November 18, 1996 12:00 PM

“The lucky sperm club.” That’s what Chad McQueen (son of actor Steve) has dubbed it. The dozen young people pictured here share a unique bond: a marquee name. Sometimes that has helped a showbiz career and sometimes it has been a burden. The sons and daughters of Hollywood royalty share memories too. Growing up with renowned parents has a special fizz.

Sage Stallone son of Sylvester Stallone

Raised mostly by his mother, Sasha, the first Mrs. Sly, who was divorced from Stallone in 1985, Sage, now 20, didn’t get to know his famous father well until he was a teenager. “I grew up with my mother,” he says. “My father was never around.” Dad, whose own career took off with Rocky the year Sage was born, was off making movies and squiring a postdivorce stable of women including Susan Anton, his second wife, Brigitte Nielsen, Cornelia Guest, Alana Hamilton and Angie Everhart.

Still, Sage, whose brother Seargeoh, 19, is autistic, could not escape the Rambo image. “I hated school,” he says. “The kids would always hassle me about my father and go, ‘Rocky, Rocky, wanna fight with me?’ I didn’t have a lot of friends. Growing up, I’d hang out with the [house] guards.”

After Sly gave Sage a part in 1990’s Rocky V, their relationship blossomed. “I can talk to him about anything,” says Sage, a high school graduate who lives in L.A. “He’s a really cool guy.” Father and son went to polo games and played soccer, and Sage, who will appear in his father’s film Daylight next month, became comfortable with the mad, mad world of stardom. “I would walk into his room at night, and he’d have like 50 acupuncture needles sticking in his face. It was incredible. He’d say, ‘Why don’t you try it? It’s good for you.’ ” Less upsetting was the string of striking women passing through. “I saw so much of it that I didn’t care anymore,” says Sage. “It was, like, ‘Oh, she’s beautiful.’ I’m very happy my father’s slowed down. He’s got a really good thing going with [model] Jennifer Flavin now. I was there when the baby, Sophia, was born in August. It was hard-core.” Professionally, “the Stallone name helps and it hurts,” says Sage. “I could be doing film after film right now, but that would be because they wanted the name Stallone on the video box. It would take a magnifying glass to find ‘Sage.’ ”

Chad McQueen son of Steve McQueen

The name game also bothers Chad McQueen, 35, an actor whose career began with a bit part in his dad’s The Getaway (1972) and subsequent roles in; films like The Karate Kid. “When I was starting out,” says the burly, well-muscled McQueen, “I had the feeling that I should be Chad Jones and let them look at me not as the son of somebody who was an actor. That was a year of torment.” But he never did change his name, perhaps because Chad and his father were very close. Steve divorced Chad’s mother, Neile Adams, in 1971. The 11-year-old Chad went with Dad; his older sister Terry (now a homemaker) stayed with Mom. “It was very secure knowing I wasn’t just being left by him,” says McQueen. Two years later, his father married actress Ali MacGraw. “She was a good stepmom. Every night she cooked dinner. My dad was big on home-cooked meals,” he says. “It’s not like I went to her with every problem—I mostly went to my old man for that—but, like, she’d know when I got suspended from school. When my dad got a new wife [model Barbara Minty, in 1979], we sort of moved on to the third segment.” Chad had a fierce loyalty to his father, who died of cancer at age 50 in 1980. “That’s why I got in so many fights as a kid,” he says of his turbulent high school years. “And my dad was behind me 100 percent. There was never any problem at home if I’d knocked somebody out.” Chad, who skipped college, shared with his father a lifelong love of cars and motorcycles. The two spent time together dirt-biking and bodysurfing. “A lot of my values are like my dad’s,” he says. “I try to be quiet like him. Growing up, I didn’t understand his distrust of people. But getting older, I do now.”

Melanie Shatner daughter of William Shatner

The youngest daughter of Captain Kirk missed the TV version of Star Trek. “I loved the movies,” says Melanie Shatner, 32, an actress who has a regular gig on Madison, a Canadian version of Beverly Hills, 90210. “But I never watched the TV show much. And when I was at the University of Colorado, it seemed like that was what everyone did who I thought was a little weird.”

Her own upbringing with two sisters was anything but strange. “I don’t know how my dad did it,” she says, “and I’d like to learn when I have children—but he brought us up with the perfect balance of non-awareness of his celebrity, and yet we got to travel with him when he worked.” It was so low-key, in fact, that when Melanie’s grade school friends would say her dad was cute, she’d think, “Oh, that’s odd.” And, she adds, “As I got older, the moms were always in love with my dad, and that was odd too.” (Shatner and Melanie’s mom, Gloria Rand, divorced in 1965.)

Father and daughter remain close. “Ours is an ever-growing relationship,” says dad Shatner, “like any relationship should be.” Says Melanie, who lives in L.A. and Vancouver, B.C., with her boyfriend, actor Joel Gretch: “My dad’s like my best friend after my boyfriend. It’s an amazing relationship.” And a funny one too. “My dad’s really big on practical jokes,” says Melanie. “He’ll do something like put something on his face at a serious dinner party when no one is looking and then stare at me. I’ve left more rooms on my hands and knees from laughing and not being able to catch my breath because of that.”

Bentley Mitchum son of Christopher Mitchum and grandson of Robert Mitchum

“The only advice my grandfather gave me about acting was, ‘Say what you mean. Show up on time. And don’t trip over the cables’ ” says Bentley Mitchum, 29. The third generation of the Mitchum dynasty, Bentley costarred with Ashley Judd (another child of fame) in the 1993 feature Ruby in Paradise. He and his girlfriend, actress Noëlle Balfour, recently moved from L.A. to New York City. As a child, though, he barely had time to settle down. “My dad was doing foreign films throughout Europe and Asia,” he says. “I went to some 30 different schools.” After the family touched down in Santa Barbara, Calif., Bentley says, “I wanted to do prosthetic makeup. Then, in 1985, my dad, grandfather and I did a CBS movie. Promises to Keep. It was a good de-virginizing experience for me.” Still, he says, “I’m sure people look at me with more scrutiny than someone who doesn’t come from an acting family.”

Shannon Lee daughter of Bruce Lee and sister of Brandon Lee

Fate delivered a one-two punch to Shannon Lee. When she was 4 years old, in 1973, her father, martial arts icon Bruce Lee, died of a brain edema. In 1993 her older brother Brandon was killed by a prop gun on the set of The Crow. “I don’t have a lot of clear memories about my dad,” says the actress, now 26. But she misses her brother. “I think he came to view himself as my protector,” she says. (Their mother, Linda, married stockbroker Bruce Cadwell in 1991.) The brother-sister relationship was typical. “We had this record of the haunted house,” says Lee, “and Brandon would say, ‘Let’s go to your room and listen to it with the lights out.’ Then he’d go out and hold the door shut. I’d be screaming and crying.” Lee, who lives with her art dealer husband, Ian Keasler, in West L.A., is set to work in—what else—an action film. A music grad, she is seriously taking up martial arts for the first time. “It took me a long time to come to it because my dad was Bruce Lee,” she says. “But as I get older, I start to see the benefits of it more and more.”

Rain Pryor daughter of Richard Pryor

“We didn’t have the Demi MooreBruce Willis family. We didn’t have the Susan Sarandon family. We had the stereotypical ‘celebrity dad’s working, sleeping in the bedroom, drinking, drugging’ family. That was normal,” says actress Rain Pryor, 27, who costarred on the ’80s sitcom Head of the Class. After her father hit the road when she was a baby, she was raised by her mother, comedy writer Shelley Bonus. (Pryor has four more children from three other relationships.) They lived, she says, “on the wrong side of the tracks” in Beverly Hills, and “I would see my dad on the holidays. Christmas was impressive. There would be Roiex watches, diamonds, gold bracelets. It was ridiculous. What am I going to do with this? When I was with my mom, I would get the stuff I wanted, like Barbie dolls.” A rebel at Beverly Hills High School, she hung out, she says, “with the gang bangers and went to parties in the ‘hood. They didn’t care who my father was.” She became, however, what she despised: a material girl. “When I turned 19 and did Class,” she says, “I had lots of money. A Porsche. A house. I thought, ‘This is how Dad lived.’ One day I woke up and said, ‘I don’t want this anymore. See ya.’ ” Rain, who has finished the unreleased films Harley’s Angels and Lunchtime Special, says of her father, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, “I’ve come to accept that he does the best job he can possibly do. And I move on from there.”

Katie Wagner daughter of Robert Wagner

“It seems strange and wonderful to me now to think that we were growing up with Laurence Olivier staying in our guest house and David Niven swimming in our pool,” says Katie Wagner, 32. Her film and TV star father, of course, was at the center of tout Hollywood in the ’60s and ’70s, and his firstborn, a former model and MTV VJ who now interviews celebrities on cable’s Popcorn Channel, took it in stride. “Some people in Beverly Hills had tons of money. What I always had was a celebrity dad. Sometimes when my friends would come over, he would be in his underwear or whatever, and they would be, like, nervous, because they thought he was hot.”

Katie’s mother, interior designer Marion Wagner, was married to R.J. for seven years between his marriages to actress Natalie Wood. “I don’t really remember my mom and dad being together,” says Katie, whose parents divorced when she was 6 and who has a stepsister and a half sister (from Dad) and two half brothers (from Mom), “but I remember him with Natalie. They were so wildly in love.” And domestic, too. “They tried not to work at the same time. Natalie’s big thing was that she loved being a mother. She wanted a family unit.”

Katie, who attended Santa Barbara City College for one semester, says it’s tough to adjust to “the fact that life isn’t a storybook romance, the wonderful trips and all that. I’m in the back of the plane now, doing what I gotta do when I gotta do it.” Poppa is proud. “I admire her tenacity, her humor and her love of life,” he says. “It thrills me to see her flourish.”

Nick Savalas son of Telly Savalas

He’s not about to shave his head or suck a lollipop, but Kojak’s first son (Nick has six half siblings, including actress Nicol-lette Sheridan) says, “I have some of my dad’s traits, definitely.” One thing the 23-year-old actor, who has just finished an independent dark comedy called Lone Greasers, shares with his late father is a strong sense of independence. “I was the defiant one of the family,” he says. Their biggest fight was about his not going to college. “All my sisters went,” explains Nick, who says that he was an “L.A. punk” who attended an English boarding school. “Nicollette and I were the only ones who didn’t.” Nick lived mostly with his mother, Sally Adams (Savalas’s companion before his third marriage in 1984), and did not see enough of his father. “Everyone thinks, ‘Oh, what a great life.’ I’ve got money and fame and family. But what looks like a normal family has got problems.” By the time Savalas died of cancer in 1994, Nick says, “I was a maniac, a little brat.” His then girlfriend Tori Spelling, he says, “got the worst of me because she was, like, the closest one to me. I was out and partying and just being a jerk.” He has joined an alcohol recovery program and settled accounts with his father’s memory. Says Nick: “On the whole, he was a pretty good guy.”

Dweezil, Moon Unit, Ahmet & Diva Zappa children of Frank Zappa

The four offspring of one of rock’s original wild men and oddest talents have far-out names and grew up in an L.A. castle surrounded by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Keith Moon. They must be into sex, drugs and rock and roll, right? Wrong. “We’re the closest you can be to the Brady Bunch,” says Ahmet, 22, an actor and musician. “We’re probably the cliché concept of an American family.” Right on, says his actor-musician brother Dweezil, 27, a former MTV VJ and leader of the band Z, which recently released an album called Music for Pets. “I’ve never taken a drug or drank or smoked. We always liked the concept of using your imagination to do stuff as opposed to using mind-altering substances to be creative. When we were little and went to our father’s concerts, there would be these people acting stupid and stuff. I’d ask him, ‘What’s wrong with them?’ And he’d say, ‘They’ve smoked marijuana and they’re acting stupid.’ ”

Stupid was about the only thing that wasn’t allowed in the free-spirited household headed by Frank, who died in 1993 of prostate cancer, and his homemaker wife, Gail. “Right away I knew our family was different than other people’s,” says the oldest, Moon Unit, 29, an actress and singer (“Valley Girl”) who recently shot a Roseanne episode and has appeared on TV’s Clueless. “You can’t really miss it when there are a bunch of weirdos running around your house.” In fact, she says, “I was so excited to be at anyone’s house where they sat down and had dinner together. Thanksgiving was the only time we got together for dinner, and I think that was for only about 7 seconds. It was very much every man for himself. Eat what you want, when you want.” Holidays in general were not a big deal chez Zappa. “The only thing we celebrated was Ayatollah Khomeni Day to celebrate his death,” says Ahmet. “There was Cat Box Day too. We’d fill the cat boxes with fresh litter and sit in them and push each other down the stairs.”

The Zappa children are testimony to a liberal upbringing. “There were no boundaries in our house,” says Moon Unit. “I think that’s what made me more structured than most people.” The only advice about life Ahmet remembers getting from his father concerned how to best his brother Dweezil. “If you want to win fights and be smarter than the rest of them,” his father told him, “you have to use reverse psychology.” The youngest Zappa, Diva, 17, who has a small role in Tom Cruise‘s next film, Jerry McGuire, says she “bonded” with her father when they watched The Simpsons together. Mom gave her just one rule. “I couldn’t say bad words to anybody to be mean,” she says, “and I could say whatever the hell I wanted to anybody, but not in a mean way.” Dad gave her another: “When I was little and I would demand not to go to school, my dad would be like, ‘All right, you have to sit down and read the dictionary or the encyclopedia or something,’ and I would.” Diva is the only sib finishing high school. She has trouble getting along with some of the other girls at L.A.’s exclusive Lycée Français (alma mater of Jodie Foster, Brooke Shields and Molly Ringwald). “My senior class sucks!” she says. So she studies at home (she has her GED) and will attend graduation with her class. Diva and Ahmet live at home with Gail. Dweezil and Moon Unit have apartments close by. The clan remains supportive. “This summer,” says Dweezil, “all of us decided to take part in this really bad movie called Anarchy TV, just because we wanted to work together. Says Ahmet: “Zappa…what better species is there to be?”

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