08/03/2011 03:47 pm ET Updated Oct 01, 2011

A Look At History's Most Notable Fathers: Good, Bad and Ugly

Yahweh (b.∞ BCE)

Prototypical disciplinarian. Constructed greatest playground of all time for His son, then put Adam in time-out for the rest of eternity because he ate an apple -- kind of an overreaction, when you consider that I'd do almost anything to get my kids to eat an apple.

Joseph (b. @35 BCE)

Paradigmatic adoptive father. Even though his wife became pregnant with a child not his, he loved and raised the boy as if he were his own. You know what that makes him? A saint.

Genghis Khan (b. 1162)

Most prolific patriarch of all time. Forefather to 0.8% of the world's population, which works out to some 640 million human beings, give or take a few Ulan Batorians. That's a lot of neckties. Died, appropriately, in flagrante delicto.

William Langland (b. 1332)

The anti-Dr. Spock. Author of the line modernized as "spare the rod, spoil the child," a parenting philosophy that held sway from the beginning of recorded history until about 50 years ago.

Rodrigo Borgia (b. 1431)

Father of at least seven children, which is not easy to accomplish when you're the Pope. His daughter Lucrezia's sixteenth birthday party was allegedly the template for My Sweet Super 16.

Leopold Mozart (b. 1719)

The first known Stage Father. Managed his child-prodigy son's career with an iron fist, which turned out to be a good thing for music but a bad thing for little Wolfie. Said to be the inspiration for "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother".

Doc Rockefeller (b. 1810)

Snake-oil salesman, purveyor of healthful elixirs, and father of the wealthiest American that ever was and ever will be, until we start counting corporations as people. Told his son, "Jump, and I'll catch you," let him fall, then said, "Don't trust anyone, including me."

Grover Cleveland (b. 1884)

During the presidential campaign of 1877, it was revealed that he'd fathered an illegitimate child, leading to his opponents adopting the classy slogan MA, MA, WHERE'S MY PA?. He took ownership of the potential scandal (unlike certain modern politicians we could name, John Edwards cough cough), called the child "a product of unskilled labor," and won the election...leading to the rejoinder of the aforementioned slogan happily shouted by his supporters: GONE TO THE WHITE HOUSE, HA HA HA.

Benjamin Spock (b. 1903)

Wrote the book on kindler, gentler parenting. A major reason why we threw "spare the rod, spoil the child" out with the bathwater. Onomastic inspiration for the half-Vulcan from Star Trek.

Fred Trump (b. 1905)

Miner of the silver ore and smither of the ornate spoon that was placed, at birth, in his son Donald's (enormous) mouth.

Cecil Jacobsen (b. 1936)

"Dr. Bait & Switch." Defrocked fertility doctor who fathered at least seven children with seven different mothers by swapping his raw material for the sperm of the donors said mothers had actually selected--that is, donors who were not fat, bald, and creepy.

Arnold Schwarzenegger (b. 1947)

Last year he got four Father's Day cards; this year, five.

Chris Christie (b. 1962)

Nothing, not even traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike, could keep him away from his son's baseball game. (He also provided aerial coverage).

Jon Gosselin (b. 1977)

Parlayed the birth of his twins-and-sextuplets into a reality TV show, a bromance with Lindsay Lohan's father Michael (a last-minute omission from this list), and a steamer trunk of Ed Hardy t-shirts.

Travis Henry (b. 1978)

Former star running back for the Buffalo Bills. Father of 11 children with 10 different women. When his college football team took on USC, it was the closest he ever got to a Trojan.

Levi Johnston (b. 1990)

Father of Sarah Palin's grandson, Tripp. We will be hearing about him from now until November 6, 2012, when the clock strikes midnight on his sort-of-mother-in-law's political fortunes, and his carriage turns back into a hockey puck.