Michelle Wolf and Other Famous Names

It Has Been Weird to see all the news coverage for comedian Michelle Wolf, who was thrust into the limelight after a searing routine at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, where comics commonly roast the president — although the famously thin-skinned Mr. Trump refuses to go to the dinner, unlike his predecessors. Why “weird” for me? Because Michele Wolf was my first wife.

Michelle Wolf (the comedian). Photo cc Erin Nekervis (Flickr: theeerin).

Though there’s a little hint there: neither name is misspelled. Michelle is a comedian who turns 33 later this month. Michele is definitely older than that. Since she’s an on-purpose public figure, I’m including a photo of Michelle; even though she is very pretty, to protect her privacy I won’t post a photo of Michele, or even say what state she lives in (she left California when we split; Michelle was 6 or 7 at that point).

Famous Names

Alas, I’ve lost touch with Michele, and have never been in contact with Michelle. Maybe Michele will see this and get in touch. Hell, maybe even Michelle will see this and get in touch! It would be nice for both to happen!

But the funny part of this is, I’ve actually been collecting a list of Premium subscribers with famous names, and this seems like a good time to share it. They include:

  • Jon Stewart …but not the former host of The Daily Show.
  • Don Adams …but not the actor who played secret agent Maxwell Smart.
  • Robert Pine …but not the actor who played Sgt. Getraer on CHiPs.
  • Dave Barry …but not the humor columnist and author.
  • John Inman …but not the actor from Are You Being Served?
  • Steve Wozniak …yes, the Apple Computer co-founder does subscribe, but another guy with the same name does too! The Apple co-founder told me he has run across several other Steve Wozniaks over the years.
  • George Lucas …but not the Star Wars creator.
  • Rich Little …but not the celebrity impressionist.
  • Charles Schultz …but not the Peanuts cartoonist.
  • Craig Nelson …but not the Coach actor.
  • Robert Macfarlane …but not President Reagan’s National Security Advisor.
  • Paul Shafer …but not the Late Night With David Letterman bandleader (Paul Shaffer).
  • James West …but not the Wild Wild West character.
  • Henry Miller …but not the Tropic of Cancer author.

And those are just the ones I’ve noticed — I’m sure there are more. I’m sure it’s fun, frustrating, even scary sometimes to have a “famous name” when you’re not the famous person (and even if you are). So a tip of the hat to those who put up with it, whether you’re “really” famous or just sound like it.

I hope there’s not another Randy Cassingham out there. But if there is, sorry!

Updates: More Famous Names

“I’m sure there are more,” I said above. Sure enough! Also among my readers:

Newsman John Charles Daly (left) looks on as Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon conduct the “Kitchen Debate” on July 24, 1959. (Thomas J. O’Halloran, U.S. News & World Report, public domain)
  • Gregg Morris …but not the actor from the original Mission: Impossible.
  • Richard Dawson …but not the Hogan’s Heroes actor/game show host.
  • Anne Rice …but not the “Vampire” author.
  • John Daily …but not the newsman and What’s My Line host John Daly.
  • Walter White …but not the “Breaking Bad” character.
  • William Wallace …but not the Scottish knight who was one of the main leaders during the First War of Scottish Independence in 1297.
  • Donald Graham …but not the former publisher of the Washington Post.
  • Dave Bowman …but not the hero of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Neil Young …but not the Canadian singer-songwriter.
  • Dave Thomas …but not the founder of Wendy’s hamburgers.
  • James Watt …but not the 18th century Scottish steam engine designer.
  • John Madden …but not the retired NFL coach and commentator.
  • Daniel Stern …but not the American actor.
  • Jim Morrison …but not the lead vocalist of The Doors.
  • Bob Dillon …but not the famous songwriter.
  • James Watt …but not the 18th century inventor of the steam engine.
  • Bob Ross …but not the PBS painter/instructor.
  • Peter Jennings …but not the ABC News anchorman.
  • Pat Weaver …but not the President of NBC/Sigourney Weaver’s father
  • and Larry Niven …who is in fact the Grand Master Science Fiction author.

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25 Comments on “Michelle Wolf and Other Famous Names

  1. There is a (very old) cartoon of a middle-aged man saying to another at a drinks party “as far as I am concerned, I am THE David Frost”.

  2. My ex-wife was Mychelle Wolfe so every time the current news stories come on the television a shiver runs down my spine….

    See?! -rc

  3. I had a lab partner in college named Steve Martin. First day of class instructor called roll, got to Steve’s name and loudly proclaimed “What is this, some kind of joke?” From the back of the room a faint tired voice just said “here”.

    Dumb instructor. -rc

  4. Not famous (unless you like Canadian distilleries), but there is a Steinhart Distillery in Nova Scotia, owned and operated by Thomas Steinhart. Since that is a somewhat unusual variant of the name (usual German spelling ends “rdt”, I’m wondering if he is a relative. Got to make a road trip one of these days.

    Another reader has the name Sobieski — there’s a very nice Sobieski vodka (if you like coffee, try the espresso! Fantastic!) from a Polish company. -rc

  5. Gordon Campbell, politically active, but not the former premier of British Columbia.

    Heh! I knew there were more. 🙂 -rc

  6. I have a friend whose name is Jennifer Lopez. She seems to enjoy it, though I didn’t believe her until she showed me her driver license. She, of course, sometimes uses the nickname J-Lo.

  7. Don Thomas, United States astronaut is a ‘twin’ for me. But I have been asked if I was Bill Gates; “Right”, I said, “Bill Gates of Washington state shops at Safeway in Manitoba, Canada”. I look more like former Prime Minister Stephen Harper until I grew a moustache.

    Traveling by bus to Edmonton, Alberta one time, I was asked if I was _________ from One Hundred Mile House, BC. I said that I was not; I said my name (Don Thomas) and he asked me if I was sure I wasn’t ‘that fella’. It seems to me I would know who I was and whether or not I had been to a certain locale.

    Is there a noun to describe one’s purported doubles (physical or name)?

    Yep: in the physical, it’s doppelgänger, from the German Doppel (double) and Gänger (walker or goer). “Namesake” — two people with the same name — is inexact, since it implies one was named after the other (such as a grandparent). I’m not aware of a word for two people who just happen to have the same name. Anyone? -rc

    • Tocayo is the Spanish word for having the same name. And only the first name has to match — every person named Randy would be your tocayo regardless of their last name.

    • The link with “doppleganger” works, because it redirects to the page with the swapped “le”.

      At my university I regularly got e-mails from students mistaking me for a professor with the same name. (I always forwarded those mails to the professor with a CC to the sender.)

      Thanks: typo fixed. -rc

  8. Actually there was another Randy Cassingham. I knew her in college. I actually subscribed the first time to your newsletter thinking you were her. A mutual friend forwarded me your letter thinking she was you or vice-versa. It just seemed her type of humor. She was originally Randy Tarter and married Carroll Cassingham. They divorced after a few years and I haven’t heard if she remarried or changed her name back to her maiden name. So she could still be “Randy Cassingham”.

    I remember thinking after a couple of years and I saw your picture, “Well it’s definitely not her.” No offense but she was and I suspect still is much prettier. But, last I heard she moved back to Louisiana after the divorce. Carroll moved and ended up settling somewhere around St. Louis according to mutual friends. I don’t think they had kids together, but I know Carroll now has grand-kids and goes by his middle name or C. David. Probably because he ended up marrying a Carol.

    Huh! Usually women use the spelling Randi. Funny that it took you a couple of years to figure she and I were not the same person, though I’m not finding any Tarter or Carroll Cassinghams on our Family Tree. -rc

  9. My name is Anne Rice, and boy! was it touchy for a while. Luckily (for me, anyway) she seems to have faded from the news lately. (Dani is a nickname I’ve had since before I was a Rice.)

  10. My name isn’t famous, but I live in a small (around 1500 population) rural area and there is someone with my same name who lives in the same town. Her name was originally different, but she married into another branch of my family so now the names are the same. She has since divorced and remarried but keeps the name from her first marriage because she finds it very convenient that someone else in town has the same name. It helps confuse the bill collectors and police from other jurisdictions. Of course, the end result is that I am now friends with the local sheriff and some of the officers from both county and state level, but it is still highly annoying for me to get her bill collection calls. Some of those bill collectors refuse to believe they reached the wrong Sharon C, and once I had to explain to another jurisdiction’s officer that I have never reported a stolen gun that was later found to have been used in a crime to their jurisdiction. I have also been telling anyone who calls the name of her current husband so they could track her down and call her instead of me.

    I do not have a phone or anything else listed in my name anymore due to these problems.

    Infuriating! -rc

  11. My wife Pam was Pamela Anderson before we married, from her former husband’s last name. She had a job where she made a lot of flight and hotel reservations for other employees, and had a hard time convincing the hotel and airline people that she was really Pamela Anderson.

    When a neighbor’s son was selling chocolates as part of a school fundraising drive, she paid him with a check. His mother later told us that he was so excited to have a check signed by Pamela Anderson that he took money from his piggy bank savings to turn in to the school so he could keep the check and brag to his friends about having Pamela Anderson’s signature on the check.

  12. There used to be THOUSANDS of Randy Cassinghams.
    Crowds of them, as far as the eye could see.
    Then along came THIS RC.
    So all the others changed their names.
    And subscribed to This is True, under their new names.
    They simply could not keep up to him!
    The End.

    Well, probably not, but an amusing fairy tale! -rc

  13. I’m Bob (Robert) Mueller, but not the former director of the FBI. I was three years old when he was earning his Bronze Star.

    My Twitter handle is bobmueller. I get tagged with stuff for him on a regular basis. I try and have fun with it but sometimes people get obnoxious about it. He doesn’t even have a Twitter account.

    Pretty funny — and a great example about how so many people don’t think. You don’t do anything close to pretending you’re the FBI guy (I checked), so they just assume that someone who goes by that name in a random place is the person they assign to the name. No wonder this country is so messed up! -rc

  14. Growing up in a smallish Ontario town in the 80s, I started having folks come up to me and start conversations, like “Hey, that was some party last weekend, wasn’t it?” or, “Hey, Phil, how’s your motorcycle running?”

    After a few of these (and “I’m sorry, but I have no idea who you are” from me) we figured out there was another Phil in town who looked much like me and rode a motorcycle. It got crazy enough that I got picked up by a woman with a baby while hitchiking (hey, this was 35 years ago, folks used to hitchhike — but women with babies did NOT pick up bearded guys in leather jackets!) But she stopped, I got in, and then she said “Wait, you aren’t Phil…” and I laughed and explained that no, I was the OTHER Phil, his doppelganger. Since she was already in it, she did not pull over and demand I get out, and of course I did not attack her. I also got pulled over by the cops once because my bike was black and his was red and he was apparently known to them, and they wanted to know whose bike I was riding!

    I finally ran into him (at a bike shop, naturally). He did, indeed, look very similar; as most of us know, there are always people who say “Oh, xxx looks like you!” and we see a picture (or know xxx already) and say “Um, no”. But in this case, I had to agree. He was a bit taller; that was about it.

    The weird part is, I introduced myself, told him we kept getting mistaken for each other — and he wasn’t the least bit interested, didn’t seem to think it was at all remarkable!

    I hunted him down on Facebook recently (his last name is pretty distinctive), and while I see the resemblance, nowadays it’s more like “That guy could be your brother” than “He looks exactly like you!”

  15. I have had a very similar experience as I share a name with a famous former NHL coach, so much so that I have had to mention him on my twitter profile. And people still tag me instead of him, of course.


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