Mother-Daughter Duos Thriving in Hollywood

By Stacy Jenel Smith

May 6, 2014 6 min read

Have you noticed? It's prime time for mother-daughter celebrities in the Hollywood realm. With Mother's Day just around the corner, let us take a moment to check out the current crop of star mamas and their illustrious, talented femme offspring.

The reality TV spotlight has been dominated — some would say too dominated — by Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, and Kendall and Kylie Jenner and their mama, Kris Jenner, in recent years.

Willow Smith is only 13, but does anyone doubt the "Whip My Hair" girl will reign in the pop world? Not her mom, Jada Pinkett-Smith, who told us that son Jaden is "a very mellow, introverted cat who takes everything in stride" — while Willow "is explosive. She's all energy. She's like her father in that way — very, very extroverted. ... Her creative sensibilities are very much like mine, very unconventional."

Rumer Willis, eldest of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis' daughters, keeps chalking up more acting credits — "90210," "Pretty Little Liars," "House Bunny," "Army Wives," "Sorority Row" — in addition to making the celebrity scene

The rags-to-riches saga of Naomi, Wynonna and Ashley Judd still serves as inspiration to mother-daughter troubadours. There are Sharon and Kelly Osbourne, Joan and Melissa Rivers, Eva Amurri and Susan Sarandon. The list of mother-daughter celebrities goes on and on — proving that, in the entertainment realm, going into mom's business makes all the sense in the world.

We have seen enough of Mamie Gummer ("Emily Owens, M.D.," "John Adams," "The Good Wife," etc.) to know that she's inherited some of her mother, Meryl Streep's, talent. Sister Grace is also an actress (while brother Henry and other sister Louisa have gone in other directions).

Speaking of Meryl Streep, you may recall her starring alongside Shirley MacLaine in "Postcards from the Edge." The story had a grown-up woman dealing with her mother's controlling ways, her diva moments and cringe-worthy actions like showing too much leg. It resonated with mothers and daughters (and fathers and sons) around the world. Along with the laughter, it elicited tears, especially when that aggravating mom showed her vulnerability, tenderness and deep, deep love for the woman who would always be her little girl.

Yes, Carrie Fisher's semi-autobiographical work — both the book and the movie — unabashedly told us a lot about Carrie's real-life relationship with mom Debbie Reynolds. Beneath the glamour, excess and out-sized behavior of two high-flying Hollywood stars was — and is — a genuine indestructible mother-daughter bond with all its emotional complexities.

Though we now look at Kate Hudson's career and see a sizable list of hits, there was a time when her mother, Goldie Hawn, did everything she could to keep Kate from becoming an actress. After years of begging, Hawn finally allowed her to act and got her an audition for a lead role in a never-produced television show with Howie Mandel. Much to Goldie's surprise, Hudson won the part but Goldie didn't tell her, turned it down and kept the secret until she admitted it a year later. Kate was eventually allowed to take acting classes and though her family hoped she would attend New York University after high school, she opted to get her feet wet in the professional acting world first. She would go on to wow audiences, and garner an Oscar nomination at age 22, with her performance in Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous."

Another actress to grow up in the shadow of her famous mother was Melanie Griffith. Her mother, Tippi Hedren, shot to stardom after starring in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds." Griffith's life was anything but normal growing up. For her sixth birthday, Hitchcock famously gave her a toy coffin with a replica of her mother in it.

With her Tony award-winning mother, Blythe Danner, having maintained a successful acting career for decades, it's no surprise that Gwyneth Paltrow chose to follow in her footsteps. Blythe was more receptive to the idea than Goldie was. In fact, she confided with shining eyes, back when Gwyneth was a young teen, that she knew her daughter had a remarkable gift. However, both she and her late husband, director Bruce Paltrow, were adamant that Gwyneth would refrain from turning professional until she was an adult. Gwyneth did get early acting training from her parents, made her stage debut in the Williamstown Theatre play "Picnic" with her mother, and acted in school and community productions — but they said no when Hollywood agents and producers started to call, to young Gwyneth's frustration. Her closeness to her parents didn't keep Gwyneth from staying out of trouble, either, as she admits to having constantly tested them when it came to breaking curfew.

Now Gwyneth's daughter, Apple Martin, is 9 years old. No word yet whether she wants to act, but chances are the Apple won't fall far from the tree.

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