Stories of people changing their name, an excerpt from This American Life by Ira Glass, produced at WBEZ. Glass tells the story of his grandmother: when she was in her 30's, she was very ill and everyone thought she was going to die. So they changed her name. It was an old Jewish custom, to confuse the Angel of Death. And Margy Rochlin on the place you go to in Los Angeles if you want to change your name. It turns out to be surprisingly easy to change
Justin Kaplan and Anne Bernays are the authors of the new book, "The Language of Names: What We Call Ourselves and Why It Matters." Both have written previous books: Ms. Bernays is the author of eight novels, including the award-winning "Growing Up Rich" and "Professor Romeo," as well as numerous short stories. Mr. Kaplan won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography, "Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain." He's also the General Editor of Barlett's Familiar Quotations.
Actor Rip Torn, who now plays the Arty, the producer on the HBO comedy series, "The Larry Sanders Show". Torn has been a stage actor since the mid-1950's, when he left his native Texas (and his first name "Elmore") behind, for New York City and the Actors Studio. Described by one reviewer as "the good-looking no-talent with the ludicrously sinister name", Torn was often typecast as a heavy in television shows like "Dr. Kildare" and "Bonanza." (He also portrayed Henry Miller in an X-rated film version of "Tropic of Cancer.").
Mystery writer Ed McBain (also known as Evan Hunter). He's known for his finely detailed "87th Precinct" mysteries. Mystery fans call McBain's books "procedurals" for their close attention to police procedures. McBain also wrote, under a his real name (which he legally changed in 1952), the screenplay for the movie, "The Blackboard Jungle." (Interview by Sedge Thomson)