GOOD
Articles

It Runs in the Family

A guide to some of the most successful sets of siblings alive. \r\r\r\rIn one of his first acts after being elected president, Barack Obama announced that Rahm Emanuel, a congressman from Illinois, would be his chief of staff. Political followers remembered Rahm as a player in the Clinton Whitehouse. Most..\n

A guide to some of the most successful sets of siblings alive.

In one of his first acts after being elected president, Barack Obama announced that Rahm Emanuel, a congressman from Illinois, would be his chief of staff. Political followers remembered Rahm as a player in the Clinton Whitehouse. Most Americans knew him only tangentially, as the brother of Ari Emanuel, one of the most powerful and successful agents in Hollywood and the real-life inspiration for Jeremy Piven's caustic agent on Entourage. By now, everyone has read stories about the amazing Emanuels. We also now know there is a third, potentially even more impressive, sibling, Ezekiel "Zeke" Emanuel-a bioethicist at the National Institutes of Health with an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, both from Harvard. That's a pretty intimidating table at Thanksgiving.This got us thinking about other siblings who have vastly exceeded statistical norms. Some-like the Bushes (President George and Future President Jeb) or the Baldwins (all actors, albeit of various calibers)-were eliminated from our list because they all went into the family business. The Baldwins clearly have some showbiz gene handed down to them by Daddy Baldwin, but the Emanuels? Those guys were going to excel no matter what they did. Here is an less-than-exhaustive list of the other modern day Magnificent Ambersons who are making a difference in your world.


THE NEGROPONTES:It's hard to imagine how colorful dinnertime must have be at the Negroponte house growing up. Nicholas is the founder of the Media Lab, that mad scientist's warren of experimentation at MIT, but is best known as the founder of One Laptop Per Child, which is using the innovative XO laptop to revolutionize education in the developing world. His brother, Michael John, a leading voice in conservative foreign policy circles, must chuckle at Nicholas' idealism. Rising through the ranks of the U.S. foreign service, John eventually became ambassador to Honduras (subsequent reports indicate that he was aware of serious human rights violations by that country's U.S.-backed military regime, but did nothing to stop or draw attention to them). Next, he became our ambassador to the U.N., then to Iraq. Most recently, he served as the inaugural Director of National Intelligence, before returning to the State Department near the end of Bush's second term.

THE COLLINSES:The British-born Collins sisters did wonders in pushing the idea that trashiness is a key part of mainstream popular culture. Author Jackie has written nearly 30 novels, all of them bestsellers. She started with 1968's The World of Married Men (banned in Australia and South Africa for being too sexy) and then moved on to The Stud and The Bitch, both also envelope-pushing. Sister Joan, meanwhile, was the reason to watch the long-running prime time soap opera Dynasty, for which she was nominated for six Golden Globes. She also starred in move adaptations of both The Stud and The Bitch. Neither were particularly well-received.

THE BENNETS:Lost in the hoopla over Roland Burris and the ongoing battle in Minnesota was the orderly transition of power of a U.S. senate seat in Colorado. Dark horse candidate Michael Bennet, the new junior senator, was the superintendent of Denver's public school systems. He earned plaudits as a fair and innovative leader, and was appointed to fill new Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's seat without any of the sturm und drang that has accompanied much of this political season. Michael's brother, James, a former New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief, attracts a little more fanfare, however. As the editor of The Atlantic, he was behind that venerable institution's controversial decision to put a picture of Britney on the cover. If The Atlantic starts getting the secret scoop on senators' personal hygiene, you'll know where to look.

THE FRERE-JONESES:You have probably encountered Sasha Frere-Jones in the pages of the New Yorker, desperately using incongruously big words in trying to explain to its Cabernet-sipping readers why M.I.A. really is a worthwhile listen, despite her lack of musical commonalities with Puccini. If you are not a New Yorker reader-or even probably if you are-you have most likely spent more time with the work of Sasha's brother, Tobias, though you're most likely not aware of it. Tobias, a typographer, is a partner at the type foundry of Hoefler and Frere-Jones. How could a typographer be making a difference in my life, you ask? Have you driven on a highway lately? Tobias's Interstate font is what's used on highway signage. His Gotham font was a favorite of the Obama campaign's design team, and was used on the cornerstone of the Freedom Tower. Not to mention, you can see some of his fonts in the print version of GOOD.Can you think of any we missed?Illustrations by Jeane Chen.
Trending Stories