15 Actors You Didn't Know Placed Their Kids Up For Adoption

Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up

A movie's success obviously demands that the film must go according to the plans of screenwriters, producers, and directors. However, life isn't as simple. For example, watching everything go awry for both Seth Rogan and Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up is refreshing, as it provides an element of realism and reaffirms that this kind of a scenario can happen to just about anyone.

Off script, actors are just as susceptible to life's hardships and struggles as anyone. Additionally, if something happens before an actor can ensure their own financial security or fame, they are faced with a choice.

If an actor is on the verge of success but manages to become pregnant or finds out that their partner is pregnant, they are faced with a decision: should they keep the child, knowing that they have barely enough to cover themselves financially, or should they try to find a better home for the child, where it can grow without financial fear? Of course, not every situation is the same, but there is always a choice.

There are many actors who have been in such situations, and ultimately decided that placing their child for adoption would be better for everyone, if not just for their child.

Here are the 15 Actors You Didn't Know Placed Their Kids Up For Adoption.

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15 Kate Mulgrew

Ten years before Kate Mulgrew played Margaret in Throw Momma from the Train, she was becoming a fixture on the soap opera Ryan’s Hope. After years of pursuing an acting career, a positive pregnancy test was not what she expected. Though her agent told her that her pregnancy might hinder her career, the Catholic actress decided that-- since she didn't want to get an abortion-- she would put her baby up for adoption, she told AARP.

Fortunately, her baby bump was written into her role, and she managed to continue her career before placing her child for adoption. However, the child was always on Mulgrew's mind, and, after twenty years of searching, a chance meeting came about. Mulgrew ran into the woman who oversaw the adoption, which led to reconnect with her child.

By then, Mulgew's career had bloomed, and she had obtained a reoccurring role on Star Trek: Voyager as Captain Kathryn Janeway. Her first contact with her daughter was through a phone call on set. After, Mulgrew travelled to visit her daughter and the two have since become close. She credits their growing relationship to her daughter’s capacity to forgive.

14 Roseanne Barr

America first got to know Roseanne Barr and her blue collar schtick on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson.  She followed by entering our our homes every week with her self-titled sitcom.

Of course in taking on issues such as birth control, teenage sex and feminism, she drew much ire.  But despite her detractors, Roseanne’s 1971 pregnancy did at least provide firsthand experience.

She told People in 1989 that she intended to keep her baby as an unwed teenager, but wavered when cockroaches came out of the faucet of her rented room.  Nine days in, Roseanne relented and placed the child with Jewish Family Services.

The reunion process began after a tabloid obtained the child’s birth certificate. Despite the unauthorized access, the her first meeting with Brandi Brown at the Westwood Marquis Hotel was right out of Hollywood. "We embraced and wouldn’t let go of each other," Roseanne revealed.

13 Andy Kaufman

Andy Kaufman Taxi Latka

Andy Kaufman entered the national consciousness without uttering a word and actually swooped in on the heels of the children's cartoon, Underdog.

With only an old phonograph as a prop, his lip synch amused and confused in a mid '70s Saturday Night Live skit. “Here I am to save the day,” Kaufman mouthed the words, and the eclectic role of Latka on Taxi followed.

However, life became real very early for Kaufman. He got his high school girlfriend pregnant in 1969, and the couple placed the baby, Maria Bellu-Colonna up for adoption.

She would later file with New York State to reveal the surname of her parents, and eventually be reuinited with her mother in 1992. A paternal reunion, unfortunately, could never happen, as Kaufman passed away on May 16, 1984 at the age of 35.

12 Jay Thomas

Jay Thomas’ sudden disappearance from Cheers definitely has varying interpretations. However, there’s no disputing that his TV death occurred when he got run over by a Zamboni. His girlfriend’s unexpected 1980 pregnancy was probably no less startling.

Agonizing over their options, Thomas was especially concerned that an impromptu marriage would lead to divorce. Ultimately, according to Thomas’ website, the couple settled for adoption.

Curiosity, rather than longing, sent  their son John Thomas searching for his parents, who were much closer than he realized. Jay Thomas' billboard hung outside John's LA apartment.

He first tracked down his mother, but a reunion concerned Jay. He was afraid of meeting an angry son who might blame him. Instead, Jay found John well adjusted to the situation, and with a similar sense of humor.

11 Arnold Schwarzenegger

There’s no mistaking how Arnold Schwarzenegger has filled the screen as an action star in movies such as Total Recall, The Terminator and True Lies.

However, his illegitimate son began coming of age and bore a resemblance that was hard to miss.  Arnold was eventually forced to concur the truth. He had unknowingly fathered a child with Mildred Baena -- his live-in maid.

When the boy “started looking like me, that’s when I kind of got it. I put things together,” said the former Governor of California on 60 minutes in 2012.

The timing doesn't make the scandal anymore appealing either. Maria Shriver had his fourth child five days earlier-- hasta la vista baby, Shriver filled for divorce in 2011.

10 Mercedes Ruehl

Mercedes Ruehl - The Fisher King

While Tom Hanks lived with visions of growing up in Big, his movie mom was left at a loss over his inexplicable separation. However, in real life, Mercedes Ruehl is definitive as to why she placed her child for adoption as a young actor.  Ruehl reflected that in 1976 she lacked, ”the emotional development or the economic capability.”

Success in films like Radio Days and Heartburn were still a decade away, but acceptance was eased alongside the pinnacle moment of her career. Her son learned that his mother was one of the lead actresses in The Fisher King.

With the other being Amanda Plummer, the Oscar winner made light of the chaotic multiple choice her son faced. “Which of these nuts is my mother,” she recalled amusement and concern in a 2005 interview, but any lingering doubts were laid to rest once her long lost son became the godfather of Ruehl’s adopted son.

9 Jack Wagner

As a star of General Hospital, Jack Wagner definitely can make your heart skip a beat. The same goes for his role in The Bold and the Beautiful. However, the soap star had the fourth wall breached in 1988 when his life became just as dramatic as his TV show.

Wagner got a call from a previous one night stand and learned that he was a father, and that his child had just been placed for adoption. Taken aback, his parental options were limited. “It was just something that was out of my control,” he told Huffington Post.

The eventual reunion was no less startling, when a knock came to his dressing room door.  A 23-year-old girl rushed into his arms, and announced that she was his daughter.

Absorbing the shock, Wagner invited her on a cruise where he was to perform. They spent five days getting to know each other, and the bond continues to grow. “It’s a real blessing,” he said.

8 Clark Gable / Loretta Young

Clark Gable

Clark Gable did place his child for adoption, but the actual circumstances definitely stretch the definition. Clark visited Loretta Young in her train compartment after filming Call of the Wild, and the rest is history.

The encounter, though, may have only had approval from one end. Young’s memoirs mentioned that she had been "date raped," and finally named Gable the father after many years of rumors.

Nonetheless, the unexpected pregnancy sent Young on sabbatical, during which she placed the child up for adoption.  Young was a devout Catholic, and decided it was best to "adopt" her daughter Judy. However, rumors of an affair between her and Gable began to spread, and she was forced to tell her daughter the truth when she turned 23.

Gable, on the other hand, stayed clear of the situation -- except for one meeting. Judy was 15 and had no idea the megastar was her father.

7 Dirk Benedict

In 1978, TV provided its answer to Star Wars with Battlestar Galactica. Across the galaxy, 12 tribes of human beings were overrun by the soulless Cylons.  All that was left was one fleeing Battlestar and its ragtag fleet.

Their only hope: find the lost tribe of humans on a distant planet known as Earth. Dirk Benedict was up to the search, playing Lieutenant Starbuck.

However, the eventual A-Team star had no idea that, in 1968 there also a child out there who was related to him.  His girlfriend had become pregnant, never told him, and placed the baby for adoption.

Though, the search he didn’t even know he was on ended in 1998, when he met his son John Talbot for the first time.

6 Duane Lee Chapman

Duane Lee Chapman, aka Dog the Bounty Hunter, is all about the search. However, much like Benedict, the Reality TV star didn’t know that he was looking for either.

When he was younger, his girlfriend Debbie White gave birth to a child in 1969 and didn’t tell him. The circumstance became even more elusive, as White committed suicide soon after.

It wasn’t until White’s grandmother contacted him about his adult son, Christopher Michael Hecht, that he knew about the situation. With Chapman now the father of 12 children, he was able to find Hecht when he wasn't really looking.

In 2008, Chapman had just hauled a bounty into Pueblo County Jail. There, he found his son holed up for punching a man with a degenerative eye disease, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. An amount of $7500 stood in between their reunion.

5 Lucille Ball (Allegedly) 

When I Love Lucy was larger than life, "pregnant" was virtually a four letter word. Light was made of Lucy’s unavoidable condition by playing on Desi Arnaz’s spliced English. With“'specting,” he calmed America’s guilt.

On the other hand, unexpected must describe the appearance of Cassandria Lucianna Carlson in 2008. She claimed to be Ball’s granddaughter, and the secret persisted to keep Lucy’s career on track, Carlson told the New York Post.

Her account remembers tales of a red-headed woman named Mrs. Morton who always had gifts for her mother.

The paternity was nearly solved when an estranged Arnaz relative offered a DNA test, but he later withdrew. The mystery deepened in 2011, when supporting documentation arose.

Allegedly, Lucille Ball appeared before a LA Notary in 1947 and designated a woman named Ruth Griffith Smith to take care of her child. The child in question was Madeline Jane Dee Ball-Arnav, reported the Stamford Advocate.

However, most of the situation is still unclear, as there is no direct evidence.

4 Linda Lovelace

Linda Lovelace once testified that acting had no part in the role that made her famous. "When you see Deep Throat, you are watching me being raped,” she told the NY Attorney-General's Commission on Pornography. Conversely, her life began much more idyllically, according to UK News.

Daughter of an NYPD Officer and a devout Christian mother, Lovelace was nicknamed Miss Holly Holly for her prudish reputation at Maria Regina High. However, at 19, Lovelace became pregnant, and her mother forced her to place the child for adoption.

Her life didn’t really begin to spiral until she met her future husband, Chuck Traynor. His charm quickly gave way and revealed his true personality. The worst among his transgressions was pimping out Lovelace to other men. So much tragedy, and by the time she died at the age of 53, she had never met her daughter.

3 Sinead Cusack

Sinead Cusack started performing at the Abbey Theatre in Ireland at 19, and as fate would have it, became pregnant with theater director Vincent Dowling's child.

Cusack feared being an unwed mother in Catholic Ireland and decided to put her child up for adoption. However, years later she was able to meet her long-lost son Richard Boyd Barrett, who is currently a member of the Irish Parliament.

Dowling later died in 2013. "I had a huge amount of admiration for him and a great deal of affection,” Cusack said, according to the Irish Independent.

Barrett was also saddened. “We got on very well,” he said, while accepting the unavoidable distance his father’s American residence created.

Nonetheless, the 2007 reunion with his mother has resulted in a strong relationship with Cusack.

2 Kevin Thornton

Irish Celebrity Chef Kevin Thornton can obviously cook, but in the early '80s, he and his girlfriend Muriel didn’t know what to do when they discovered that they had a bun in the oven, the Irish Independent reported according to a 2014 interview.

Neither of them “had a clue” when they arrived at the hospital, remembered Thornton. In his shock, he simply agreed when Muriel’s mother announced that the baby would be placed for adoption. Even so, he admits that even if he had put his foot down, the couple had no way of supporting the child.

Kevin and Muriel eventually married and had another son who is now 19. Still, Thornton thought about his other son everyday and was finally able to meet his long-lost son Edward when the boy was 18. Edward has since given Kevin and Muriel three grandchildren to date.

1 Chuck Norris

We have been watching Chuck Norris shake his fists since he faced off against Bruce Lee in Way of the Dragon.  However, a brief extramarital affair in 1962 left him feeling pretty vulnerable. The mother of his first child hid her pregnancy, and left his daughter equally in the dark.

The truth didn’t come full circle until Dina Norris overheard her mother saying that Chuck was her father. When she realized that the man she grew up with wasn’t her biological father, she decided to reach out to Norris.

The action hero acknowledged Dina as his child and quickly began making up for lost time, according to his autobiography. "I didn't need DNA or blood tests. I went to her, wrapped my arms around her, and we both started crying. At that moment, it was as if I had known her all my life.”


Can you think of any other actors who have placed their children up for adoption? Let us know in the comment section.

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