In this modern day and age, curses stick out like a sore thumb. After all, how do you expect a rational individual to believe all that nonsense? But as the saying goes, “old habits die hard,” and sometimes we can’t help but feel that we want to believe the supernatural. So—rational thinking aside—let’s all be scared witless with the stories of 10 families unlucky enough to have their very own god-awful curse.
10 The Grimaldi Curse
This is one curse that every unhappy spouse can relate to. The sad string of “unhappily-ever-afters” for the current members of Monaco’s ruling family can be attributed to two of their ancestors being total creeps. The first—Francesco Grimaldi—was said to begin the family’s eventual domination of the tiny city-state after he and his forces captured the fortress from rival claimants. He dressed himself up as a monk and successfully tricked the guards into opening the gates of the fortress.
Another ancestor—Prince Rainer I—upped the ante in the jerk department when he abducted and raped a beautiful maiden. As revenge, the maiden became a witch and proclaimed “Never will a Grimaldi find true happiness in marriage.”
The curse has rung true since Prince Rainier III’s wife—the American actress Grace Kelly—died in a car accident. Their three children soon became embroiled in their own scandals and misfortunes. The eldest daughter, Princess Caroline, divorced her first husband, was widowed by her second husband, and there are allegations that her third marriage is on the rocks as well. At the same time, her younger sister, Princess Stephanie, went through a potpourri of men that included her bodyguard, an elephant trainer, and a circus acrobat, leading to three children born out of wedlock.
Their brother, Prince Albert II, has so far dodged the proverbial bullet and is still married to former Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock—although their union has had its fair share of controversies, from the prince’s playboy past to Wittstock nearly calling off the wedding.
9 The Kennedy Curse
While the Kennedy Curse has already been discussed in a previous list, we have to come back to it because there’s been another victim since that list was published. The death in question was that of the second wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who committed suicide in 2012. That incident revived talk about the infamous curse that has haunted the Kennedy family for ages, which begs the question: Who started this curse?
If the stories are to be believed, it was John F. Kennedy’s great-grandfather Thomas Fitzgerald who started it all. In 1842, he discovered a chest full of gold coins in an Irish village. Supposedly, the coins were cursed, and the village from which he took them was soon destroyed. Fitzgerald fled with his treasure to Boston, where he used it to start his own business and was soon filthy rich.
Another origin story of the curse came from JFK’s father, Joseph, who had an unfortunate run-in with some Jews. According to the tale, he told a rabbi and his students to stop their prayers while they were on a passenger ship together. Angry, the rabbi cursed him and claimed that his descendants would suffer great misfortune. In another version, it was a Jewish father who placed the curse on Joseph after he refused to help his sons escape from a concentration camp. In yet one more account of the curse, it was an entire Jewish village that cursed Kennedy after they discovered he was dealing weapons to the Nazis. The man must have had some serious issues.
8 Curse Of The Dragon
Just based on the title alone you probably know where this is going. The untimely and eerily mysterious circumstances surrounding the deaths of martial arts legend Bruce Lee and his son Brandon have been timeless fodder for a number of conspiracy theories that refuse to die. In addition to the theory about the Chinese Mafia/Kung Fu masters plotting to kill them, we have the more supernatural premise that Bruce and his son were the victims of a family curse brought on by Bruce’s father, Lee Hoi Chuen.
According to the story, one day Lee Hoi Chuen angered a group of Chinese merchants. They placed a curse on him, saying that all the males of his family would die young. True or not, the elder Lee and his wife took this curse very seriously—after the death of their firstborn son (who would have been Bruce’s older brother), they constantly addressed Bruce with the feminine name of Sai Fon (Small Phoenix) at home in order to confound the evil spirits. The so-called curse theory eventually gained even more steam after the movie Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story came out, which depicted a Bruce Lee lookalike fighting a physical manifestation of the demon who haunted the family. The movie itself was released a mere two months after Brandon’s own death—another creepy coincidence.
7 The Curse Of The Nepalese Royal Family
Back in 2001, the entire world was shocked when Nepalese Crown Prince Dipendra shot and killed his father, mother, and seven other members of the royal family before turning the gun on himself. It had been speculated that he was distraught over his family’s refusal to accept his bride and had been drinking heavily before the massacre took place. The prince lapsed into a three-day coma, during which he was proclaimed king before passing away. His uncle Gyanendra became king and ruled for a number of years in a period marked by turbulence and conflict before the monarchy was finally abolished in favor of a democratic republic in 2008.
Some superstitious citizens, however, were less than surprised by the outcome, since the end of the monarchy had already been predicted more than 200 years ago. According to the legend, Prithvi Narayan Shah—Nepal’s first king—met and gave some curd to a yogi named Gorakhnath, who promptly vomited and offered it back to the king. Disgusted (and we would be too), the king refused his regurgitated offering, which earned the ire of Gorakhnath. Gorakhnath announced that the king’s descendants’ reign would end after the tenth generation. As foretold, Dipendra (tenth generation) and Gyanendra (ninth generation) actually became the last kings of Nepal.
6 The Coburg-Kohary Curse
While we know that constant inbreeding among the royal families of Europe propagated the spread of hereditary diseases such as hemophilia, one prominent family at the time attributed the affliction to a curse placed by a disgruntled monk. As the story goes, the monk was a Kohary who was left out of his inheritance after the object of his affection—a relative named Antoinette Kohary—married Ferdinand Coburg instead. The bride’s father was so impressed by their union that he left all their wealth to the newlywed couple—this infuriated the monk, who went on to place a curse on their descendants.
Whether the curse is real or not, many members of the Coburg-Kohary line did suffer from misfortune. As mentioned above, a number died prematurely due to hemophilia or other diseases like typhoid. Those who intermarried with other European royalties also brought hemophilia with them, with the most prominent victims being the Romanovs. Besides the physical afflictions, the curse also supposedly diminished the mental fortitude of some family members—as evidenced during World War II when Belgian king Leopold III was accused of selling out to the Germans.
5 The Hapsburg Curse
For the Hapsburgs—at one time one of Europe’s most powerful and influential families—the curse that afflicted their family literally came from the birds. Specifically, ravens. The curse allegedly started the moment their ancestors slaughtered all the ravens that resided in their home castle. After that, supernatural ravens called Turnfalken started to appear before or during the demise of family members, including, allegedly, Marie Antoinette’s execution.
Another curse that hounded the Hapsburgs was put in place by Countess Karolyi against Francis Joseph, a Hapsburg and ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. She uttered the curse after the 18-year-old emperor had his son executed after joining a failed Hungarian rebellion. From then on, Francis Joseph’s reign was beset with numerous tragedies. Although he survived an assassination attempt, his wife wasn’t as lucky. His only son committed suicide along with his lover inside a hunting lodge.
Still other members of his family were either killed, injured, or went insane. Perhaps the climax of the infamous Hapsburg curse happened with the assassination of his nephew, Archduke Franz Ferdinand—which later set the stage for World War I and the eventual end of the Hapsburgs.
4 Curse Of The Wodeyars
Alamelamma must have really hated Raja Wodeyar of Mysore Kingdom to have cursed him not once, but three times. At that time the Raja—the ninth ruler of the Wodeyar dynasty—and his forces had routed her husband’s army and forced them to abandon their base in Srirangapatna. The defeated couple fled to Talakad, a temple town near Mysore, where Alamelamma brought a set of precious jewels that she used to regularly adorn a statue of her patron deity. The Raja sent his men to pursue her with the intent of confiscating the precious jewels. To avoid capture, she took the jewels and committed suicide by jumping into the Cauvery River.
Just before her death, she pronounced a three-part curse wherein Talakad would become a desert and the nearby town of and Malangi would become a whirlpool area, while the Wodeyars would have no offspring. While present skeptics have been quick to dismiss the first two curses as the result of environmental changes, the third one has continued to confound them—for the past 400 years, the Wodeyars only had male children in every other generation, leading to very problematic issues regarding succession to the throne. But hey, that’s better than having no kids at all, right?
3 The Onassis Family Curse
Is it really possible for a curse to transfer from one family to another? According some Greeks, that’s essentially what happened when JFK’s widow, Jackie Kennedy, brought the infamous Kennedy Curse with her when she married Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis in 1968. According to them, that curse brought about the untimely death of Aristotle’s only son Alexander—he was killed in a plane crash in 1973. From there it went downhill for the rest of the Onassis family.
Aristotle’s first wife (Alexander’s mother) killed herself a year after learning of her son’s death. She was followed a year later by Aristotle, who died a sick and broken man. Alexander’s sister Christina also died in 1988 of a heart attack due to depression. As for the once magnificent Onassis financial empire, that too crumbled away. The remnants were given to the last surviving member of the family, Christina’s daughter Athina. The heiress has so far managed to avoid the infamous curse, living in relative obscurity with her husband Alvaro Affonso de Miranda Neto and her two stepchildren in Brazil.
2 The Guinness Family Curse
The Guinnesses—one of Ireland’s most accomplished clans and famous brewers of the Guinness beer brand—have had their share of bad luck throughout history. Granted, such a large family is bound to be in trouble from time to time in accordance with the law of averages. But with the Guinnesses, those misfortunes looked like something out a Final Destination plot.
Arthur Guinness—the patriarch and founder of the brewery—lost 10 of his 21 offspring while building his empire. After his death, other family members either became poor, insane, or alcoholics. It was during the Second World War that talk of a “Guinness Curse” really took off—two prominent family members were killed, one by Jewish terrorists, and one during a battle just weeks before the war ended. In the aftermath of the war, a series of deaths ranging from suicides, car crashes, and freak accidents (one family member hit her head on the toilet seat and drowned in the bathtub while in the middle a drug session) gave further credence to the curse. Even animals were not spared from the curse, as one of Ireland’s most famous racehorses (the owner’s mother was a Guinness) was abducted by the Irish Republican Army and never seen again.
1 The Von Erich Curse
The world of pro wrestling has had its fair share of tragedies. Aside from the usual high number of injuries—the cause of which is readily apparent—we often hear about sad incidents of wrestlers and their untimely deaths, the most recent being Eddie Guerrero’s collapse inside a hotel room due to heart failure, and Chris Benoit’s double murder/suicide of his wife and son. Yet even these depressing cases pale in comparison to the so-called curse of the Von Erich wrestling family.
Dubbed the Kennedys of the wrestling world in the 1980s, the Von Erichs and their patriarch Fritz (real name Jack Adkisson) experienced their first loss when the eldest of the six male children—six-year-old Jack Jr.—was accidentally electrocuted and drowned in a puddle of wet snow near their home. Afterwards, a chain of disasters befell the family. Fritz’s third child, David, died from a serious case of gastroenteritis, while Kerry (fourth), Michael (fifth), and Chris (sixth) committed suicide via drug overdose.
Only Fritz’s second son Kevin lived on to continue wrestling before retiring in 1993. Now with the third generation of Von Erichs (Kevin’s two sons and Kerry’s daughter) currently following their grandfather’s footsteps, we can only hope that they avoid the curse that almost destroyed their bloodline.
Marc V. is always open for a conversation, so do drop him a line sometime.