From the pages of Chip’s Closet Cleaner

Issue Thirteen

(P.O. Box 11967, Chicago, IL 60611; $3 per issue)Famous Names

By Chip Rowe

I got ahold of this newfangled CD-ROM phone directory and began to wonder what would happen if some loner guy named Chip Rowe was caught robbing liquor stores in his boxers. My name would forever be associated with a nutcase. Could happen, although the only guys I know who share my name are a dairy manager in a grocery store in Roebuck, Alabama, a lawyer for the U.S. Trade Association in Washington, DC, and some guy who posed for a newspaper photo with a block of ice in Sutton, New Hampshire. And then I saw that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine dated a guy named Joel Rifkin, as well as a story in George where they tracked down people who have politicians’ names. All that got me thinking: Finding people with famous people’s names is cute, but what about their lives?

I sent a questionnaire to 43 people who share famous people’s names to ask about their daily trials and tribulations. Alas, the only Roseanne Barr in the country other than the comedienne has apparently moved from her stoop in Trinity, Alabama. One Shannon Doherty was actually Shannon Doug, one had moved, and the third ignored me (bitch!). Two of three Clint Eastwoods left no forwarding addresses. A Howard Stern in Little Rock, Arkansas, returned his questionnaire but didn’t fill it out. Most surveys didn’t come back, period. Yet after months of waiting, my mailbox eventually welcomed completed surveys from semifamous folks.

Bill Clinton (Washington, Indiana): A concrete truck driver, he’s among four known Bill Clintons in Indiana and 20 in the United States.

How did you get your name? I have always had the name Bill. It was taken from William. I didn’t know about the other guy until three or four years ago.

Do people comment about your name? When I tell people my name, they don’t believe me. But it doesn’t annoy me. I tell them I’m the real Bill Clinton and that other guy is an impostor.

Did you vote for him? I voted for myself, sure.

When you see your name in the paper, are you tempted to clip the article? No, there are too many.

Marcia Brady (Waterbury, Connecticut): All grown up, Marcia Brady is a high school French teacher.

How did you get your name? For 23 years my name was Marcia Liberatore. In 1969, I married Robert Brady. Since then, I’ve been Marcia Brady.

Have you ever met your famous counterpart? Never had the pleasure.

Do people comment about your name? People comment all the time. It never has annoyed me except for 24 years ago when I was in labor and all the nurses came to see Marcia Brady having a baby. Delightful.

Ronald McDonald (Rolla, Missouri): Mr. McDonald’s wife answered his survey. She has beautiful cursive handwriting.

How did you get your name? My husband was not named after anyone. His parents somehow liked the name. He was born in 1934, long before McDonald’s was a thought.

Have you ever met your famous counterpart? We do know a man who played the Ronald McDonald clown for this area.

Do people comment about the name? All the time. I dread using our credit card, especially outside Rolla, because I know we’ll get remarks like “You’ve got to be kidding!” “Who would name a kid that?” or “How’s business?” My husband handles it well, but it is stressful at times.

Do you like your name? Our friends and family call my husband Ron.

Have you ever been teased about your name? We used to get phone calls during the night from kids at parties who would ask if they could order some Big Macs. Again, you can laugh at the first few, but after a while it is pretty annoying.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): zine cover.