Macaulay Culkin, 43, has been in the spotlight since he was a child. After getting his big break in the film Home Alone in 1990, he went on to appear in various other films, including Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, My Girl, The Pagemaster, Party Monster, and more. Behind the scenes, the actor has a big family, including his parents, Kit Culkin and Patricia Brentrup. Aside from him and his siblings who also work in the acting industry, the Culkin clan has led a pretty private life.
Over the years, Macaulay has made headlines due to strife in the family caused by his finances. Although he’s now estranged from his father, he still has a relationship with his mother and never officially emancipated from his parents, despite rumors, he told Esquire.
Find out more about his parents and their journey together below.
Kit and Patricia Started Dating in 1974
Although they had a long romance that led to many children, Kit, who used to be a stage actor, and Patricia never married. After the start of their romance, they went on to welcome seven children together, including Shane Culkin (b. 1976), Dakota Culkin (b. 1979), Macaulay (b. 1980), Kieran Culkin (b. 1982), Quinn Culkin (b, 1984), Christian Culkin (b. 1987), and Rory Culkin (b. 1989). Dakota sadly died from an accident in 2008.
Before Macaulay’s Success, Kit and Patricia Struggled Financially
Kit worked as a taxi driver before he got a job as a sacristan for a Catholic church on the Upper East Side of New York City. N.Y.C. Patricia worked as a telephone operator, and they lived in a railroad-style apartment where five kids shared two bunk beds in a single room.
“It was just a hallway, and there were no separating doors, except for the bathroom, which didn’t have a lock,” Kieran told Vanity Fair in 2018. “They raised seven kids in that apartment — for years! They just kept bringing babies home to this little space.”
Kit and Brentrup met a neighbor who was a stage manager at Ensemble Studio Theatre, and were later introduced to casting director Billy Hopkins, who gave Macaulay his first job at 6 years old. It was in the 1988 drama Rocket Gibraltar. The rest of the kids tried their hands at acting as well but only Macaulay, Kieran, and Rory made it a long-lasting career.
Kit and Patricia Separated in 1995
After their separation, Macaulay and his siblings were mostly raised by their mom. In 2018, the Culkin family’s manager told Vanity Fair that Patricia “maintained strong family values” with her kids before and after the split from Kit. Some of ways she did that was for them to have a family meal together as well as work on the Christmas tree and Thanksgiving. “These are all important things to Patty, and she instilled that in her kids,” the manager said.
After the separation from Kit, Patricia went on to remarry and move to a ranch in Billings, MT. In January 2024, Kieran mentioned her in his Golden Globes acceptance speech and referenced how she raised them on her own. “I have no idea how my mom did it — she raised us in this basically studio apartment and I don’t know how she did it,” he also said in the press room. “Obviously [I] wouldn’t be here without her. Not just because of the sex she had with my father. For the woman she is. And for having sex with my father. You don’t hear me thanking my dad.”
Macaulay Has Accused Kit of Abuse
The talented star said his dad was “physically and mentally” abusive, in an interview. “[He said] ‘Do good or I’ll hit you.’ He was a bad man. He was abusive, physically and mentally — I can show you all my scars if I wanted to,” he said about Kit on WTF With Marc Maron in 2018.
“Everything he tried to do in life, I excelled at before I was 10 years old,” he continued, adding that his father pressured him to work even when he didn’t want to and sometimes made him sleep on the couch.
Kit’s late partner, Jeanette Krylowski, denied that he was abusive to any of his children, and told New York Magazine that Patricia lied to their kids to alienate them from him.
“My analysis is [that] she was the only one not getting famous and she felt left behind,” Jeanette said. “The kids do what Mom tells them to, because through the years, Mom had said, ‘Your father doesn’t love you, your father doesn’t love you.’ “
In 2001, Macaulay said he hadn’t seen his father since 1997, when the custody dispute ended. Kieran also confirmed to Vanity Fair that he was also estranged from Kit. “He’s not a good dude, but he wasn’t really a big part of my life after the age of 15,” he said.
Kit Suffered a Stroke in 2014
The health issue happened in January 2014, according to TMZ. He was hospitalized near his home in Pass, Oregon and in intensive care for a while. He reportedly lost all motor function at the time, but eventually went on the road to recovery.
In 2021, Kieran said Kit went to see him in a play after his stroke. “He carried cards around with him that said, ‘I’m not stupid. I understand you. I just had a stroke,’ ” he told The Hollywood Reporter.
Patricia’s May be Experiencing Health Issues
After Kieran Culkin gushed over his mom while accepting a 2024 Emmy Award for his role in Succession, a report claimed that Patricia may be ailing. A source told Page Six for a January 16 report that she recently experienced “hard times with her health” and added that Kieran was helping her with medical appointments to address the issues. No other information was given.
“She’s just an absolutely wonderful woman who took on raising seven kids in a studio apartment, by herself,” Kieran reportedly said of his mom backstage after his big Emmy win. “There was a guy there — he didn’t do anything,” he added of Kit.