Name dropping

Tri-State area readers share names with famous folks both real and otherwise

Tri-State area readers share names with famous folks both real and otherwise

November 30, 2008|By JULIE E. GREENE

When Tom Hanks made a reservation years ago at the Windows on the World restaurant on the top floors of the World Trade Center's North Tower in New York City, he was hoping for a really nice seat.

He got one, even though when he showed up for his reservation, he was told, "You're not Tom Hanks."

"I said, 'I certainly am.' I like to tell people I'm the original," said Hanks, 61, who lives in Chambersburg, Pa., and is executive officer of the Franklin County Builders Association.

That's how several Tri-State-area residents with famous namesakes react when people ask them about their notable monikers - that they had the name first.

For the most part, they also have a sense of humor about it, coming up with cute quips in response.

"I tell people my best friend is Wilson," said Hanks, referring to the volleyball that actor Tom Hanks' character befriended in the movie "Cast Away."


When people comment to Stephen Wright about the comedian Steven Wright, the Hagerstown resident says, "I had the name first, and I have more hair than he does."

That usually gets a chuckle, said Wright, who makes and sells ceramic drums.

People ask Randy Moss, 50, of Hagerstown, how his game was last week, referring to the Randy Moss who plays wide receiver for the New England Patriots. Moss, who is operations manager at Packaging Services in Williamsport, is a Redskins fan.

Dean Martin, 41, of Greencastle, Pa., is a salesman at Copyquik in Hagerstown and sells real estate on the side.

In his advertising, he says "Dean L. Martin, Realtor (not the singer)" and his Web site is, a site he thinks will be easy for his customers to remember.

Betty White, 79, of Martinsburg, W.Va., is a fan of her namesake's work, such as "The Golden Girls," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and the 1960s and 1970s game show "Password." The actress White was a frequent panel member on "Password," while her husband, Allen Ludden, was the game show host.

Some residents don't get questioned about their names as often as they used to, either because their famous counterpart is old news or most of the people they know are familiar with their name, so it's an old joke.

When he first meets people, Steve Allen, 52, of Martinsburg, tells them, "My name's Steve Allen. No, I'm not the entertainer. Though I would love to have the money that he made as well as being such an accomplished author and musician."

Allen the entertainer was also creator and first host of "The Tonight Show," which is now hosted by Jay Leno.

Allen the local resident is director of Berkeley County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

"When he passed away (in 2000), I had several phone calls. I think they were just ragging on me. 'Oh, I'm just making sure you are still alive because I saw in the newspaper where Steve Allen died,'" the local Allen said.

Bing Crosby, who is an e-mail administrator at Hood College, said he recently met a student who didn't know who Bing Crosby the actor and singer was.

"It's kind of amazing," said Crosby, 55, of Ranson, W.Va.

The famous Crosby, who died in 1977, was one of the first multimedia stars, having successful careers as a singer and an actor. He made many albums, was the first person awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, won an Oscar and starred in movies such as "White Christmas" and the "Road to" series with Bob Hope.

"I can't speak for others, but for me, I've become a walking encyclopedia for the gentleman," Crosby said.

Crosby, a drummer who has played with bands Koko Blue and Detente, attended high school in Beverly Hills, Calif., and had a chance to hang around with some kids whose parents worked with Bing Crosby.

Miguel Ferrer, who was in the TV show "Crossing Jordan" and the movie "RoboCop," was a high school friend. Ferrer's mother, Rosemary Clooney, spoke highly of the actor and singer Crosby, sharing stories about him with the younger Crosby.

Unfortunately, due to the singer Michael Jackson's questionable reputation in regards to his behavior with children, Mike Jackson, 57, of Waynesboro, Pa., said he used to get smart aleck calls in the middle of the night.

"Anything you could imagine, I've heard," said Jackson, who also is a musician and performs Saturday nights at Always Ron's with his brothers and Van Showe.

But there's also a light-hearted side to having a famous namesake. People ask him, "Where's Tito?" and occasionally, Jackson brings a white, sequined glove out while onstage.

George Michael, 61, of Martinsburg, said people tell him he doesn't look like George Michael. His reply: "Which one?"

There's George Michael the pop singer who had some huge hits and some legal problems, and there's George Michael the sports anchor on News 4 in Washington, D.C. and host of the syndicated "The George Michael Sports Machine."

Michael, director of pupil services for Berkeley County Board of Education, said he prefers Michael the sportscaster - whom he's met - over Michael the singer, of whose music he's never been a fan.

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