Have you ever stopped to think how many famous people might be much less famous if not for their middle names? This is particularly true of those with common first and last names, such as John (Paul) Jones and Daniel (Day) Lewis….as opposed to those with more distinctive last names, such as Louisa (May) Alcott, Joyce (Carol) Oates and Henry (David) Thoreau, whose middle names may be common, but which nonetheless add distinction to their identities. Then there are the triple-name famous whose middle names alone are distinctive, including James Fenimore Cooper, Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Greenleaf Whittier. Even the infamous are not without their triune-monikered members: John Wilkes Booth and James Earl Ray, for example.

To further demonstrate the point, here is a list of famous persons with middle names omitted. Odds are (let’s say 3 to 1) that you can’t correctly fill in all the blanks without “cheating”:

Frank _____ Wright
James _____ Jones
Arthur _____ Doyle
George _____ Carver
William _____ Williams

John _____ Astor
Martin _____ King
John _____ Sousa
Robert _____ Warren
Robert _____ Stevenson

Note that this missive includes no mrs.  whose “middle” name is her maiden name, such as Hillary Rodham Clinton. To do so would only encourage men to marry certain celebrities in order to gain surnames which would give them instant cheap fame. Take the following SWI writers, for example: David Black marries composer Lionel Bart (of “Oliver” fame) and becomes David Black Bart; Tony Elliott marries Eliot Ness and becomes Tony Elliott Ness; and most egregiously, Don Frankel marries Ben Stein and finds new life as Don Frankel Stein.

And on that monstrous note, I end this middling post before I begin to think of more bad pun names.