Famous Dad Advice That History Forgot—Maybe for the Best

Updated: Jun. 15, 2023

Hey, famous folks got their inspiration from somewhere! Here’s the dad advice that may (or may not) have motivated the world’s most renowned men and women.

Speech bubble with an advice quote over a photo of Muhammad AliRD.com, Getty Images

“Make sure to always put on clean underwear in case you get into an accident.” That’s classic mom advice. Everyone thinks moms are sooo smart and dads just dole out silly dad jokes. Well, if you agree, you don’t know the long, storied history of dad advice—or what dads actually want for Father’s Day.

Nope, it’s not enough to gather round the barbecue and laugh at the funny Father’s Day gift the family picked out, like that “Does this T-shirt make me look bald?” shirt. Or even to send him a special Father’s Day message or meaningful quote. No, I can tell you what your dad really wants—the gift that will curl up his tie, roll down his goofy socks and make his mustache wax itself.

He wants you to listen to him for one gosh darn second as he shares his special brand of dad advice. It’s what dads have always wanted throughout history. They. Just. Want. You. To. Listen. (And sometimes get them a beer too.)

And you should want to listen. After all, this advice is the foundation for everything you need to know about life: how to handle every situation—from sports to dating to war. Basically, dads are good when it comes to confrontational situations, and you’ll want these words of wisdom to go with your clean-underwear warnings. Just look at this advice that famous dads have given their kids over the years (er, probably) for a few wise, motivating tidbits that have been lost to time.*

*Editor’s note: We didn’t say that it was good advice—or actual advice given by these dads.

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Advice from dads to their famous children on …


Speech bubble with an advice quote over a photo of Albert EinsteinRD.com, Getty Images

General dad advice: It doesn’t matter who you love, as long as they don’t annoy me.

“She seems like a real homebody—you should snag her.” —H. Barrow, father of Clyde and future father-in-law of Bonnie

“I would take it slow, son. She’s not your average woman. I think she might be a tad bossy.” —Marcus Antonius Creticus, father of Mark Antony, about his fiancée, Cleopatra

“Enough already, Albert! Love is not a mathematical equation. Here’s my theory of relatives—look for the ones who show up on time for Thanksgiving dinner. —Hermann Einstein, father of famed scientist Albert Einstein


Speech bubble with an advice quote over a photo of Susan B. AnthonyRD.com, Getty Images

General dad advice: The important thing is that you’re right.

“You don’t have to remember every conversation, Richie. Just press ‘record’ on this thing and listen later.” —Francis Nixon, father and gift-giver to President Richard M. Nixon

“Susie, please stop marching around the house. I’ll give you a dollar if you just sit still for a minute. How’d you like that, honey? Your very own dollar!” —Daniel Anthony, father of Susan B. Anthony, the women’s rights leader immortalized on the $1 coin

“This is America. You can be anything you want to be when you grow up. Heck, I bet you two could be president some day if you go to Yale and work hard enough.” —Prescott Bush, father of President George H.W. Bush and grandfather of President George W. Bush

“Vote early. Vote often. Don’t cut in line.” —G. Capone, father of Al Capone, famous Chicago gangster

If technology had been more advanced back then, these famous dads might have gotten a funny Father’s Day meme in response to their stellar dad advice.


Speech bubble with an advice quote over a photo of Alexander Graham BellRD.com, Getty Images

General dad advice: I believe in you. And your uncle knows a good lawyer.

“It’s just a drizzle. Go fly your kite, Benji.” —Josiah Franklin, father of Ben Franklin, founder of modern-day electricity

“Oh, I’m sure Watson isn’t ghosting you. Just try calling him back later.” —Alexander M. Bell, father of Alexander G. Bell, inventor of the telephone

“Katey, stop looking at the stars and come over here. I want to show you this book about numbers.” —Joshua Coleman, father of famed NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson

“Time for bed, Thomas. Well, if you want to stay up this late partying, you’ll just have to invent a candle that stays on all the time. Ha! Until that happens, you get to bed, young man!” —Samuel Ogden Edison Jr., father of Thomas Alva Edison, inventor of the light bulb

“Tonight, Daddy made a great dinner, and I can’t wait to teach you how to make it, Julia—fish sticks!” —John McWilliams Jr., father of French-cooking expert Julia Child


Speech bubble with an advice quote over a photo of Abner DoubledayRD.com, Getty Images

General dad advice: Remember—attitude determines altitude. Now get out there and not lose!

“Buddy, remember: The poem is mightier than the hook. You can get out of any situation with a well-timed sonnet.” —Cassius M. Clay Sr., father of boxing legend Muhammad Ali

“Abner, just get out of the house and play. Throw this orb around with your eight friends. You can take these peanuts and this hard popcorn with you too. Play two games if you want to.” —Ulysses F. Doubleday, father of Abner Doubleday, inventor of baseball

“Son, I hate to have to tell you again: You better be prepared. My grandson Tommy should just learn a trade.” —Gordon Johnson, father of Tom Brady Sr. and grandfather of Tom Brady Jr., legendary football quarterback

“I’m sorry to say, son, but this silly sweeping game of yours is never going to last, aye.” —Father of whomever invented curling in Scotland in the 16th century

Come to think of it, you might want to supplement that dad advice with these other inspirational quotes.

Being a “man”

Speech bubble with an advice quote over a photo of Horace GreeleyRD.com, Getty Images

General dad advice: If you just listen to me, then you’ll be the man I always hoped you would be.

“Have fun in South Dakota, buddy boy. But this trip, just try to get along with everybody, willya?” —Emanual Custer, father of General George Armstrong Custer

Hugh, you’ll never be a success wearing pajamas all day.” —Glenn L. Hefner, father of Hugh Hefner, the famed pajama-wearing creator of Playboy

“Go left, young man. Just go already!” —Zaccheus Greeley, frustrated father of Horace Greeley, noted newspaper man

Next, check out more funny Father’s Day quotes to share with your dad.