The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Ellie Kemper was trending on Twitter after a user revealed her surprising past as a debutante. We won’t comment on whether or not she deserves to be canceled. However, the breaking story does raise a lot of other questions, the biggest one being: who is Ellie Kemper’s family? It sounds like her on-screen persona as a naive Midwesterner is a far cry from the woman who had a truly privileged upbringing. Get the scoop on her family tree and find out how being a blue blood has impacted Ellie Kemper’s net worth.
Ellie Kemper Made Headlines Recently Over Her Privileged Debutante Past
We’re guessing that Kemper had a less than ideal Memorial Day weekend. Over the holiday, a Twitter user described St. Louis’ annual Veiled Prophet Ball as “a fancy event put on by our local KKK.” She added that Kemper was once named the event’s “Queen of Love and Beauty”—an honor bestowed on a single (wealthy) debutante each year.
The internet had a collective meltdown, and the topic garnered over 28,000 tweets within a day. However, we’d like to believe that she has very little to do with the original core values of the Veiled Prophet organization.
Here’s What We Know About The Veiled Prophet Organization
As reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Mysterious Order of the Veiled Prophet was co-founded in 1878 by former Confederate officer Alonzo Slayback. One of its earliest events was The Veiled Prophet Ball—a debutante ball in which the wealthiest young women of St. Louis are presented to society. To this day, a man—whose identity is hidden behind a white veil—selects one of the participants and crowns her queen of the event.
Historian Thomas Spencer believed that the secret society was formed as a response to the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. At the time, railroad workers of every race fought for better working conditions and a ban on child labor. The city’s elite feared that a workers revolt put their status was in peril; parades and balls helped maintain the status quo.
“The primary goal of the VP events was to take back the public stage from populist demands for social and economic justice,” Scott Beauchamp wrote in The Atlantic. “More than just a series of gaudy floats traversing the city streets, the parade, and all its pomp was meant to reinforce the values of the elite on the working class of the city.”
The organization barred minorities from participating until 1979. Although it now says it “rejects racism” and promotes “civil progress, economic contributions, and charitable causes in St. Louis,” skeptics remain.
Kemper’s Response To The Controversy
Jane Sauer, an activist who infiltrated the ball in 1972, believes Kemper should comment on her participation in the event.
“I don’t think she’s entirely to blame,” Sauer told Buzzfeed. “I definitely don’t. But I would personally love for her to make a statement and would love to know what was in her head at the time.”
Kemper later apologized for her participation in the Veiled Prophet organization and acknowledged its “unquestionably racist, sexist, and elitist past.” She promised to continue educating herself and to use her privilege to promote a better, more inclusive society.
The simple fact that Ellie Kemper’s family takes part in the Veiled Prophet organization proves that they have an enviable net worth. Let’s take a look at exactly how much wealth they have and how they got it.
Who’s Her Family And How Much Are They Worth?
It turns out Kemper never needed a Netflix gig to pay the bills. The actor, born Elizabeth Claire Kemper, was born into one of the wealthiest families in Missouri. Her great-great-grandfather was William Thorton Kemper Sr., a railroad and banking tycoon in Kansas City. His ventures eventually morphed into today’s Commerce Bancshares and United Missouri Bank.
Her father, David Woods Kemper, is the executive chairman of Commerce Bancshares. In 2018, he relinquished his role as president and CEO to his son (Ellie’s brother), John W. Kemper. Ellie’s dad owns thousands of shares in Commerce Bancshares, and he took home millions during his run as CEO. His net worth is an estimated $415 million.
John’s net worth is estimated to be at least $31.8 million.
Needless to say, the Kempers have a great influence across Missouri. For instance, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis is named after Kemper’s grandmother. In 2004, the family donated $5 million to its construction.
What Is Ellie Kemper’s Net Worth In 2022?
Ellie Kemper herself has an estimated net worth of $9 million. The figure is based on her work in showbiz alone, but we suspect that she’ll be financially stable even if she never lands another acting gig again.
Kemper has over 60 credits to her name. Aside from The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, she has appeared in countless comedies, like Bridesmaids and Get Him to the Greek. She also worked as a voice actor for a number of animated films, including The Secret Life of Pets and The Lego Batman Movie.
In 2016, she and her husband, writer Michael Koman, purchased an apartment in Manhattan’s Upper West Side for $2.8 million—a humble abode, relative to her family’s massive fortune.