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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.

All images courtesy of Getty 

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Art
Get Crazy With the Official Bob Ross Coloring Book
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If you watched Bob Ross's classic series The Joy of Painting for hours on end but didn’t come away a terribly capable artist, you can still enjoy replicating the amazing public television personality’s work. You can now pretend you’re painting along with the late, great PBS star using a brand-new adult coloring book based on his art.

The Bob Ross Coloring Book (Universe) is the first authorized coloring book based on Ross’s artistic archive. Ross, who would have turned 75 later this year, was all about giving his fans the confidence to pursue art even without extensive training. “There’s an artist hidden at the bottom of every single one of us,” the gentle genius said. So what better way to honor his memory than to relax with his coloring book?

Here’s a sneak peek of some of the Ross landscapes you can recreate, all while flipping through some of his best quotes and timeless tidbits of wisdom.

An black-and-white outline of a Bob ross painting of a mountain valley

A black-and-white outline of a Bob Ross painting shows a house nestled among trees.

A black-and-white outline of a Bob Ross painting shows a farm scene.

And remember, even if you color outside the lines, it’s still a work of art. As Ross said, “We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.”

You can find The Bob Ross Coloring Book for about $14 on Amazon. Oh, and if you need even more Ross in your life, there’s now a Bob Ross wall calendar, too.

All images courtesy of Rizzoli.

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entertainment
8 Movies That Almost Starred Keanu Reeves
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He may not have the natural ease of Al Pacino, the classical training of Anthony Hopkins, the timeless cool of Jack Nicholson, or the raw versatility of Gary Oldman, but Keanu Reeves has been around long enough to have worked alongside each of those actors. Yet instead of Oscar nods, the actor whose first name means “cool breeze over the mountains” in Hawaiian has a handful of Razzie nominations.

While critical acclaim has mostly eluded Reeves during his 30-plus years in Hollywood, his movies have made nearly $2 billion at the box office. Whether because of his own choosiness or the decisions of studio powers-that-be, that tally could be much, much higher. To celebrate The Chosen One’s 53rd birthday, here are eight movies that almost starred Keanu Reeves.

1. X-MEN (2000)

In Hollywood’s version of the X-Men universe, Hugh Jackman is the definitive Wolverine. But Jackman himself was a last-minute replacement (for Dougray Scott) and other, bigger (in 2000) names were considered for the hirsute superhero—including Reeves. Ultimately, it was the studio that decided to go in a different direction, much to Reeves’ disappointment. “I always wanted to play Wolverine,” the actor told Moviefone in 2014. “But I didn't get that. And they have a great Wolverine now. I always wanted to play The Dark Knight. But I didn't get that one. They've had some great Batmans. So now I'm just enjoying them as an audience.”

2. PLATOON (1986)

For an action star, Reeves isn’t a huge fan of violence, which is why he passed on playing the lead in Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning Vietnam classic. “Keanu turned it down because of the violence,” Stone told Entertainment Weekly in 2011. “He didn’t want to do violence.”

3. THE FLY II (1989)

Few people would likely mistake Reeves for the son of Jeff Goldblum, but producers were anxious to see him play the next generation of Goldblum’s insectile role in the sequel to The Fly. But Reeves wasn’t having any of it. Why? Simple: “I didn't like the script,” he told Movieline in 1990.

4. SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL (1997)

Speaking of sequels (and bad scripts): Reeves was ready to reprise his role as Jack Traven in Jan de Bont’s second go at the series … then he read it. “When I was offered Speed 2, Jan came to Chicago and so did Sandra, and they said, ‘You’ve got to do this,’” Reeves recalled to The Telegraph. “And I said, 'I read the script and I can’t. It’s called Speed, and it’s on a cruise ship.” (He's got a point.)

Even when the studio dangled a $12 million paycheck in front of him, Reeves said no. “I told [William Mechanic, then-head of Fox], ‘If I do this film, I will not come back up. You guys will send me to the bottom of the ocean and I will not make it back up again.’ I really felt like I was fighting for my life.”

5. HEAT (1995)

Reeves’ refusal to cave on Speed 2 didn’t sit well in Hollywood circles. And it didn't help that he also passed on playing Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer’s role) in Michael Mann’s Heat in order to spend a month playing Hamlet at Canada’s Manitoba Theatre Centre. From that point on, Reeves told The Telegraph that it’s been a struggle for him to book any studio movies. “That’s a good old Hollywood story! That was a whole, 'Hey, kid, this is what happens in Hollywood: I said no to the number two and I never worked with the studio again!’”

6. BOWFINGER (1999)

By the time Frank Oz’s Bowfinger rolled around, Eddie Murphy was pretty much the go-to guy for any dual role part, but the movie wasn’t always intended to play that way. Steve Martin, who both starred in and wrote the movie, had actually penned the part of Kit Ramsey for Reeves (whom he had worked with a decade earlier in Parenthood).

“When Steve gave me the script for Bowfinger, it wasn't written for Eddie Murphy,” producer Brian Grazer explained. “It was written for a white action star. It was written for Keanu Reeves, literally. I said, 'Why does it have to be an action star?' He said, 'That's the joke.' I said: 'What if it were Eddie Murphy, and Eddie Murphy played two characters? That could be really funny.' He said: 'You know, that'd be great—that'd be brilliant. Let's do that.' He processed it in about a minute, and he made a creative sea change.”

7. WATCHMEN (2009)

A year before Zack Snyder’s Watchmen hit theaters, Reeves confirmed to MTV what many had speculated: that he had turned down the chance to play Dr. Manhattan in the highly anticipated adaptation. But it wasn’t because of lack of interest on Reeves’ part; it just “didn't work out.” Still, he made it as far as a set visit: “They were shooting in Vancouver while we were filming so I went over to the set to say, 'hi.' They showed me some stuff and it looks amazing! I can’t wait. It’s going to be so killer, man!”

8. TROPIC THUNDER (2008)

By the time Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder made its way into theaters in the summer of 2008, the meta-comedy had been more than a decade in the making. So it’s understandable that the final product veered from Stiller’s original plan for the film, which included Reeves playing the role of Tugg Speedman (Stiller’s eventual part). Initially, Stiller had planned to cast himself as smarmy agent Rick Peck (Matthew McConaughey picked up the slack).

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