9 Middle Children Who Came Out On Top
By Amanda Green
1. Abraham Lincoln
"Honest Abe" started his life in a humble Kentucky cabin and died the President of the United States. Unfortunately, his older sister and younger brother never lived to see his accomplishments. The baby of the family, Thomas Lincoln, Jr., died in infancy. Six years later, Lincoln's mother died of milk sickness. The future president's older sister Sarah became his primary caregiver until their father remarried. She later married and died in childbirth at the age of 21.
2. Warren Buffett
When the so-called "Oracle of Omaha" filed his first tax return at the age of 14, he wrote off the bike and watch he used for his paper route. So Warren Buffett's older and younger sisters weren't surprised that he eventually became one of the wealthiest people in the world. In 2006, he pledged to give 99 percent of his fortune away before he died or upon his death. His older sister Doris, a multi-millionaire in her own right, was inspired to follow suit. The two have also teamed up to give away $100,000 through an online philanthropy course called Giving With Purpose. Students evaluate non-profits and choose how and where the moneyed siblings pay it forward.
3. Jennifer Lopez
Don't be fooled by the rocks that she's got: Jennifer Lopez was known as "the athletic one" while growing up the middle of three sisters in the Bronx. (Her sisters were "the pretty one" and "the singer.") When Lopez decided to drop out of college to pursue acting, her mother kicked her out of the house. Now she's considered a triple threat. She started her career dancing on In Living Color. In 1997, she played her first leading film role in Selena. By 1999, she was a pop star known as J. Lo. Today she's one of the wealthiest Latina entertainers in the world.
4. Herbert Hoover
The 31st President of the United States knew all about the boom and the bust. He was born into a loving Quaker family, but lost both of his parents by the age of nine. Hoover, his older brother, and younger sister were split up and raised by different relatives. Despite the upheaval, the orphaned boy made the most of every opportunity. He attended night school and was accepted into the first class of students at Stanford University, despite failing almost every entrance exam. Hoover made millions as a mining engineer and consultant before working in government. His idea of "meatless Mondays" and "wheatless Wednesdays" was a hit when he took over the Food and Drug Administration during World War I. He later spearheaded post-war relief efforts. But Hoover's days at the White House were much more challenging. He took office in 1929 and bore much of the blame for the Great Depression. Despite losing the 1932 election, he stayed in politics—and even considered a second run for president. By the time he died in 1964, he'd repaired his reputation with the Hoover Commission and charitable work.
5. Judd Apatow
Judd Apatow's parents divorced when he was 12, splitting him up from his older brother and younger sister. But there was an upside: Apatow's newly-single mother worked at a comedy club, and he got to see comedians in action. Apatow got a gig washing dishes at the club and started performing onstage at 17. Now he makes his own movies and regularly casts his daughters Maude and Iris as squabbling sisters.
6. David Letterman
Middle children aren't all background players. David Letterman grew up with an older and a younger sister, but managed to keep his mom's attention with unintentional injuries and other shenanigans. No one was surprised when he grew up to be a wacky weatherman and eventually a late night TV host. "I had one of the schoolteachers tell me after Dave got famous that the kids get by with a lot more now, because they can see it's not out of meanness, just mischievousness," Letterman's mother told the New York Times. "And I'm sure it's probably very good for the kids."
7. Anne Hathaway
Actress Anne Hathaway has an Oscar, a Golden Globe, an Emmy, and her very own non-fan group called Hathahaters. Critics from Twitter to The New Yorker have called Hathaway affected, annoying, and too perfect to be likable. The good news: Growing up the only girl between two brothers was probably like a dress rehearsal.
8. Bill Gates
Before co-founding Microsoft and becoming one of the wealthiest people in the world, Bill Gates was a smart aleck middle kid at odds with his parents. One infamous argument at the dinner table ended with Bill Gates, Sr. throwing a glass of water in his son's face. The boy genius and his sisters all took lessons and did well in school, but Gates achieved outside the box. When he dropped out of Harvard to start a company, his parents were worried but supportive. And the rest is history.
9. Britney Spears
Before she sang about being "not a girl, not yet a woman," Britney Spears was just a loud, energetic middle child. After years of dance, voice, and gymnastics lessons, Spears was cast in The Mickey Mouse Club in 1992. Six years later, she released ....Baby One More Time, the highest selling album by a teen artist. (Belieb that!) She's been a huge celebrity ever since, for better and for worse. Spears' siblings haven't achieved the same fame. Her look-alike younger sister Jamie Lynn starred in Zoey 101 on Nickelodeon, which was cancelled when she got pregnant at 16. Spears' older brother Bryan was named the co-trustee of her estate after her struggles with mental illness.
All images courtesy of Getty