment as an independent state in 1948.
Born in Tel Aviv in 1949, Benjamin Netanyahu is the second of three sons of historian Benzion Netanyahu (formerly Mileikowsky) and his wife Tzila Segal. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and worked for the Boston Consulting Group. In the 1980s, Netanyahu was appointed Israel ambassador to the United Nations. He then entered Israeli politics, eventually winning the chairmanship of the right-wing Likud party in 1993.
His older brother Yonatan (“Yoni”) was a military commander in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). He was killed during a hostage rescue mission, known as Operation Entebbe, at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda in 1976 – the only casualty on the IDF side. Bibi has always said that Yoni’s death drove him to politics.
Bibi’s younger brother, Iddo, is a physician, author and playwright. All three Netanyahu brothers served in the IDF’s special forces unit, Sayeret Matkal.
15) Mark Zuckerberg (b. 1984)
Co-founder and CEO of Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg is the second child and only son in a brood of four. He has an older sister, Randi, and two younger sisters, Donna and Arielle. Randi previously worked for Facebook as director of market development and spokesperson; she is now the CEO of her own company Zuckerberg Media.