Sunday, September 04, 2016


Every now and then you watch an old show or movie where a fictional character has a name that would later become famous.  For instance, I noticed in writing about Gene Wilder that his character in the 1982 film Hanky Panky is named Michael Jordon--just a couple year before Michael Jordan became an NBA star.  And I was recently watching The Lookout (2007) on TV and noticed the lead character, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is named Chris Pratt--the real Chris Pratt was acting at the time, but wouldn't be well-known for a few years.

And I recently saw an example of this phenomenon on a sitcom episode, and that name really came out of nowhere.  And since I originally saw the episode years ago before the name became known, it was that much better.

I'm referring to the penultimate episode of Newhart, first aired in 1990, entitled "My Husband, My Peasant." (In other words, the episode right before the classic Newhart finale.)  Even by Newhart standards, the plot is pretty silly: Michael and Stephanie decide to get a divorce when they feel their baby doesn't compare to the baby of their blue-blood friends.

But what captured my attention was the first names of the couple with the competing child--Scooter and Libby.  Needless to say, Scooter Libby was unknown to the general public at the time. (I guess most people still haven't heard of him, but it's a pretty memorable name.)  In the episode, "Scooter" was the man's nickname--the kind of thing you call someone who's on the social register.  Though, in a plot twist, it turns out he has a working class background, and his name is Bernie--hey, this show takes place in Vermont.

I didn't even notice how the names combined at first, but there was just something about a couple with the names Scooter and Libby.  After you put it together, it changes the whole feeling of the episode.


Blogger New England Guy said...

I always note the name of villain in Mr Smith Goes to Washington and how Jimmy Stewart in his big speech dedicates himself to fighting against the James Taylors of this world. Geez, I think "Fire and Rain" is pretty good so lay off a little.

6:03 AM, September 04, 2016  

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