What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet… said Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. But I wonder would the names have smelt as sweet if they’d been Rock & Vera?

What indeed is in a name! To us the name Elvis may have sounded strangely bizarre but in the South apparently it was common enough. It just happened that no one named Elvis had ever become famous before. But knowing the crazies in Hollywood, Elvis might’ve become ‘Evils’ and Presley ‘Parsley’. But since Elvis was already a star before he came to Hollywood he, like Lash LaRue, held the whip hand.

In classic Hollywood they appreciated the importance of names. That once a name is out there it’s either laughed into oblivion or sticks like a label. For example, the name Marion Morrison sounds as though it belongs to seduction in an amateur opera – not defying whizzing bullets under a blazing western sun. But John Wayne – real name Marion Morrison – portrayed this image successfully dozens of times in countless films.

The name also allowed him to portray war heroes. But the only waning wartime conflict Wayne had was divorcing his first wife on Christmas Day 1945 so he could wed a second Mrs. Wayne on 17th January, 1946 just 23 days later. By that time thousands of Americans had died so others might watch 34 year-old Wayne play commander this or colonel that in The Fighting Seabees (1944), Back to Bataan and the non-satirical, They Were Expendable (both 1945). Not bad for toupéed cheek and bad acting.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own