One of the funniest gags in the Mel Brooks classic Blazing Saddles (and there are plenty to choose from) must be the running joke about the character Hedley Lamarr – that’s Hedley, not Hedy!
Supposedly, the Austrian-born actress took exception to the unauthorised use of (almost) her name for the Harvey Korman character and threatened to sue, before settling out of court for a small sum.
The same gag is used to less effect some 30-plus years later in Little Fockers, when Jessica Alba plays a pharamceutical sales rep called Andi Garcia. I’m not aware how Andy Garcia reacted to this, but unlike Saddles, this film sank without trace (indeed Alba received the Razzie for worst supporting actress), so he probably wasn’t too bothered.
Most recently, the British TV comedy Stella features a character called Michael Jackson (played by Patrick Baladi) in season 3. The middle class English lawyer, forced to move into a working class Welsh community (and, of course, finding love), shares a name with the late Prince of Pop – and the ability to moonwalk too.
Perhaps it’s even funnier when such name-sharing occurs accidentally and in supposedly serious films. One such example is Double Jeopardy (1999), which has a villain called Nicholas Parsons. To Brits of a certain age, that’s funny because Nicholas Parsons was a light-comedy actor before becoming a TV and radio presenter.
As a treat, here’s the real Nicholas (at the end of the clip) in The Ghost Goes Gear, from 1966, with the Spencer Davis Group.
Any other name-sharing characters that have raised a smile?