Celebrity Facts 19 Celebrities Who Were Orphaned as Children  

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List of Famous Orphans, loosely ranked by fame and popularity. Some very famous people were left orphaned after their parents died or abandoned their families. Famous political leaders, actors, authors and musicians have all been orphans. Some celebrities lost their parents when they were very young, while others became orphans when they were teenagers. These famous people were either raised by family or placed in orphanages and foster homes.

Who is the most famous orphan? Marilyn Monroe tops our list. There is some discrepancies about the identity of Marilyn Monroe's father, but by all accounts he was not present during her childhood. Her mother was mentally unstable and placed Monroe, then known by the name Norma Jean Baker, with a foster family. When Monroe was seven she was declared a ward of the state. She was raised by her mother's friend for a few years, but she later spent time in an orphanage, more foster homes and with other family members.

Malcolm X's father died when Malcolm X was just six years old. He died under suspicious circumstances in a streetcar accident, but the family suspected that he was murdered by a white racist group. When Malcolm X was 12, his mother suffered a nervous breakdown and spent the next 24 years in a state hospital. Malcolm X lived in foster homes for a few years and eventually he stayed with his half-sister.

Do you think that being an orphan played into the success of these famous folks. Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Marilyn Monroe is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 19 Celebrities Who Were Orphaned as Children
Photo: Antonio MarĂ­n Segovia/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
There is some discrepancies about the identity of Marilyn Monroe's father, but by all accounts, he was not present during her childhood.  Her mother was mentally unstable and placed Monroe, then known by the name Norma Jean Baker, with a foster family. When Monroe was seven, she was declared a ward of the state. She was raised by her mother's friend for a few years, but she later spent time in an orphanage, more foster homes, and with other family members.

Age: Dec. at 36 (1926-1962)

Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States of America

Also Ranked

#60 on The Best Actresses in Film History

#19 on The Most Beautiful Women of All Time

#31 on People We Wish Were Still Alive

#60 on The Hottest Celebrities of All Time

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Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 19 Celebrities Who Were Orphaned as Children
Photo: Metaweb (FB)/Fair use
When Ray Charles was 10 years old, his father, Bailey Robinson, abandoned the family. His mother Aretha died in 1947, when he was 15. Charles stayed with family friends for about a year after that before he went to Seattle to pursue his music.

Age: Dec. at 74 (1930-2004)

Birthplace: Georgia, USA, Albany

Also Ranked

#19 on The Best Singers of All Time

#90 on The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

#25 on The Top Pop Artists of the 1960s

#28 on Dead Musicians You Most Want to See Perform as Holograms

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Ella Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 19 Celebrities Who Were Orphaned as Children
Photo: Metaweb (FB)/Fair use
Ella Fitzgerald's father William left her family when she was an infant. Her mother Tempie died from a heart attack in 1931, when Fitzgerald was 15. After she was abused by her step-father, Fitzgerald ran away to her aunt's house. She then spent time in an orphanage and a reformatory, and she was even homeless for a period of time.

Age: Dec. at 79 (1917-1996)

Birthplace: Virginia, United States of America

Also Ranked

#78 on The Best Rock Vocalists

#17 on The Best Singers of All Time

#7 on The Best Female Vocalists Ever

#65 on The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

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Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 19 Celebrities Who Were Orphaned as Children
Photo: Marion S. Trikosko/via Wikimedia Commons/Public domain
Malcolm X's father, Earl Little, died when Malcolm was just six years old. He died under suspicious circumstances in a streetcar accident, but the family suspected that he was murdered by a white racist group. When Malcolm was 12, his mother Louise suffered a nervous breakdown and spent the next 24 years in a state hospital. Malcolm X lived in foster homes for a few years, and eventually he stayed with his half-sister.

Age: Dec. at 40 (1925-1965)

Birthplace: North Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska, United States of America

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