List of orphans and foundlings
- "Famous orphans" redirects here. For other uses, see Orphan.
Notable orphans and foundlings include world leaders, celebrated writers, entertainment greats, figures in science and business, as well as innumerable fictional characters in literature and comics. While the exact definition of orphan varies, one legal definition is a child bereft through "death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents". According to the United nations, the definition of an orphan is anyone that loses one parent, either through death or abandonment.
Figures from classical history and religious scripture
- Aandaal, Tamil saint, found in a temple garden.
- Aristotle, Greek philosopher and scientist, orphaned in early childhood.
- Beowulf, mythical hero-king of the Geats, raised by his grandfather.
- Cyrus the Great, Persian emperor, orphaned in childhood.
- Oedipus, mythical Greek king, abandoned on a mountain.
- Moses, major prophet in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, given up as an infant.
- Muhammad, prophet of Islam, orphaned at age 6.
- Saint Nicholas, patron saint of children, orphaned early in childhood.
- Romulus and Remus, traditional founders of Ancient Rome, orphaned in infancy.
- Simón Bolívar, Latin American independence leader, orphaned at age 8.
- John Church, clergyman, found as a toddler and sent to the Foundling Hospital.
- Peter Francisco, soldier, found on a Virginia dock as a young child.
- Mariano Gálvez, Guatemalan Chief of State in the 1830s, foundling adopted and raised by Gálvez family.
- Alexander Hamilton, U.S. founding father, orphaned at age 13.
- Ben W. Hooper, governor of Tennessee, 1911 to 1915, raised in an orphanage.
- Herbert Hoover, U.S. president, orphaned at age 9.
- Ivan IV of Russia, Russian ruler, orphaned at age 8.
- Andrew Jackson, U.S. president, orphaned at age 14.
- Benito Juarez, Mexican president, orphaned at age 3.
- Edward Langworthy, U.S. patriot and founding father, raised in an orphanage.
- Nelson Mandela, president of South Africa, raised as a ward.
- Eleanor Roosevelt, U.S. First Lady, civil-rights activist, orphaned at age 10.
- Joseph F. Smith, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, orphaned at age 13.
- Tecumseh, Native American leader, orphaned as a child.
- Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, former Iowa governor, adopted at birth.
- James West, first Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America, raised in an orphanage.
- Malcolm X, politician and civil rights activist, raised in an orphanage and foster care.
- Edward Albee, playwright, adopted as an infant.
- Joseph Conrad, author, orphaned at age 11
- John Keats, poet, raised partly by his grandmother.
- Hugh Leonard, playwright and essayist, abandoned as an infant.
- W. Somerset Maugham, author, orphaned at age 10
- Andy McNab, soldier and novelist, found as a baby on the steps of Guy's Hospital.
- James A. Michener, author, abandoned as an infant.
- Edgar Allan Poe, author, orphaned at age 2.
- Jean Racine, French playwright, orphaned at age 4.
- J. R. R. Tolkien, author, orphaned at age 12.
- Leo Tolstoy, author, orphaned at age 9.
- Henry Morton Stanley, journalist, explorer, raised in a workhouse.
- Dale Wasserman, playwright, orphaned at age 9.
- William Wordsworth, poet, orphaned at age 12.
Musicians and singers
- Louis Armstrong, musician, raised in an orphanage and by his grandmother.
- Johann Sebastian Bach, composer, orphaned at age 9.
- Bono, singer, orphaned at age 14.
- CeeLo Green, singer-songwriter, rapper, record producer, television music competition judge, actor, orphaned at age 18.
- Ray Charles, singer, orphaned at age 15.
- Ella Fitzgerald, singer, orphaned in childhood.
- James Hetfield, singer, orphaned by cancer at 16.
- Kree Harrison, singer, runner-up of American Idol (season 12), orphaned at 19
- Faith Hill, singer, adopted as an infant.
- Billie Holiday, singer, intermittently abandoned in childhood.
- Emmanuel Jal, rapper, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.
- John Lennon, musician, raised by his aunt and uncle.
- Mims, rapper, orphaned at age 13.
- Sonny Moore, musician, adopted as an infant.
- Trent Reznor, orphaned when parents abandoned him at age 5 and raised by grandparents.
- John Rzeznik, musician, orphaned at age 15.
- Bessie Smith, singer, orphaned at age 9.
- Tina Turner, singer, intermittently abandoned in childhood.
- Kiri Te Kanawa, singer, adopted as an infant.
- Jimmy Wayne, singer, homeless foster teen taken in by a couple in their 70's
Artists, actors, and entertainers
- Tallulah Bankhead, actress, orphaned as an infant.
- Ingrid Bergman, actress, orphaned at age 12.
- Tuki Brando, model, orphaned at age 4.
- Carol Burnett, entertainer, raised by her grandmother.
- Henry Darger, artist whose work focused on orphans, orphaned at age 13.
- Tommy Davidson, comedian, orphaned as an infant.
- Ger Duany, actor, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.
- Juliette Drouet, actress, orphaned in childhood.
- Samuel Goldwyn, film mogul, raised by relatives.
- Ice-T, actor, rapper, orphaned at age 9.
- Rajesh Khanna, Bollywood actor.
- Art Linkletter, entertainer, abandoned as an infant.
- George Lopez, comedian, raised by a grandmother.
- Lee Majors, actor, orphaned at age 2, raised by his aunt and uncle.
- Frances McDormand, best actress Academy Award winner, adopted as an infant.
- Marilyn Monroe, entertainer, raised in foster care.
- Steve Oedekerk, comedian and film producer, adopted as an infant.
- Ivian Sarcos, Miss World 2011, orphaned at age 8.
- Barbara Stanwyck, actress, raised in foster homes from age 2.
- Orson Welles, actor and director, orphaned at age 15.
- Scott Hamilton, figure skater, adopted as an infant.
- Lopez Lomong, U.S. Olympic track star, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.
- Greg Louganis, Olympic diver, adopted as an infant.
- Guor Marial, Olympic runner, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.
- Billy Mills, Olympic runner, orphaned at age 12.
- Babe Ruth, baseball star, raised in an orphanage.
- Jim Thorpe, multi-sport Olympic and professional athlete, orphaned as a teen.
- Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, African triathlete and advocate for the rights of the disabled.
Scientists and scholars
- George Washington Carver, scientist, inventor, orphaned while a slave.
- Maud Chifamba, the youngest university student in Africa, orphaned at age 14.
- Johannes Kepler, scientist, raised by grandmother.
- Jean le Rond d'Alembert, mathematician, abandoned as an infant.
- Bertrand Russell, philosopher, orphaned at age 3.
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, philosopher, raised by aunt and uncle.
- Percy Spencer, inventor, orphaned in childhood.
- Arthur E. Andersen, founder of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, orphaned as a teen.
- Anthony Bacon, helped found the British iron industry.
- L.L. Bean, retail catalog magnate, orphaned at age 12.
- Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer, adopted as an infant.
- Howard Lutnick, CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, orphaned as a teen.
- Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza, partially raised in an orphanage.
- Mary Portas, English retail consultant, and broadcaster, orphaned at age 18.
- Vidal Sassoon, beauty products magnate, placed in an orphanage at age 7.
- Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's restaurants, adopted as an infant, adoption advocate.
See also Category:Fictional orphans
- Frodo Baggins, The Lord of the Rings
- Natty Bumppo, a.k.a. "Hawkeye", Leatherstocking Tales
- Cosette, in the novel Les Misérables
- David Copperfield
- Ponyboy Curtis, The Outsiders
- Jane Eyre
- Huckleberry Finn
- Dorothy Gale, Wonderful Wizard of Oz
- Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights
- Tom Jones
- Stephen Maturin, Master and Commander
- Pip, Great Expectations
- Harry Potter
- Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables
- Tom Sawyer
- Oliver Twist
In popular culture
- Little Orphan Annie
- Batman and Robin
- James Bond
- Punky Brewster
- Goku, Dragon Ball
- Erin Hannon, The Office
- Evey Hammond, V for Vendetta
- Tohru Honda
- Turanga Leela, Futurama
- Mowgli of The Jungle Book
- Motoko Kusanagi
- Fox McCloud, Star Fox (series)
- Paddington Bear
- Santa Claus, Father Christmas, and other personifications of the orphaned Saint Nicholas
- Luke Skywalker
- Snow White
- Sookie Stackhouse
See also Category:Adoptees for lists of notable people who have been adopted (including by step-parents): many adoptees are neither orphans nor foundlings.