Famous Sisters who were Rivals

Sisters who were Rivals

Reading Time: 5 minutes

There are many records of famous sisters who were rivals, which is sad, as the love of a sister is a real blessing. Here are just some interesting sisters, which includes, the Bronte Sisters, Boleyn Sisters, the Andrew Sisters, through to the Gabor sisters and Cleopatra.

Mary and Boleyn, Famous Sisters who were Rivals

The Boleyn sisters’ rivalry was deadly in that they both vied for the attention of the same man, King Henry VIII.

Mary Boleyn had a reputation for promiscuous behaviour, and was King Henry VIII’s mistress, until she was married off to a friend of the king. It was rumoured that the son she bore, was in fact, King Henry’s unacknowledged son. King Henry placed the boy into his Aunt Anne’s custody.

Mary was the prettier of the two girls and reported to be a skilled lover, but she lacked her sister’s style and wit. However, Anne was more popular, but their parents had favoured Mary over Anne. When Anne’s marriage, to an Irish cousin fell through, she set her sights on her sister’s old lover, King Henry.

Anne spent six years trying to win the king’s affections, though she was more ambitious and cunning than her sister. She refused to be beguiled into the king’s bed. Anne finally achieved her goal and was married to the king before the king’s marriage to Queen Catherine was annulled.

After Anne’s marriage, Mary became a lady-in-waiting to her sister. Mary’s first husband had died. Trouble set in when Mary secretly married beneath her station, angering both the King and Queen Anne. This resulted in Mary’s banishment from the royal court.

Anne gave birth to Queen Elizabeth I, but her short three-year reign came to a bloody-end when she was beheaded for treason and adultery. Mary lived on for another seven years, though she remained in obscurity. An interesting fact is that Mary was Princess Diana Spencer’s 13th great-grandmother on her father’s side.

The Bronte Sisters are Famous Sister who were Rivals

Little is said about the Bronte girls, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, three more famous sisters who were rivals. All three were authors.

Of the three Bronte sisters, most people know Charlotte, the author of Jane Eyre and Emily the author of Wuthering Heights. However, little is known about Anne, who may have been the better storyteller of the three girls.

It is believed that Charlotte stole her idea for Jane Eyre, from Anne’s Agnes Grey. The Penguin Publishing Group are reported as saying, “Charlotte had always underestimated and patronized Anne.” It is also believed that Anne used her book The Tenant of Wildfell Hall to critique both Jane Eyre and Emily and their writings. Sadly, Charlotte disappeared into oblivion.

Eva and Zsa Zsa Gabor

Both Gabor sisters were in the entertainment business in Hollywood. In 1990, the Los Angeles Times even went so far as to playfully tally up their “wins”: Eva was skinnier. Zsa Zsa had more marriages, being married nine times to Eva’s five. Eva sold wigs and created a fashion line. Zsa Zsa sold costume jewellery and skin cream.

Ultimately, even though Eva was the more successful actress, ironically, people often confused the two Gabor sisters, though little is said about the third sister, Magda. All three were Hollywood socialites, but behind them was a domineering mother.

Jackie Kennedy and Lee Randizwill

John Vernou Bouvier III and his wife, Janet Lee had two daughters. Jackie was an American socialite, writer, photographer, and book editor who became a very impressive first lady of the United States. Her younger sister usually known as Princess Lee Radziwill, was an American socialite, public-relations executive, and interior decorator. She was listed as one of the 50 best-dressed people over 50 by The Guardian in March 2013.

There was an intense rivalry between these two sisters, right from the start. Their father doted on Jackie, while their mother’s favourite was the younger Lee. Their mother instilled in them the acquisition of wealth and power was the ultimate goal in life, rather than anything so sentimental as love or loyalty.

While Jackie ended up marrying up-and-coming political star, John F. Kennedy, Lee snagged the Polish Prince Stanislaw Albrecht Radziwill. One sister became First Lady, while the other became a Princess.

After the death of John F. Kennedy, Jackie moved on and married the Greek shipping magnate, Onassis, one of the wealthiest men in the world. After her prince died, Lee married a film director and choreographer. Both girls fulfilled what their mother had instilled in them.

Joan and Jackie Collins, More Famous Sister who were Rivals

Jackie Collins was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for her services to fiction and charity. She was a celebrated author for 55 years. Joan Collins, was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth in 2015 for her charitable services. She celebrated her 70th year in show business in 2021. While Joan was the beautiful, glamorous four-year older sister, Jackie suffered from the ‘sibling inferiority complex’.

In 1983, Jackie became a celebrity of near equal status to her sister Joan, who was playing a leading role in the television drama, Dynasty. Joan was the big Hollywood star, but Jackie was the ‘Queen of flash and trash.’ Her book Hollywood Wives was a commercial success.

Joan Collins published her first book in 1988, but she never achieved the author status her younger sister did, just as Jackie never achieved the film-star status of Joan. Both sisters were immensely glamorous, and powerful Hollywood women, though they lived entirely different lives, having fulfilled their mother’s demanding expectations.

The Andrew Sisters

The list of famous sisters who were rivals, goes on and on.

The Andrews Sisters trio became the best-selling female vocal group of all times, but their competing with one another, was notorious. This included a period of two years when LaVerne and Maxene didn’t speak to Patty. After LaVerne died, Maxene and Patty continued performing together, but they never ceased their feuding. 

Patty said, “It was merely a disagreement. One that started in 1937 and is still going.” Maxene said their intense loathing of each other came from “Too many years of working too closely together.”

Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland

These famous film star sisters had a celebrity feud that started at birth and ended only when Olivia died. De Havilland became an actress first and only agreed to help her sister if she changed her name. Fontaine agreed and took their stepfather’s surname.

In 1942, both were nominated for an Oscar in the same category. The sisters were seated at the same table. Fontaine later wrote that she felt she was back at age 4 when she won the Oscar. “I felt Olivia would spring across the table and grab me by the hair.”

De Havilland called Fontaine “Dragon Lady, a brilliant, multi-talented person, but with an astigmatism in her perception of people and events, which often caused her to react in an unfair and even injurious way.” The death of their mother caused the feud between the sisters, to deepen.

Cleopatra and Asinoe

We will end this article on rivalling sisters with the infamous Cleopatra and her younger half-sister, Arsinoe. Cleopatra, the ruthless, beautiful and skilled diplomat, has been well documented throughout history, with her seduction of Julius Caesar, then Mark Anthony. The 20-year-old Arsinoe and Cleopatra were bitter political rivals. It was said that Arsinoe “Burned with ambition and not the kind of girl who inspired complacency.”

Arsinoe was the head of the Egyptian army and proclaimed herself as Queen Arsinoe IV. She conducted the siege of Alexandra against Julius Caesar and her sister. Julius Caesar took Arsinoe to Rome as a prisoner of war until she was granted sanctuary and exiled to the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. Before Cleopatra committed the ultimate sacrifice for love, through suicide, Cleopatra coerced Mark Anthony into ordering the execution of her sister. Arsinoe’s murder was a gross violation of the Temple’s sanctuary and an act that scandalised Rome, although Cleopatra had been instrumental in the death of her other two siblings.


Having read some of the famous sisters who became bitter rivals, that frequently led to one of the rivals being destroyed, we need to reflect on the immense value of sisterly love. This is one of Joni’s articles and well worth the read. It is also note worthy to understand that often it was the ambition of the mother, that drove the sisters.

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