Celebrity Sisters_Siblings in the Spotlight

Celebrity Sisters: Siblings in the Spotlight

Roslyn Lifestyle Celebrity, Sisters

“Both within the family and without, our sisters hold up our mirrors:
  our images of who we are and who we can dare to be.”
                                                                                                   ~ Elizabeth Fishel, Author

Every year, on the first Sunday in August, we celebrate National Sisters Day and while researching celebrity sisters I became swept up in the intriguing tales of their lives and backgrounds. Each famous set of sisters we spotlighted, be they actresses, tennis stars or fashion designers, has a unique way of reflecting and reinforcing a sense of their shared history. Even though each sister may have a different perspective on this history, it nevertheless is instrumental in forging an intimate, enduring relationship and a bond that is often the strongest relationship in their lives. Sisters keep the family faith, motivate each other to excel and support each other in ways that only their sisters can truly understand.

The Arquette Sisters: A Thespian Legacy

Arquette Sisters_Art of Elysium 10th Anniversary Gala

Rosanna and Patricia Arquette at the Art of Elysium 10th Anniversary Gala. Source: wireimage.com

Life in the spotlight has been a family affair for the Arquettes. With vaudevillian grandparents and a father on “The Waltons”, it’s not particularly surprising that at least one of the Arquette sisters would become an actress. But not only have both Rosanna and Patricia forged successful acting careers but each of their three other siblings is also well placed in the movie biz. Rosanna, the older sister (1959), is best known for her role opposite Madonna in the hit film “Desperately Seeking Susan” (1985) along with her appearance in over 70 feature films. Rosanna was widely considered a sexpot in the 80’s and is rumored to have inspired the 1982 eponymous hit song by Toto. Patricia (1968), was a relatively late bloomer with early roles in the cult classic “True Romance” (1993) and a string of art house films. Patricia recently won the family’s first Oscar for the movie “Boyhood” and also received an Emmy for the tv show “Medium“.

Despite what may appear as a rivalry, the Arquette sisters have a relationship that is far more supportive than competitive. In an interview in Entertainment Weekly, Patricia exasperatedly stated, “People want to judge us against each other. It’s such shit. We’re close. There’s no competition.”  And Rosanna feels the same, “When we were younger, the eight-year age difference made it difficult, but as we got older, we became very close. Their personal relationship has also linked them professionally. The sisters have been on screen together in the 2002 film, “Searching for Debra Winger” and recently when Rosanna made a guest appearance as a villain in season four on “Medium”.  Patricia said, “It was hard for me to work with Rosanna because I could not stop smiling. I was so fascinated watching her work that I kept messing up my takes. It was fun to see her as this carnivorous character, but I was enjoying her acting a little too much!” Their brother David has also been involved, directing two episodes of Medium.

Patricia summed it up, “My siblings and I all know each other so well, so we are open to exploring as actors, and there is a collaborative exchange of ideas between us.” In Hollywood parlance, the Arquettes are “A Sister Act” that proves that it’s “All in the Family”.

The Williams Sisters: On and Off the Court

Williams Sisters_Harpers Bazaar

Venus and Serena Williams in a fashion spread for Harper’s Bazaar, October 2008.

Raising and training two female athletes  from the same family to become champions, and to have them compete against one another is unprecedented. This is a scenario which has been described as being “as improbable as one set of parents raising Picasso and Monet.” But witness Venus and Serena Williams, the Picasso and Monet of women’s tennis. Each of them has been ranked number one in the world, and they are the only two women in modern tennis history to have faced each other in the finals of four consecutive Grand Slam finals. They have faced-off 27 times in professional tournaments and as of 2016, the record is 16-11 in favor of Serena.

Imagine creating a loving relationship with your sister who is also one of your fiercest competitors. Their games against each other are intense and emotionally charged, as they both play to win. It has been speculated that they probably don’t think about being sisters on the court nor really look at each other. But despite this fierce rivalry, they remain personally very close, often watching each other’s matches in support, even after one of them has been knocked out of a tournament. “They continue to be each other’s biggest fans and a beacon of support for each other. There is no change in their very close and special relationship,” said Serena’s rep. But they aren’t just rivals that happen to be sisters, they are also partners. They play doubles together and have won 21 titles. Perhaps their ability to switch from competitors, to partners, to loving sisters can best be understood by knowing that they were trained by their father and completely supported by their parents.

Over the 20 years the Williams sisters have been on the court, the family has always been in the stands. The uniqueness of the sisters’ relationship  has increased both viewership of the game and increased representation of African Americans among tennis professionals. The Williams sisters continue to push each other to be everything they can be.

The Mulleavy Sisters: A Creative Collaboration

Mulleavy Sisters_rodarte

Simpatico sisters, Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte.

You may not have heard of the fashion line Rodarte, or of the sisters who founded it, but the story of the Mulleavy sisters is truly fantastic. They burst upon the fashion scene in 2006, launching their first collection and their company with $20K that they earned by waitressing and selling their 25 milk cartons of vintage records. Kate and her sister Laura cold-pitched their debut collection of 10 pieces to fashion editors in New York City through a set of paper dolls outfitted with miniature versions of their garments. Within a few days, Women’s Wear Daily put them on its cover and the rest, as they say, is history. Rodarte is named after their mother, an artist in Navajo weavings who taught Kate to sew and who still inspires her. They are now celebrating the 10 year anniversary of their unique and exquisite handmade designs whose description seems to defy the fashion critics. As independents, they won’t rush and respond to the demands of commercialism. Their designs are imaginative using different fabrics, trimmings and beaded embroidery in asymmetrical fashions. Their target customer is clearly upscale. “There’s a client for luxury,” says Kate. “In a world where there are so many options, we want to make something someone’s going to have for 15, 20 years.”

They grew up in a small rural town in Northern California, hung out together, played together and obsessed over vampires together. They did everything together including college at UC Berkeley. Kate is usually the spokesperson for them, maybe being the elder. She describes herself and her sister as “casual and laidback, jeans and T-shirts”.  She has often said that “they are ‘like one’ and they sit across from each other at a wide work table when designing.” Along with working together, they travel together and share common friends including the actress Kirsten Dunst, who is the star of an upcoming movie that the sisters are directing. “One of the things that distinguishes Rodarte”, says Kate, “is the romantic, conceptual way we approach inspiration and storytelling and how we see the world, landscape, art, movies, poetry, music.”

Something tells us that the most important aspect of Kate’s description is the word “WE”. That one word colors everything they have achieved and become. When in need of inspiration, they only have to look across the design table.

Each of the sister pairs we have profiled demonstrate something unique about sisterhood. The Arquettes’ relationship maintains an ongoing family showbiz dynasty. The Williams sisters both challenge and inspire each other to achievements beyond what either could have attained alone and the Mulleavy sisters show us the awesome power of simpatico.

How has your relationship with a sister influenced you?


*Cover image sources: Damon Winter, NY Times/ Helmut Newton/ Mario Testino, Vogue, February 2012.

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I loved going to work each day for 30 years as a professional career counselor. When I retired, I explored my creativity and regard for crafts until I discovered beading. At age 68 I turned my new found passion- jewelry design, into a business. At age 72 I took on learning about social media marketing and developing my computer skills. I am sharing my journey from inception, to frustration, to elation -in the hope of inspiring others that 'it is not too late to start again'. Welcome to my re-invention!

Comments 38

  1. My sister and I are 5 years apart. Growing up that was a big difference. But now we connect with each other at least a couple of times per week sharing tips on what we hold most dear – our health. Great article.

    1. Post

      Welcome to our blog, Audrey Weidman and thanks for sharing about your relationship with your sister. My sister and I are 2 years apart and we got much closer later in life.

  2. I don’t have any blood sisters, but witnessed what sisterhood looks like from my mother, who had 2 older and 2 younger sisters. She was so very close to her two older sisters and the bonds and support they shared was incredibly enriching to see. It does sound like having a sister really can shift ones perspective on life. Perhaps some of my long time friends are like sisters to me, although I know nothing can really take the place of growing up in a household with a sister you love and who loves you!

    1. I am fortunate to have both. BFF forever of 50 years and we meet monthly as well as an older sister. We also can create relationships with sisters by marriage as I have that is as dear to me as my others. Thanks Beverley for sharing about your mom’s sister history.

  3. As an only child in a small family, I missed out on having siblings. I don’t have a lifelong female best friend either, so I guess I’ve missed out on the familial and relationship bonds that sisterhood provides! There often seems to be an innate competitive nature between two women, so I’ve never thought of sisters getting along that well. Of course, that’s just my perception–probably from too many movies! 🙂 I’m sure there are plenty of sisters who don’t have a competitive relationship. Although I’m not usually a fan of celebrities, I enjoyed reading more about these sisters and their history.

  4. My older sister (3 years older) has always been the matriarch of our family – and she still doesn’t hesitate to boss me around! However, she’s one of the kindest, gentlest, and most creative people I know, and my life would be very hollow without her. We have never had a competitive relationship, but rather a very supportive one. I’m very lucky!

  5. This inspired me to ring my wonderful Sis to remind her how much I love her. We are eight years and thousands of miles apart but the love is strong. We went through many years with no contact, a result of our parents’ issues, but when we reunited it was as if no time had passed. I am so grateful to have her back in my life. Despite the years we missed she understands me better than anyone.

  6. My sister and I respectively are very different. I think we each came from a different planet to be part of the same family. It’s a relationship more of a distant friendship that works for the both of us. Yet, I have friends that are sister-like. I really like the three sister relationships that you selected, each with their own special qualities.

  7. How fitting that National Sisters Day this year falls on my sister’s birthday! She is the baby of the family (I’m the eldest) and is 12 years younger than I am. The hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life was leaving my 6-year-old sister behind when I left home to go to college. She is my biggest supporter and I hope she can say the same about me. Even though most of our adult lives have been spent apart (sometimes huge distances apart), I know she will always be there for me. And vice versa.

  8. When my younger sister was born all those years ago, it was my first lesson in being responsible and a role model for her. It hasn’t changed even though she has now been married 27 years, has a son and is an accomplished career woman in her own right, Roslyn.

    We are poles apart personality wise and I think that is a blessing because she can make me laugh even in the most trying times and I’m able to analyze situations and give her new perspectives. We can have all the differences in the world but heaven help anyone who tries to butt in because then we gang up against the other person. 🙂 Blood is thicker than water.

    At the other extreme we do have the example of Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland who if I remember correctly had a competitive relationship which wasn’t very nice despite the fact that both were icons in their own right.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing about your sister relationship. You are so right about being different but always a stand for each other. I have that with my sister. There were many sister acts we could have featured. Not always easy to decide but these three were in different fields with unique dynamics. The Mulleavy fashion sisters are probably a new name for most readers. and the one we relate to.

  9. This is so inspiring and really speaks to the support and strength that a sibling can provide. These examples have carried that idea into large-scale success, in highly competitive arenas, where sibling support can be especially valuable. I work to inspire that supportive ‘got your back’ kind of relationship amongst my two children.

    1. I love the point you made Reba Linker. Despite being in highly competitive arenas each of these three sets are ale to support to sucess. I have no doubt you will instill support, love and caring in your children.

  10. What a wonderful post. I have a sister, and I’d say, what she has taught me the most is unconditional love and forgiveness. We are two very different people. We are very supportive of each other, and when we work together on something, magic happens. But there is another side, to our relationship that I wouldn’t tolerate from anyone else — and there’s nothing wrong with that ;~D

  11. So many lovely stories between sisters! I grew up with 3 older brothers and always longed for a sister. I think there is something sacred in the bond between two (or more sisters). Thank you for your lovely write up! I particularly loved reading about the Williams 🙂

  12. Rosylynn,
    I enjoyed the article and it made me think of my older sister who is five years older and an administrator of a school district. Although there is an age difference we both chose the fields of helping. I am a social worker and love what I do. I am really enjoying the feeling I am getting because of writing and engaging with woman such as yourself. I love your sight and the Jewelry is gorgeous.

    Lori English

  13. What a wonderful post on sisters, Roslyn 🙂 I know for me, my sisters (I have 2, I am the oldest), have inspired me to be better every day and I am just so grateful for having such loving and caring siblings! Thanks for sharing!!

  14. My sister is 2 years younger than I am, and although we got along as children, we are really close now. We don’t live in the same state, and only see each other a couple times a year, but we talk and text a lot. Loved your stories about the famous sisters!

  15. I have two sisters and both have been a big influence on my. They are my older sister and I always wanted to be either one. But what i found is I like me being me better and enjoying their company and support.

  16. I don’t have a sister and only have one daughter but I do appreciate the bond my kids have and the one I have with my brother. Your post reiterates the importance of support even when there is a little competition thrown in!

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