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Katherine Hepburn

"I was ambitious and knew I would not have children. I wanted total freedom."

--Katharine Hepburn


The Long List of
Childfree (and Childless)
in History: Part 2


People [A-M] / People [N-Z]

  1. Ralph Nader
    Activist

    "Not having a family was clearly a choice, a sacrifice," Nader has admitted. "If you want to deal with these corporate abuses, you have to give up things."

  2. Taslima Nasrin
    Author

  3. Alla Nazimova
    Actress

  4. Noel Neill
    Actress, "Lois Lane" on TV's Superman

  5. Bebe Neuwirth
    Actress, Star of Cheers

  6. Sir Isaac Newton
    Scientist

  7. Stevie Nicks
    Singer, Fleetwood Mac

    "For me, the price was that I never married and never had children because there was never time. And if I had ever decided to do any of that it would have taken Fleetwood Mac off for two years and the band would have broken up. So that wasn't even acceptable. That wasn't even a choice."

  8. Friedrich Nietzsche
    Philosopher

  9. Florence Nightingale
    Nurse

  10. Ursula Nordstrom
    Childrens' Book Editor/ Harper & Row

    "During her 40-year career as children's editor at Harper & Row, Nordstrom published most of the best and the brightest writers and illustrators for children: Margaret Wise Brown, E.B. White, Maurice Sendak, Garth Williams, Charlotte Zolotow, Louise Fitzhugh, Russell Hoban and Shel Silverstein. Once asked by a critical librarian what qualified her to publish children's books, Nordstrom pointedly replied: 'Well, I am a former child, and I haven't forgotten a thing.'"

  11. Jessye Norman
    Opera Singer

  12. Hermione Norris
    Actress

  13. Kim Novak
    Actress

  14. Rudolph Nureyev
    Dancer

    "They wouldn't be as good as I am, and then I wouldn't know what to do with the little imbeciles."

  15. Anita O'Day
    Jazz Singer

    “Ethel Kennedy dropped 11. There are enough people in the world. I did my part by raising dogs.”

  16. Georgia O'Keeffe
    Artist

  17. Frederick D. O'Neal
    Actor/ Playwright

  18. Joyce Carol Oates
    Author

  19. Beth Ostrosky
    Actress, Model

  20. Claire Parker
    Director, Animator

    "Having no children of their own, which had been part of their marriage agreement, Claire and Alosha welcomed into their animation family a young Canadian animator, Jacques Drouin."

  21. Dorothy Parker
    Author

    Having no children, Dorothy Parker left the NAACP the rights to her literary estate.

  22. Suzanne-Lori Parks
    Playwright

  23. Rosa Parks
    Activist

  24. Dolly Parton
    Singer / Actress

    "I was feeling guilty about not having kids, about having a career, that I'm not the woman I should be because I don't have a desire to have them, that I was selfish."

  25. Julia Pascal
    Playwright

    "I’ve never wanted children..."

  26. Ann Patchett
    Author

    "The thing in my life that is most extraordinary is that I have always known what I have wanted to do...I have never wavered. I never wanted to get married, I never wanted children, I never wanted to be rich, I never wanted a big house… everything was designed for this one thing: I wanted to write."

  27. Alicia Patterson
    Editor

  28. Wolfgang Pauli
    Physicist

  29. Linus Pauling
    Winner of Nobel Prizes in Chemistry and Peace

  30. Michelle Paver
    Author

  31. Anna Pavlova
    Dancer

  32. Molly Peacock
    Poet/ President Emerita of the Poetry Society of America, Wrote a memoir called Paradise, Piece by Piece about her decision not to have a child.

    "We live in a pronatalist culture, so when you decide not to have children, you find yourself at the far edge of the bell curve. How do you live happily there? Well, you live happily there if you are comfortable with your own nature. And that requires talking about how to separate motherhood from female identity. It's still a taboo subject -- not even discussed in women's studies programs. And endlessly fascinating to me, especially as the Census Bureau tells us we will be seeing increasing numbers of people making this decision."

  33. Minnie Pearl
    Singer

  34. Samuel Pepys
    Author

  35. Bernadette Peters
    Actress, Star of Impromptu

  36. Arthur Phillip
    First British Administrator Sent to Australia

  37. Wendell Phillips
    Orator and Reformer

  38. William Phillips
    Cofounder and Editor of Partisan Review , Writer, Critic

  39. Marge Piercy
    Author/ Poet

  40. Plato Philosopher

  41. Edgar Allan Poe
    Author

  42. Katherine Ann Porter
    Author

  43. Parker Posey
    Actress

  44. Beatrix Potter
    Children's Book Author

  45. Charles Edward Potter
    Politician/ Philanthropist/ Administrator of the Cheboygan County Bureau of Social Aid from 1938 to 1942

  46. Joyce Purnick
    Former New York Times Metro Editor, Journalist

    "Dedicated to the principle of fairness, Purnick, decreed that all reporters would have to work their share of weekends and holidays. She further fanned the flames when she gave a graduation speech at Barnard College in which she had the temerity to suggest that it wasn't necessarily possible to have it all. According to Burkett, Purnick said, "If I had left the Times to have children and then come back to work a four-day week the way some women reporters on my staff now do, or if I had taken long vacations and leaves to be with my family, or left the office at six o'clock, instead of eight or nine, I wouldn't be metro editor. Should women and men who have taken the detour of the Mommy-Daddy track be as far along as those who haven't? Would that be fair? I reluctantly have to say that it would not be fair."

  47. Edna Purviance
    Silent Movie Actress

  48. Colin Quinn
    Comedian

  49. Robin Quivers
    Radio Host

  50. Raffi
    Childrens' Musician

  51. Bonnie Raitt
    Singer / Songwriter

  52. Joey Ramone
    Musician

  53. Ayn Rand
    Writer / Philosopher, Author of Atlas Shrugged

  54. A. Philip Randolph
    Politician

  55. Jeanette Rankin
    1st Female US Representative

  56. Man Ray
    Artist

  57. Rachel Ray
    Celebrity Chef

    "I don't have time. I work too much to be an appropriate parent. I feel like a bad mom to my dog some days because I'm just not here enough. I just feel like I would do a bad job if I actually took the time to literally give birth to a kid right now and try and juggle everything I'm doing."

  58. Lou Reed
    Singer, Musician

  59. George Reeves Actor, Star of the Superman television series

  60. Frances Reid
    Soap Opera Actress

    "But thanks to her father, Reid didn't follow the conventional social wisdom. Although she was married to the late actor Phillip Bourneuf for 43 years, the couple never had children. Most people might find it hard to believe, considering she epitomizes matriarchy on Days of our Lives...When not acting, Frances is an inveterate traveler. Her vacations find her in such exotic locales as South Africa, Peru, China and Egypt and the more mundane but no less exciting cities of Europe, most recently those in Italy."

  61. Leni Riefenstahl
    Filmmaker

  62. Janet Reno
    Former U.S. Attorney-General

  63. Judith Resnick
    Astronaut

  64. Jennifer Rhodes
    Actress, T.V. Show Charmed

    "I was in my dentist’s office in the waiting room and somebody walked by and said, ‘Hi, Grams.’ Having never had children, that always sort of startles me."

  65. Condoleezza Rice
    National Security Advisor

  66. Cliff Richards
    Musician

    "Well, there was a time, when… you know, everybody goes through that thing about, 'Oh, I'd like to be a father and make sure that the bloodline goes on', but, you know, as I've got older, I thought, 'Perhaps that's the wrong reason to have children. Maybe that's why we do have a lot of children who are out in the streets, because that's wanting a child for my sake, whereas a couple who give birth to a child, they should be doing it not only for their sake but mostly for the fact that they are bringing another human being into the world. And that other human being needs to be grown-up sensible, balanced, sane and… you know, in the mad world, but nevertheless able to combat it. So, less and less now do I feel that feeling of 'Well, I've never had a child and I regret it.' I've enjoyed having children around, but, you know, it's wonderful, they all go home and I can eat my porridge and watch the telly!"

  67. Miranda Richardson
    Actress

  68. Alan Rickman
    Actor / Director

    "Not having had children has given me more space to work, I'm sure that's true, and when I work I'm very driven, but otherwise I don't sit around missing acting."

  69. Elizabeth Riddell
    Journalist

    "I never wanted children. I wanted to have my own life and then I wanted my life with Blue...when my relatives had children and sometimes bring them round, I say, 'Look I'll give them money, and when they're older, we'll talk', but they're bored stiff and so am I."

  70. Sally Ride
    First American Female Astronaut

  71. Bridget Riley
    Artist

  72. John Ringling
    Founder, Ringling Brothers Circus

  73. Morgan Andrew Robertson
    Author

  74. Debbie Rochon
    B Movie Actress

  75. Norman Perceval Rockwell
    Illustrator

  76. Eric Rohmann
    Author, Winner of the 2003 Caldecott Medal for Best Illustrated Children's Book

  77. Joey Ramone
    Musician

  78. Ginger Rogers
    Actress

  79. Richard Roeper
    Film Reviewer, Chicago Sun-Times

    "Lately it seems as if everybody I know is having a baby, thinking about having a baby, talking about their babies, e-mailing digital photos of their babies to the world, or consulting with their babies about having more babies. ('Dylan, I know you're only 7 months old but you're the smartest boy who ever lived. Would you like a little brother named Tyler, or a sister named Hunter?') Except me, of course."

  80. Rebecca Romijn-Stamos
    Actress

    "I have nine horses. Whenever I think I might want to have a child, I buy a horse instead."

  81. Wilhelm Rontgen
    Awarded the first Nobel Prize for Physics in 1901, discoverer of X-Rays

  82. Mickey Rourke
    Actor/ Boxer

  83. Patricia Routledge
    Actress

  84. Joan Ruddock
    Activist

  85. John Ruskin
    Author

  86. Winona Ryder
    Actress

  87. Dr. Lee Salk
    Child Psychologist

  88. Renu Saluja
    Indian Film Editor

  89. Diana Sands
    Actress

  90. Aligi Sassu
    Artist

  91. John Sayles
    Director

  92. Jean-Paul Sartre
    Existential Philosopher

  93. Diane Sawyer
    TV News Anchor

  94. Rosika Schwimmer
    Author, Activist

  95. Ed and Thelma Schoenberger
    Co-founders of the Indiana Flower & Patio Show

    "Ed recently donated $1 million to the St. Vincent Foundation, designating the money to be used to create and maintain gardens of flowers and trees at St. Vincent Hospice in Indianapolis. Schoenberger viewed the gift as a tribute to his wife, Thelma, who died at the hospice in 1997. The Schoenbergers began dating at Broad Ripple High School -- a budding romance that grew into more than 50 years of marriage. They had no children, so they poured their love into an event that brought hope and joy to millions of people. In 1958, the Schoenbergers started the Flower & Patio Show, which runs through Sunday at the Indiana State Fairgrounds."

  96. Ellen Browning Scripps
    Newspaper Columnist, Philanthropist

    "She picked a cause or institution she found deserving of her support, set the level of her gift, and stuck to her decision. In accordance with her wishes, no public record was kept of her gifts, so the entirety of her philanthropy will probably never be known."

  97. Joel Schumacher
    Film Director

  98. Maurice Sendak
    Children's Book Author, Where the Wild Things Are

    "He chose not to have children of his own, fearing that "to fail as a parent is to fail on the highest level."

  99. George Bernard Shaw
    Playwright

  100. Lionel Shriver
    Author

    "For me, establishing myself as a writer was so important, and took so long, that it consumed my entire reproductive lifetime ... I didn't feel I could afford the distraction and emotional energy that it would have taken to try and raise a family at the same time."

  101. Michael Sinelnikoff
    Actor

  102. Siouxsie
    Singer/ Musician, Siouxsie and the Banshees

    "I've never wanted children, only cats. I'll cross the street to stroke one."

  103. Robert Smith
    Singer/ Musician, The Cure

    "I'm big in the uncle department...I like having kids for weekends...I just like taking them out and teaching them bad tricks...I hate the idea of being a dad. I'm too undisciplined and too selfish to be a father."

  104. David Shogren
    Bassist, Doobie Brothers

  105. Betty Smith
    Author

  106. Dodie Smith
    Playwright, Author of The Hundred and One Dalmatians

  107. Howard Worth Smith
    Politician

  108. Kate Smith
    Singer

  109. Lemony Snicket (Real Name: Daniel Handler)
    Childrens' Book Author

  110. David Souter
    Supreme Court Justice

  111. Jill St. John
    Actress

  112. Mabel Stark
    World's Greatest Female Tiger Trainer

  113. Gertrude Stein
    Author, Patron of the Arts

  114. Victor Strauss
    WWII Journalist

  115. Gloria Steinem
    Activist/ Writer

  116. Maria W. Stewart
    Author, Activist

  117. Lily Strickland
    Composer, Writer, Artist

  118. Patrick Swayze
    Actor, Star of Donnie Darko

  119. Loretta Swit
    Actress

  120. Wanda Sykes
    Stand Up Comic

  121. Henrietta Szold
    Holocaust Heroine

    During the 1930s, Szold involved Hadassah in a program to rescue Jewish youth from Germany, and later from all of Europe. It is estimated that the program she created, Youth Aliyah, saved some 22,000 Jewish children from Hitler's concentration camps.

  122. Wislawa Szymborska
    Nobel Prize Winning Poet

    "There are people who say, 'Let more people be born, because the earth can sustain them all.' I don't agree with that. We all know how many people die of malnutrition and diseases that should be extinct."

  123. Quentin Tarantino
    Director of Pulp Fiction

  124. Sara Teasdale
    Poet

  125. Toni Tennille
    Singer, Captain and Tennille

  126. Nikola Tesla
    Scientist, Inventor

  127. Theodora
    Empress and wife of Justinian I

  128. Marlo Thomas
    Actress

  129. Susanna Thompson
    Actress

  130. Georgianne Thon
    Actress

  131. M. Carey Thomas
    President of Bryn Mawr College

  132. Willie Mae Thornton
    Singer/ Songwriter

  133. Jennifer Tilly
    Actress

  134. Wendy Tokunaga
    Author

  135. Lily Tomlin
    Actress, Playwright

  136. Ann Turkel
    Model

  137. Randy Travis
    Singer

  138. Edward Tylor
    Anthropologist

  139. Andrew Vachss
    Novelist

  140. Vivian Vance
    Actress, Star of I Love Lucy

  141. Zebulon Baird Vance
    Politician

  142. Luthur Vandross
    Singer

  143. Ann Van Dyk
    Cheetah Preservationist

  144. Reginald VelJohnson
    Actor

  145. Mariska Veres
    Singer, The Shocking Blue

  146. Amerigo Vespucci
    Navigator

  147. Carl Vinson
    Politician

  148. Monica Vitti
    Actress

  149. Larry Wachowski
    Film Director

  150. Christopher Walken
    Actor, Star of Pulp Fiction

    "I'm too selfish to have children," Walken once said. "Besides, my wife has enough trouble with me."

  151. Bob Wallace
    Computer Shareware Pioneer, Philanthropist, Founding Employee of Microsoft

  152. Nina Wang
    Ranked by Forbes Magazine as Asia's 35th Richest Person and Asia's Richest Woman

  153. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward
    Author

  154. Ethel Waters
    Actress, Evangelist, Singer

  155. John Waters
    Director

  156. Alberta Watson
    Canadian Actress

    "Watson, who has no children but "lots of animals, dogs and cats," grew up in Toronto and came to the United States about 13 years ago."

  157. Bill Watterson
    Cartoonist, Creator of Calvin and Hobbes

  158. Dawn Wells
    Actress, Gilligan's Island

    Recently she took a trip to Africa, joining climbers on an excursion to the lair of mountain gorillas. "I climbed from eight thousand to twelve thousand feet in one day, hacking through the jungle, and I got ten feet from the silverback gorilla and the whole family. Even now I get goose bumps - it's like taking yourself back to prehistoric times. This five-hundred pound creature looking you in the eye - no hostility - gentleness, curiosity, total trust. It was really something, it almost changes your life. I've traveled a lot, to Russia and all of that, but Africa - that was a real experience for me."

  159. Eudora Welty
    Author

  160. Mae West
    Actress, Comedian

    "I never wanted children. I thought it would change me--mentally, physically and psychologically. I was always too absorbed in myself and I didn't have time for anybody else. I was talked into marriage once and maybe it was a good thing--I might have gotten married 10 times if I had been free all those years. But you know, a woman becomes a different person when she gets married. She lives for her husband and her family. I wanted to live for myself."

  161. Edith Wharton
    Author

  162. Raymond Milner Wheeler
    Civil Rights Activist

  163. Alan Whicker
    TV Host/ Documentarian

    "...I think what you’ve never had you never miss and I’ve never had a family Christmas...it’s always been a twosome. I know it’s a naughty thing to say but I don’t feel deprived. I’ve been asked in the past and said I’m sure I’ll regret it some day but I must confess I haven’t. I don’t think the world would be a better place if there were lots of little Whickers running about."

  164. Baroness White
    Former UK Labour Government Minister

  165. Betty White
    Actress, Star of The Mary Tyler Moore Show

  166. Margaret Bourke-White
    Photographer

  167. Sarah Helen Power Whitman
    Poet, Essayist, Transcendentalist

  168. Walt Whitman
    Poet

  169. Richard (Dick) Whittington English Philanthropist made famous by the children's book, Dick Whittington

  170. Ann Widdecombe
    UK Member of Parliament

  171. Toyah Wilcox
    Punk Rocker, Activist

  172. Thornton Wilder
    Playwright

  173. Barry Williams
    Actor, The Brady Bunch

  174. Lucinda Williams
    Musician

  175. Robbie Williams
    Musician

    "I don't believe that to be fulfilled you have to have kids. What's the point? I can't guarantee my child won't suffer pain because that kid's going to be in pain at some point in their life. I don't want to see that. It's too much."

  176. Wendy O. Williams
    Singer, The Plasmatics

  177. August Wilson
    Pulizer Prize Winning Playwright

  178. Bill W. (Wilson)
    Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous

  179. Oprah Winfrey
    Talk Show Host

    "Balance? That's why I don't have children...With a net worth of more than $1 billion, Oprah says she is focusing her resources to help "the world's children." Oprah is devoting her private time to help build 12 schools for girls in Africa within the next two years."

  180. Barbara Windsor
    Actress: Eastenders

    "I never wanted children," she says. "My aunt said that whenever a new baby arrived in the family, I was nowhere to be seen. I got into showbiz young and that became my family. I've given 101 per cent to my career, there wasn't any room left for children."

  181. Simpson Windsor
    Duchess of Windsor

  182. Edgar Winter
    Musician

    "On one hand, I can see how that would be a wonderful rewarding thing, but I think there are enough people in the world. I think we have a great relationship and it's enough for us."

  183. Jeanette Winterson
    Author

  184. Estelle Winwood
    English Actress

  185. Kim Woodburn
    Co-Star of TV Cleaning Duo Kim and Aggie

  186. Robert Winship Woodruff
    Former CEO of Coca Cola/ Philanthropist

    "Mr. Woodruff gave anonymously to many institutions, a number of which owe their very existence to his generosity. Much of his philanthropy was directed through the Trebor Foundation, established in 1937 (renamed the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation following his death). The Foundation received funds from the estate of Mr. Woodruff's wife, Nell Hodgson Woodruff, who died in 1968, and from Mr. Woodruff's estate. The Woodruffs had no children."

  187. Leonard Woolf

    Having a child is problematic. It concerns the "new human being" as much as its parents, since this new human being is born without having given its consent. One should think twice, "from the point of view of the hypothetical child."

  188. Virginia Woolf
    Author, Mrs. Dalloway

  189. Orville Wright
    Aviator

  190. Stephen J. Wright
    College President/ Fisk University

  191. Wilbur Wright
    Aviator

  192. Yanni
    Composer

  193. Dwight Yokam
    Singer, Actor

  194. Marguerite Yourcenar
    Author/ First Woman To Be Elected To The Academie Francaise

    "Leaving behind books is even more beautiful -- there are far too many children.."

  195. David Young
    Almanac Maker, Astronomer, Poet

  196. YuPen
    Chinese Actor, Singer

    "Because my parent's marriage was an unhappy one that resulted in a divorce because of their difference of personality, I've decided not to have children when I marry." [But what if his future wife wants children?] "Then I guess I won't marry and will just leave the duty of producing grandchildren on my younger brother!"

  197. Babe Didrikson Zaharias
    Olympic Athlete/ Greatest female athlete in the first half of the 20th Century

  198. Billy Zane
    Actor

  199. Renee Zellweger
    Actress

  200. Stephanie Zimbalist
    Actress

  201. Émile Zola
    Author


See the A-M List of Childfree Celebrities


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