14 Famous People You Didn’t Know Are Middle Children
In honor of August’s National Middle Child Day, let us bust a pervasive myth for you: No, middle children aren’t worse off than their older and younger siblings! In fact, middle kids have some pretty special talents. Just check out these crazy-inspiring, ultra-successful folks.
Civil rights hero Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A drive for fairness and a deep need to confront injustice is common in many middle children, says Katrin Schumann, co-author of The Secret Power of Middle Children. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., the beloved American civil rights leader, was the second-born in his family after older sister, Christine. His little brother, Alfred, also grew up to be a reverend. Find out what else your birth order can reveal about you.
Olympic swimmer Dara Torres
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Twelve-time Olympic medalist Dara Torres set her first national record at age 12, and set another national record at age 40 just 15 months after giving birth. Dara’s mother, Marylu, taught Dara and her four older brothers and younger sister how to swim in their backyard pool. Good job, mom! We bet you didn’t know that these 10 famous people had fascinating hidden talents.
Crooner John Legend
Singer John Legend may be even more famous for being a good husband than he is for his soulful voice and stand-out music career, thanks to the adorably funny social media posts by his wife of five years, model Chrissy Teigen. Studies suggest that middle kids are excellent life partners since they have a talent for getting along with lots of different personalities, says Catherine Salmon, PhD, co-author of The Secret Power of Middle Children. They also appear to be less likely to cheat on their partners than firstborns or youngests, Salmon told Business Insider.
President John F. Kennedy
High-achieving middle children tend to have powerful communication skills, coolness under pressure, and natural leadership qualities, writes Schumann. In fact, a majority—52 percent—of American presidents have been middle children! Other middle-born Commanders-in-Chief: Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Teddy Roosevelt. Check out some more juicy presidential trivia with these 45 astonishing facts about U.S. presidents.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates
Middletons are often self-motivated and independent. Take billionaire Bill Gates. He dropped out of Harvard in 1975 to start his software company, Microsoft—and he’s now quite possibly the richest and most philanthropic middle kid of all time. His older sister Kristi and younger sister Libby also spend a lot of their time giving back. Learn about 7 more strengths of middle children.
Suffragist Susan B. Anthony
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Some research suggests that later-born kids like middles may be more rebellious and willing to take risks than their first-born siblings, Salmon told Prevention. Legendary suffragist Susan B. Anthony was one of the first American activists to buck the 19th-century status quo and demand that women be allowed to own property and vote. Ever the rebel, Anthony was arrested at age 52 for voting (illegally at that point) in the presidential election of 1872. She was born in 1820, the second of seven children.
Producer/director Judd Apatow
Comedian, producer, and director Judd Apatow has made some of the funniest (and raunchiest) films of the last two decades, including Knocked Up and This Is 40. After his parents divorced, Apatow’s older brother and younger sister moved in with their father. But Judd remained with their mom, who worked at a comedy club. He got a dishwashing job there as a teenager and by 17 years old was up on stage himself. We bet you didn’t know that your birth order can predict your career path.
Quarterback Peyton Manning
You can’t argue with stats: Among other accomplishments on the field, Manning has won two Super Bowls (with two different teams), is a five-time NFL “Most Valuable Player,” and is a 14-time Pro Bowl pick. Little brother Eli Manning is also a famous, two-time Super-Bowl-winning QB. Big brother Cooper, a sports commentator, was set to play football at Ole Miss until he was diagnosed with a degenerative condition called spinal stenosis. Here’s how birth order can predict your health.
Pop icon Madonna
Middle kids don’t exactly grow up in the spotlight, psychologist Julia Rohrer told Prevention. Perhaps that’s why many of them seek, and find, it as adults. Legendary pop artist Madonna has held the whole world’s attention for decades, while some of her seven older and younger siblings have struggled with addiction, homelessness, and other difficulties.
Marvel movie star Chris Hemsworth
Middletons often don’t get as much attention as their older and younger sibs. “It’s easy for them to be left out and get lost in the shuffle,” child and family therapist Michelle P. Maidenberg, PhD, told Parents magazine. But Thor actor Chris Hemsworth certainly isn’t overshadowed now. Although his little brother, Liam, and older brother, Luke, are both well-known actors, Chris has become a worldwide blockbuster.
A whole bunch of late-night hosts
Original Tonight Show host and creator Johnny Carson was a middle child, as are David Letterman, James Corden of the Late Late Show, and iconic former Daily Show host Jon Stewart. “One of the hidden benefits is that middle children…have this sense of independence and they think outside the box a little bit more,” Schumann told NPR. “They’re not afraid to look to their peers rather than always [looking] above them to those higher in the hierarchy than they are, which means that they end up being quite open-minded.” Check out some more definitive traits middle children have.