Sunday, June 15, 2014

Nod to Adoptive Fathers

Nowadays it seems one can’t go far without hearing about a celebrity adoption. However, adopting children is nothing new. While most will think of famous actresses who were adoptive parents (think Joan Crawford a.k.a. Mommy Dearest), there are many celebrity fathers who have adopted children throughout the years. Since it is Father's Day, I thought it would be a good time to honor a few of these famous adoptive fathers. 

1. Jimmy Stewart 

Stewart and family - courtesy of
Jimmy Stewart: A Biography by Marc Eliot

A search for "Jimmy Stewart with family" results in images and references of Stewart in a number of fatherly roles: It's a Wonderful Life, The Glenn Miller Story, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation...the list goes on. He seemed to slip easily into these roles, but what many may not know is that Jimmy Stewart first became a father at 41 when he adopted his wife Elaine's children, Ronald and Michael. He and Elaine eventually had their own children, twins Judy and Kelly. All reports point to him as being a wonderful father regardless of whether his children were biological or adopted. 

2. George Burns

George and Gracie Burns with their
adopted children in 1938.
This famous comedian and his equally famous wife and comedic partner, Gracie Allen, adopted a daughter, Sandra, in 1934 and a son, Ronnie, in 1935 when they could not have children due to Gracie's congenital heart defect. According to George, Gracie chose Ronnie because he appeared sickly and needed their help the most. George supported his wife, whom he loved very much, and the result was a beautiful, loving family both on and off paper. When the children were in their teens, they joined the cast of their parents' television program, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1950-1958), and Ronnie went on to act in a few more programs in the early '60s.   

3. Walt Disney

Disney reading to his daughters.
Ironically, the man renown for entertaining millions of children with his cartoons, films, and theme park did not enter into fatherhood easily. This was not because he did not want children; rather his wife Lillian experienced miscarriages and later birth complications that interfered with her ability to conceive. They had one daughter, Diane, naturally and then adopted a second daughter, Sharon. In a 1956 Saturday Evening Post article, Diane describes how her father would complain about being the only man in the house; however he was merely clowning around. He loved his little girls.

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