3 Famous Goldbergs

David K. Israel

1. Reuben Goldberg The man behind the name: Reuben isn't just a famous sandwich, it's also the name of the American early 20th century cartoonist who inked a lot of cartoons depicting complex devices that performed simple tasks in amusing, convoluted ways. Yes, Reuben is the Goldberg behind Rube Goldberg. Cool Reuben Goldberg fact: He graduated from UC Berkeley in 1904 but not with a fine arts or graphic arts degree, as you might expect, but rather an engineering degree, which clearly came in handy later. Rube Goldberg on video (wild Japanese Rube Goldberg contest):

2. Johann Gottlieb Goldberg The man behind the name: Johann was a German harpsichordist in the 18th century. He was also a composer but never achieved any long-lasting recognition. His name would all but be forgotten if another Johann didn't come along: Johann Sebastian Bach. Yes, Johann Goldberg is the Goldberg behind Bach's masterpiece: The Goldberg Variations, which most musicologists say was premiered by Johann Goldberg. Cool Goldberg Variations fact: In the film The Silence of the Lambs, the "Aria" from the piece is used quite effectively as underscoring during the scene where Lecter breaks out of his courthouse cell. Goldberg Variations on video: Check out the clip here [WARNING: some of the video, toward the very end, is not for those with weak constitutions] and then below it, be sure to check out this interesting jazz arrangement by Jacquess Loussier of the same "Aria."

3. Whoopi Goldberg The woman behind the name: Okay, so we all know who she is, but what about that name? Well, she was born Caryn Elaine Johnson but took the stage name Whoopee because people used to tell her she was so funny, she used to alleviate their flatulence. (I've also heard it was because SHE was rather gassy herself.) Later she decided Whoopee Johnson sounded too bland, so she picked Goldberg, a name she once said was part of her ancestral line. Cool Whoopi Goldberg fact: The woman has no eyebrows. None. My favorite whoopee cushion clip on video: