Bristol Palin is dancing with the stars, Meghan McCain is a busy blogger, and Kim Jong Un is lining up as a successor to his father, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il. Being the offspring of a politician has some benefits along with the headaches.
1 Samantha Thompson, daughter of Illinois' longest-serving governor, James Thompson, runs her own New York-based fashion design company, Eloise Carr.
Grover Cleveland's daughter? Probably not, even though Chicago-based Curtiss Candy Co. insisted it was so. Curtiss' story made it easier to avoid paying royalties to Babe Ruth, who was a baseball star when the candy debuted in 1921. Ruth Cleveland, on the other hand, had died of diphtheria 17 years earlier, and hardly would have been top of mind when considering the name of a candy bar.
3 Elizabeth Ann Blaesing, who grew up in Chicago and died in Oregon in 2005, believed she was the "love child" of President Warren Harding. Her mother, Nan Britton, wrote a tell-all book about Elizabeth being conceived on a Senate office couch, and Harding's reputation has lent credibility to her account. But in recent years, neither the Blaesing family nor the Harding family has been interested in DNA testing that might confirm a link.
4 President James Madison did not have any children, but he married Dolley, who had two by a previous marriage. John Payne Todd proved to be a bane to both. He was a womanizer, gambler and alcoholic who would disappear for weeks at a time. He would run up debts of tens of thousands of dollars, huge sums at the time, which James and Dolley would pay. Even in the final year of Dolley's life, as she struggled to make ends meet because of him, Todd wanted more. He successfully harassed her to change her will to make him the sole beneficiary. She realized her error the next day and worked to nullify the new will. She died shortly thereafter, but Todd continued the fight in court.
5 John Scott Harrison, the son of President William Henry Harrison and the father of President Benjamin Harrison, has a bizarre niche in American history. When he died in 1878, relatives attending his burial in Cleves, Ohio, noticed that the nearby grave of another relative had been robbed. The next day, family members went to a local medical college hoping to find that relative's body, but instead found the body of … John Scott Harrison, robbed from his grave. The other relative's body was later found in Ann Arbor, Mich. Both bodies had been stolen for use in medical education.
6 Before it was the norm to shelter a president's younger children from media attention, there was Gerald Ford's daughter Susan. She hosted her high school's prom at the White House, served as hostess at official functions (while her mother, Betty, was recuperating from illness), sat for a People magazine cover story and photo spread, and even wrote a monthly column for Seventeen magazine.
7 In several Asian nations, daughters of politicians have reached prominence equaling or surpassing their fathers'. They include Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. But prominence has not meant safety. Suu Kyi has been under house arrest most of the last two decades, and Bhutto and Gandhi were both assassinated.
8 Margaret Truman Daniel, the author of best-selling mysteries, once had aspirations as an opera singer. And although being the daughter of the president may have advanced her career, it didn't protect her from criticism. After a December 1950 concert, a Washington Post reviewer wrote, "Miss Truman cannot sing very well" and "There are few moments during her recital when one can relax and feel confident that she will make her goal, which is the end of the song."
9 When Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon campaigned as the GOP presidential ticket in 1956, it was the start of something great. Yes, the two were running for re-election, but during the second campaign, Ike's grandson and Nixon's daughter met. In 1968, Dwight D. Eisenhower II, known as David, and Julie Nixon married. The Rev. Norman Vincent Peale officiated and the best man was future "Love Boat" actor and U.S. Rep. Fred Grandy.
10 Nancy D'Alesandro, the young daughter of Baltimore Mayor Tommy D'Alesandro, wanted to be a priest when she grew up. Eventually, her mother broke the news that this was impossible. "Well, then, I'll go into politics instead," she responded, according to a biography of the girl who became Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House.
Mark Jacob is a deputy metro editor at the Tribune; Stephan Benzkofer is the Tribune's weekend editor.
Sources: "Woman of the House: The Rise of Nancy Pelosi" by Vincent Bzdek; "Benjamin Harrison: Centennial President" by Anne Chieko Moore; "America's Royalty: All the Presidents' Children" By Sandra L. Quinn-Musgrove and Sanford Kanter; "The First Ladies Fact Book," by Bill Harris; "Truman," by David McCullough; Cleveland Plain Dealer; Chicago Tribune; People magazine; Life magazine; snopes.com; barrypopik.com; eloisecarr.com, and Tribune news services.