The Quick 10: The Careers of 10 Presidential Kids

We know George W. followed in his dad's footsteps, and we know John Quincy Adams did the same. But what did children of other Presidents end up doing? Some of them are pretty predictable: Politicians, lawyers, etc. But some of them are quite surprising, and a strange number of them have become novelists. I'm playing fast and loose with the "10" theme, by the way. Hope you guys don't mind.

adams1 and 2. Charles Francis Adams, one of John Quincy's sons, made his own bid for the Presidency. Well, the Vice-Presidency. That had to be a terrible burden "“ if your grandpa and your dad were both Presidents of the United States, I imagine it's pretty much expected that you give it a go as well. In 1848, he unsuccessfully ran for V.P. as a member of the Free Soil Party with future President Martin Van Buren as President. But I'd say he was pretty successful, even if he wasn't the third Adams to be President: he graduated from Harvard, studied law with Daniel Webster, he was a member of the House of Representatives, served in the state senate, founded and edited the Boston Whig journal, was an ambassador for Abraham Lincoln, was offered the position of Harvard President (he declined), and constructed the first-ever presidential library to honor his dear old dad. JQA had two other sons: John II we don't know much about, but George Washington Adams also graduated from Harvard and was elected to the House of Representatives. However, it's possible that the stress was too much "“ he disappeared off of a boat in the Long Island Sound in 1829; his body was found about six weeks later. Most historians believe it was a suicide.

3 and 4. Harry "Hal" Garfield was only 17 when he watched his dad get gunned down by Charles Guiteau "“ even worse, his little brother was only 15.

Both brothers went on to be very successful, though "“ Hal became a law professor and was eventually named the eighth president of Williams College. He also taught at Princeton, where he made friends with Woodrow Wilson, pre-Presidency. When Wilson became President, he asked Hal to run the Federal Fuel Administration. Hal's brother, James Rudolph, studied law at Columbia, then ran a law firm with Hal. James was in the Ohio State Senate for three years, and served as a member of Teddy Roosevelt's Cabinet as Secretary of the Interior.

alice5. Speaking of which, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Teddy's oldest daughter and only child by his first wife, is totally fascinating. At least, I think so. Alice was named after her mom, and Teddy was so heartbroken at her death that he refused to call his daughter Alice. She went by Baby Lee (her middle name). He also nicknamed her "Mousiekins" in a letter to his sister. But that's neither here nor there. As an adult, she helped William Howard Taft (Teddy's Secretary of War) in a diplomatic trip to Japan. On the boat ride over, Alice jumped into the ship's pool with all of her clothes on and managed to convince a Congressman to do the same. While married to Congressman Nick Longworth, Alice had an affair with Senator William Borah. Alice later admitted Borah was the father of her daughter, Paulina. After the Tafts took over the White House, Alice would openly heckle Nellie Taft at White House dinners and other social events. Eventually, the Tafts banned her from the residence altogether. The Wilson Administration also banned her when she made a dirty joke about the President. During the Great Depression, Alice found herself dealing with the hard times just like everyone else. To make ends meet, she appeared as the model in tobacco ads and published her autobiography (which I think I'm going to have to get). She remained a staple in Washington until her death in 1980.

6, 7, and 8. The Taft children were also quite accomplished. The only daughter, named Helen, after her mother, was a highly accomplished academic. She was a professor at Bryn Mawr for 40 years. She was also an avid suffragist. Her brother, Charles Phelps Taft (Mr. Cincinnati), was the Mayor of Cincinnati from 1955-1957, but prior to that, he held various positions in the FDR Administration. Robert Taft became a U.S. Senator. In fact, in 1957, a Senate committee led by JFK named Robert Taft one of the five best Senators in history.

9. Elliott Roosevelt was the son of FDR and Eleanor. He was a bombardier in the United States Army Air Forces in WWII, but after that, he was kind of all over the place. He owned a radio station, he tried ranching, he was the mayor of Miami Beach for one term, and he wrote a mystery series featuring his mother as the main character. He was married five times and had five children and four stepchildren who took the Roosevelt name.

meg10. Oddly, Margaret Truman is another Presidential child who made a living writing mysteries as an adult. I suppose it makes sense "“ they probably have insights that the rest of us don't. Anyway, Margaret was on track to be a singer for a while in the late 1940s and early 50s. After one of her vocal recitals was aired on the radio, a critic at the Washington Post said she was very pretty, but couldn't hold a tune. President Truman wrote the critic a letter and said that if the two of them ever met, the critic was going to need "a new nose and plenty of beefsteak and perhaps a supporter below." After she stopped singing in the mid 50s, she started writing "“ she wrote biographies about both of her parents, wrote books on the First Ladies and First Pets and wrote a bunch of murder mysteries set in Washington, D.C.

11 and 12. Steven Meigs Ford, Gerald and Betty's youngest son, is an actor. He was actually cast in the original Grease as Tom Chisum, Lorenzo Lamas' character, but dropped out. He was on The Young and the Restless from 1981 to 1987 and has since been in movies such as Armageddon, Heat, and When Harry Met Sally. His sister, Susan, is another writer: in 2002, she wrote Double Exposure: A First Daughter Mystery. Before that, she was a photojournalist for the AP, Newsweek, Money, Ladies Home Journal and several newspapers. She also had another career: her first marriage was to one of her dad's Secret Service agents and they ran a security company in Washington for a while.

Bad Moods Might Make You More Productive

Being in a bad mood at work might not be such a bad thing. New research shows that foul moods can lead to better executive function—the mental processing that handles skills like focus, self-control, creative thinking, mental flexibility, and working memory. But the benefit might hinge on how you go through emotions.

As part of the study, published in Personality and Individual Differences, a pair of psychologists at the University of Waterloo in Canada subjected more than 90 undergraduate students to a battery of tests designed to measure their working memory and inhibition control, two areas of executive function. They also gave the students several questionnaires designed to measure their emotional reactivity and mood over the previous week.

They found that some people who were in slightly bad moods performed significantly better on the working memory and inhibition tasks, but the benefit depended on how the person experienced emotion. Specifically, being in a bit of a bad mood seemed to boost the performance of participants with high emotional reactivity, meaning that they’re sensitive, have intense reactions to situations, and hold on to their feelings for a long time. People with low emotional reactivity performed worse on the tasks when in a bad mood, though.

“Our results show that there are some people for whom a bad mood may actually hone the kind of thinking skills that are important for everyday life,” one of the study’s co-authors, psychology professor Tara McAuley, said in a press statement. Why people with bigger emotional responses experience this boost but people with less-intense emotions don’t is an open question. One hypothesis is that people who have high emotional reactivity are already used to experiencing intense emotions, so they aren’t as fazed by their bad moods. However, more research is necessary to tease out those factors.

[h/t Big Think]

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
The 10 Wildest Movie Plot Twists
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

An ending often makes or breaks a movie. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as having the rug pulled out from under you, particularly in a thriller. But too many flicks that try to shock can’t stick the landing—they’re outlandish and illogical, or signal where the plot is headed. Not all of these films are entirely successful, but they have one important attribute in common: From the classic to the cultishly beloved, they involve hard-to-predict twists that really do blow viewers’ minds, then linger there for days, if not life. (Warning: Massive spoilers below.)

1. PSYCHO (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock often constructed his movies like neat games that manipulated the audience. The Master of Suspense delved headfirst into horror with Psycho, which follows a secretary (Janet Leigh) who sneaks off with $40,000 and hides in a motel. The ensuing jolt depends on Leigh’s fame at the time: No one expected the ostensible star and protagonist to die in a gory (for the time) shower butchering only a third of the way into the running time. Hitchcock outdid that feat with the last-act revelation that Anthony Perkins’s supremely creepy Norman Bates is embodying his dead mother.


No, not the botched Tim Burton remake that tweaked the original movie’s famous reveal in a way that left everyone scratching their heads. The Charlton Heston-starring sci-fi gem continues to stupefy anyone who comes into its orbit. Heston, of course, plays an astronaut who travels to a strange land where advanced apes lord over human slaves. It becomes clear once he finds the decrepit remains of the Statue of Liberty that he’s in fact on a future Earth. The anti-violence message, especially during the political tumult of 1968, shook people up as much as the time warp.

3. DEEP RED (1975)

It’s not rare for a horror movie to flip the script when it comes to unmasking its killer, but it’s much rarer that such a film causes a viewer to question their own perception of the world around them. Such is the case for Deep Red, Italian director Dario Argento’s (Suspiria) slasher masterpiece. A pianist living in Rome (David Hemmings) comes upon the murder of a woman in her apartment and teams up with a female reporter to find the person responsible. Argento’s whodunit is filled to the brim with gorgeous photography, ghastly sights, and delirious twists. But best of all is the final sequence, in which the pianist retraces his steps to discover that the killer had been hiding in plain sight all along. Rewind to the beginning and you’ll discover that you caught an unknowing glimpse, too.


Sleepaway Camp is notorious among horror fans for a number of reasons: the bizarre, stilted acting and dialogue; hilariously amateurish special effects; and ‘80s-to-their-core fashions. But it’s best known for the mind-bending ending, which—full disclosure—reads as possibly transphobic today, though it’s really hard to say what writer-director Robert Hiltzik had in mind. Years after a boating accident that leaves one of two siblings dead, Angela is raised by her aunt and sent to a summer camp with her cousin, where a killer wreaks havoc. In the lurid climax, we see that moody Angela is not only the murderer—she’s actually a boy. Her aunt, who always wanted a daughter, raised her as if she were her late brother. The final animalistic shot prompts as many gasps as cackles.


The Usual Suspects has left everyone who watches it breathless by the time they get to the fakeout conclusion. Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), a criminal with cerebral palsy, regales an interrogator in the stories of his exploits with a band of fellow crooks, seen in flashback. Hovering over this is the mysterious villainous figure Keyser Söze. It’s not until Verbal leaves and jumps into a car that customs agent David Kujan realizes that the man fabricated details, tricking the law and the viewer into his fake reality, and is in fact the fabled Söze.

6. PRIMAL FEAR (1996)

No courtroom movie can surpass Primal Fear’s discombobulating effect. Richard Gere’s defense attorney becomes strongly convinced that his altar boy client Aaron (Edward Norton) didn’t commit the murder of an archbishop with which he’s charged. The meek, stuttering Aaron has sudden violent outbursts in which he becomes "Roy" and is diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, leading to a not guilty ruling. Gere’s lawyer visits Aaron about the news, and as he’s leaving, a wonderfully maniacal Norton reveals that he faked the multiple personalities.

7. FIGHT CLUB (1999)

Edward Norton is no stranger to taking on extremely disparate personalities in his roles, from Primal Fear to American History X. The unassuming actor can quickly turn vicious, which led to ideal casting for Fight Club, director David Fincher’s adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk novel. Fincher cleverly keeps the audience in the dark about the connections between Norton’s timid, unnamed narrator and Brad Pitt’s hunky, aggressive Tyler Durden. After the two start the titular bruising group, the plot significantly increases the stakes, with the club turning into a sort of anarchist terrorist organization. The narrator eventually comes to grips with the fact that he is Tyler and has caused all the destruction around him.


Early in his career, M. Night Shyamalan was frequently (perhaps a little too frequently) compared to Hitchcock for his ability to ratchet up tension while misdirecting his audience. He hasn’t always earned stellar reviews since, but The Sixth Sense remains deservedly legendary for its final twist. At the end of the ghost story, in which little Haley Joel Osment can see dead people, it turns out that the psychologist (Bruce Willis) who’s been working with the boy is no longer living himself, the result of a gunshot wound witnessed in the opening sequence.

9. THE OTHERS (2001)

The Sixth Sense’s climax was spooky, but not nearly as unnerving as Nicole Kidman’s similarly themed ghost movie The Others, released just a couple years later. Kidman gives a superb performance in the elegantly styled film from the Spanish writer-director Alejandro Amenábar, playing a mother in a country house after World War II protecting her photosensitive children from light and, eventually, dead spirits occupying the place. Only by the end does it become clear that she’s in denial about the fact that she’s a ghost, having killed her children in a psychotic break before committing suicide. It’s a bleak capper to a genuinely haunting yarn.


David Lynch’s surrealist movies may follow dream logic, but that doesn’t mean their plots can’t be readily discerned. Mulholland Drive is his most striking work precisely because, in spite of its more wacko moments, it adds up to a coherent, tragic story. The mystery starts innocently enough with the dark-haired Rita (Laura Elena Harring) waking up with amnesia from a car accident in Los Angeles and piecing together her identity alongside the plucky aspiring actress Betty (Naomi Watts). It takes a blue box to unlock the secret that Betty is in fact Diane, who is in love with and envious of Camilla (also played by Harring) and has concocted a fantasy version of their lives. The real Diane arranges for Camilla to be killed, leading to her intense guilt and suicide. Only Lynch can go from Nancy Drew to nihilism so swiftly and deftly.


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