On February 24 1970 five little babies - quintuplets! - were born to Peggy Jo and Bill Kienast. They had an almost 4-year-old sister named Meg, and an 18-month-old brother named John. They grew up in a big house in the country, in Liberty Corners, New Jersey - USA.
The Kienast quints were the second set of surviving quintuplets born in the USA - and the sixth in the entire world! The previous five were: the Dionnes (Canada), Diligentis (Argentina), Prietos (Venezuela), Fischers (South Dakota, USA) and Lawsons (New Zealand).
The birth of the quints received a lot of publicity in the media. Soon after the birth the parents also started receiving a lot of cards and letters from people all over the world, including President Nixon.
On April 27, when the babies were almost nine weeks old, they were allowed to leave the hospital and come home. Unfortunately the media knew about it, and 50 reporters showed up! At one point they almost knocked down a nurse carrying one of the babies. When they arrived at home, apart from the family, there were also a couple of reporters, filming for NBC First Tuesday which would be aired in September. Realizing there was quite an interest in their babies, the parents decided to hire a business manager, to make sure the few commercial offers they decided to take weren’t unsuitable or frauds.
It was very important to Bill and Peggy Jo that their children wouldn’t be exploited by media. The children would never be forced to work, and they would not do commercials for a product the family didn't use themselves. They made a exclusive deal with Good Housekeeping, which allowed to magazine four articles about the family during the babies first two years. The quints also did several commercials and ads later on, as well as some television appearances. But most of the offers they turned down.
Another thing Bill and Peggy Jo cared a great deal about was making sure the children were all raised as individuals. Except for photo shoots they were rarely dressed alike, and they were never called “the quints” at home, they were instead usually referred to as “the little guys” or “the little kids”.
When the children started Nursery School at age 3, they were divided up in two different classes. Abby, Sara and Ted would go on Mondays and Wednesdays, while Amy and Gordon went to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This to make the children more independent. The next year they were all in the same class, and attended school each day. At age 5 they went to Kindergarten where they were split in four different classes - only Amy and Sara were together. Then it was time for first grade, in September 1976, where they were again separated in different classes, which pleased the parents who liked to see them grow as individuals.
As the quints got older, there was less interest from the media, and they stopped making commercials in the mid 70s. In 1979 Bill’s previously successful company went bankrupt. In 1983 the media printed stories of the family’s financial problems. They were close to losing their home, but received help from Milton Petrie, a rich industrialist. Bill took the financial problems very hard, and had long suffered from depression. In 1984 he sadly committed suicide.
Peggy Jo sold the family house in 1992, and moved to Virginia. She never remarried.
The quintuplets went of to different collages at age 18, eager to get started on their individual lives. As adults they are said to be close again, and Gordon even dreams of buying back the family house.
More information about each family member can be found in the Family section!