Happy National Adoption Day! Nine Classic Movie Parents and Their Adopted Kids

Happy National Adoption Day!
An Ode to Adoptive Parents in Classic Hollywood

You may not know this, but every Saturday before Thanksgiving is National Adoption Day. And, in case you’re wondering, yes, that means today. Adoption is a wonderful thing that can help transform a child’s life — and their new parents’ lives — for the better. Many times adoptive parents take kids out of unfortunate circumstances and provide them with opportunities that they may not have gotten from their biological family – think Colin Kaepernick. And other times, they adopt the children of their new spouses and thus create a new family from the old – think Bill Clinton.

So, today, in honor of National Adoption Day, I want to celebrate the adoptive parents of Classic Hollywood by sharing a list of some ‘classic’ adoptions. If you want to share your own favorites, please do so in the comments section below, because I’d love to hear about them!


1. Nat King Cole


Nat King Cole and his wife, Maria adopted two children, daughter Carole in 1944 and son Nat Kelly in 1959. Carole, shown above singing with little sister Natalie, was the daughter of Maria’s sister who had died of lung cancer.


2. Gracie Allen and George Burns

george burns and gracie allen with their adopted children Sandra Jean and Ronald Jon

After finding out they not conceive on their own, the funniest couple this side of Lucy and Desi adopted two children, Sandra Jean and Ronald Jon.


3. Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards

Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards and their adopted two infant girls, Amy and Joanna

Julie Andrews and hubby Blake Edwards adopted two infant girls, Amy and Joanna, from a Vietnamese orphanage right before the Fall of Saigon.


4. Joan Crawford


Probably one of the most controversial figures of motherhood, Joan Crawford adopted four children throughout her life:  Christina, Christopher (originally named Phillip Terry Jr.), and the twins, Cathy and Cindy. Crawford had adopted another child in the 1940s but he was reclaimed by his mother.


5. Linda Darnell


After Linda Darnell and her first husband, Peverell Marley, learned that they could not have children, they adopted their only child, Charlotte, in 1948. Look at that proud new mother!


6. Bette Davis


Bette Davis and then-hubby, Gary Merrill, adopted two children. First was Margot in 1951, followed by Michael a year later. Looks like it was the beach for the Merrill-Davis family.


7. Jane Fonda


This story of adoption is particularly interesting because Jane Fonda never formally adopted Mary Williams. The two met while Mary was part of the Laurel Springs Children’s Camp, a summer camp for disadvantaged kids that Fonda helped found. The two got to know each other over the years, with Fonda becoming aware of the incredible hardships the young women faced. When Mary was 14, Fonda invited the young women to come live with her. She did, and in the process, gained a whole new family.


8. Helen Hayes


In 1939 Helen Hayes adopted her son, James MacArthur. And like mother, like son, James became an actor and starred in the television series Hawaii Five O. And to make things even cuter, Hayes guest starred on the show! Pictured above is them on set.


9. Harpo Marx


Harpo and his Wife, Susan Fleming, adopted four children: Bill, Alex, Jimmy, and Minnie. He was once quoted as saying: “I’d like to adopt as many children as I have windows in my house. So when I leave for work, I want a kid in every window, waving goodbye.” I guess he only had four windows. 🙂


Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub

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3 Responses to Happy National Adoption Day! Nine Classic Movie Parents and Their Adopted Kids

  1. Inspiring stories of family and love.

    Another couple to consider is Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.


  2. Shelia says:

    Hmmm can’t say that I’ve ever given much thought to who adopted…but two come to mind, Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, and Barbara Walters, who of course is not an actor, and neither of the Classic Movie Era. But adoption is good no matter when.

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