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9 Middle Children Who Came Out On Top

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1. Abraham Lincoln

"Honest Abe" started his life in a humble Kentucky cabin and died the President of the United States. Unfortunately, his older sister and younger brother never lived to see his accomplishments. The baby of the family, Thomas Lincoln, Jr., died in infancy. Six years later, Lincoln's mother died of milk sickness. The future president's older sister Sarah became his primary caregiver until their father remarried. She later married and died in childbirth at the age of 21.

2. Warren Buffett

When the so-called "Oracle of Omaha" filed his first tax return at the age of 14, he wrote off the bike and watch he used for his paper route. So Warren Buffett's older and younger sisters weren't surprised that he eventually became one of the wealthiest people in the world. In 2006, he pledged to give 99 percent of his fortune away before he died or upon his death. His older sister Doris, a multi-millionaire in her own right, was inspired to follow suit. The two have also teamed up to give away $100,000 through an online philanthropy course called Giving With Purpose. Students evaluate non-profits and choose how and where the moneyed siblings pay it forward.

3. Jennifer Lopez

Don't be fooled by the rocks that she's got: Jennifer Lopez was known as "the athletic one" while growing up the middle of three sisters in the Bronx. (Her sisters were "the pretty one" and "the singer.") When Lopez decided to drop out of college to pursue acting, her mother kicked her out of the house. Now she's considered a triple threat. She started her career dancing on In Living Color. In 1997, she played her first leading film role in Selena. By 1999, she was a pop star known as J. Lo. Today she's one of the wealthiest Latina entertainers in the world.

4. Herbert Hoover

The 31st President of the United States knew all about the boom and the bust. He was born into a loving Quaker family, but lost both of his parents by the age of nine. Hoover, his older brother, and younger sister were split up and raised by different relatives. Despite the upheaval, the orphaned boy made the most of every opportunity. He attended night school and was accepted into the first class of students at Stanford University, despite failing almost every entrance exam. Hoover made millions as a mining engineer and consultant before working in government. His idea of "meatless Mondays" and "wheatless Wednesdays" was a hit when he took over the Food and Drug Administration during World War I. He later spearheaded post-war relief efforts. But Hoover's days at the White House were much more challenging. He took office in 1929 and bore much of the blame for the Great Depression. Despite losing the 1932 election, he stayed in politics—and even considered a second run for president. By the time he died in 1964, he'd repaired his reputation with the Hoover Commission and charitable work.

5. Judd Apatow

Judd Apatow's parents divorced when he was 12, splitting him up from his older brother and younger sister. But there was an upside: Apatow's newly-single mother worked at a comedy club, and he got to see comedians in action. Apatow got a gig washing dishes at the club and started performing onstage at 17. Now he makes his own movies and regularly casts his daughters Maude and Iris as squabbling sisters.

6. David Letterman

Middle children aren't all background players. David Letterman grew up with an older and a younger sister, but managed to keep his mom's attention with unintentional injuries and other shenanigans. No one was surprised when he grew up to be a wacky weatherman and eventually a late night TV host. "I had one of the schoolteachers tell me after Dave got famous that the kids get by with a lot more now, because they can see it's not out of meanness, just mischievousness," Letterman's mother told the New York Times. "And I'm sure it's probably very good for the kids."

7. Anne Hathaway

Actress Anne Hathaway has an Oscar, a Golden Globe, an Emmy, and her very own non-fan group called Hathahaters. Critics from Twitter to The New Yorker have called Hathaway affected, annoying, and too perfect to be likable. The good news: Growing up the only girl between two brothers was probably like a dress rehearsal. 

8. Bill Gates

Before co-founding Microsoft and becoming one of the wealthiest people in the world, Bill Gates was a smart aleck middle kid at odds with his parents. One infamous argument at the dinner table ended with Bill Gates, Sr. throwing a glass of water in his son's face. The boy genius and his sisters all took lessons and did well in school, but Gates achieved outside the box. When he dropped out of Harvard to start a company, his parents were worried but supportive. And the rest is history.

9. Britney Spears

Before she sang about being "not a girl, not yet a woman," Britney Spears was just a loud, energetic middle child. After years of dance, voice, and gymnastics lessons, Spears was cast in The Mickey Mouse Club in 1992. Six years later, she released ....Baby One More Time, the highest selling album by a teen artist. (Belieb that!) She's been a huge celebrity ever since, for better and for worse. Spears' siblings haven't achieved the same fame. Her look-alike younger sister Jamie Lynn starred in Zoey 101 on Nickelodeon, which was cancelled when she got pregnant at 16. Spears' older brother Bryan was named the co-trustee of her estate after her struggles with mental illness.

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30 Fierce Barbra Streisand Quotes
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Terry Fincher/Express/Getty Images

Barbra Streisand is an artist of many talents. In addition to her famed singing and songwriting career, she’s also a celebrated actress and filmmaker with a host of accolades and awards—including two Oscars, nine Golden Globes, 10 Grammys, six Emmys, and one Tony—on her resume (so far). While Streisand, who turns 76 years old today, may be one of the best-selling artists of all time, what truly makes her memorable is her total originality. While her creative talents made her a star, her no-nonsense attitude has made her an icon, as evidenced by the quotes below.

1. ON HER WILD YOUTH.

“I was kind of a wild child. I wasn't taught the niceties of life.”

2. ON PURSUING YOUR DREAMS.

“As a young woman, I wanted nothing more than to see my name in lights.”

3. ON REMAINING TRUE TO ONESELF.

“I arrived in Hollywood without having my nose fixed, my teeth capped, or my name changed. That is very gratifying to me.”

4. ON INSTINCT.

“I go by instinct—I don't worry about experience.”

5. ON BEING CONTRADICTORY.

Barbra Streisand on stage
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

“I was a personality before I became a person—I am simple, complex, generous, selfish, unattractive, beautiful, lazy, and driven.”

6. ON TRUSTING YOURSELF.

“You have got to discover you, what you do, and trust it.”

7. ON THE DEFINITION OF SUCCESS.

“Success to me is having 10 honeydew melons and eating only the top half of each slice.”

8. ON APPLAUSE.

“What does it mean when people applaud? Should I give 'em money? Say thank you? Lift my dress? The lack of applause—that I can respond to.”

9. ON BAD REVIEWS.

“I wish I could be like [George Bernard] Shaw, who once read a bad review of one of his plays, called the critic, and said: 'I have your review in front of me and soon it will be behind me.’”

10. ON THE DEFINITION OF “EGO.”

Barbra Streisand addresses her fans
Emma McIntyre, Getty Images

“To have ego means to believe in your own strength. And to also be open to other people's views. It is to be open, not closed. So, yes, my ego is big, but it's also very small in some areas. My ego is responsible for my doing what I do—bad or good.”

11. ON DOUBLE STANDARDS.

“Men are allowed to have passion and commitment for their work ... a woman is allowed that feeling for a man, but not her work.”

12. ON SAYING WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND.

“I knew that with a mouth like mine, I just had to be a star or something.”

13. ON THE LESS GLAMOROUS SIDE OF SHOW BUSINESS.

“I don't enjoy public performances and being up on a stage. I don't enjoy the glamour. Like tonight, I am up on stage and my feet hurt.”

14. ON GETTING IT RIGHT.

“I don't care what you say about me. Just be sure to spell my name wrong.”

15. ON FOLLOWING YOUR HEART.

A photo of Barbra Streisand
Harry Benson, Express/Getty Images

“Nobody on this earth has the right to tell anyone that their love for another human being is morally wrong.”

16. ON THE IMPORTANCE OF TRUTH.

“I can take any truth; just don't lie to me.”

17. ON KEEPING IT SIMPLE.

“I like simple things. Elastic waists, so I can eat.”

18. ON WHY BEING “DIFFICULT” CAN BE A GOOD THING.

“I've been called many names like perfectionist, difficult and obsessive. I think it takes obsession, takes searching for the details for any artist to be good.”

19. ON LIMITATIONS.

“I just don't want to be hampered by my own limitations.”

20. ON THE TRUTHFULNESS OF AN AUDIENCE.

"The audience is the best judge of anything. They cannot be lied to. Truth brings them closer. A moment that lags—they're gonna cough.”

21. ON FINDING THE PERFECT MATCH.

Barbra Streisand and James Brolin
Sonia Moskowitz, Getty Images

“What is exciting is not for one person to be stronger than the other ... but for two people to have met their match and yet they are equally as stubborn, as obstinate, as passionate, as crazy as the other.”

22. ON THE FUTILITY OF MYTHS.

“Myths are a waste of time. They prevent progression.”

23. ON THE NATURE OF PERFORMING.

“Performing, for me, has always been a very inner process.”

24. ON THE DOWNSIDE OF STARDOM.

“I think when I was younger, I wanted to be a star, until I became a star, and then it's a lot of work. It's work to be a star. I don't enjoy the stardom part. I only enjoy the creative process.”

25. ON THE TROUBLE WITH LOVE.

“Sometimes you resent the people you love and need the most. Love is so fascinating in all its forms, and I think everyone who has ever been a mother will relate to this.”

26. ON THE IMPORTANCE OF DOUBTING YOURSELF.

Barbra Streisand poses for the press
Terry Fincher, Express/Getty Images

"Doubt can motivate you, so don't be afraid of it. Confidence and doubt are at two ends of the scale, and you need both. They balance each other out."

27. ON AMBITION.

"I've always liked working really hard and then doing nothing in particular. So, consequently, I didn't overexpose myself; I guess I maintained a kind of mystery. I wasn't ambitious."

28. ON CONSTANTLY EVOLVING.

“I'm a work in progress.”

29. ON HER FAMOUS NOSE.

“I've considered having my nose fixed. But I didn't trust anyone enough. If I could do it myself with a mirror.”

30. ON BEING AN ORIGINAL.

Barbra Streisand with Barack Obama
Alex Wong, Getty Images

“I guess if you have an original take on life, or something about you is original, you don't have to study people who came before you. You don't have to mimic anybody. You just have a gut feeling inside, an instinct that tells you what's right for you, and you can't do it in any other way.”

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13 Great Jack Nicholson Quotes
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Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI

Jack Nicholson turns 81 today. Let's celebrate with some of the actor's wit and wisdom.

1. ON ADVICE

"I hate advice unless I'm giving it. I hate giving advice, because people won't take it."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

2. ON REGRETS

"Not that I can think of. I’m sure there are some, but my mind doesn’t go there. When you look at life retrospectively you rarely regret anything that you did, but you might regret things that you didn’t do."

From an interview with The Talks

3. ON DEATH

"I'm Irish. I think about death all the time. Back in the days when I thought of myself as a serious academic writer, I used to think that the only real theme was a fear of death, and that all the other themes were just that same fear, translated into fear of closeness, fear of loneliness, fear of dissolving values. Then I heard old John Huston talking about death. Somebody was quizzing him about the subject, you know, and here he is with the open-heart surgery a few years ago, and the emphysema, but he's bounced back fit as a fiddle, and he's talking about theories of death, and the other fella says, 'Well, great, John, that's great ... but how am I supposed to feel about it when you pass on?' And John says, 'Just treat it as your own.' As for me, I like that line I wrote that, we used in The Border, where I said, 'I just want to do something good before I die.' Isn't that what we all want?"

From an interview with Roger Ebert

4. ON NERVES

''There's a period of time just before you start a movie when you start thinking, I don't know what in the world I'm going to do. It's free-floating anxiety. In my case, though, this is over by lunch the first day of shooting.''

From an interview with The New York Times

5. ON ACTING

"Almost anyone can give a good representative performance when you're unknown. It's just easier. The real pro game of acting is after you're known—to 'un-Jack' that character, in my case, and get the audience to reinvest in a new and specific, fictional person."

From an interview with The Age

6. ON MARRIAGE

"I never had a policy about marriage. I got married very young in life and I always think in all relationships, I've always thought that it's counterproductive to have a theory on that. It's hard enough to get to know yourself and as most of you have probably found, once you get to know two people in tandem it's even more difficult. If it's going to be successful, it's going to have to be very specific and real and immediate so the more ideas you have about it before you start, it seems to me the less likely you are to be successful."

From an interview with About.com

7. ON LYING

“You only lie to two people in your life: your girlfriend and the police. Everybody else you tell the truth to.”

From a 1994 interview with Vanity Fair

8. ON HIS SUNGLASSES

"They're prescription. That's why I wear them. A long time ago, the Middle American in me may have thought it was a bit affected maybe. But the light is very strong in southern California. And once you've experienced negative territory in public life, you begin to accept the notion of shields. I am a person who is trained to look other people in the eye. But I can't look into the eyes of everyone who wants to look into mine; I can't emotionally cope with that kind of volume. Sunglasses are part of my armor."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

9. ON MISCONCEPTIONS

"I think people think I'm more physical than I am, I suppose. I'm not really confrontational. Of course, I have a temper, but that's sort of blown out of proportion."

From an interview with ESPN

10. ON DIRECTING

"I'm a different person when suddenly it's my responsibility. I'm not very inhibited in that way. I would show up [on the set of The Two Jakes] one day, and we'd scouted an orange grove and it had been cut down. You're out in the middle of nowhere and they forget to cast an actor. These are the sort of things I kind of like about directing. Of course, at the time you blow your stack a little bit. ... I'm a Roger Corman baby. Just keep rolling, baby. You've got to get something on there. Maybe it's right. Maybe it's wrong. Maybe you can fix it later. Maybe you can't. You can't imagine the things that come up when you're making a movie where you've got to adjust on the spot."

From an interview with MTV

11. ON ROGER CORMAN

"There's nobody in there, that he didn't, in the most important way support. He was my life blood to whatever I thought I was going to be as a person. And I hope he knows that this is not all hot air. I'm going to cry now."

From the documentary Corman's World

12. ON PLAYING THE JOKER

"This would be the character, whose core—while totally determinate of the part—was the least limiting of any I would ever encounter. This is a more literary way of approaching than I might have had as a kid reading the comics, but you have to get specific. ... He's not wired up the same way. This guy has survived nuclear waste immersion here. Even in my own life, people have said, 'There's nothing sacred to you in the area of humor, Jack. Sometimes, Jack, relax with the humor.' This does not apply to the Joker, in fact, just the opposite. Things even the wildest comics might be afraid to find funny: burning somebody's face into oblivion, destroying a masterpiece in a museum—a subject as an art person even made me a little scared. Not this character. And I love that."

From The Making of Batman

13. ON BASKETBALL

"I've always thought basketball was the best sport, although it wasn't the sport I was best at. It was just the most fun to watch. ... Even as a kid it appealed to me. The basketball players were out at night. They had great overcoats. There was this certain nighttime juvenile-delinquent thing about it that got your blood going."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

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