CLOSE

The Quick 10: What the Descendants of 10 Dictators Have Been Up To

If you took my Scents and Sensibilities Quiz, you already know that Svetlana Stalin had her own line of perfume. And if haven't already taken my quiz, now you can be sure to get at least one right. If this seems like a surprising fact, wait until you see what the descendants of other dictators have been up to"¦

alessandra1. Alessandra Mussolini, the daughter of Benito Mussolini's son and his first wife, Anna Maria Scicolone (who also happened to be Sophia Loren's sister). Alessandra has been all over the place "“ she's been a Playboy model, an actress and a singer. The album was only released in Japan, though, and is apparently quite the collector's item. She was also the leader of a right-wing political party and kicked the minister for equal opportunities on a talk show. It happens at about 43 seconds into the linked video, if you're interested.
2. Svetlana Alliluyeva, Joseph Stalin's daughter, defected to the United States in 1967. Sometime in 1970, she was contacted by Frank Lloyd Wright's widow, who believed that Svetlana was a reincarnation of her daughter, who died in a car crash in 1946 (her name was also Svetlana). The widow Wright (the widow Lloyd Wright?) wrote Svetlana letters encouraging her to come visit Taliesin West, and when she did, she was promptly introduced to Wes Peters, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's apprentices"¦ and also the widower of Svetlana #1. Is this making sense? It's quite the tangled web. Basically, the widow Wright arranged for the "reincarnation" of her daughter to remarry her husband only three weeks after their introduction. The marriage lasted only 20 months.

3. Valentin CeauÅŸescu, Nicolae Ceausescu's adopted son, is a nuclear physicist.

4. Marko Milosevic, Slobodan's son, basically seems to be a thug. He was one of the most-feared people involved in his father's regime and ran a nightclub called Madonna and a theme park called Bambiland. He was charged with threatening a demonstrator with a chainsaw in 2001, but by the time the charges were brought up, he had fled to Moscow. He gave an interview in 1991 and said, "I have to have a girl and music and a car and gun. I would like guns to remain my passion." So that's"¦ good"¦

zury5. Zury Rios Sosa, the daughter of Guatemalan dictator General Efrain Rios, married Illinois Congressman Jerry Weller. Her father presided over some of the wedding and added his wisdom to the proceedings, including "the husband is the brains of his woman ... who should be loved like the church loves Christ." Zury Rios Montt Sosa de Weller still serves in the Guatemalan government and fully supports her father, saying, "My father is my inspiration."
6. Alina Fernandez, Fidel Castro's estranged daughter, is a commentator for CNN. Her specialty, of course, is Cuba and Cuban politics. She also hosts a radio show in Miami and has released a book called Castro's Daughter: An Exile's Memoir of Cuba. It has been optioned for a film by the producer of Crash, The Black Donnellys and Million Dollar Baby.

7. Faisal Wangita, the son of Idi Amin (one of 43 of his children), is in prison. Go figure. In 2007, he was convicted for being part of a gang in North London that stabbed and bludgeoned an 18-year-old man to death. The man was part of a rival gang. Wangita was cleared of murder charges, but found guilty of conspiracy to wound, conspiracy to possess offensive weapons and violent disorder.

borgy8. Ferdinand Martin "Borgy" Manotoc, the grandson of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, interns for Manolo Blahnik. I'm kidding. He's a model and celebrity, kind of famous for being famous, as far as I can tell. And looking at this picture, all I can think is "Blue Steel."
9. Ayesha Qaddafi, the daughter of Muammar al-Gaddafi, is a lawyer who served on Saddam Hussein's defense team. Her brother, Saadi, played professional soccer for Libya and Perugia for a while, but it seems to have run its course: his 2006-2007 season with U.C. Sampdoria didn't give him a single second of playing time during a game. He has since tried to pursue the movie business and approached Harvey Weinstein about filming a movie about Hannibal in Libya, but Weinstein abruptly cut him off, saying that Libya would have to recognize Israel before Miramax would do any business with them. Saadi laughed about his first Hollywood encounter, saying, "The first touch was a very hot touch." Another brother, Moatassim, was caught trying to buy tanks and short-range missiles for her personal army. Moatassim said his father was pretty amused by that and admonished him with, "These are very aggressive weapons and you are still young, maybe when you get a bit older."

10. Jean-Bedel Bokassa, the self-elected Emperor of the Central African Republic, lived a lavish life that included gold-plated beds and spent the equivalent of his country's gross national product on his coronation ceremony, apparently left behind 62 children who are now destitute. After the French government overthrew his administration in 1979, the government instituted a ban on displaying anything having to do with Bokassa. His children and grandchildren now live on the grounds in outhouses because the main building is too rundown to serve as proper quarters. They've petitioned the government to restore the grounds, saying that the palace might serve as a good tourist attraction.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
iStock
iStock

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
holidays
What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?
iStock
iStock

Everyone knows to expect a partridge in a pear tree from your true love on the first day of Christmas ... But when is the first day of Christmas?

You'd think that the 12 days of Christmas would lead up to the big day—that's how countdowns work, as any year-end list would illustrate—but in Western Christianity, "Christmas" actually begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. According to liturgy, the 12 days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, which is the day the Magi visited bearing gifts. This is also called "Twelfth Night." (Epiphany is marked in most Western Christian traditions as happening on January 6th, and in some countries, the 12 days begin on December 26th.)

As for the ubiquitous song, it is said to be French in origin and was first printed in England in 1780. Rumors spread that it was a coded guide for Catholics who had to study their faith in secret in 16th-century England when Catholicism was against the law. According to the Christian Resource Institute, the legend is that "The 'true love' mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The 'me' who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the 'days' represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn."

In debunking that story, Snopes excerpted a 1998 email that lists what each object in the song supposedly symbolizes:

2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

There is pretty much no historical evidence pointing to the song's secret history, although the arguments for the legend are compelling. In all likelihood, the song's "code" was invented retroactively.

Hidden meaning or not, one thing is definitely certain: You have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in your head right now.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios