- A little bit of sibling rivalry is natural, but some famous siblings took it to epic proportions.
- Actresses and sisters Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine didn’t speak to each other for 40 years.
- NFL coaches and brothers Jim and John Harbaugh went head-to-head with their teams in the Super Bowl.
- Some famous sibling rivalries ended up in courts of law, while others resulted in actual murders.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories .
Since the days of Cain and Abel, sibling rivalries have dotted history in many shapes and forms.
Some sibling rivalries are purely playful, competitive one-upmanship, while some siblings sue each other over money or defamation. Others live out their days amid a frigid silent treatment.
These sibling groups not only prove that it’s impossible to expect brothers and sisters to get along all the time, but they also show that some siblings simply have it out for one another.
Here are 18 of the most epic sibling rivalries of all time.
Melissa Stanger contributed to an earlier version of this article.
Indian business tycoons Mukesh and Anil Ambani waged a war against each other in and out of court.
When Reliance Industries founder Dhirubhai Ambani died in 2002 without a will, his older son, Mukesh, took over the company as chairman while his younger son, Anil, was made vice-chairman.
Mukesh then reportedly tried to push Anil off the board, and tension between the siblings turned into an ugly legal battle, resulting in a de-merger of the company led by the brothers’ mother in 2005. For the next five years the brothers continued to wage war against one another, both in and out of court, until their mother intervened again, this time issuing a noncompete agreement between the two in 2010.
Though the brothers announced soon after that they were no longer feuding, new deals in the telecommunications industry could become a new source of competition for the Ambanis.
Sister singers LaVerne, Patty, and Maxene Andrews had a decades-long feud.
Their careers were built on harmonizing together, but the Andrews Sisters weren’t always as bright and cheery as their songs. Known for hits like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” the Andrews Sisters were one of the most successful female recording groups in pop history.
So it’s strange – or maybe natural – that their success is clouded by a decades-long feud. All three sisters are deceased as of January 2013, but Maxene once chalked their intense loathing for one another up to too many years of working too closely together … though it may not have helped things that Patty joined another singing group in 1951 without telling her sisters.
But in spite of their sweet trio image, Patty believed that their diehard fans didn’t care about the feud at all, telling the LA Times, “When I start singing the Andrews Sisters songs, they don’t give a damn whether I talk to my sister or not.”
Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso and Mikkel Borg Bjergso started a brewery together before their relationship soured.
Mikkel Borg Bjergso and Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso have been making beer for years, and while they started out brewing together, they have since ventured out on their own.
The identical twins each own their own beer outfit – Mikkel is the mastermind behind the brewery Mikkeller in Copenhagen while Jeppe runs the now-Queens-based Evil Twin Brewing – but the two have hardly spoken since 2010. The rivalry is clear; after all, each brother runs a business in the same industry, but the Bjergsos say they don’t look at one another as competition – or at least, Mikkel doesn’t. “I don’t see Jeppe as a rival,” he told The New York Times’ Jonah Weiner in a 2014 article about the brothers’ ongoing love of beer and animosity toward each other.
Weiner makes it clear that, rivalry or not, there’s definitely a feud between the two that the brothers even tried to resolve with some couples-type counseling, but to no avail.
Prestley and Curtis Blake of Friendly’s fell out during one of many sales of the company.
Prestley and Curtis Blake opened Friendly’s, a local ice cream shop in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1935. Their double-dip, five-cent ice cream cones were a success, and the business grew into a nationwide chain.
The business sold multiple times over the years and the Blake brothers’ relationship remained intact until the company decided to explore another sale in 2007. Curtis wrote his older brother, who still held 13% of Friendly’s, imploring him not to sell, but Prestley responded, through the Boston Globe, that he believed he was right and was going forward with the sale anyway.
Curtis told the Globe he was disappointed that business had come between them, saying, “[Prestley] was my best friend for 85 years. It would have been a nice story if we ended up best friends for our entire life.”
Curtis Blake died at his home in Florida in May 2019. The brothers had been close in recent years, despite the previous falling out. According to MassLive, Prestley said he had visited Curtis recently and “was very troubled to see his brother ill.”
“We worked very closely for 43 years,” Prestley Blake, who is 105, said. “I counted on him to make important decisions.”
Mary and Anne Boleyn feuded over King Henry VIII’s affections.
Sisters are often expected to share most things, whether they like it or not, but husbands? Mary Boleyn had a reputation for promiscuous behaviour and was known for being King Henry VIII’s mistress until 1521 when she was married off to William Carey, a friend of the king.
Her younger sister Anne was betrothed to an Irish cousin, but when the marriage fell through she set her sights on her sister’s old lover. After her marriage, Mary remained in the king’s court all while Anne also resided there, spending six years trying to win King Henry VIII’s affections.
Anne finally succeeded after the king broke away from the Catholic church in order to marry her. She later gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I. She failed, however, to produce a male heir, weakening her relationship with the king and threatening her place of power.
Anne was executed after she was accused of committing adultery and incest with her brother, along with conspiring against the king. She is largely credited with being the catalyst for the formation of the Church of England, despite her untimely end.
Christopher Ciccone and Madonna stopped speaking before his memoir, “Life With My Sister Madonna,” was released.
Madonna and her brother Christopher Ciccone worked pretty closely together as she launched her career – he’s been her assistant, stylist, and artistic director at one time or another – but the two stopped speaking right before his 2008 memoir, “Life With My Sister Madonna,” hit shelves.
The book details intimate information about Madonna’s ex-husband, kids, and career, among other things that didn’t sit too well with the “Material Girl.”
Madonna and Christopher continued not speaking for another five or six years, but reportedly were “back to being brother and sister,” Christopher told The Huffington Post in 2012.
However, in 2017, the feud was reignited after Christopher claimed Madonna had “blacklisted” him from Hollywood, calling her “horrific.”
Christopher is one of seven of Madonna’s siblings; according to The Guardian, there was tension between the pop star and her brother Anthony as well.
However, according to Radar, the feud is now over.
“We are at peace now and just spoke last week,” Christopher told Radar. “I recently moved from Los Angeles back to Michigan where my father and family own a vineyard and winery … She regularly speaks to our dad while some of our siblings work at the winery. We are all united.”
Cleopatra is said to have had a hand in the deaths of three of her siblings.
Cleopatra is largely remembered for her beauty and intelligence, as well as her sometimes ruthless nature. According to History.com, Cleopatra may have had a hand in the death of three of her siblings, likely to secure her own power and place as ruler of Egypt.
Her husband (and sibling!) Ptolemy XIII, exiled her from Egypt after she attempted to claim the throne as Egypt’s sole ruler. She then, with Julius Caesar, went to war against her brother. He died by drowning in the Nile River after being defeated in battle.
Cleopatra then re-married her younger brother Ptolemy XIV. However, she then supposedly had him murdered in order to make her son her co-ruler. It is also said that she orchestrated the execution of her sister, Arsinoe, who she deemed to be a threat to her and her throne.
A sibling rivalry is one thing, but Cleopatra’s feuds with her siblings ended in bloodshed.
Adolf and Rudolf Dassler’s feud resulted in the two separate shoe brands Adidas and Puma.
A feud between German shoemakers Adolf “Adi” and Rudolf “Rudi” Dassler divided not only the brothers but the town in which they lived and manufactured their sportswear.
The Dasslers started their business together in the 1920s, but apparently there was some head-butting from the get-go. The actual feud, however, allegedly stemmed from a mere miscommunication during a WWII air raid. The story goes that Adi and his family climbed into the bomb shelter where Rudi and his were hiding. Adi said, “The dirty bastards are back again,” meaning the Allied forces, but which Rudi took to mean him and his family.
Barely five years later the brothers were dividing the company into Adi’s Adidas brand and Rudi’s Puma. The rivalry continued for more than 60 years, as the Dasslers’ companies earned the loyalties of different athletes, celebrities, and even their fellow German townsfolk. Adolf and Rudolf Dassler’s feud resulted in the two separate shoe brands Adidas and Puma.
Actresses Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine didn’t speak to each other for 40 years.
From a young age, actresses and sisters Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine competed for men, acting gigs, and even the attention of their mother (also an actress).
The sisters were up for the same Best Actress Oscar in 1942 when Joan won out over Olivia (though Olivia eventually won her own Oscar); the latter reportedly refused to congratulate her sister on the award, leading to snub number one. The second big snub came in 1975 when Joan called out Olivia for supposedly failing to notify her sister of their mother’s death, to which Olivia replied that Joan would have been too busy to attend the funeral anyway.
The star sisters gave each other the silent treatment for the next 40 or so years, until the time of Joan’s death in December 2013.
Former Oasis band members Liam and Noel Gallagher’s rivalry ended the brothers up in court.
When you’re two brothers playing in a successful rock band, bickering comes with the territory, but for former Oasis members Liam and Noel Gallagher, their bickering landed them in court.
In 2009 Noel accused Liam of pulling out of the band’s headlining gig at the V Festival in England due to the fact that Liam was hungover – something Liam says is 100% untrue. Liam took his brother to high court in 2011, blaming him for Oasis’ breakup. Liam maintained that the reason he pulled from the gig was a case of laryngitis and wanted to set the record straight for Oasis fans.
Liam later served as the frontman for post-Oasis band Beady Eye until the band’s dissolution, and then became a solo artist. Noel is currently also flying solo. The brothers’ relationship is still a broken one; when asked about the possibility of an Oasis reunion,Noel told The Guardian that it’s never going to happen. “Unless they’re doing it without me,” he said, “But without me, it would be rubbish.”
The two brothers are apparently still feuding. In September 2019,Liam Gallagher called out his brother Noel for “slagging off” young fans wanting an Oasis reunion, calling him “ungrateful.”
Jim and John Harbaugh, now head coaches of the Michigan Wolverines and Baltimore Ravens respectively, once went head-to-head in the Super Bowl.
The rivalry between John and Jim Harbaugh has always been a relatively friendly one – the brothers genuinely show mutual respect for one another and older brother John has even called Jim “the best coach in football right now.”
And then, for the first time, the Harbaughs went head-to-head when their teams – then the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers – each made it to the 2013 Superbowl. The Ravens defeated the 49ers 34 to 31, and while Jim congratulated John on his victory, John reportedly said that the situation was very awkward after the game.
Both brothers were intensely competitive but were soon back on perfectly good terms, and Jim has said that their relationship is stronger than ever.
Nick, Kevin, and Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers broke up to pursue their own careers before reuniting in 2019.
Sibling trio Nick, Kevin, and Joe Jonas signed as The Jonas Brothers with Hollywood Records in 2007 and sold millions of records to adoring, mostly female, fans who were devastated to learn in October 2013 that the band had abruptly cancelled their 19-city tour due to a “deep rift within the band.”
The Jonas Brothers broke up shortly after to pursue their own careers, putting the future of their 10th album, “V,” in jeopardy. It’s not the first time the guys went separate ways; the band took a “three-year hiatus” but then got back together.
The musical threesome released five songs from “V” as part of a live album before officially splitting. Joe Jonas went on to join the band DNCE, which received worldwide fame for their hit song “Cake By the Ocean.”
In February 2019, the Jonas Brothers returned with their first single in six years – the catchy hit “Sucker,” complete with a music video. The brothers are touring with their new album, proving that no feud could stop their musical talents and love for one another.
The feud of King Richard “the Lion Heart” and Prince John may or may not be completely factual.
Everyone knows the tale of Robin Hood: A vigilante do-gooder stole from the rich and gave to the poor. In this version, the rich included Prince John, who seized the throne in his brother’s absence.
Regardless of the truth of the tale, there was a Prince John who spent years plotting against his older brother, King Richard “the Lion Heart.” King Richard was the ruler of England beginning in 1183 with the death of his brother Henry. But King Richard was taken prisoner by Duke Leopold of Austria during the Crusades, leaving Prince John free to take the throne.
King Richard was eventually released on ransom; he pardoned his younger brother when he returned to England but took away most of the land he owned.
Charles, David, Bill, and Fred Koch fought over money.
While Charles and David were the faces of conglomerate Koch Industries and the Koch family, they have two other brothers: Bill (David’s twin) and Fred (the eldest), who were given over $US1 billion in 1983 to give up their stakes in Koch Industries.
Bill and Fred took up a years-long battle against Charles and David, saying they were duped into taking the $US1 billion and change and should be owed billions more.
The case eventually settled, and Charles and David remained at Koch Industries. On August 23, 2019, David Koch passed away at his home in Southampton, New York, at the age of 79. Charles continues to operate as Koch Industries’ chairman of the board and CEO.
Bill is worth multiple billions running Florida-based energy company Oxbow Carbon, and Fred lives quietly in Monaco as a rare book collector and patron of the arts.
Advice columnists and twin sisters Eppie Lederer and Pauline Phillips feuded over their respective (and identical) columns.
You may not have heard of Eppie Lederer or Pauline Phillips, but you probably have heard of advice columnists “Ann Landers” and “Abigail Van Buren,” which are the names the identical twins wrote under. Eppie assumed the voice of Ann Landers in the “Ask Ann Landers” column in 1955; Pauline followed in her sister’s footsteps just months later by creating her own column, “Dear Abby.”
Naturally, there was tension from competing as advice columnists, but the feud began in the mid-1950s when Pauline allegedly offered to write “Dear Abby” for their hometown newspaper for less pay if it promised not to print “Ask Ann.” The twins were never the same after that.
It seems that the family never could bury the hatchet though, as apparently the decades-long feud continued through the twins’ children.
Prince William and Prince Harry have always been known for their friendly competition, but “Megxit” may be creating an actual feud.
Competition between older and younger siblings is inherent in nature – the older is almost always first to do everything, and for British royals Prince William and Prince Harry, that also includes becoming king.
A biography by royal correspondent Marcia Moody revealed a different side of the relationship between the royal brothers. Some younger siblings would envy older ones for getting more attention, privileges, or power, but not Prince Harry, because he realised that he had more freedom than his brother, the future king.
At 6 years old, Prince Harry told his brother, “You’ll be King, I won’t; so I can do what I want!” according to Moody. But the two grew up side-by-side yet rather independently, and their rivalry never really amounted to more than friendly competition between brothers.
The media then turned their attention towards a supposed rivalry between the brothers’ wives, the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton and the then-Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.
In January 2020, Prince Harry and the Meghan Markle announced they would be “stepping back” from their roles as senior royals and would become “financially independent.”
At the couple’s final engagement as senior royals, Prince Harry and Markle received a noticeably cold reception by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Richard Fitzwilliams, a royal commentator, told Insider that the couples only exchanged brief eye contact when taking their seats just a row apart from each other and that the interaction was “frosty.”
Venus and Serena Williams have a friendly sibling rivalry on the court.
These two top tennis-playing sisters have played each other (professionally) two dozen times now, and every match is a tense one – not just for the crowds watching, but for the Williams sisters themselves.
Both are incredibly competitive and both have multiple accolades in their sport, but their friendly sibling rivalry has never turned ugly. In fact, both maintain that they have a huge amount of respect and admiration for the other.
Serena has said that she doesn’t enjoy matches against her sister. “If I win I’m not super excited, and if I lose I’m really not excited.” Venus agrees: “I think we just both want to win … I think we just both have so much respect for each other’s game that makes it probably a little tougher because you know you’re not going to get an easy win.”
Phil and Steve Mahre competed against each other in the Olympics.
Phil and Steve Mahre, fraternal twins who were born four minutes apart, were considered to be two of the greatest ski racers of all time. The pair ended their ski careers in 1984 following the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, where Phil took gold and Steve took silver in slalom.
Phil Mahre went down in history as a more celebrated athlete than his brother, finishing in the top three in the World Cup overall standings for six consecutive seasons, and winning the title in three.
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