Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the spelling different to my version?

Many families who emigrated from Europe to the USA had their names anglicized, often by people who could not spell, who didn't care, or who had a sick sense of humor. So variations in 'real names' often are not variations except on paper, and really shouldn't be worth betting on! George Gershwin, for example, changed his name from Jacob - but was it Jacob Gershowitz, Gershvin, or Gershovitz?

Why the confusion on Birthdays

There's an ancient tradition, particularly (but not exclusively) among women to conceal birthdates, and lie about age. The needs of the Entertainment Industry have further encouraged economy with the truth.

This means that when in doubt, the earliest known birthdate is probably the right one.

Do you ever remove names?

Very rarely, and only if I'm convinced it's a genuine request - it's usually very easy to check! I'd never knowingly reveal a name that the person wanted confidential - but most listed names are actually quite widely available (on or off the web, or both), if you know where to look, so it rarely occurs.

In one case, I had been taken in - as had all the regulars in his pub - by a man who looked like an actor, and decided to "be him". He did apologize once the truth appeared (to the real actor!), and I'm sure he'll never quite forget the embarassment.

Is My Neighbour Really Famous?

I often hear "He swears he's involved in movies, but won't tell me his public name" - and searches turn up nothing at all. There's several possible reasons for this:

  1. The ID has been very successfully concealed. (Very rare - but possible for 'not so famous folk', such as production people, writers, those not so much in the news).

  2. The person was 'big' before the Internet, and no-one has felt the need to raise the matter since. Wouldn't happen to anyone becoming famous now - but the web has a short memory!
    (Sad, perhaps, but not all that rare - there's a generation who still have the find the Internet - the 70s, especially, are poorly represented, as is anything at all before WWII)

  3. You've been misinformed. Occasionally, this is deceit (Some people do claim to famous when actually, er, they are not!).
    But more often, enough detail has been lost or altered (especially spelling) to make a search unsuccessful.

Why mention those using their Real Name?

I don't often - else there'd be millions of names! But if there's Internet rumours, or I get a number of enquiries, I do it to help lay the matter to rest.

Who was Tonto?

The 'original' Lone Ranger series (1938) starred Lee Powell, with Victor Daniels as Tonto, while the television series (from 1949-1957) featured Clayton Moore as the Masked Man and Jay Silverheels as Tonto.

Elvis Aaron - or Aron? - Presley

Elvis was named after his father, Vernon Elvis Presley, and a friend of his, Aaron Kennedy. Aron was the spelling chosen, apparently to mirror Elvis' stillborn identical twin, Jesse Garon Presley. Toward the end of his life, Elvis sought to change it to the traditional Aaron, and learned that official records listed it as Aaron. [Information from, now unavailable]

If Elvis is is Aaron, on his tombstone,
Then Elvis is Aaron, thru to the bone.
And if he was Aron
Or Arron, or Jim
We can expect a phone call from him

Why mention Natalie Portman?

Whyever not? Natalie is the only person, ever, whose thirteen-year-old fans ask me to remove her name 'to protect her'. This is silly; her name is very much in the public domain - and simply knowing her name presents no risk. And that's the only information I do list.

Surely Fat Boy Slim is really Quentin?

There's a persistent urban myth that Norman Cook was "Christened as Quentin" - but it's just not true. By an amazing coincidence, however, he does have a brother called Quentin.You can actually buy, online, at an inflated price, Fat Boy Slim's Brother's Birth Certificate.

Is Robert Goulet really Stanley Applebaum?

No - He says "I had been interviewed by Stanley Applebaum. When at last I was stepping into my limo - one last question was fired at me, asking if my real name was Robert Goulet! Exhausted, yet seemingly holding on to a tentative sense of humor - I answered - "No, it's Stanley Applebaum!" I thought it was humorous and knew that the Stanley would think so as well but suddenly the press seemed to find a seam on which to stitch a by-line." Read the Full Story

Don't Royal Families have a ton of names?

They certainly used to - but not as many as you might expect, these days - plus many of the names are not names, but lands they hold title to - for example, a Prince of Schleswig - Holstein - Sonderburg - Glucksburg may be Prince of those lands - not named after them.

A long time ago, the British Royal Family adopted Windsor as a surname, to distance themselves from their German ancestry - not a popular origin in the UK in the early 20th century - so Queen Elizabeth is a Windsor.

When she married Philip, she chose to become Elizabeth Mountbatten-Windsor, adopting Philip's adopted family name, so their offspring are Mountbatten-Wndsors. She didn't have to do that; as Queen, she had the choice, Philip didn't.

Who compiled all this stuff, anyway?

This whole site was researched, checked, compiled, written and edited by Andrew Heenan - a labour of love over many years, and made possible by the generosity of our many contributors.