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No one really knows the origin of the phrase “kissing cousins” much less why we would even use it today. What most of us know is that its concept is really creepy. I mean, kissing your cousin? I suppose it’s more of a North American revulsion, though,  as some countries do allow marriages between first cousins. *Cringe.*

Throughout the years, famous people have been known to marry within the family for reasons best known to themselves. And while some of these celebrities never married their first cousins, they certainly said “I do” to a relative. You’ll be shocked to know the truth about some of these famous people’s spouses …

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15. Queen Elizabeth

It’s common knowledge that people from the royal family of England are perfectionists — at least that’s what we think. This is especially so for the Queen who makes sure that everything is prim and proper; that everything is simply done right.

Well, it seems that’s not it as the current queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II hasn’t quite jumped on the “prim and proper” train just yet. She is actually second cousin once removed to her hubby, Prince Phillip. I guess matters of the heart aren’t easy after all. Gotta keep the Royal blood in the family!

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14. Kevin Becon and Kyra Sedgwick

Okay, so we love Kevin for his role in the hit series The Following and of course as the dancing teen rebel in the amazing Footloose. But there are some things that come out that just might taint your reputation a little, for example, familial ties …

His marriage to actress and producer, Kyra Sedgwick, lasted more than twenty years before they found out that they are actually 9th cousins, once removed. Worse, they made that discovery on the PBS show Finding Your Roots. They might be six degrees apart but still — big blow to their close knit family of four.

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13. Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar is today accredited as one of America’s best authors, poets, editors and literary critics. He became famous for his works of mystery and macabre. Some of his famous tales include The Fall of the House of Usher  and The Raven. Having been born and raised in a troubled household, you’d expect him to be creepy, probably to cope with the tough times.

 

However, no one expected him to marry a first cousin. Yep, first. Worse, Virginia Clemm was only thirteen years old at the time, and half as old as he was! There is however speculation that the two had a brother-sister relationship and that they never consummated their marriage. This might be true considering they never had children. Still creepy as hell, though.

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12. Rudy Giuliani

There are a lot of shocking discoveries one can make in this life. For instance, you were adopted, you are now being audited for thousands, or GASP — you married your cousin. The former New York governor, Rudy Giulani, had an uh-oh moment when he realized that his wife, Regina, wasn’t his third cousin.

Regina was the daughter of Rudy’s father’s first cousin, making the couple second cousins. Although they didn’t have any children, Rudy and Regina were married for  a whopping fourteen years before Rudy filed for annulment of the marriage. Yikes …

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11. Jesse James

Jesse James as we all know made a name for himself breaking several laws. Some of his favorite pastime activities included robbing trains, killing people, robbing banks and playing the role any gang leader was expected to play — just some good old-fashioned outlaw fun!  Stealing money and valuables was not all he was good at, though, as he also stole his cousin’s heart and married her.

Zereleda Zee was named after his mother. Jesse and Zerelda Mimms had a long marriage and even had two kids together — oh those poor children. Before their marriage, the two were engaged for nine whole years! Whether or not the children took after their father is still a mystery …

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10. Jerry Lee Lewis

He was one of the most popular rock stars back in the 1950s whose hit records include “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On” and “Great Balls of Fire.” His career, however, went downhill when he fell in love and married his first cousin once removed, Myra Gale Brown.

To make matters worse, she was only 13 years old and he was 22. The fans just couldn’t stand it and understandably so — he was even blacklisted from the radio and almost disappeared from the music industry because of it. The couple’s marriage lasted only four years, and Jerry Lee was married four more times afterwards.

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9. Albert Einstein

We are all aware of the fact that Einstein was a genius who came up with the Theory of Relativity. It turns out, however, that even geniuses don’t understand that maybe you shouldn’t marry gee, I don’t know, a family member?!

Yup, Albert Einstein got married to a relative. Even worse was that Elsa Lowenthal, his wife, was his second cousin on his father’s side and Einstein’s first cousin on the mother’s side. Get this — his wife was even born Elsa Einstein!  Talk about a new meaning of the theory of relativity … Not cool, Eisntein, not cool.

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8. Thomas Jefferson

The founding father was also the third president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence. He is also accredited with doubling the size of the US during his time as president. But despite these great accomplishments, there are actually a lot of creepy stories that surround Thomas Jefferson.

Apparently, he not only had female slaves, but he also slept with them. Well, that might not have been so weird during his time, but marrying a cousin?! Martha Wayles Skelton was a second cousin to Thomas and widow as well. The couple had six children in total. Creeeepy.

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7. Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Commonly known as FDR, Franklin D. Roosevelt was a political leader who also served as the 32nd president of the United States.

He managed to kill two birds with one stone when he was invited to a party at the White House during his childhood and met the love of his life, Eleanor Roosevelt. The two fifth cousins once removed ended up marrying. It’s probably a fun family tradition as Franklin Roosevelt’s parents were also fifth cousins. Not sure if that’s something you’d proudly boast about as a family tradition?

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6. Charles Darwin

The scientist is most famous for his accredited study of evolution in animals and for penning The Origin and The Descent of Man. And one of the weirdest facts about him is that Darwin married a first cousin, Emma Wedgeman. Believe it or not, the couple had ten children together!

I just can’t help but wonder if these children underwent evolution and if so, did they resemble apes or Homo sapiens? It’s just a thought, people. Rumor had it that Darwin was worried that his children died at young ages due to his study of inbreeding and evolution. That’s rather dark and sad.

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5. John F. Fitzgerald

The former American  politician was the grandfather of former President John. F. Kennedy and served in the House of Representatives. He had a very theatrical style of campaigning and had a unique charm and charisma that got him the nickname “Honey Fitz.”

And apparently this charisma translated to his wife, Mary Josephine Hannon, who happened to also be his second cousin. Apparently that was the thing to do in the early 1900s, and the couple even had six children together. That was also common, apparently, having loads of children with your cousin. Lovely.

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4. Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein is best known to the world as the former president of Iraq. As a dictator, Hussein was widely denounced in the West for his brutality and remains one of the most vile leaders in world history. But apart from his political agenda and his questionable motives, his personal life is also somewhat blemished. Hussein was married in 1958 to Sajida Talfah.

The marriage was arranged when Saddam was only five and Sajida was seven. Though arranged marriages might seem unconventional to most, especially at only five years old, the real bombshell is that they were actually first cousins. The marriage lasted until Saddam’s death in 2006, however, just three years after his dictatorship was overthrown.

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3. H.G. Wells

A prolific English writer, best known for his work in the science fiction genre, H.G. Wells has produced many beloved novels. Most notably, Wells is responsible for literary classics such as, “The Time Machine”, The Island of Doctor Moreau”, “The Invisible Man” and “The War of the Worlds”.

Wells also wrote many non-fiction book, including “Experiment in Autobiography” in 1934, in which he wrote, “I was never a great amorist, though I have loved several people very deeply”. Among those is likely his first wife, Isabel Mary Wells, who also happened to be his cousin. The couple married in 1891, but separated 3 years later in 1894 after he fell in love with one of his students.

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2. Igor Stravinsky

Famous Russian composer Igor Stravinsky is considered to be one of the most influential of the 20th Century. Among his renowned works are the three ballets that propelled him to fame: “The Firebird,” “Petrushka,” and “The Rite of Spring,” written in 1910, 1911, and 1913, respectively.

But years before his breakthrough success, Stravinsky was engaged to be married to Yekatrina Gavrilovna Nosenko, who went by “Katya”, whom he had known since his childhood. The church, however, looked down upon the marriage. The reason? They were first cousins. Despite the opposition, they married January 23, 1906, and had four children. They were together until Katya’s death in 1939.

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1. Johann Sebastian Bach

J.S. Bach is a German organist, highly regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time. His most famous pieces include, “Toccata And Fugue,” “Minuet in G” and “Air on G String.” While you may not know them by name, they are some of the most recognizable melodies in music history.

Though Bach was consider to be a great organist during his lifetime, he was not widely considered a great composer until after his death. Though his music is still studied today, little is known about some parts of his personal life, including his first marriage. On October 17, 1707, Johann married Maria Barbara Bach shortly after receiving an inheritance from his uncle. Maria, however, also happened to be his second cousin. Together, they had a total of seven children, four of which would survive until adulthood. Their marriage lasted until Maria’s death on July 7, 1720.

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