A young mother and reader wrote to me today asking if there were any famous people who were born out of wedlock. We’ve talked about this in the past (not the illegitimate topic, you can find that from an article in January, 2011 (http://myfivebest.com/five-famous-people-who-thought-their-mother-was-their-sister/) but with a different twist. This woman wanted to know some really famous people. Since I’ve never had anyone ask me for a specific article, I thought I’d give it a try. Being born out of wedlock is not a 21st century invention. Many famous and successful people have been born to parents who were not married when they were born. Having two parents does not correlate to success and there is nothing wrong with a child who is raised by one parent or the other. Here are five people who challenged public opinion and became very successful. Incidentally, anyone who has a question is always more than welcome to request a specific article or answer to their questions. You can email me at: email@example.com and I will respond to it.
Leonardo da Vinci
You didn’t have to read the Dan Brown book to know who this guy is. He is probably the most well-known artist to put brush to canvas. Besides being a painter, he was also a sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer. Basically, there wasn’t much this guy didn’t do! In fact, he’s often compared as the archetype for the Renaissance Man, so you would think he was sent to the greatest schools in all of Italy. Not really. His mother was a peasant and his father was a lawyer who had quite a few children out of wedlock. He lived with his mother until he was a teenager and then his father took him in. However, at the age of fourteen, he was sent off to be the apprentice of a local artist. There was no Harvard and prep schools in his background, yet he will be remembered for all time.
Most people know Alexander Hamilton as the guy who was shot by Aaron Burr. He was the first United States Secretary of the Treasury, a Founding Father, economist, and political philosopher. He made his mark as the assistant to George Washington during the Revolutionary War and was one of the people who pushed for an American Constitution. He has been called by some as the person who is most responsible for the American government. Hamilton’s parents met in the British West Indies (i.e. The Bahamas and other islands in the Caribbean). His mother was a French Protestant and his father was the fourth son of a Scottish nobleman. His parents stayed together but were never married since his mother was already married to another man and had children with him. He got his education from a Jewish tutor and from 34 books his family owned. Books used to be expensive. His father would later leave his mother to stop her from being charged with bigamy. Hamilton became orphaned about the age of 13 and eventually made a name for himself in the United States.
Every one knows Oprah Winfrey. The woman practically owns everything: from television to books to her own cable network to schools in Africa – all of which are pretty amazing things when you consider her humble upbringing. Winfrey was born into poverty in rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother and later raised in an inner-city Milwaukee neighborhood. She experienced considerable hardship during her childhood, claiming to be raped at age nine and becoming pregnant at 14; her son died in infancy. Her mother was a housemaid. As a teenager, she was sent to live with her father – a barber in Tennessee – which is where she started her career in entertainment. Oprah was popular in radio and transitioned over to television by the time she was thirty. Her Chicago television talk show became so popular that this went national and she became the powerhouse that she is today.
This woman’s life was sort of a fairy tale. She was born from a very, VERY poor upbringing and went on to become the First Lady of Argentina. If you’ve ever seen the movie or play, Evita, by Andrew Lloyd Webber, then you might know the story of her life. She was born out of wedlock in the village of Los Toldos in rural Argentina in 1919, the fourth of five children. In 1934, at the age of 15, she went to the nation’s capital of Buenos Aires, where she pursued a career as a stage, radio, and film actress. Eva met Colonel Juan Perón on January 22, 1944, in Buenos Aires during a charity event at the Luna Park Stadium to benefit the victims of an earthquake in San Juan, Argentina. The two were married the following year. In 1946, Juan Perón was elected President of Argentina. Eva Peron died from cancer at the age of 33, but had made her mark on the world.
Confucius was a philosopher and political thinker in Feudal China around 500BC. His words are often parodied in Chinese fortune cookies that state “Confucius say:[Insert proverb here]“. His father was a military commander who owned land and his mother was a young girl. According to ancient texts, Confucius was born of “illicit means” – meaning his parents were not married. It is not known exactly the difference in age, but his father was an old man (“beyond marrying age”) and his mother was in her late teens. His father died when he was three years old and Confucius was brought up in poverty. His social status deemed him in between common peasants and lower nobility. Confucius would go onto be the William Shakespeare of Chinese literature. He is highly regarded in the culture as their premier writer and philosopher and is responsible for giving us such gems as “the Golden Rule” (Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself).