July 21, 2021

What's in a name?

True story: I've mentioned the soap opera The Brighter Day several times over the years, particularly in the weekly programming listings. It's not one of the better-remembered soap operas of the era (it ran on CBS from 1954 to 1962), and it was always a 15-minute soap, a carryover from the the days of radio, where The Brighter Day began in 1948. At any rate, here's a clip from a May 1955 episode.

The reason I mention this is because I have a somewhat oblique personal connection to this soap. (As you know, I don't often write about personal things, but I thought this one was too good to pass up.) One of the show's regular characters is an attorney named Mitchell Dru, played by actor Geoffrey Lumb, and his was the first character to cross over from one soap to another; after The Brighter Day went off the air, the character (and the actor) appeared first on As the World Turns, and then Another World and Somerset, all owned by the same company, Proctor & Gamble. After all, every good soap has to have an attorney present for one of its sensational murder trials, right?

Anyway, my point. I was born in early May 1960, while The Brighter Day was still on the air. My mother had wanted to give me, for a middle name, the last name of some family relation, cousins or something (I don't remember now), but she wasn't quite sure how to spell the name, nor could she find anyone who was, and because the birth certificate needed to be completed, she chose another middle name: Drew.*  

*It's a nice enough name, but I always felt kind of bad that it wasn't the name she'd originally wanted, and I seldom use it, or even my middle initial.

Granted it's spelled differently, but many of her friends teased her that she'd named me after the character Mitchell Dru. She said she'd not even been aware of it; she must not have watched The Brighter Day, but she did watch Another World later on, which is when she related the story to me, and I got to see my "namesake" in action. I've remembered this story all these years, but it wasn't until seeing this clip on YouTube, quite by accident, that I discovered the connection to The Brighter Day. Ah, the things you learn here: TV as a family tree. TV  


  1. My ex-wife wanted my son to be named after me, but I was already a Jr. and didn't want to saddle him with being a III. I liked the name Henry, and so did she. And as a deference to her wishes, we gave him my name as his middle name: James. As an English major, I am quite embarrassed to admit that I didn't catch on that we were naming him Henry James.

  2. I'm not sure that this exactly counts toward what you're driving at here, but let's see:

    Back in 1974, I was looking at ABC's Wide World Of Entertainment, late night, in one of their Mystery weeks.
    The show was "Nightmare At 43 Hillcrest", produced by Dan Curtis (post Dark Shadows), and starring Jim Hutton and Peter Mark Richman.
    This was a "ripped from the headlines!" number, based loosely on an actual case: a narcotics squad raided a suburban home and busted the family that lived there - and then discovered that they were at the wrong address; the house they wanted was the next block over.
    The captain leading the narcs (Richman) decided to frame the suburbanite (Hutton) in order to avoid having to admit that he'd made a mistake.
    Hutton's whole family gets tossed into the clink, leading to a massive official cover-up; it falls to Assistant DA Mariette Hartley, with an assist from honest cop John Karlen, to straighten it all out.

    What the above has to do with this post:
    The Boss DA, Hartley's superior, is named Michael Doran - which I noticed almost at once when I was watching.
    I was still in my early 20s in '74; "DA Doran" was played by 50-something Walter Brooke (who had played the DA on The Green Hornet a decade earlier - but that's another story ...).
    As these late-night taped melodramas went, "Nightmare At 43 Hillcrest" wasn't bad - the worst I could say was that it looked cheap, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
    Still, it's a bit of a disconnect to be watching a crime drama at home, and suddenly hear your own name bandied about (I was ultimately relieved to find out that 'DA Mike Doran' was a Good Guy, busting Richman and his cronies).
    As it was, I was also relieved to hear my family's name pronounced as we did (duh-RAN).

    Since that night in '74, I've kept a weather eye to see if there any other 'Mike Dorans' in print or on the screen - nothing to date, but I still maintain a lookout.

    How about you?
    Seen any 'Mitch Hadleys' on TV (or in the movies or in prose fiction, for that matter)?
    As commonplace a name as that is, I'd frankly be surprised if you hadn't, at least once, somewhere ...

    Anyway, I just thought I'd mention it, for whatever it's worth ...

  3. The closest I got was Major Hochstetter on Hogan's Heroes. Thankfully not an exact match, and I'm not even sure he had a first name other than 'Major.'


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!