by Mike Keith
Word Ways, 2000


Did you know that guitar legend ERIC CLAPTON is a NARCOLEPTIC? Or that pop singer BRITNEY SPEARS is a member of the PRESBYTERIANS? Or that actress MEG RYAN hails from GERMANY? Well, actually, such observations are only true logologically: these are examples of famous people whose combined first and last names can be anagrammed into a single English word.

In addition to these three examples, which are fairly well-known among celebrity-one-word-anagram fans, here are a few more that have appeared in print. Most of these were published in The Enigma; a few were collected via e-mail correspondence.

U.S. Vice President    Al Gore       gaoler
actor                  Tom Cruise    costumier
actor                  Ed Asner      endears
actor                  Sal Mineo     semolina
comedian               Sid Caesar    ascarides
Irish footballer       Liam Brady    admirably
Star Trek actor        Tim Russ      truisms
singer                 Al Green      general [or enlarge, etc.]
remember Gary Hart?    Donna Rice    ordinance
"The Who" singer       Roger Daltrey retrogradely

(All single words in this article can be found in Webster's Third Unabridged.)

Also well-known but still remarkable is 1970's baseball player Al Kaline, whose name becomes a word (alkaline) by simply joining the parts with no rearrangement.

Inspired by these, I set out - with some computer assistance - to find additional examples of this genre. We can distinguish between two kinds: those that are just transposals, with little or no semantic connection between the word and the celebrity, and those that have some flavor of the true anagram (i.e., with some appositeness between the word and the person).

First, some plain transposals:

actor                Art Aragon     tarragona
Vegas magician       Lance Burton   contubernal
actor                Dean Cain      canadine
writer (Nobel,1981)  Elias Canetti  inelasticate
rock musician        Peter Case     treescape
American astronaut   Michael Coats  machicolates
actress              Erin Gray      grainery
50's baseball player Ted Gray       tragedy
actor                Corey Haim     cherimoya
actress              Tess Harper    spheraster
actor                Ian Holm       hominal
Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry     mordantly
baseball pitcher     Don Larsen     Norseland
singer               Brenda Lee     reenabled
comic book legend    Stan Lee       leanest
minor-league pitcher Ron Necciai    Ciceronian
model                Carre Otis     crostarie
actress              Carol Potter   protectoral
Pee-Wee Herman       Paul Reubens   unsuperable
NBC TV host          Rita Sever     arrestive
American footballer  Ken Stabler    blanketers
50's singer          Rise Stevens   restiveness
comic                Marty Allen    maternally
writer               Pearl Buck     parbuckle
actor                Ned Glass      gladness
actor                Marty Ingels   streamingly
Star Trek actor      Mark Lenard    landmarker
actress/dancer       Anita Morris   Rotarianism
Beach Boy            Carl Wilson    Cornwallis
actor                Ben Gould      bludgeon
actor/composer       Carl Mathieu   rheumatical
actor                Carlos East    escalators
actor                Dennis Cole    declension
actor                Eric Cantona   canceration
'60s rocker          Gerry Marsden  gerrymanders
German actress       Ingrid Steeger deregistering
poet, singer         Lou Reed       urodele
Depeche Mode-r       Martin Gore    germinator
actor                Paul Le Mat    ampullate
Swedish actress      Malin Ek       manlike
British actor        Peter Sands    depressant
writer               Anne Rice      narceine

Of course, the meaning of "celebrity" is somewhat subjective, but I tried to stick with people that are at least well-known in their field. For instance, you may not have heard of Ron Necciai, but die-hard baseball fans know him as holding the all-time record for the most number of strikeouts in a professional game (27).

And now a few celebrity anagrams, in which the word is at least partially related to the person involved:

Arizona baseball player   Travis Lee     versatile
actor                     Eddie Albert   deliberated
actor                     Robert Alda    bardolater
actor                     Brad Rowe      wardrobe
singer/songwriter         Lisa Loeb      isolable
"Meet the Press" host     Tim Russert    mistruster
Hollywood sound man       Art Rochester  orchestrater
singer                    Cass Elliot    oscillates
Animal Planet host        Steve Irwin    interviews

At least we hope that Robert Alda did some Shakespeare at some point in his career! Note that Art Rochester's very apt anagram uses the alternative -er spelling (still in Web3, though). Of these, the last three are quite remarkably appropriate.

The longest one-word celebrity anagrams we have encountered are 13 letters in length (a tie between Britney Spears, Eddie Charlton, and Ingrid Steeger). Word Ways readers are challenged to try and beat this record.

If we drop the (somewhat fuzzy and subjective) "celebrity" requirement, and just use the names of ordinary but real people, how much better can be done? The longest we were able to find is Carolyn Mcalister (16 letters), a transposal of the boldface Web3 word MACROCRYSTALLINE. The best 17-letter near-miss I came across is Herbert Eisenstadt (BITTERHEARTEDNESS - a reasonable coinage, but not in Web3 or OED). That both of these people actually exist is attested to by the Yahoo yellow pages directory (http://people.yahoo.com). My ordinary-people search was fairly extensive but by no means exhaustive, so it is possible that these records can be bettered.

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