New Jersey’s Top 10 Twins
They say that twins share a special connection. In the case of these celebrity sets—some identical, some not—they have taken special to a whole new level…
Lou & Ed Banach
Wrestling Sussex County
Lou and Ed Banach went into foster care (and were later adopted) after a fire destroyed their home and their mother suffered a nervous breakdown. The fraternal twins became football stars and champion wrestlers after moving to Port Jervis, NY, cobbling together a home gym from heavy iron parts found along the railroad tracks near their house. After All-American grappling careers, they entered the 1984 Olympics. Ed shook off a concussion to win a gold medal at 198 pounds and Lou took home gold wrestling one division higher, as a light heavyweight.
Mark & Scott Kelly
Aerospace West Orange
As identical twins, the Kelly brothers enabled NASA to gauge the effects of microgravity and radiation on the human body when Scott lived and worked for a year on the International Space Station and Mark remained on earth as the “control” subject. Scott’s first space flight was in 1999 as pilot of the Space Shuttle Discovery. Mark piloted Endeavour into orbit in 2001. Mark devoted himself to political activism after his wife, US congresswoman Gabby Giffords, survived a 2011 assassination attempt. He was elected to the US Senate in 2020 in a special election and was reelected in the 2022 general election.
Patty & Mary Coyle
Basketball • Rutgers
In 1982, the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) held its final national championship before giving way to the Women’s NCAA Tournament. Rutgers, powered by twin guards Patty and Mary Coyle—who honed their skills on the Philly playgrounds—edged host school Villanova in the semifinals and scored a huge upset over powerhouse Texas in the final. Mary picked apart the Longhorns’ full-court press and Patty scored 30 points to win the tourney’s MVP award. The Coyles each went on to successful coaching careers and were inducted into the Rutgers Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2022, they were featured in the documentary Forgotten Champions: How an Underground Rutgers Squad Made Women’s Sports History.
Kenny & Keith Lucas
Entertainment • Newark
Kenny and Keith Lucas were born in Newark, graduated from Irvington High School and TCNJ, and then attended law school (at NYU and Duke, respectively) before leaving to start their entertainment careers. In addition to their regular gigs at The Comedy Cellar in New York, the Lucas Brothers are popular TV, radio and podcast talk-show guests. In 2021, they co-wrote and produced Judas and the Black Messiah, a film about Black Panther Fred Hampton, and received an Oscar nomination for their work.
Christina & Michelle Naughton
Music • Princeton
Born in New Jersey and raised in Madison, WI, the identical twin sisters began performing as a duo while they were pre-teens and continued right through Juilliard and beyond, becoming international sensations. The original suggestion came from a concert promoter. “We said, Sure, we’ll give it a try,” Michelle recalls. “We worked on it, we performed, and something magical happened. We looked at each other and said, I love this, and we never looked back.” In 2019, they became the first piano duo to receive Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Career Grant.
Jason & Devin McCourty
Football • Rutgers
The identical McCourtys grew up in Nyack and attended high school in Bergen County before starring in the defensive backfield for Rutgers. Both enjoyed long NFL careers—Devin with the New England Patriots and Jason mostly with the Tennessee Titans. In 2019, after Jason joined the Patriots, they became the first set of twins in NFL history to play together in the Super Bowl. The McCourtys were named New England’s team captains in 2020.
Johnny & Eddie O’Brien
Basketball & Baseball South Amboy
The O’Briens were identical twins, but as their athletic careers unfolded, Johnny became the more accom-plished brother. He led the nation in scoring for the University of Seattle and spearheaded a historic defeat of the Harlem Globetrotters in a fiercely contested 1952 “no-clowning” charity game. During their varsity hoops career, the twins combined for nearly 4,000 points. After college, Johnny and Eddie, who formed a slick double-play combination, were signed to play baseball with the Pittsburgh Pirates and enjoyed brief big-league careers.
Walter & Milton Singer
Football • Jersey City
During the early 1930s, the identical twin Singer brothers were the most talked-about athletes in Jersey City. The rock-solid six-footers starred for the Dickinson High School football and baseball teams. Milt was an all-state running back and Walt was an all-state end. As seniors in 1930, they led the Rams to an unbeaten record and state championship. They went on to star in multiple sports at Syracuse University, where Walt also won the intercollegiate heavyweight boxing crown. Walt played pro football with the Giants and was a member of the 1934 championship team.
Denise & Dennis Mitchell
Track • Winslow Township
The fleet-footed twins started making headlines for Winslow-Edgewood High in the 1980s when Denise shaved an unheard-of three full seconds off the state 400-mtere record; it took 19 years for another runner to better that mark. Dennis went on to become a 12-time college All-American and ran with fellow New Jerseyan Carl Lewis as a member of the gold medal-winning 4 x 100 team in the 1992 Olympics. He was still winning 100 meters championships in his 30s.
Doug & Mike Starn
Art • Vineland
The identical Starns began working together on photography and art projects in their teens and have been pushing the limits of art, architecture, painting, video and furniture design by constantly combining and re-combining their areas of interest and expertise. In 2010, their Big Bambu installation atop the Metropolitan Museum overlooking Central Park drew hundreds of thousands of art lovers. The Starns’ work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
Tom Kelly • Twins Manager
Several New Jersey baseball players have suited up for the Minnesota Twins, but Kelly—who grew up in Sayreville—was the only one to manage the club to a pennant. He did so in 1987 and again in 1991, and won the World Series both times.
Danny DeVito • Co-Star of Twins
The Neptune-born DeVito co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1988 blockbuster Twins, which grossed $200 million. They joined forces again in 1994 on Junior, which bombed at the box office.
Jose and Ozzie Canseco • Newark Bears
The Cansecos attempted to revive their flagging baseball careers with Newark’s independent minor-league club in 2001. Jose, a six-time All-Star and one-time MVP, was more well-known than his identical-twin brother. Playing together as boys, Ozzie did most of the pitching and Jose did most of the hitting, which turned out to be a smart move for the two-time home run champion.