10 Famous People Who Supported Their Parents as Children

A list of 10 famous people who supporter their parents as children including Mozart, Upton Sinclair and Chang and Eng.


1. WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791), Austrian composer

When the young Mozart was six--and already an accomplished pianist and neophyte composer--his father, Leopold Mozart, took his children on the first of several moneymaking tours of Europe, during which Wolfgang and his sister performed for royalty. Leopold's stipend as Kapellmeister to the Austrian court was cut off in 1769 because of his frequent lengthy absences from Salzburg. Until his father's income was restored, Wolfgang supported the family.

2. GIOACCHINO ROSSINI (1792-1868), Italian composer

By 1804, when his mother's chronic throat ailment ended her singing career, young Gioacchino had made his operatic debut, and a year later he was singing professionally--sometimes for only three lire a night--and writing sonatas. His father, also a musician, was not earning much, and Gioacchino became the main support of the family. His singing voice was so beautiful that there was talk of making him a castrato, but his mother vetoed the idea.

3. CHANG and ENG BUNKER (1811-1874), Siamese twins

After their father died in the cholera epidemic of 1819, the boys--joined chest to chest by a 6-in. ligament--struggled to support the family of five by working first as fishermen and then as merchants, from the age of 8 until they were 13. Later they became famous when they were exhibited around the world as the original "Siamese Twins."

4. JAMES KEIR HARDIE (1856-1915), British labor leader

Employed as a messenger boy, he became his family's sole support at the age of 10 when his father had no work during a shipyard lockout. Later the same year, young James went to work in the mines. It was owing to his experiences as a child that Hardie became a labor agitator and founded the British Labour party.

5. ANNIE JONES (1865-1902), U.S. circus star

When she was only nine months old, the infant--already sprouting hair on her face--was signed up for display as a freak in P. T. Barnum's circus. Her $150-a-week salary went to support her family. By the age of five she had a mustache and sideburns and was known as the "Bearded Girl."

6. WILLIAM RICHARD MORRIS (1877-1963), British industrialist

Though it was his ambition to become a surgeon, 15-year-old William Morris had to go to work repairing bicycles to support the family when his father got sick. This job eventually led to his later career as developer of Morris Motors, Ltd., and other enterprises.

7. UPTON SINCLAIR (1878-1968), U.S. author

Sinclair's father, who came from a long line of southern aristocrats, was a heavy drinker and consequently was unable to provide for his family. At age 15, Sinclair became the family's financial mainstay by selling short stories to Argosy magazine and jokes to pulp magazines. At 17 he moved away from home but continued to support his parents.

8. DAVID SARNOFF (1891-1971), U.S. radio executive

A recent chairman of the board of RCA, Sarnoff became the sole support for his poverty-stricken Russian immigrant family when he began selling newspapers at age 10. He supplemented this income by jobbing out to other newsboys and singing in the synagogue choir. When he was 13 he bought his own newsstand with the help of a $200 gift from a wealthy patron, selling it four years later for a profit.

9. RUTH SLENCZYNSKA (b. 1925), U.S. pianist

Ruth's father was so anxious to sire a musician that he chose his wife partly for her well-shaped hands. He started teaching Ruth piano when she was three, and soon was forcing her to practice as much as nine hours a day. At four she was playing in public, earning $1,100 per performance. It was this money that took the family to Europe and enabled them to live comfortably. She ended her career at 15, though she later made a comeback.

10. DARLA HOOD (1933-1979), U.S. movie actress

From the time she was 5 until she was 10, Darla Hood--billed as the "little sweetheart"--made 48 Our Gang comedies at a salary of $750 a week. The money went to support her family.

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