Nine Famous Men With Women’s Names

Evelyn Waugh

The Johnny Cash hit "A Boy Named Sue" was written by author/poet/cartoonist Shel Silverstein. "Shel" is ambiguous enough as it is, but his song was inspired by his friend Jean Shepherd, the author of A Christmas Story, who was teased as a boy because of his feminine name. There are some unisex names out there: Jesse, Jamie, Tracy, Jackie, Kelly, etc. But here are nine gentlemen whose names are downright girly. (I'm not including those who purposefully gave themselves female names like Alice Cooper or Marilyn Manson.)

  1. LESLIE NIELSEN, actor. "Leslie" is a bit of a unisex name too. Or at least it used to be. (Our own President Gerald Ford was born Leslie King.)
  2. LINDSAY BUCKINGHAM, singer/songwriter. Another unisex name once, but not by this Fleetwood Mac star's generation. (cf. Lindsay Wagner.)
  3. CAROL REED, film director. The helmer of classics ranging from The Third Man to Oliver! might have gotten some sympathy from actor Carroll O'Connor.
  4. MEREDITH WILSON, composer/playwright. What is odd about Wilson, best known as the writer, composer and lyricist of The Music Man and The Unsinkable Molly Brown, is that his given name was Robert, but he preferred to work under his middle name.
  5. EVELYN WAUGH, novelist. Can a guy's name be any more ladylike? In centuries past, Evelyn was not an uncommon name for Englishmen, but by 1903, when the Brideshead Revisited author was born, his parents should have known better.
  6. DANA ANDREWS, actor. There's a scene in Woody Allen's Radio Days where a kid tells his friends in the 1940s that he has a crush on "Dana Andrews", thinking he is naming an attractive movie actress. His friends quickly educate him that Andrews, star of such classics as Laura and The Best Years of Our Lives, is indisputably male. See also: Dana Carvey.
  7. SANDY KOUFAX, baseball player. The legendary pitcher for the Dodgers (both in Brooklyn and in Los Angeles) was born Sanford Koufax, and his nickname was fairly common at the time; one of my teachers at CalArts, Scotsman Alexander Mackendrick, who directed such classic films as Sweet Smell of Success and the original The Ladykillers, was known to all as Sandy.
  8. ABBIE HOFFMAN, activist. The outspoken radical who was arrested during the 1968 Democratic Convention as one of the "Chicago Seven" was born with the unusual name Abbot.
  9. STACY KEACH, actor. The tough guy movie star is mostly remembered for the short-lived 1980s TV series Mike Hammer, though his best work was arguably in John Huston's 1972 film Fat City.