Susan Sarandon has four brothers and four sisters
As the oldest of nine children, Susan Sarandon often served as a second mother to her younger siblings.
The Thelma & Louise star was born on Oct. 4, 1946, in Jackson Heights, New York, to Lenora Tomalin (née Criscione) and Army Lt. Phillip Leslie Tomalin. Susan was later joined by brothers Phillip Jr., Tim, Terry and O’Brian, plus sisters Meredith “Merry,” Bonnie, Amanda and Melissa “Missy."
The family later planted roots in Edison, New Jersey, where Susan and her siblings attended an all-boys and all-girls Catholic school, respectively. In an interview with CT Insider, Susan explained that the 20-year age gap between her and the youngest sibling led her brothers and sisters to see her more as a maternal figure.
“[I] was the hip the kids was on,” she quipped.
Susan reiterated her weight of responsibility to TimeOut, adding that “being at the top” kept her in check and on track.
“Being at the top, I had a lot of responsibility, which was a good thing, as I tended to be spacey and always daydreaming. Lately, most of my brothers and sisters have told me that they looked to me as a mother figure,” the actress told the outlet.
Her parents “were pretty overwhelmed” with their big family too, having come from small families themselves. “Neither of them had families, so they ended up finding each other and creating this huge tribe with very little knowledge or example to follow of how to deal with kids,” Susan said.
In 2010, Susan and her family were one of the subjects of Ancestry’s Who Do You Think You Are? series. The episode followed the famous actress as she scoured dozens of records and explored the Italian countryside in hopes of learning more about her grandmother’s life and journey to America.
That wasn’t the first time Susan teamed up with a team of DNA experts to explore her ancestry. She and 10 of her relatives also traveled to Wales to learn more about their father’s genealogy in a BBC documentary titled Coming Home.
Keep reading to learn more about Susan Sarandon and her siblings.
Their father relocated the family to New Jersey for a better life
Lenora and Phillip Sr. started their family while living in Jackson Heights in Queens, New York, but as their brood continued to grow, Phillip Sr. made the decision to move his family across the Hudson to New Jersey.
“My father wanted to get us out of the city, couldn’t afford [it] and we bought this little house in New Jersey,” Susan said in an interview on Live With Kelly and Ryan (now known as Live With Kelly and Mark).
Susan and her siblings grew up in a township called Edison, located in Middlesex County. They were a family of swimmers, competing at their local private club Woodside Swim Club. “She was one of the best swimmers around,” Phillip Sr. said of Susan’s aquatic talent to The Central New Jersey Homes News.
The siblings attended Edison High School, where Susan was later inducted into the hall of fame as an alum. In 2010, Susan also had the honor of being inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame for her accomplishments in arts and entertainment.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show star jokingly added that she’s just waiting for her hometown to establish a rest stop in her honor.
Susan and her siblings were raised Catholic
Having attended and taught at a Catholic boarding school, religion was a cornerstone of Lenora’s life and how she raised her nine children. She was a devout Catholic and volunteered for several charities all her life, but not all her children felt the same way.
Susan went to a Catholic grammar school, where she was taught by nuns. On an episode of Oprah’s Master Class, she admitted that certain aspects of the religion “didn’t make sense” and “there was a problem" when she would ask questions.
One instance she recalled was when she was in the third grade and asked why a marriage must take place in the Catholic Church. “I had to go stand in the hallway,” she said of her punishment. “That’s when the trouble began.”
She continued, “I think that all religions at their core have some really magnificent teachings, and most of them are very similar. It's the institutionalization of these religious principles that don't serve me well."
Her brother Phillip was the only sibling who attended her 1967 wedding
According to Susan, her wedding to ex-husband Chris Sarandon in 1967 “was a very successful trip.” During an interview on Chris’ podcast, Cooking by Heart, Susan recalled that her brother Phillip “hooked up with one of the bridesmaids” and her mother was pregnant at the time.
The oldest of her eight siblings, Susan said her mother “was just basically pregnant all the time” and “had a number of miscarriages.” Lenora was 44 years old when her daughter, who was 20 at the time, walked down the aisle. “I think she was embarrassed,” Susan said of the timing of her mother’s pregnancy. She added that her mother wasn’t too keen on the idea of her getting married either.
Phillip Jr. was the only sibling in attendance alongside the actress' mother and father. During the event, Lenora wore “a black raincoat” and sat “at the back of the church, for like, 10 minutes," Susan said.
While their marriage eventually ended 12 years later in 1979, Chris commended Susan for being “an extraordinary human being” and “terrific person.”
Her brother Terry was the Tampa Bay Times’ outdoors editor for more than 25 years
Susan isn’t the only sibling to master their craft — as her brother Terry was a prolific journalist.
Upon graduating from the University of South Florida in 1984, Terry began his journalism career at the Daily Commercial in Leesburg, Florida, and later, the Lakeland Ledger. In 1986, he was hired as a police reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, but a backpacking trip through New Zealand led Terry to find his true calling: the outdoors.
Following his life-changing excursion, Terry returned to the Tampa Bay Times, where he was named the outdoors editor. He served more than 25 years as the newspaper’s lead outdoorsman. His assignments took him all over the world, including the Everglades, Bahamas, and Mexico.
"He joked that he could get through life without ever putting on a pair of long pants. He smelled like he got up at 4 a.m. and went fishing before work, which he did,” colleague and former sports deputy managing editor Jack Sheppard told the Tampa Bay Times.
Meredith works as a high end florist in Massachusetts
The fourth oldest in the family, Meredith currently works as a florist at The Botaniste in Easthampton, Massachusetts.
At the full-service florist boutique, Meredith helps curate one-of-a-kind wedding arrangements and other general floral pieces, as well as house renovation projects, per her staff bio.
Prior to joining The Botaniste, Meredith worked as a real estate agent, hair stylist and restaurateur.
Terry died in 2016
Terry died from a heart attack on May 19, 2016, at the age of 55. The “larger-than-life outdoors editor” died while training for his lifeguard accreditation alongside his then-14-year-old son, Kai, per an obituary published by the Tampa Bay Times. Terry collapsed during his test and never regained consciousness, the outlet reported.
"We are devastated," his wife, St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, told the newspaper. "He loved us. He loved his family so much, and we loved him."
Terry married Kanika in 1999. The pair are parents to son Kai and daughter Nia.
"Terry became one of those dads that every kid really wants," Dave Mistretta, a charter boat captain and close friend of Terry, told the paper. "He was devoted. That's what I saw shine in him. It was all about morals and being a good person. He wanted his kids to turn out right."
Susan and her siblings have a combined total of 24 kids
There are 24 grandchildren between Susan and her siblings.
The Maybe I Do star is mom to three children. She and ex Franco Amurri share daughter Eva Amurri, who they welcomed in 1985, and Susan also has two sons, Jack Henry and Miles Robbins, with ex Tim Robbins.
Her late brother Terry welcomed two children, son Kai and daughter Nai, with his wife, whom he married in 1999.
Meredith also has three daughters and a son.
Amanda has a family of her own as well, but steers away from social media and the spotlight.
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