Mystery & Paranormal
12 Famous Families Who Were Tragically Cursed

There are some families who have it all – the wealth, the talent and the respect of the general public. But what if they were doomed by a curse that made it impossible to enjoy their good fortune? A curse, also know as a jinx or hex, is a case of misfortune that falls on one person, a place or in these following cases – an entire family.

12. The Nepalese Family

On June 1st, 2001, the Nepalese royal massacre took place at the grounds of the Narayanhity Royal Palace, which was a residence of the Nepalese monarchy. It has been alleged Crown Prince Dipendra, who was an heir to the throne, killed nine members of his family before turning the gun on himself during the family reunion dinner.

According to those who attended the party, Princes Dipendra had been drinking heavily and smoking hashish throughout the evening. His father, King Birendra, asked him to leave the party and he was taken to his room by his brother, Prince Nirajan, and his cousin, Prince Paras. An hour later, Prince Dipendra returned to the party armed with an M16 and shot a warning shot into the ceiling before killing his father. He then shot his Uncle Dhirendra and other members of his family. Princes Paras was able to save himself and three young royals by pulling a sofa in front of them.

He allegedly killed his father King Birendra, his mother Queen Aishwarya, his brother Prince Nirajan, his sister Princess Shruti, his cousin Princess Jayanti, his uncle Prince Dhirendra, his aunts Princess Shanti, Princess Sharada and her husband – before he ran to the palace gardens where he shot himself.

Prince Dipendra was taken to the hospital, he was pronounced King between 1st-4th June as he was next in line to the throne to his father but he spent his three-day reign in a coma before he died. After a full investigation, Prince Dipendra was found responsible for the killing. Many Nepalese people are skeptical Prince Dipendra carried out the murder as he was very popular and well respected by the Nepalese population. Skeptics believed the massacre was staged to make him appear like the killer.

What was also mysterious was the legend that the founder of the kingdom of Nepal, was offered some curd by a meditating yogi – the King rejected the offer and knocked the curd to the ground. The man cursed the King and said his dynasty would no longer rule after ten generations. King Birendra who was killed in the massacre was the ninth descendant. The tenth descendant to the throne would have been Prince Dipendra – who we know died in the coma meaning that the prophecy had come true.

11. The Grimaldi Family

The Grimaldi’s troubles started way back in the 13th century. According to legend, Prince Rainer I kidnapped and forced himself on a beautiful maiden, she then became a witch and cursed his family for generations to come. She cried out: “Never will a Grimaldi find true happiness in marriage.”

Their tragedies began in 1982 when 52-year-old Princess Grace died from injuries in a car accident. For Monaco, the death of the princess was a heartbreaking loss they never recovered fully from. Her daughter, Princess Stephanie, was accused of being behind the wheel when the car lost control, despite this being something she vehemently denies. She told Paris Match magazine, “You cannot imagine the suffering I have endured, and that I endure still.” Her romances after her mother’s death were all doomed as were her attempts at forging a career as a fashion designer and a model.

In 1991, she married her bodyguard and together they had two children, Louis and Pauline, yet her father was so ruthless and determined that his new son-in-law would not get his hands on any of the families money that the pressure soon broke their marriage. Stephanie gave birth to a daughter, Camille, two years after her divorce but she never disclosed who the real father was. Later in her life, she moved her three children into a trailer so they could follow a circus – she married an elephant trainer before divorcing him and remarrying again – this time to an acrobat. For Stephanie, wherever she traveled to, she could not rid herself of doomed romances thanks to the family curse.

For her older sister, Princess Caroline, she suffered much of the same fate. In 1978, aged just 21-years-old, she married a French playboy who was 17-years her senior, named Philippe Junot. After two years they were divorced. When her mother died, she married Italian heir Stefano Casiraghi, they had three children together before Casiraghi died in a tragic speedboat accident. In 1999, she married for a third time to Prince Ernst August of Hanover. Together they had a daughter, Princess Alexandra.

Her father, Prince Rainer, died in 2005 aged 81-years-old, a day before his death, her husband had been admitted to an intensive care unit at Princess Grace Hospital, he was in a serious condition slipping in and out of a coma. After he recovered it was found that Prince Rainer, unimpressed by both of his daughter’s multiple marriages, had left less than 1% of his fortune to his daughters.

10. The Rockefeller Family

One of America’s most famous dynasties is the Rockefeller family. In 1870, John D. Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil company and managed to bring affordable indoor lighting to America, although he lived to 97-years-old, his descendants were not so lucky.

In 1951, Rockefeller’s great-niece, Winifred, killed herself and two of her children at their family home in Greenwich. 10 years later, Michael Rockefeller died gathering art in New Guinea, the circumstances are still quite mysterious after his boat capsized in a river, his body was never found and it was widely believed that he was eaten by cannibals.

Michael’s father, Nelson Rockefeller, then died eight years later. He had served four terms as the Governor of New York and died suddenly at home with his 25-year-old assistant by his side. It was believed the two were having an affair and she was worried they would be caught, which might explain why it took her over an hour to call for an ambulance. Just one year before Nelson’s death, his brother, John Rockefeller III, had been killed in a head-on collision close to the family estate in Pocantico Hills.

Then in 2014, Richard Rockefeller, the great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller, died when his aircraft crashed near to New York City. The 65-year-old doctor, who had been helping soldiers suffering from PTSD, became the most recent member of the Rockefeller family to be killed in tragic circumstances.

Eileen Rockefeller, great-granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller, revealed that despite the families staggering wealth nothing could help them get through all the family tragedies. She told CBS, “It doesn’t matter if we have the money or don’t have money; we suffer in our own ways. And the net worth of our bank account is not nearly so important, ultimately, as the self-worth.”

9. The Guinness Family

Arthur Guinness, who started the now world famous Guinness brewery in 1759, lived a life tainted with tragedy, despair, and death. He had twenty-one children but he sadly had to watch ten of them die. He never lived to watch his grandchildren die, but they also suffered, after many turned to alcoholism and two died in mental institutions. Those who inherited the family name also died close to poverty.

The curse continued to plague the family, even up to the Second World War when two prominent family members were killed – one by Jewish terrorists, and another during a battle just weeks before the war ended. After the war, there were many suicides, car crashes and drug-induced accidents that continued to fuel the family curse. Even animals that carried the family name were cursed after one of Ireland’s most famous racehorses, which was owned by the Guinness family, was stolen by the Irish Republican Army never to be seen again.

Then in 1978, Lady Henrietta Guinness, the main heir to the family fortune, jumped off a bridge at Spoleto, in Umbria, Italy, 250feet to her death. She had never come to terms with the loss of the love of her life, Michael Beeby, who died in a car crash in the French Riviera. She said before her death, “If I had been poor, I would have been happy.”

8. The Vanderbilt Family

The Vanderbilts were one of America’s richest families and they knew how to flaunt it. During the Industrial Age, they dominated the prime real estate market and built some of America’s most extravagant homes. Their property portfolio also included ten mansions on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt started his rags to riches journey after he borrowed $100 from his mother and at the time of his death he was worth $100 million. He started out with a passenger boat in 1810, then he moved on to steamboats before he expanded into the railroad empire. In the 1980s, a book written about him described him as “illiterate, bad-tempered and foulmouthed, and inclined, when trapped into a social event, to spit streams of tobacco juice and fondle the maids.” When his wife died, he married his own cousin who was 43-years his junior.

His descendants then took the family fortune and well, basically destroyed it. His children and grandchildren could never win Commodore Vanderbilt’s approval, so they tried to outdo each other by competing in who could build the most lavish home. They also squandered the money by holding over-the-top parties, giving away small fortunes to fashionable celebrity charities, buying yachts, sports cars, and racehorses. There were also rumors of drug problems.

The surviving members found nobody would touch the family name. Anderson Cooper, who reported for CNN, is the great-great-great-grandson of Commodore Vanderbilt and he inherited nothing. Nobody would employ him so he had to start his journalism career from scratch, selling his reports to small news agencies and working his way up.

By the time the Vanderbilts held their family reunion in 1973, which brought together 120 members of the family, not one of them was a millionaire. The only way the family could then make money was by penning books about their rags to riches to rags story, detailing to the world how they managed to lose it all.

7. The Brando Family

For The Godfather actor, Marlon Brando, most of his heartbreak took place off-screen. His son Christian Brando was kidnapped by his own mother, Anna Kashfi, in 1972. She had arranged to pay a gang of hippies in Baja California, Mexico, $10,000 if they would hide him away. She later refused to pay, so this time they kidnapped him and went into hiding. Marlon Brando then hired his own team of private detectives, who rescued him from a tent, where he needed treatment for bronchial pneumonia. His mother was arrested near the Mexican border and his father was granted sole custody. Years later his 1988, he lost his other son, Dylan Brando, who died aged just 26-years-old.

Then on May 16th, 1990, his son Christian fatally shot Dag Drollet, the boyfriend of his half-sister Cheyenne, in the living room of his father’s house in Beverly Hills, California. Cheyenne was 8-months pregnant at the time and she revealed to her brother that Drollet had been violent towards her. That night, a drunk Brando confronted his sister’s boyfriend and shot him. Brando claimed he had no intention to shoot, instead he just: “wanted to scare him.” It was later believed that Cheyenne might not have been telling the truth about the violence as her mental state was not good at the time. Christian told the court, “I feel like a complete chump for believing her.”

As prosecutors could not prove the murder was premeditated, he was not charged with first-degree murder and instead offered a reduced sentence in return for a plea deal. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and spent five years in prison. During the trial, Cheyenne tried to kill herself twice during the trial and after losing custody of her son, she committed suicide.

6. The Hemingway Family

On July 2nd, 1961, American novelist Ernest Hemingway committed suicide aged 61-years-old. Throughout four generations of family history, there have been six suicides in the Hemingway family. His own father, Clarence, his siblings – Ursula, Leicester, and Ernest, and his granddaughter, Margaux. In 2001, Hemingway’s youngest son, Gregory, who later changed his named to Gloria and lived as a transsexual, died of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

When Hemingway died, he had not seen his son, Gregory, in over a decade since he was 19-years-old. The last time they were in the same room was the funeral of Gregory’s mother, Pauline. Gregory had never forgiven his father for lashing out at his mother during a bitter phone call. Hemingway was unaware that Pauline had a rare tumor and the stress caused a deadly surge of adrenaline which ended her life. When Hemingway passed away, Gregory wrote in his memoir he was glad he “couldn’t disappoint him anymore.”

5. The Getty Family

On March 31st, 2015, Andrew Rork Getty died at the age of 47-years-old. He was the grandson of J. Paul Getty, who was at one time the richest man in the world. Andrew had been found naked from the waist down and laid in a pool of blood at his Beverly Hills home. This has been the most recent Getty family tragedy.

The first high-profile death was when J. Paul Getty’s third son, J. Paul Jnr, moved to Italy in the early 1960s with his wife, Gail Harris, so he could operate the Getty Oil operations in Europe. In 1966, he left Harris and their four children behind to be with Dutch actress Talitha Pol. Five years later, Pol died of a heroin overdose.

Then in 1973, 16-year-old J. Paul III, was kidnapped in Rome and his ransom was set at $16 million. J. Paul Getty refused to pay the ransom, he responded: “I have 14 grandchildren. If I pay one penny now, I’ll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren.” The kidnappers then cut off J. Paul III’s ear and mailed it to an Italian newspaper. A reduced ransom of $3 million was paid directly to the kidnappers – J. Paul Getty loaned the ransom money to his son at 4% interest.

J. Paul III grew up to indulge in a party boy lifestyle. In 1981, aged just 25-years-old he suffered a drug-induced stroke which left him partially blind and paraplegic. Then in 1999, J. Paul’s son, Gordon, who at the time was at the very top of the Forbes rich list had been rumbled – he secretly had two families: one in San Francisco and one in L.A with seven children between two women.

The curse of the doomed Getty family definitely proves that money can not buy you happiness.

4. The Von Erich Family

Up until he retired in 1982, Fritz Von Erich (real name Jack Adkisson) was a legendary wrestler. He held over 40 titles, ran the World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) and was the President of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) during the 1970s. Sadly, in 1959, his 7-year-old son Jack Jr died when he was accidentally electrocuted – it was just the start of many tragedies the Von Erich family would have to face.

In 1976, his second child, Kevin, followed in his footsteps and started performing as Kevin Von Erich in the WCCW. His younger son, David, joined in 1977 under the name “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” David’s career took off from the start after his temper attracted a lot of fans. Then a year later, David lost his infant daughter, Natasha, when she died just a few hours after being born. David never quite recovered from the loss – he separated from his wife and quit the WCCW not long after.

Then their brother, Kerry Gene Adkisson, joined in 1979 as “The Modern Day Warrior” and by 1980 he won an American Heavyweight Title. Three years later, much to the delight of their fans, both Kevin and David returned and the three brothers would fight together.

Then devastation hit the family again when in 1984, David died during a tour of Japan. The cause of his death was disputed for a long time with many of the Von Erich family claiming it was a heart attack, although fans believed it could have been a drug overdose. In 1984, Kerry began battling with drug problems of his own. He handed over his NWA World Champion to Ric Flair as the company had become concerned by his dependency.

In 1985, their brother Mike was touring Israel when he was rushed to hospital after experiencing a fever. He lost a lot of weight and according to experts his brain and been permanently damaged resulting in slurred speech. As he could no longer return to work, he fell into a downward spiral of depression and drug dependency.

A year later, Kerry was injured in a motorcycle accident that damaged his hip and his foot. His foot had to be amputated, which surprisingly was something he hid from his fans for years and he even showered with this boots on so nobody knew. In 1987, Mike Von Erich committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills. His brother Kevin believed that as he looked similar to his brother, David, there was too much pressure on Mike to live up to expectations.

By 1990, the youngest of the Von Erich sons, Chris, then joined the company. He was excited to follow in his brother’s footsteps, but his only downfall was that he suffered from asthma and brittle bone disease. Nobody knew that since Mike’s death, he had been secretly battling depression. In 1991, Chris Von Erich shot himself in the head. Two years later, Kerry Von Erich shot himself in the heart at his father’s ranch in Denton, Texas and in 1997, aged 68-years-old, Fritz Von Erich died of brain and lung cancer.

Kevin Von Erich became the only surviving brother. In 2006, he sold the company to Vince McMahon and his family was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. A pleasant memorial to one of the most tragic families in wrestling.

3. The Kennedy Family

The Kennedy curse came to find its name after a series of misfortunes and tragedies ended the lives of the most powerful and celebrated members of the Kennedy family.

In 1944, Joseph P. Kennedy Jnr died when his plane exploded during World War II as he was flying over East Suffolk, England. Then in 1948, his daughter Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington died in a plane crash in France. In 1955, his daughter-in-law Ethel Kennedy received the heartbreaking news that her parents, George and Ann Skakel, were killed in a plane crash near Union City, Oklahoma.

In 1956, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, wife of John F. Kennedy, gave birth to a stillborn daughter. Seven years later, they lost another child when their son, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, died two days after he was born. Four months later, on November 22nd, 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald.

A year later, U.S. Senator Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy was in a plane crash which killed one of his aides and the pilot. He was pulled from the wreckage by fellow senator Birch E. Bayh II and suffered a broken back, a punctured lung, broken ribs, and internal bleeding.

In 1968, U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated by Sirhan Bishara Sirhan in Los Angeles. A year later, Ted Kennedy accidentally drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, he had fatally trapped his 28-year-old colleague, Mary Jo Kopechne, inside. A week later, he wondered “whether some awful curse did actually hang over all the Kennedys.” But their tragedies did not end there.

In 1973, Joseph P. Kennedy II was driving a car when it crashed and left the passenger, Pam Kelley, paralyzed. In 1975, Robert F. Kennedy’s niece, Martha Moxley, was bludgeoned to death with a golf club in Greenwich, Connecticut. In 1984, David Kennedy died of a cocaine overdose in a hotel room at Palm Beach, Florida. Then in 1997, Michael LeMoyne Kennedy died in a skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado. In 1999, John F. Kennedy Jr. died when his plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard due to pilot error. His wife and sister-in-law, who were also on board, were killed.

Most recently in 2012, Mary Richardson Kennedy hung herself on the grounds of her home in Bedford, Westchester County, New York, leaving no doubt that the Kennedy name is well and truly cursed.

2. The Onassis Family

Many believe that the Kennedy curse was later transferred over to the Onassis family. According to those who believe in the fatal legend, when John F. Kennedy’s widow, Jackie Kennedy, remarried in 1968 to Greek shipping tycoon, Aristotle Onassis, she took the curse with her. In 1973, Aristotle’s only son, Alexander, was killed in a plane crash – a tragedy that took the lives of many Kennedys. A year later, Alexander’s mother, Athina Mary Livanos, killed herself as she grieved for her son.

Then in 1975, aged 69-years-old, Aristotle died at the American Hospital of Paris in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, of respiratory failure. He was buried on his island of Skorpios in Greece, alongside his son, Alexander. In 1988, Alexander’s sister, Christina, died of a heart attack due to depression, leaving the family fortune to the sole surviving heir – Christina’s daughter, Athina. So far, Athina has managed to survive the curse brought upon the family.

1. The Lee Family

The 1993 movie Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story follows the martial arts expert as he battles a metaphorical demon who has haunted him since birth. In one scene the demon even shows Lee his own tombstone. What makes this movie even more spooky is that the demon eventually moves on to his son, Brandon. When the film was finally released – Bruce and Brandon Lee were both dead.

There have been many rumors of a curse surrounding the Lee family for decades as both deaths were controversial. Bruce Lee’s parents had already lost a son before he was born, they would never refer to Bruce by his first name, as according to tradition this would confuse the evil spirits who would come looking for his soul.

On May 10th, 1973, during recording for Enter the Dragon in Hong Kong, Bruce Lee began to suffer from seizures and was immediately rushed to Hong Kong Baptist Hospital where doctors found swelling on his brain. The following day he was asked by doctors if he was taking drugs and he admitted to chewing hashish before his collapse. The doctors explained that the drug he was chewing was very pure and if he continued to use it then this could result in death.

On July 20th, 1973 he was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Hong Kong, but pronounced dead on arrival. All the details of his death are somewhat shady and all anyone really knows is that Bruce and film producer, Raymond Chow, met at his home to discuss the making of Game of Death before his collapse.

Years later, on March 30th, 1993, another tragedy for the Lee family occurred when Brandon Lee was shooting his movie The Crow. In one scene, actor Michael Massee is handed a pistol, which he then points and fires at Brandon. When the scene was filmed, Brandon did not get up from the ground and the film crew found him bleeding from his abdomen. He died from the fatal shot.

There are many reasons why the gun, which was said to never have been loaded before, went off. Many believe the Chinese Mafia had killed both father and son for exposing martial arts secrets. Whatever the truth is – the Lee family are well-known for being truly cursed.

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