Families bicker, argue and sometimes fight for extended periods of time. It is part and parcel of family life but sometimes the infighting drags on for many years. Some of the most iconic family feuds from legend have ended in tragedy: Romulus and Remus would fight over the new city of Rome ending in the latter’s death, and Cain and Abel would also find themselves in a similar position. Cain was the first human born and Abel the first to die.
1. The Bin Ladens
Even before 9/11, the family was strained due to Osama’s involvement in Middle Eastern politics and terror activity. The family was famous as Middle Eastern tycoons before that fateful day but after that it became synonymous with global terror, even with those who had not spoken to Osama for many years and had never supported his actions after his efforts preventing Soviet takeover of Afghanistan. His half-brother Yeslam went onto national US television in 2003 to speak of the family feud and state that he had had no contact with him in nearly 20 years
2. Larry and Jimmy Flynt
A family famous for the porn industry and reaching global fame because of the film The People vs Larry Flynt, their multimillion dollar business came to a head when the veteran Larry decided to sue his two nephews for copyright infringement. Why did he do this? Because despite that he had been grooming them to take over his business, they decided to go it alone and traded on the Flynt name that had made their uncle famous. Larry claimed that their decision to publish ‘cheap knock offs’ was ruining his business
3. Liam and Noel Gallagher
The famous British rock band who dominated the music scene in the 1990s and 2000s came to a spectacular end in 2009 when the two brothers’ infighting took a final turn for the worst. Noel left the band and Liam decided to change the name so they could have a fresh start. Noel went on to form another band and the brothers have not spoken since (to January 2014). Accusations of violence fly regularly ‘one report alleges that Liam hit Noel with a guitar just before the band dissolved
4. The Feuds of Elizabeth I
When power takes hold of people, it can tear families apart and there was no closer bond than the ultimately linked families of the royal lines of Europe, having taken hundreds of years of intermarrying. The first family feud that Elizabeth experienced was with her sister Mary I who had gone to great lengths to restore Catholicism to England ‘ the source of the clash was Elizabeth’s Protestant faith. Later when Elizabeth was queen, she was compelled to execute Mary Queen of Scots for her part in an alleged plot to overthrow her. They were first cousin once removed.
5. Anna Nicole Smith vs The Marshalls
Everybody knows the story of the model Anna Nicole Smith who married the 95 year old oil tycoon. Few believed that they married for love and soon after his death ‘ which came just 13 months after their marriage – it came to light that his entire fortune had been left to his children ‘ Smith was not to get a penny despite having been orally promised half. Smith lost the case and ended up with nothing; to make matters worse she had to foot nearly $1m in legal expenses
6. Huguette Clark vs Everyone
Tensions must have been high for the family of the American Senator William A Clark. When his recluse of a daughter died in 2011, the will stated that not one of her twenty living relatives should receive a penny of her reported $300m fortune. 75% went to charity, 10% to her nurse and the remainder to her god-daughter. Clearly angered by this, the family united and took the case to court. Despite the wishes of the deceased, the court found in favour of the surviving family and distributed the fortune amongst them
7. The Crawfords
The very public spat between the actress Joan Crawford and her two children came to a head shortly before her death when the daughter Christina released a book discussing the abuse they suffered as children at their mother’s hands. Both Christina and her brother Christopher were removed from their mother’s will but the feud did not end there. One of the adopted sisters, Cathy, sued her sister following a book tour. The reason? Cathy claimed that Christina had made defamatory statements about her in the book.
8. The Culkins
Perhaps the most famous family feud of modern times involves the former child actor Macauley Culkin. Famous for the Christmas-based Home Alone films, Culkin sued his father and applied for what was then referred to as ‘divorcing one’s parents’. The actual term is ‘legal emancipation’ meaning that parents are no longer responsible for a child. It all came about because Macauley Culkin felt his father had been mismanaging the money he had earned from his film career to that point
9. Adidas vs Puma
You might wonder what the ongoing battle between two giants of the sport clothing world might have to do with family feuds. The two founders are related, brothers in fact. In the 1920s Adolf and Rudolf Dassler formed a successful shoe company. It was wartime Germany when they fell into a disagreement that would see them never speak again. Taking sanctuary in an air-raid shelter, it is reported that one of the brothers made a comment about the allied bombers. The brother presumed the comment was about him. They split the company and founded the two businesses
10. Olivia de Havilland vs. Joan Fontaine
A sisterly bond can be the strongest but it can also be characterised by bickering and jealousy. This is what happened between these two sisters of the acting world. They had not spoken for decades and Fontaine always maintained that it was because her sister was jealous of her. They were often pitted against each other in competing films. Fontaine once commented ‘I married first, won the Oscar before Olivia did, and if I die first, she’ll undoubtedly be livid because I beat her to it!” The irony is that Fontaine did die first ‘ in December 2013.
As long as there is blood to be shed in families, blood will be shed. Whether it is jealousy at one’s success, a sense that one doesn’t care about family bond or simply a misunderstanding, family feuds are common and will continue to be common. In this very public digital world, they can often spill over into the media with ‘he said, she said’ reporting.