Famous Birth Parents

Did you know these famous people were also birth parents?

Melissa Giarrosso February 02, 2015

Interested in knowing about famous birth parents? Find out more about the adoptions and reunions of Clark Gable, Rosanne Barr, Mercedes Ruehl, and others.

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Clark Gable
1. Clark Gable

Times have changed since 1935 when actress Loretta Young had an affair with a married Clark Gable and had a baby girl out of wedlock. A scandal such as this would have taken her career under, so the actress created a smoke screen where she hid the baby away in various orphanages until the child became a toddler, and Young claimed to adopt the child. She grew up not knowing Gable was her birth father, and only met him once, not realizing until her 30s that he was her birth father, five years after Gable had already died.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Joni Mitchell
2. Joni Mitchell

In 1997 photographs circulated of Joni Mitchell holding hands and embracing her birth daughter, who she'd placed for adoption when she was a struggling, 20-year-old art student.

Upon their reunion, Mitchell was quoted saying, "I've felt pain and joy in my life, but nothing like this."

Her birth daughter responded, "It was wonderful. It was a great relief to me in every way. It made me feel whole. It made me feel complete. I don't have any expectations. I didn't come into this thing with expectations. I just wanted to find my mom."

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Andy Kaufman
3. Andy Kaufman

Although he passed away at the young age of 35, it was later revealed that Kaufman had a daughter with his high school sweetheart, and the daughter was placed for adoption. His birth daughter, Maria Bellu-Colonna, learned in 1992 that she was the daughter of Kaufman after she won a petition to the state of New York to find her biological mother's surname. She reunited with her mother, grandfather, uncle, and aunt through her efforts, though she never had a chance to meet Kaufman, who died in 1984.

(Photo: The Mirror)

Faith Ireland
4. Faith Ireland

Faith Ireland was a Superior Court judge who later went on to be elected to the Supreme Court. While on a statewide cable television broadcast in 2000, Ireland revealed a secret she had kept for 35 years: she was a birth mother. At the age of 22, she had a baby girl out of wedlock during her college years whom she placed for adoption. They had successfully reunited in 1997.

(Photo: Quazoo)

Hank Williams Sr.
5. Hank Williams Sr.

Five days after passing away in 1953 at the age of 29, Hank Williams’ baby girl was born. Before her birth, Williams made provisions to have his mother take custody in case of his death, though she also soon passed away. When another family member didn't step up to raise her, she was placed for adoption, not learning her true identity until college.

By all accounts, Williams wanted to play a part in raising his daughter, but his death made that impossible. His birth daughter's story is one of loss, abandonment, fights over inheritances, being considered illegitimate by birth family, hidden documents, and great persistence.

(Photo: SchmoesKnow)

David Crosby
6. David Crosby

David Crosby had a baby with a woman in 1962, but they placed the baby for adoption. While preparing for a liver transplant in 1994, Crosby learned that his son had been searching for him. When the two reunited, he found out his birth son was a successful keyboardist and composer, and the two have since performed and recorded together many times.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Kate Mulgrew
7. Kate Mulgrew

This Orange is the New Black star was a working actress in 1977 when she found herself pregnant. She didn't want to marry the father, and she made an adoption plan for her daughter. She has always been willing to talk about the adoption, and even granted an interview in 1979 where she described it as a "lingering pain." She and her daughter reunited in 2001.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Roseanne Barr
9. Roseanne Barr

At 17 years old, Roseanne Barr had dropped out of high school and found herself in a mental institution. Shortly after being released, she carried and delivered a baby girl, whom she placed for adoption. Since then, they have reunited, and her birth daughter even worked as a Production Assistant on the set of the TV show Roseanne.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Strom Thurmond
10. Strom Thurmond

During the time when South Carolina strictly forbade marriage between blacks and whites, a daughter was born of Strom Thurmond and Carrie Butler. Instead of moving to a state where their union would be recognized and they could raise their daughter together, they placed her for adoption. The secret was kept until six months after Strom’s death in 2003.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Mercedes Ruehl
11. Mercedes Ruehl

A mother by adoption herself, Ruehl is also a birth mother. She gave birth to a son in 1975, whom she met in the late 90s after hearing that he was willing to meet her. The two now enjoy a meaningful relationship, with her birth son even assuming the role of godfather to the son she adopted. In an especially poignant quote about the experience, Ruehl described the relationship with her birth son by saying, "It's not easy, but it's rich."

Learn more about adoption by visiting our adoption forums.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

author image

Melissa Giarrosso

Melissa Giarrosso is a Staff Storyteller at Adoption.com and a mom to two quirky kids through open adoption, all thanks to infertility and the belief that adoption is never second best. She and her family reside in a suburb of Memphis, TN where they remain faithful members of numerous open adoption communities, gently advocating the opportunities that open adoption affords all members of the adoption triad.


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