By Stacy Jenel Smith
(not the ice skater Stacey Smith or Pittsburgh TV news anchorman Stacy Smith)
What an annoyance for the self-proclaimed King of All Media, shock jock Howard Stern, to be confused with the late Anna Nicole Smith
's attorney, paramour and possibly baby daddy Howard K. Stern.
On one of his recent radio shows, the usually-funnier of the Sterns griped about mix-ups occurring as the media frenzy following Smith's death continues, quoting a condolence card he'd received from a woman in Denmark, and an Australian newspaper article that named the American "disc jockey" as the father of baby Daniellyne.
Suddenly, internet searches for Howard Stern were pulling Howard K. Stern results. And news of Howard Non-K Stern's engagement to his girlfriend, model Beth Ostrosky, had some people believing -- How COULD he?! -- that the lawyer had quickly forgotten poor Anna Nicole and moved on.
Well, at least Howard Non-K can take comfort in a couple of facts: 1) In all likelihood, once the Anna Nicole exploitathon is over, Howard K. will be pretty much forgotten, and 2) He is not alone.
Respected Los Angeles talk show host Michael Jackson must have long, long ago become used to phrases such as "the other" Michael Jackson and "not that one" being attached to his name. Sharing his monicker with the former King of Pop had to have been particularly galling amid seas of "Michael Jackson Molestation Case" headlines.
More amusing than annoying for both men, one can assume, is the shared name of John Madden, the NFL and broadcasting star - and John Madden, the British film director of such fare as "Mrs. Brown," "Proof" and "Shakespeare in Love." One can talk Bart Starr, the other Bard stars.
If you page Sasha Cohen at an airport VIP lounge, you might get the 5'2" Olympic Silver Medal-winning figure skater - or the 6'3" comic performer, Sacha Baron Cohen of "Borat" fame.
A few years ago, you could have tried Paul Simon and you might have gotten either the troubadour who hangs with that Garfunkel guy -- or the senator from Illinois who wore a bow tie. "I have all his albums," Richard Belzer once joked of the latter, who died in '03.
Things are less amusing for Vanessa Williams. No, I don't mean the "Ugly Betty" actress/singer who is the de facto winner in the unofficial Vanessa Williams name derby. That one is also known as Vanessa L. Williams - the name the Screen Actors Guild wanted her to use to differentiate herself - but if you leave out the "L." it's unlikely people will fail to identify her.
I mean the other Vanessa Williamses. While Vanessa L. was the first black Miss America, Vanessa A. was a Miss Black America. While Vanessa L. was in "Soul Food," the movie, Vanessa A. was in "Soul Food," the TV series. The lovely Vanessa A. has stand-out credits including "Melrose Place" and the movie "New Jack City," but she's nearly always referenced with Vanessa L., either as "the other" or "frequently confused with."
And then there's Vanessa R. Williams, the gospel singer who is newer to the entertainment scene than either of the other performing Vanessas and is confusing things all the more.
We could have had three Michael Douglases on the celebrity scene - but the singer/talk show host who passed away last year chose to go by Mike Douglas, and one of the actors changed his name to Michael Keaton.
If it hadn't been for the Screen Actors Guild, we might know Michael J. Fox and Julia Roberts simply as plain old Michael Fox and Julie Roberts today - the Guild already had performers with their names in its membership when the future major stars joined.
Now country singer Julie Roberts has celebrity jurisdiction over that name.
Remember when Fergie meant the flame-tressed Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, and nobody had heard of Fergie, the Black Eyed Peas singer?
After Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson cheekily named her debut solo album "The Dutchess," the former royal told Boston Globe writers Carol Beggy and Mark Shanahan, "I rang her up about that. I said, 'Fergie, it's Fergie. . . . Now that you've done this, you have to sing at a concert for my foundation, Children in Crisis.'" American Fergie said yes and made plans to perform at fundraisers in London and New York.
Well done, ladies.