11 Notable People Who Shared Their Names With Famous Contemporaries

getty images / wikimedia commons
getty images / wikimedia commons / getty images / wikimedia commons

You’ve probably met a few perfectly normal people who happen to have the exact same name as some celebrity. Maybe you’re one of them. It’s a common problem. In fact, sometimes, it even happens to a pair of famous figures.

1. Winston Churchill

“Mr. Winston Churchill presents his compliments to Mr. Winston Churchill.” So begins an immortal letter sent by the future Prime Minister to his American namesake in 1900. Back then, Britain’s bulldog was but a rising young politician who kept getting mistaken for Mr. Winston Churchill of St. Louis, an internationally-acclaimed novelist. To prevent further confusion, the former man started using his middle initial (“S” for “Spencer”) for signing purposes.

2. Jon Favreau

Jon Kolia Favreau directed Elf, helped produce The Avengers, and portrayed one of Monica’s love interests on Friends. Jon E. Favreau served as a White House speechwriter from 2009 to 2013.

3. Francis Bacon

Apparently, knighthood isn’t everything. In a typical world history textbook, you’re more likely to spot Francis Bacon (1561-1626), who helped revolutionize scientific thought, than Sir Francis Bacon (1587-1657), a prominent English judge.

4. Dan White

Today, Dan White (1946-1985) remains reviled throughout San Francisco for murdering Mayor George Moscone and City Hall Supervisor Harvey Milk, one of the first openly-gay Americans to hold a major elected office. Contrast this with Dan White (1908-1980), an actor whose filmography includes such classics as Red River (1948), Touch of Evil (1958), and To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).

5. Bobby Jones

Mets fans will probably recognize both of these gentlemen. During the club’s pennant-winning 2000 season, Robert Joseph Jones and Robert Mitchell Jones were both members of its pitching squad.

6. Alexander Hamilton

There’s George Washington’s innovative treasury secretary, and then there’s Scotland’s Alexander Hamilton (1767-1852), who served as the 10th Duke of Hamilton.

7. Bob Marley

“My dad had no idea there was a singer named Bob Marley,” says this New England native and stand-up comic.

8. Mary Lincoln

Mary Johnson Bailey Lincoln (1844-1922) established herself as one of America’s most beloved cookbook writers with the publication of Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cookbook: What To Do and What Not To Do in Cooking (1883). And before anyone asks, no, she wasn’t related to the 16th President’s headache-prone wife, Mary Todd Lincoln (1818-1882).

9. Michael Jordan

Michael H. Jordan (1936-2010) never won an NBA championship, though he did serve as the CEO of PepsiCo and CBS.

10. John Adams

New York congressman John Adams’ political career didn’t take off until 1810, long after the nation’s first President Adams left D.C. for good.

11. John Green

Today, he’s a literary superstar. But during the early years of John Green’s writing career, he endured an awkward run-in with “one of the four horsemen of sasquatchery”: cryptozoologist John Willison Green. You can listen to a first-person account in this 2010 video:

“One time,” John—by which we mean “Vlogbrothers John”—reminisces, “I wrote an article for Mental_Floss magazine in which I talked about the fact that Bigfoot is, you know, fictional. And then I totally got a letter from famous Bigfoot apologist John Green who said my anti-Bigfoot propaganda was besmirching the good name of John Greens everywhere!”