Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Imitation is the sincerest form...

I have been reading the estimable Stevyn Colgan's blog and, more particularly, his most recent post. According to Prof. Wiseman, my first name suggests that I should be in the second most lucky group of males (still waiting for a lottery win!), and my surname, whilst not putting me in the "alpha" camp, is at least high enough up the alphabetical hierarchy to ensure any prospective employers don't die of boredom before they get to my CV.

I like my name. I can't think of any circumstances where I would want to change it, unless some eccentric millionaire offers me a fortune to become Xerxes Z. Zyzzyx. But people can and do change their names, and here I am thinking particularly of actors. I know it's going over old ground, but would John Wayne have been as successful if he had remained Marion Morrison? And John Charles Carter doesn't have the same ring to it as Charlton Heston, does it? And, if he had kept his own moniker, would Spartacus, AKA Kirk Douglas, have been as memorable if he had said, "No, I'm not changing my name to suit the studio bosses, I want to stay as plain old Issur Danielovitch Demsky!"

The way in which a name is spelt, contracted or expanded can also make a difference. Take Burt Reynolds, for instance. Real name Burton Leon Reynolds, Jnr. Burt...manly, tough, rugged. But change it to Bert Reynolds and, hey presto, he becomes a dustman! Or Bertie Reynolds, and he begins to sound like a character from a P.G. Wodehouse novel. Have a think about some of the other Hollywood stars, and how it would have been, had they taken less care over their first names; John Depp, Dick Gere, Willy Murray, Bill Smith, Tommy Hanks, Rick van Dyke, and not forgetting good old Mick Douglas.

I'm suddenly aware that my list is male-centric. Let's hear it for Betty Hurley, Ange Jolie, Jessie Alba, Jools Roberts and Nikki Kidman!

No comments: