We’re no strangers to observing the lifestyles of the rich and the famous. Heck, their flashy lives are shown all over the media. But what exactly did it take for them to get there? While some worked hard for their wealth, others were born with it. How much do you know about America’s richest heirs and heiresses?
What comes to mind when hearing the name Olivia Wilde? Acclaimed Hollywood actress? Producer and director? Heiress? Probably all of the above, minus the latter. While she is a known television legend, Olivia also happens to be the heiress of her father’s fortune.
Olivia’s father, Andrew Cockburn, is a successful journalist and an editor for Harper’s Magazine. Her mother, Leslie Cockburn, is an award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker. As it turns out, Olivia inherited more than just money from her parents — she also got inspiration to give movie production a go. Her latest film production was the acclaimed Booksmart, released in 2019. Any guesses as to which heiress on this list was featured in the film?
Fifty Shades Actress Dakota Johnson is the daughter of Hollywood megastars Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith. Given her parents’ line of work, much of Dakota’s youth was spent watching her parents on set. They not only provided her with an inheritable fortune, but they also inspired her to follow in their footsteps and enter into the world of showbiz.
At the tender age of 10, Dakota traded her position behind cameras for a shot at being in the spotlight, making her first film debut in 1999’s Crazy in Alabama alongside her mother. Dakota has continued down the same path as her parents ever since. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree now does it?
What’s that saying, it’s all in the name? Right. Nicole’s last name practically reveals her charmed upbringing. As the adopted daughter of famous singer, songwriter, and actor, Lionel Richie, Nicole is no stranger to living a lifestyle of the rich and famous.
Nicole rose to fame following her role on the fabulous reality series alongside bestie and fellow heiress Paris Hilton, The Simple Life, in 2003. Since then, she has become a Hollywood socialite, author, and fashion designer. Her fashion brand, House Of Harlow 1960, has won her lots of praise, including an award for “Entrepreneur of the Year” at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards in 2011.
Brooke Shields is a former childhood model and current renowned actress whose work in the film and fashion industry dates back to 1966, when she began modeling at 11 months. Since then, Shields earned herself a number of awards – most notably the People’s Choice Award in the category of Favorite Young Performer. She didn’t just win this once, but actually four times in a row!
High achievement runs in Shields’ bloodline, as her mother was model and actress, Teri Shields, and her father was mega successful businessman, Frank Shields. While her mother must have passed on her career aspirations and talent to Brooke, her father passed on the large fortune he amassed from working as a top executive at Revlon.
Just like the Winklevoss twins Armie portrayed in the 2009 film, The Social Network, Armie himself grew up in a well-off family. In fact, he is named after his famous oil tycoon grandfather, Armand Hammer. Armand was the founder of Occidental Petroleum, one of America’s largest energy and gas corporations. He was said to be worth a staggering $800 million at the time of his death.
This makes Armie one of America’s richest heirs. His hard work in Hollywood, however, has ensured that ‘heir’ isn’t his only defining title. And we bet you’d be surprised by how many other Hollywood A-listers are secret heirs and heiresses.
One of the most world-renowned heiresses out there, Paris Hilton is an American socialite known for her lavish lifestyle. As the great-granddaughter of the Hilton Hotels founder, Conrad Hilton, she was born into a life of privilege. But despite being an heiress to his sizable fortune, Paris’ inheritance diminished dramatically after her grandfather pledged 97% of his $2.3 billion estate to charity.
But don’t fret – Paris still inherited millions. Still, she has managed to build an empire of her own. Capitalizing on her reality TV stardom, she has launched a successful career as a DJ, created a lucrative retail brand, and laid claim to the Azure Paris Hilton Beach Club in the Philippines – all of which contributes to her impressive $300 million net worth.
TV personality, news anchor, and daredevil Anderson Cooper is an heir to one of the largest fortunes in America: that of railroad baron, Cornelius Vanderbilt. Anderson’s mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, was the tycoon’s great-great-great granddaughter. She reportedly left almost all of her estimated $200 million estate to Anderson after her passing.
But as a successful author and journalist, Anderson has clearly brought himself wealth. In fact, he said, “I don’t believe in inheriting money… I think it’s an initiative sucker… Who’s inherited a lot of money that has gone on to do things in their life?” We can name more than a few off of this list, Anderson!
The industrious Aerin Lauder is the granddaughter of Joseph and Estée Lauder: the co-founders of the famous cosmetics brand, Estée Lauder. Not only is Aerin a billionaire heiress who owns 16 million shares in the company, she is also a successful businesswoman in her own right.
Aerin started working for Estée Lauder in 1992 when she was a college student at the University of Pennsylvania. She currently serves as the director of style and image and also runs her own luxury lifestyle brand, AERIN Beauty. Founded in 2012, her line sells beauty accessories, fashion items, and home decor in 40 countries. Impressive? Definitely. But she isn’t the only one on this list who came from money and paved their own way in the world.
Balthazar Getty is the great-grandson of Jean Paul Getty: an oil tycoon considered to be the richest man in the world back in the 1960s. While inheriting millions probably sounds awesome to most, Balthazar claims he spent a big chunk of his life trying to hide his ties to the Getty dynasty.
After feeling ashamed for inheriting massive wealth he says he didn’t earn, Balthazar found purpose in his life after dabbling his feet in acting and later becoming a musician and DJ. He is now a proud father of four and says he is comfortable with who he is. So money really doesn’t always buy happiness, huh?
Surely the last name Lauren rings a bell. If not, think polo shirts with a polo rider logo. That’s right, New York native Dylan Lauren is the daughter of Ralph Lauren, the founder of the iconic fashion label. Not only is Dylan an heiress to her father’s $7.7 billion empire, but she is also an entrepreneur in her own right.
Dylan is the owner of Dylan’s Candy Bar, a chain of boutique candy shops located around the US. With modern day Willy Wonka vibes, the chain houses more than 7,000 candies from around the globe. It aims to bring out everyone’s inner child with its particular mix of candy, art, and fashion. Looks like Dylan also inherited her father’s entrepreneurial spirit, much like a few other heirs and heiresses on this list.
Billie Lourd was born into a family of Hollywood legends. Her mother is the late and great Carrie Fisher, aka Princess Leia, and her father is Bryan Lourd, arguably one of the biggest talent agents out there. Oh, and her grandmother is Debbie Reynolds, another familiar Hollywood face. Billie’s roots thus make her the heiress to a few famous fortunes.
Unsurprisingly, Billie has taken after her family members by trying her own shot in the world of acting. She is best known for her appearance on Scream Queens (2015) and American Horror Story (2017). Her most recent gig was on Booksmart (2019), directed by fellow heiress Olivia Wilde!
Ariana Rockefeller is the great-great-granddaughter of Standard Oil founder, John D. Rockefeller, who is presumably the richest American of all time and the wealthiest individual in modern history. A hefty fortune wasn’t the only thing Ariana inherited from her oil magnate ancestor, however.
The heiress also adopted Rockefeller’s affinity for philanthropy. In 2011, she launched her own women’s fashion line that donates a chunk of its sales to charities such as the Humane Society. She also serves on the board of the David Rockefeller Fund, a nonprofit started by her grandfather. And we’re happy to announce that Ariana isn’t the only charitable heir on this list.
Perhaps the song “You’re So Vain” sounds familiar. Singer-songwriter, Carly Simon, catapulted to fame following its release in 1972. Considered the greatest success of her career, it was nominated for three different Grammy Awards. About a decade later, Carly became the first musician to win a Golden Globe, Grammy, and Academy Award for a song written, composed, and performed by a single artist.
However, Carly wasn’t the only one in her family to achieve great success. Her father was Richard L. Simon, a co-founder of the lucrative publishing company known as Simon & Shuster. Given she wrote a song about being vain, we sure hope her fortunate upbringing didn’t cause her to be the same!
Fight Club legend, Edward Norton, has had quite a successful run in Hollywood thus far. He earned himself immediate recognition following his Hollywood debut in Primal Fear (1996), for which he received both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. This early achievement set the stage for the remainder of his career.
But before he received a number of Hollywood awards, the actor received a big lump sum of cash from his grandfather, James Rouse. Rouse was a reputable activist and philanthropist who earned a name – and money – for himself by being a big shot real estate developer and urban planner in the ’30s. Surprised to find the Fight Club actor in this list of heirs and heiresses? Wait till you see who’s next.
Fan-favorite actor and comedian Chevy Chase was part of the original Saturday Night Live cast back in 1975, and was the original anchor for the Weekend Update, the show’s longest-running segment that puts a parody on current events. His trademarked, opening line was: “I’m Chevy Chase, and you’re not.”
He was definitely right about that – unfortunately for us, we’re not Chevy Chase. We’re not famous for our comedic genius, nor are we an heir to millions of dollars. Chevy actually grew up as Cornelius Crane Chase, which is a tribute to his step-grandfather, Cornelius Vanderbilt Crane, who was the heir to the Crane Company: a fruitful industrial conglomerate. Chevy grew up in a prominent New York family, but managed to build a lucrative Hollywood career all on his own.
For all the Veep and Seinfeld fans out there, chances are Julia Louis-Dreyfus has probably contributed to a few belly laughs. A natural-born comedian, she is apparently one of the highest awarded actresses in TV history. She has won more Screen Actors Guild Awards and Emmy Awards than anyone else. While eight of her 11 Emmy Awards were received for acting, three were earned for producing.
Unbeknownst to many, Julia is also an heiress to billions of dollars. Her father, Gerard Louis-Dreyfus, was the chairman of a global agriculture company and was said to be worth $3.4 billion at the time of his death. But despite being an heiress, Julia has definitely paved her own path to success.
Power up the boombox, blast some classic 70’s rock, and cue the dramatic entrance of Penny Lane. Kate Hudson’s performance as this free-spirited band groupie in Almost Famous (2000) was what led to her breakthrough as a Hollywood star. As the daughter of Academy Award-winning actress, Goldie Hawn, and the stepdaughter of acclaimed actor, Kurt Russell, Kate grew up accustomed to Hollywood’s glitz and glam.
But despite her family ties to Hollywood legends, Kate has put in the work to make it on her own. She waved sayonara to riding on the back of her parents’ coattails and won herself a Golden Globe for her performance as Penny, and has been a Hollywood staple ever since. She is also an author and owner of fashion label, Fabletics.
Scarlett Johansson is a name that is synonymous with red carpets and success. Raised by a prosperous architect father and a film producer mother, the accomplishments of her parents certainly didn’t hurt in helping her jump start her career. But we also wouldn’t say they helped that much, either.
As the world’s supposed highest-paid actress, ScarJo has justifiably earned her place in Hollywood on her own. Her undeniable talent has made her the recipient of multiple awards, including a Tony Award and a British Academy Film Award for her roles in A View from the Bridge and Lost in Translation. Way to go, Scarlett!
Kyra Sedgwick is an actress many are familiar with seeing on screen. Her most critically acclaimed performance was on TNT series, The Closer (2005), which earned her a number of awards including an Emmy and a Golden Globe. But while her Hollywood career has helped her rake in the big bucks, what most people don’t know is that she was born a millionaire.
As the daughter of venture capitalist, Henry Dwight Sedgwick V, Kyra is another story where riches turned into even more riches. Not to mention – she also happens to be married to superstar actor, Kevin Bacon. We can only expect their kids to be the lucky, large fortune recipients of this Hollywood power couple.
Jake Gyllenhaal was practically born into Hollywood entertainment. He is the son of famous director, Stephen Gyllenhaal and Oscar-nominated screenwriter, Naomi Foner. He is also the younger brother of acclaimed, Golden Globe winning actress, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Beginning his acting career as a child, Jake made his first debut in City Slickers in 1991.
His next two roles were in his father’s films, A Dangerous Woman (1993) and Homegrown (1998). Though his father did help him get his foot in the door – or on Hollywood’s red carpet – talent is obviously required to make a name for yourself that’s as big as Jake’s. And talented he is. Just consult Brokeback Mountain (2005) if you need any convincing.
Heiress Lydia Hearst Shaw is the great-granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst, the founder of Hearst Communications, which is considered one of the world’s biggest media companies and newspaper chains. At the time of his death, the publishing mogul was said to be worth $30 billion. Though it is unknown exactly how much Lydia inherited, she is presumably worth a hefty sum of $100 million.
Lydia may be sitting on a massive fortune, but she has also given both modeling and blogging a shot. She has walked the runway in shows for Chanel, Fendi, and Rebecca Taylor (to name a few), and has also modeled in advertising campaigns for brands including Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Alexander McQueen.
Ally Hilfiger is the daughter of famous designer, Tommy Hilfiger. With retail stores in 90 countries, Tommy Hilfiger is said to have a net worth of $400 million, which means is daughter will likely sit on top of a large fortune one day.
It’s no wonder she was chosen to star in MTV’s reality series, Rich Girls (2003). After only airing for one season, Ally retired her career as a reality TV star and moved onto television production and writing. Among her most popular novels is an account of her experience with Lyme disease, titled Bite Me: How Lyme Disease Stole My Childhood.
Spike Jonze is an award-winning Hollywood filmmaker. While also an actor, his notoriety is mostly due to his work behind the camera. His movie, Her (2013), which he directed and produced, marked his debut as a solo screenwriter. It won three awards and was nominated for another two.
The acclaimed filmmaker was actually born as Adam Spiegel, a name that gives insight into his upbringing as an heir. His grandfather was Joseph Spiegel, who founded the marketing and catalog company, Spiegel, in 1865. Thanks to the infamous Spiegel catalog, which advertised brands in catalog form, Spike was born with a billion dollar fortune.
Sources: Investing.com , Editor Choice , Finance101