Funny woman Carol Burnett's parents both suffered with alcoholism. She was raised by her grandmother Mabel Eudora White after their divorce.
The founder of Apple was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs after he was given up due to objections from his maternal grandparents.
Before he was the master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe was taken in and raised by Virginiana merchant John Allan after his mother died of tuberculosis.
Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis was given up for adoption at 8 months old.
Born Norma Jean Mortenson (changed to Baker shortly thereafter), Monroe was raised in a succession of foster homes and orphanages after her mother was deemed mentally unfit to care for her.
The author of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" was raised by Fr. Francis Xavier Morgan at the Birmingham Oratory after the death of his mother.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela was raised as a ward of the regent of the Thembu people.
The Beatles superstar was raised by his aunt and uncle Mimi and George Smith after a custody dispute between his parents.
George Herman "Babe" Ruth, Jr., was apparently a bit of a terror as a child. He was sent to St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys after spending his youth "running the streets" and sneaking beer when his father wasn't looking.
W. Somerset Maugham was raised by his stern paternal uncle after his mother died of tuberculosis. The experience would shape his later novels like "Of Human Bondage" and "The Razor's Edge."
The 42nd president of the United States was left with his grandparents Eldridge and Edith Cassidy by his widowed mother, Virginia.
Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong was raised intermittently by his maternal grandmother and in a New Orleans orphanage.
Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, was raised in foster care after the death of his father and the commitment of his mother into a hospital following a nervous breakdown.
Dave Thomas, founder of fast food chain Wendy's, was adopted at 6 weeks by Rex and Auleva Thomas.
Singer Ella Fitzgerald had a bit of a storied youth: She was placed in an orphanage, and then a girls reformitory, from which she ran away. She was homeless for a time, and worked as a lookout at a bordello as a child.