Blacksheep: the Mortifying Siblings of 7 Famous People

  • January 15, 2010
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John Quincy Adams and Charles Adams

The famous person: John Quincy Adams - son of President John Adams and eventually President himself, he later served in the House of Representatives for 17 years where he was revered as an august statesman.

His brother: Charles Adams - when your dad calls you "a madman possessed by the devil" it usually means he's had one too many. In this case it was one of the founding fathers of the United States talking about his son Charles. The younger Adams was a serious alcoholic who was almost thrown out of Harvard for his conduct. Later in life he was involved in shady land deals, further ruining his reputation. His father eventually disowned him, while his brother became President. Ouch.

charles adams



George VI and the Duke of Windsor

The famous person: Born during the Victorian Era, George VI was king of England during WWII and was father of the current queen, Elizabeth II. While a rather boring King, George did help inspire the people during the blitz, and took the bombing of Buckingham Palace in stride. He stuttered, was a secret alcoholic, a heavy smoker, and died quietly in 1952. Pretty average.

His brother: The Duke of Windsor was decidedly not average. Though born to be king, he abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. While this has been cast as one of the greatest romances ever, it was actually a dysfunctional relationship where both partners cheated, drank themselves to oblivion, and collaborated with the Nazis. Seriously. The former Edward VIII and his wife even met Hitler at his holiday home. Hitler’s plan was to make Edward a puppet king after he invaded England. The Royal Family was so embarrassed by the Duke’s unabashed Nazi sympathies that they basically exiled him to the Caribbean for the whole of WWII.

duke of windsor



Al Capone and James Vincenzo Capone

The famous person: Al Capone was one of the most famous gangsters of all time. Prohibition increased his wealth and power as he ran an effective bootlegging ring. He was only brought down due to a tax evasion technicality and spent most of the rest of his life in Alcatraz.

His brother: In most families, Al would be the embarrassment. However, while he was out making a success of himself by criminal means, his brother “Vince” ran away from home to join the circus, fought in WWI, and eventually became a policeman. Not in Illinois obviously, that would be a conflict of interest. In Nebraska. Vince spent Prohibition shutting down the same type of illegal alcohol productions that were making his brother rich and powerful. He was known as “Two-Gun Hart” and became famous in the Midwest for his law enforcement prowess. Al Capone must have been mortified.

james vincenzo capone


Written by Kathy Benjamin – Copyrighted ©