Madre. Maman. Mãe. Oma. Inay. Mutter. Mum. Mor. Mama. However you say it, in whatever language, the word for “mother” has a thousand and one subtle variations, most of which usually translate, at one time or another, into something like: “Thanks for everything, mom.”
Here, on Mother’s Day weekend, LIFE.com offers a selection of portraits of famous moms (Jackie Kennedy, Shirley MacLaine) with their kids, famous kids (Liz Taylor, Sophia Loren) with their moms and, in a few instances, famous kids with their famous moms.
The focus of the gallery, however, is most decidedly not meant to suggest that famous moms are any more worthy of notice than any other mothers anywhere in the world who feed, clothe, encourage, protect, challenge and, ultimately, unconditionally love their children. Rather, this gallery is, quite frankly, a simple acknowledgement that, like most everybody else, we’re more or less fascinated by fame.
“Let me tell you about the very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote. “They are different from you and me.” An observation to which he might well have added: “And the famous? They’re a whole lot stranger.”
But whether rich or famous (or neither); whether strange or perfectly, unpretentiously, refreshingly normal, moms deserve recognition simply because — as all of us will readily admit in our more brutally honest moments — moms rule the world. And while devoting one measly day a year to celebrating and honoring mothers everywhere might be a rather feeble way to express our gratitude and love . . . not to worry. They’re moms. They understand.
Still, would it kill you to pick up the phone once in a while?
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.