Children keep you busy, they fulfill your life, they bring joy and purpose. They make you feel like you did something substantial and made a mark in this world. This scenario feels perfect for some people, for others it is completely different from how they see their lives. They feel complete and whole without having children, and ready to talk about it openly. Marisa Tomei, Rachael Ray, Dolly Parton, Jennifer Aniston and many many more…these famous, successful and strong women have decided to not have kids and they have really good reason for it.
There are those who would say that a woman who willingly chooses not to have children will have something missing in her life. Those same individuals would have to content with this list of lovely famous women who not only decided against having children, but were entirely unapologetic about it.
Their reasons for not welcoming their own offspring into the world vary but they are all personal and they are all truthful. In today’s society, women are encouraged to pave their own way in business and all aspects of their personal life, until it comes to having children. There is still something unconventional and even taboo about a woman choosing not to have children of her own, ever. These leading ladies are proving that this very element should be left to women and women alone, explaining that societal opinion has no place in the discussion.
Dame Helen Mirren has been vocal about not having children of her own. Mirren stated, “It was not my destiny, I kept thinking it would be, waiting for it to happen, but it never did, and I didn’t care what people thought … It was only boring old men [who would ask me].” Mirren has been married to husband Taylor Hackford since 1997. The English actress, known for her role in hit films such as The Queen, Red, Calendar Girls, Teaching Mrs. Tingle, and The Hundred-Foot Journey, is beloved by fans and critics alike and shows no sign of slowing down in her role as a leading lady.
Comedian and actress Chelsea Handler has always been very up front about the fact that she doesn’t want children. Handler has said, “I definitely don’t want to have kids … I don’t think I’d be a great mother. I’m a great aunt or friend of a mother … I don’t want to spend that kind of time. I don’t want to have a kid and have it raised by a nanny. I don’t have time to raise a child.”
Talk show and television show sitcom star Ellen DeGeneres has been married to fellow actress Portia de Rossi since 2008. The couple has expressed their honest feelings about not having children together, although Ellen loves kids as is evident on her show. Ellen has said, “Honestly, we’d probably be great parents. But it’s a human being, and unless you think you have excellent skills and have a drive or yearning in you to do that, the amount of work that that is and responsibility — I wouldn’t want to screw them up! We love our animals.”
Dolly Parton is one of country music’s most famous names. While she is known for her physical appearance, her musical career and her acting chops, Parton has also been questioned as to why she doesn’t have children. To that she answered, “I grew up in a big old family with eight kids younger than me and several of my brothers and sisters came to live with me early on in my life. I’ve loved their kids just like they’re my grandkids, and now I’ve got great-grand-kids! … They call me ‘Aunt Granny.’ Now I’m GeeGee, which is great-granny. I often think, it just wasn’t meant for me to have kids so everybody’s kids can be mine.”
Despite the fact that her most famous character, Bridgette Jones, just had a baby, actress Renee Zellweger has not and will not be having any children of her own. Zellweger has said, “Motherhood has never been an ambition. I don’t think like that. I never have expectations like ‘when I’m 19 I’m going to do this, and by the time I’ve hit 25 I’m going to do that’. I just take things as they come, each day at a time.”
Actress Cameron Diaz, who is now married to Benji Madden of the band Good Charlotte, is famous for her role in films like The Mask, Charlie’s Angels, and There’s Something About Mary. She is one actress who chose not to have children, stating, “It’s so much more work to have children. To have lives besides your own that you are responsible for — I didn’t take that on. That did make things easier for me. A baby — that’s all day, every day for eighteen years … Not having a baby might really make things easier, but that doesn’t make it an easy decision. I like protecting people, but I was never drawn to being a mother. I have it much easier than any of them. That’s just what it is.”
Oprah Winfrey, the mother of all television talk shows, has been in a longstanding relationship with her partner, Stedman Graham, since 1986. Back in 1968, Winfrey had a male child that passed away that same year. Since then, Winfrey has not only not had other children of her own but has said, “If I had kids, my kids would hate me … They would have ended up on the equivalent of the Oprah show talking about me; because something [in my life] would have had to suffer and it would’ve probably been them.”
Singer and songwriter Stevie Nicks is famous for her role as the lead singer of the band Fleetwood Mac, as well as a mega-successful solo career. Stevie has had her share of partners in her life, but she consciously decided not to have children with any of them. Nicks said, “It’s like, ‘Do you want to be an artist and a writer, or a wife and a lover?’ With kids, your focus changes. I don’t want to go to PTA meetings.” The Queen of Rock n’ Roll (as she is called by many) chose to keep her eye on the professional side of her life.
Betty White seems as though she is all of our grandmothers but in reality White has no children or grandchildren of her own. The actress, who’s famous for her roles in Golden Girls and Hot in Cleveland, to name a few, has said the following of her not having children: “No, I’ve never regretted it. I’m so compulsive about stuff. I know that if I had ever gotten pregnant, of course, that would’ve been my whole focus. But I didn’t choose to have children because I’m focused on my career and I don’t think as compulsive as I am that I could manage both.”
Back in 2012, singer Liza Minnelli explained in an interview that her not having children was the right thing for her. She said, “Nowadays, why get married? Nobody else does. It’s not like I want to have children, I tried that, didn’t work unfortunately … It helped me because now I work with all kinds of children all over the world. Brain damaged children and I work with kids with AIDS and that’s how I’ve rationalized [not having kids]. I was meant to do something else.”
Kim Cattrall, much like her on-screen character in S&TC (the lovely Samantha Jones who cares not for responsibility) explained that she chose not to have children because it wasn’t for her. “I’m a woman of a certain age who doesn’t have kids and never really settled down … I enjoy kids but not for long periods. I think they’re adorable and funny and sweet, and then I have a headache.”
Ashley Judd, known for her acting roles and for being the daughter of renowned country singer Naomi Judd and the sister of Wynona Judd, is also known for not wanting to have children. However, her reason for not wanting her own children has more to do with the fact that the world is currently overrun with many children who seem to have no place in this world. Judd said, “The fact is that I have chosen not to have children because I believe the children who are already here are really mine, too. I do not need to go making ‘my own’ babies when there are so many orphaned or abandoned children who need love, attention, time, and care.”
Actress Anjelica Huston, known for her torrid affair with actor Jack Nicholson and her role as Morticia Addams in the Addams Family films, is yet another Hollywood icon to never have children by choice. Her reasoning for that has more to do with the emotional aspect of her job. “There have been times when I wanted children and other times I’ve been grateful not to have them. I am a mess if I have to say goodbye to my dog for longer than five days. I don’t know how I would deal with kissing my children as I left for work. I know there are women who are able to do that. I don’t know if I could.”
Legendary actress Lily Tomlin, who ranks among some of the biggest names in Hollywood has this to say about not having children: “At that time I didn’t want to — and I’m glad I don’t — have any children. God only knows what I would have done with them, poor things. I really do like kids, but there wouldn’t have been room in my life to raise children. I was so involved with my career and I would have had to give up the career in large part because I could not possibly have shortchanged the child…It’s hard to raise children and to do right by them. There are too many kids anyway. There’s too many people.”
Rashida Jones, daughter of iconic musician Quincy Jones and an actress in her own right, stated in a 2014 interview that, “I had the full princess fantasy: the white horse, the whole being saved from my life, which is ridiculous. What do I want to be saved from? My life’s great! But it’s just this weird thing that’s been hammered into my head culturally: that’s the only way to succeed, that’s the only thing that counts for a woman. I’m happy, but the fact that I’m not married and don’t have kids — it’s taken me a long time to get to a place where I actually am OK with that, where I actually don’t feel like I’m some sort of loser.”
Despite the fact that there is a pregnancy rumor every two days, stating that Jennifer and her husband Justin are having a baby (which is false), Aniston has spoken out about her not having children – “I don’t have this sort of checklist of things that have to be done and … if they’re not checked then I’ve failed some part of my feminism, or my being a woman, or my worth or my value as a woman. I’ve birthed a lot of things, and I feel like I’ve mothered many things. And I don’t think it’s fair to put that pressure on people.”
Actress Jennifer Westfeldt, known for her role in Friends with Kids, Wonderful Town and Ira & Abby, is yet another woman in Hollywood who does not have children. Jennifer was in a longstanding relationship with Mad Men actor Jon Hamm from 1997 until 2015. During their time together, Jennifer said, “I’ve thought about this a lot lately. I never thought I’d be this age and not have kids. But my life has also gone in a million ways I never anticipated … I kept feeling like I’d wake up with absolute clarity, and I haven’t. And we have a pretty great life together. The chance that we’ll regret it doesn’t seem like a compelling enough reason to do it. I may wake up tomorrow with that lighting bolt, and I’ll have to scramble to make it happen.”
Australian singer Kylie Minogue was the Princess of Pop at the height of her career. Her songs were played internationally and her name known to most of the world. In terms of her personal life, Minogue has had her share of high profile relationships but none of them came to a marriage and she has not had any children of her own. Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and was public about her battle in order to raise awareness for the disease.
Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of the super best-seller Eat, Pray, Love, is yet another famous lady who decided not to have kids. Gilbert said, “Now, listen — if you put a baby in front of me, rest assured: that baby is going to get cuddled, spoiled and adored. But even as I’m loving on that beautiful infant, I know in my heart: This is not my destiny. It never was. And there is a curious rush of joy that I feel, knowing this to be true—for it is every bit as important in life to understand who you are NOT, as to understand who you ARE. Me, I’m just not a mom … Having reached a contented and productive middle age, I can say without a blink of hesitation that wouldn’t trade my choices for anything.”
Rocker Joan Jett, famous for her guitar skills in the band the Runaways and as the front-woman of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, has even had a film based on her life produced! When it comes to her explanation as to why she never had children of her own, Joan said, “As I grew up, I thought about what [having kids] would mean…But I was too focused on my own situation. If you want to call that selfish, fine. But at least I know it. I have family.”
Diane Sawyer is one of the most well-known television journalists to date. Her position as the lead anchor on ABC News’ evening program, ABC World News, and the network’s morning show, Good Morning America, made her the household name she is today. Diane was married for many years to husband Mike Nichols. The two never had any children together and Diane has no regrets over their decision to keep their family just the two of them.
Janeane is famous for her many roles in independent films as well as larger box office successes such as Dogma, The Truth About Cats and Dogs, and The Matchmaker. Garofalo is also known for her comedic skills as she has appeared on SNL and The Ben Stiller Show. In Regards to children, Janeane said, “As much as I enjoy other people’s children, my dogs have always been for me and my boyfriend our babies. I mean, we’re those types of people that people probably loathe if they overheard us the way we are with our dogs . . . But we both are very certain that not having married when we were younger and having children when we were younger was the right thing to do.”
Comedian Margaret Cho wrote on her blog back in 2012 that children were not in the cards for her as of yet. Cho is currently in her late 40s and divorced. She wrote, “I don’t have children, and I am not sure if I have wanted them or never wanted them. It’s weird not to be able to decide. I don’t know if I could stand that kind of commitment, or if I am really honest, I don’t think that I could handle being that vulnerable to someone else.”
Gloria Steinem is considered the leader of the second-wave Feminist movement. She is a journalist and political activist (putting it mildly). Steinem has been labeled as the feminist leader since the 1960s when she published an article titled “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation”. Gloria did not have any children of her own with her husband, David Bale (father of actor Christian Bale) and has said “I’m completely happy not having children. I mean, everybody does not have to live in the same way. And as somebody said, ‘Everybody with a womb doesn’t have to have a child any more than everybody with vocal cords has to be an opera singer.”
Dita von Teese
Dita von Teese, the famed burlesque dancer, model and costume designer, was married to rocker Marilyn Manson for several years while she was contemplating having children. She decided against the notion in the end as she said, “My sisters have children. I love children but at this stage of my life … I was married to someone who was not cut-out to be a father. He could hardly take care of himself, let alone a child, so I changed my views, adapted accordingly, thought: ‘It’s OK not to have children.’ Now I’m just going to watch how my life unfolds and see what happens. I’m not going to be less of a person if I don’t have children. It will work out the way it is supposed to.”
Katharine Hepburn, not to be confused with Audrey Hepburn, was also a film actress. Katharine was famous for her roles in films like Morning Glory, The African Queen, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and The Lionin Winter. Katharine has won many awards in her life but was on the subject of children she has said, “I would have been a terrible mother because I’m basically a very selfish human being. Not that that has stopped most people going off and having children.”
The former Secretary of State, during the Bush Jr. administration, Condoleezza Rice, has been criticized for many things throughout her political life. On the topic of her personal life, Rice was never married and had no children as a result. When asked whether she would feel more fulfilled in her life without marrying and having children, she has said, “Yeah, I will. I won’t have kids [laughs] but I may still get married. But I would have lived a very fulfilled life if I had gotten married and had kids, too. But I’m very religious and I at some very deep level believe that things are going to work out as they’re supposed to. The key is to be open to that and to appreciate the life that you’ve been given.”
Amy Tan is the name and brains behind famous novel The Joy Luck Club, which was turned into a major motion picture back in 1993. Tan and her husband of many years do not have children together, Tan explaining, “We never felt a strong compulsion to duplicate our genetic structure…What’s in me that I’d have wanted to pass on is already in the books.” That’s one way of sending yourself into future generations.
Celebrity cook, television show personality and writer, Rachael Ray, is all over mainstream media. Ray is known for her simple and delicious meals but when it comes to her home life, she is focused on herself and her husband of over 10 years. Ray stated, “For me personally, I would need more time to feel like I’d be a good mom to my own child. I feel like a borderline good mom to my dog. So I can’t imagine if it was a human baby . . . I feel like it would be unfair, not only to the child but to the people I work with.”
Actress Winona Ryder has had her ups and downs in her career and personal life. Ryder is known for her roles in films like Beetlejuice, Dracula, Little Women, Girl, Interrupted, and most recently for her role in the Netflix original series Stranger Things. Winona has kept very busy throughout her life and has not been married or had any children as of yet. Ryder is content playing a mother on television than having her own in reality.
Actress Marisa Tomei has always been a very honest and vocal figure when it comes to women and their place (or lack thereof). Tomei was quoted as saying, “I’m not that big a fan of marriage as an institution, and I don’t know why women need to have children to be seen as complete human beings.” Tomei has decided to put all of her focus on her career, which is seen as she is still very relevant in Hollywood and growing more so by the year.