Celebrities Who Were Orphaned as Children

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An orphan is one who loses his or her parents as a child. Sometimes the definition extends to children who are abandoned by their parents. Being an orphan can happen to anyone, even those who are famous.
The people on this list are big names now, but you might be surprised to learn that they were orphaned in childhood. Some were very young, while others were closer to adulthood. Either way, it wasn’t easy, but they overcame and are now famous.
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George Lopez

Lopez’s father ditched him when he was just a baby. Then at age 10, his mother took off on him. He spent the rest of his childhood with his grandparents.
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Eleanor Roosevelt

At age 8, Eleanor’s mother died of diptheria. The following year, at age 9, her father died of the same disease. After that, Roosevelt was raised by her grandmother.
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Dr. Ruth

This sex therapist gained her fame and fortune in the 1980s. Both her parents died during the Holocaust when she was only 10. She spent the rest of her childhood living in a home for child survivors of the Holocaust.
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Barbara Stanwyck

Stanwyck’s mother died when she was 4 years old. After that, her father abandoned her and the family. She was then raised by her sister or lived in foster homes.
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Ingrid Bergman

Bergman was only three when her mother died. At age 13, her father died. She went to live with an aunt who died 6 months later and then spent the rest of her childhood with another aunt and uncle.
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Malcolm X

At age 6, Malcolm’s father was killed in a car accident that was later blamed on a white racist group. When Malcolm was 12, his mother had mental illness problems and went to live in a state hospital. He was shuttled between foster homes and then went to live with his half sister.
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Lee Majors

The Six Million Dollar Man’s parents died when he was a baby. He was adopted, but didn’t know that until he was a teen. It turns out his parents were his biological aunt and uncle.
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Ice-T

This famous rapper experienced the death of his mother when he was in third grade. His father raised him alone until he turned 12, when he lost his dad to a heart attack. Thereafter, he lived with his aunt and uncle.
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Babe Ruth

At 7 years of age, Ruth was sent to live in an orphanage. Ruth lived in poverty and says he was sent there because he was hard to control. His parents only saw Ruth and one sister, out of eight children, past infancy.
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J.R.R. Tolkien

This famous book author lost his father to rheumatic fever at age 3. When he was 12, his mother died from diabetes. He and his siblings were then raised by a family friend.
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Marilyn Monroe

Though Marilyn’s mother wasn’t dead, she sent her daughter to live in a foster home due to her own mental instability. Marilyn’s father was unknown. For the rest of her childhood, she was shuttled between family homes, foster homes and even an orphanage.
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Orson Welles

Welles mother died when he was nine. He lived with father until age 15, when he too died. After that he chose to live with a man named Maurice Bernstein.
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Ella Fitzgerald

Ella’s father took off when she was an infant so she never knew him. At age 15, her mother died of a heart attack. She then ran away from her stepfather, lived on the streets or in an orphanage until she became an adult.
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John Lennon

At age 3, Lennon’s parents split up and his father left. His mother’s new family didn’t accept Lennon. He was fostered by his aunt and uncle for the rest of his childhood.
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Ray Charles

When Charles was 10, his father abandoned the family. When he was 15, his mother died. Not long after that, Charles went to Seattle to pursue his musical career.
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