Famous Sibling Rivalries

Beth Fhaner
 | Oct 01, 2018
Vanya, Sonia and Masha

THE SIBLINGS: Vanya (Tim Bagley), Sonia (Jenna Cole) and Masha (Pamela J. Gray).

Other famous sibling rivalries:

  • The Andrews Sisters
  • Julia and Eric Roberts
  • Jim and John Harbaugh
  • Ashlee and Jessica Simpson
  • Peyton and Eli Manning

In Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, sibling rivalries are rekindled when Vanya and Sonia’s glamorous movie-star sister, Masha, and her much younger boy toy, Spike, come to visit for a weekend at the family country house in Bucks County, Penn. As resentments rage among the middle-aged siblings—and Masha announces she’s selling the farmhouse—the entire household gets hilariously upended in this Tony Award-winning comedy. In keeping with the theme of sibling rivalry, we thought we’d take a look at some famous, real-life sibling rivalries that have captured the public’s attention through the years.

Ann Landers and Dear Abby

​Pauline Friedman Phillips and her twin sister, Eppie Lederer

Eppie Lederer & Pauline Phillips (Ann Landers & Dear Abby)

Although you might not recognize the names Eppie Lederer and Pauline Phillips, you’re most likely familiar with “Ann Landers” and “Abigail Van Buren,” the names the identical twins wrote under as advice columnists. Eppie took over the “Ask Ann Landers” column in 1955, and Pauline tried to duplicate her sister’s success with her own column, “Dear Abby.” The sisters competed with their dueling columns, and at one point Pauline allegedly offered to write “Dear Abby” for their hometown newspaper for less pay if the paper promised not to print “Ask Ann.” The feud reached its zenith in 1958 when Life magazine published an article titled “Twin Lovelorn Advisers Torn Asunder by Success,” which contained bitter exchanges. During the next 10 years, the sisters didn’t communicate. The decades-long feud between the late advice columnists has reportedly continued through the twins’ children.

Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine

​Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine

Olivia de Havilland & Joan Fontaine

Sisters Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine—known for their film roles in the 1930s and ’40s—began giving each other the silent treatment in the early 1940s and it lasted for more than half a century. Apparently, their feud began in childhood, when they would compete for attention from their mother. They later fought over men, film roles and even an Oscar when they were both nominated for Best Actress in 1942, and little sister Joan won the coveted award. Olivia won her Oscar five years later. Joan claimed that Olivia never told her of their mother’s passing, while Olivia said Joan was too busy to attend services. The hatchet was finally buried upon Joan’s death in December 2013. In 2018, de Havilland marked her 102nd birthday.

Williams Sisters

​Serena and Venus Williams

Serena & Venus Williams

Tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams have a loving rivalry and they enjoy a close relationship off the court. However, on the court, they’re definitely a force to be reckoned with, whether they’re playing for an individual title or as a doubles team. When they have to compete against each other, they’re fierce competitors and they both want to win. Naturally, the sisters have admitted that facing off against each other is something they don’t enjoy doing. As two of the best tennis players in the world, they’re tough opponents on court. When they’re not playing each other, the sisters provide support by watching each other’s matches.

Liam and Noel Gallagher

Noel and Liam Gallagher

Liam & Noel Gallagher

Perhaps the most famous celebrity sibling rivalry of the last few decades has been that of the Gallagher brothers. As bandmates in the legendary Britpop band Oasis, the brothers have been fighting publically since the ’90s. Liam hit Noel with a tambourine in 1994 and they’ve been feuding ever since with their Twitter fights, physical fights and even legal battles. In January 2018, Noel declared that he had no intention of reuniting Oasis. Liam then got nominated for a 2018 BRIT Award and the rivalry continues.


​Madonna and Anthony Ciccone

Madonna & Anthony Ciccone

Early on in Madonna’s career, her brother Christopher Ciccone worked closely with her in roles that included assistant, stylist and art director. However, the two stopped speaking with each other right before the publication of his 2008 memoir, “Life with My Sister Madonna.” Ciccone's tell-all memoir divulged intimate details about the “Material Girl’s” private life, including information about her ex-husband, children and career. The once-close siblings didn’t speak to each other for several years, but have since patched things up.

Learn more about Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, and buy tickets.