In the roaring twenties MGM was starlet boot camp. Young beauties that had passed muster at the front gate and the front office contracted with the studio as little more than artistic chattel. Tall thin, talented ingénues were at the beck and call of Hollywood's contractual whims as they performed required calisthenics, took diction lessons and dieted diligently under boss Louis B Mayer's iron thumb.
One young hopeful with steely blue eyes loaded with spirit beckoned for certain stardom. She could move, emote and act while taking direction better than even the great Garbo. Her face was stellar success, but her name -- was poison. When Louis B. Mayer was introduced to her he bellowed that her name, Lucille LeSueur, sounded like "Sewer". Mayer demanded it changed. Under much fanfare, a publicity stunt, and the public's insatiable fascination, MGM held a movie magazine contest to rename their "next big thing." The winning entry was chosen and Joan Crawford soared to become one of the biggest stars Hollywood will ever know.
Early moguls were keen on the power of the right name. Marion Morrison couldn't even clean out a barn until he became John Wayne, Issur Demsky didn't stand a chance before Kirk Douglas, and Norma Jeane Baker lacked all the right lumps until she became Marilyn Monroe.
I just hope Barack Obama has one foot in Hollywood history when he's considering the man from Indiana as his VP. "Obama Bayh" splattered on bumper stickers and posters across America might not send the right subliminal message. Eagle eyes will see it as an upstanding surname, but the slippery mind of the undecided voter might record it as "Obama Bye", or "Obama Buy", or some other swift-boat-minded-sexually-confused-moniker that can't possibly bode well for a Barack Obama on Election Day.
Imaging the opponent's options, an even darker scenario emerges when "McCain Ridge" pops into possibility. Ignore the fact Tom Ridge had us duct taping ourselves into our windowless bathrooms -- as a name on a ballot it sounds like the RNC and America's most majestic, mighty and god-kissed mountaintop lookout. I shutter to think of the stealthy statuesque images that will pop into the minds of the undereducated and undecided when they pop a chad for all the wrong reasons.
Americans can't really be that gullible, can they?
Hey, it's not that I don't like Evan Bayh, I just like Evan Better even more.
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