Having the same name as someone else can be a source of pride – for instance, being named after a parent or grandparent. Or a source of annoyance – if you keep getting someone else’s mail. Or confusion – like, did you write that mystery about bionic Sherlock Holmes and his mutant sidekick Whatsit? (Um, no.) It can even be kind of cool. Today the Chicks are chatting about people not related to us, both the interesting and the infamous, who happen to share our names!
My name really is Lisa Q. Mathews (the “Q” standing for “Quinn”), but a lot of people ask me if I added a fake “Q ” for a quirky nom de plume. Well, no, I’ve lived with that quirkiness all my life, thanks very much. But I do have an excellent reason for using it on my Ladies Smythe & Westin books and everywhere online: the “other” Lisa Matthews (double-t) was Playboy’s 1991 Playmate of the Year. This posed a problem when I went to buy my author website domain. She let her domain expire a year or so later, so I could have had it for only $2,228.00 bucks. I wasn’t sure it would be such a hot idea, though, to have a built-in fan club that would probably love to chat with my cozy mystery readers. Lisa Matthews does show up way before I do in Google images (yep, go ahead—I’ll wait). She seems really nice, actually. She reprised her iconic, girl-next-door Playboy cover a couple of years ago. She’s saluting the readers and her cute straw sunhat is strategically placed. I’m considering the same for my next author photo.
Anyone who caught an episode of the iconic Charlie’s Angels already knows the answer to this one but I share a name with Jaclyn Smith’s character. The show is older than me by a year but I actually wasn’t named after that Kelly Garrett. My mom claims she liked the name Kelly and figured that if it was a name on a TV show then it must have a ring to it. Plus, she also was banking on that I’d last longer than the show. (Luckily, she was right in that regards.) My mom was more shocked when I informed her that I’m not the only Kellye (with an E) Garrett out there. According to Intelius, there are nine of us, including one who has the @KellyeGarrett hashtag on Twitter! I do take solace that it does appear that I’m the only Kellye Michelle Garrett walking this green Earth.
Annoying fact about both my birth name and pen name: There’s a writer/editor named Ellen Seideman, which is my birth name. And there’s a Wall Street Journal writer named Ellen Byron, the name I’ve used professionally for years. (My dad’s middle name was Byron, so I borrowed it.) I worked with the first Ellen at Redbook, and she was great. I’ve reached out to the WSJ Ellen several times because I always get LinkedIn requests for her and compliments on my latest “WSJ article.” I even sent her a copy of Plantation Shudders. I’ve never heard a word from her. Talk about the waste of a good book!
Until my book published, I had only ever Googled my name a few times. But once I knew my name was “out there” on blogs, reviews and such, I started checking. Vicki Fee, whose name is spelled with just an “i”, sans the “e”, turned up in searches. Naturally, I was curious about her. An actress who died in 1975 when she was only 30, Vicki has two screen credits in IMDb (the International Movie Data Base). She appeared in one episode of the Munsters, and had a small part in a campy 1966 film, “Out of Sight.” Hubs and I watched both, but could only guess which actress was her. She had non-speaking roles, and there’s no photo of her in IMDb.
Her mom, Astrid Allwyn, had a distinguished acting career, appearing in 1930s and ‘40s films, including “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Her bio says she retired from show biz to raise a family, which included Vicki and her sister, Melinda O. Fee, also an actress. Every time this Vicki Fee pops up in my search results, I wonder what her acting career might have looked like if she’d lived longer – plenty of actors have had inauspicious early roles.
There’s another Marla Cooper all right. And she just so happens to be (or at least claims to be) DB Cooper’s niece! You remember DB Cooper, the famous plane hijacker / skydiver who disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Northwest? Yeah, him. The other Marla Cooper did an ABC interview back in 2011 saying they were related, so her name is plastered all over Google when you search for me. She even comes up when you add the word “mystery.” As in, “D.B. Cooper Mystery: Marla Cooper’s Mom Comes Forward.” I even had to write to Amazon, because they’d credited an extra book to me on my author page: DB’s Niece (In the Raw, Unedited!): The story of my hijacked life! (The Memoirs of Marla Wynn Cooper Book 1).
Just searched it up and there are 100 of us in the US, apparently (hello)! I’m familiar with two. The first time, I was working the department phones during grad school and someone called in asking for application material to be sent. When she said her/my name, it totally threw me off and I said something like, “Very funny — but who is this?” She repeated it, and for a few minutes it was like we were trapped in an Abbott and Costello routine until we established ourselves. The other is also a professor. We’ve never spoken, but I often find our books grouped together on book and reader sites. I’ve spent hours trying to untangle us electronically. However, recently, it’s gone even further — some of the bios on my books have been replaced with her bio! Whenever I see that on a website or in the library catalog, it’s the oddest sensation, like I’m being erased…
Parents-to-be these days have an important decision to make regarding the name they give their future child: easily searchable online or not? Turns out my name is pretty darn unique, though this was far from my folks’ thoughts at the time I was born. I was simply named after my dad, whose middle name is Leslie. It took six pages to find someone other than me when I did a Google search for “Leslie Karst.” And that someone ended up being, yes, my father (his full name is included in his State Bar of California profile).
Not till page nine did I finally come across another Leslie Karst who isn’t related to me. It was a link to the Find a Grave website (perhaps I can use this in a future book), and the entry was for a Leslie Peter Karst from Galatia, Kansas. He lived from 1933 to 2005 and is buried in the Fairview Cemetery in his hometown. The inscription on his grave reads “ME2 U.S. Navy—Korea.” And that’s all I know about the guy. I wonder if we’re related…
Readers, who do you share a name with—famous or otherwise? Drop us a note in the comments below!
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