Martin Sheen originated the Sheen dynasty against his father’s wishes in the 1960s. He remained a successful film actor even as his four kids got into acting. Charlie Sheen is the most famous of Sheen’s acting sons, with film roles such as “Major League” and a popular TV role in “Two and a Half Men.” Another son, Emilio Estevez, is also a recognized Hollywood name. He is best known as a member of the 1980s film acting bunch known as the “Brat Pack.” While the Sheen dynasty hasn’t been around as long as some others, the depth of film and TV accomplishments of Martin, Charlie and Emilio put them among the most recognized Hollywood families.
The Fondas have been a Hollywood dynasty since the 1920s, when patriarch Henry starred in such classics as “The Grapes of Wrath” and “12 Angry Men.” His daughter Jane and son Peter became iconic film actors as well. Peter was also a successful screenwriter. Bridget Fonda, daughter of Peter, briefly carried on the family legacy in films such as “Singles.” What makes the Fonda dynasty unique even among the top family acting dynasties is the individual success and enduring fame of each family member.
To younger movie fans, Drew Barrymore might seem like a standalone talent. In actuality, she is part of one of the most dominant acting dynasties in history. Her great-grandparents and great-aunt all acted. Great-aunt Ethel appeared on stage for over 60 years. Great-uncle Lionel was an actor and director involved in over 200 films, most notably “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Grandfather John might have been the best of the bunch, as he was renowned as one of the top actors of his generation during the 1920s and 1930s. Throw in Grandma Dolores and parents John and Jaid, and its obvious Drew Barrymore was destined for acting long before her performance in “E.T.”
John Carradine is the patriarch of this acting family. He starred in well over 200 total films just on his own, including the classic “The Grapes of Wrath.” John’s three sons, David, Keith and Robert, all achieved some measure of film success, though David is arguably the most recognized thanks to his well-known “Kung Fu” television series that aired on ABC in the mid-1970s. David’s contributions, along with other early martial arts stars, helped propel this niche film genre to strong popularity in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Martha Plimpton, actress daughter of Keith, marks the family’s third generation.
No Hollywood dynasty compares with the breadth and depth of accomplishments of the Coppola family. You know a family is well-known when an actor, Nicolas Cage, changes his name just to separate himself from the clan. Though his son, the director Francis Ford Coppola, is more recognized, Carmine Coppola is viewed as the patriarch of the Coppola dynasty. He composed music for “The Godfather II.” Francis’s wife Eleanor was a set director and their daughter Talia Shire was an actress in the “Rocky” series and “The Godfather II.” Cage and directors Sophia Coppola and Roman Coppola are third-generation members. Shire’s son Jason Schwartzman is also an actor.