Mirror, Mirror

Lots of people have famous surnames. But these folks’ monikers, both first and last, suggest worldwide renown: a gunslinger, a studio chief, and a couple of movie stars

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Tyrone Power IV Son of the actor best known for The Mark of Zorro, Tyrone Power

» Tyrone Power, one of Hollywood’s most dashing leading men, died of a heart attack in November 1958. He was 44. Two months later Tyrone Power IV was born. “I first became aware of him kind of the way everyone else did: watching his exploits onscreen,” says the younger Power, an actor who appears in the upcoming film The Extra. “It was pretty daunting. His hair never got messed up, he always got the girl, he always defeated the enemy—I mean, wow—and he looked good doing it.” On being recognized: “When I was nine, we went to a coastal resort in Mexico. One afternoon my mother and I were riding a trolley down to the beach, and I heard a woman say, ‘My God, that kid looks exactly like Tyrone Power.’ And her husband laughed and said, ‘Nah, I don’t think so.’ I’ve also had people look me straight in the face and say, ‘Your mother must have been such a huge fan.’ Meaning: to name her son after an actor. I respond, ‘Well, it was between him and Clark Gable.’ ” On deciding not to change his name: “I was afraid that the ghosts of Irishmen past would come back and hit me over the head.” On passing the name to his own son: “I did hesitate—my wife and I discussed it. But I ended up throwing the ball to him so the burden wouldn’t be on me to be the last one.”


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Wyatt Earp Fourth cousin of the lawman Wyatt B.S. Earp

» Wyatt B.S. Earp is remembered for his 1881 gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. Eighty-one years later in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Glen Earp, a distant cousin, was born. Glen grew up on a ten-acre plot with horses, guns, and tractors. “Most actors grew up wanting to be cowboys,” he says. “I was a cowboy growing up wanting to be an actor.” On moving to L.A.: “When I was 25, I loaded my Ford Thunderbird with everything I had and started going by ‘Wyatt.’ Coming to California was about chasing dreams, and acting was one of them. I wound up getting a job in the mortgage business, which afforded me a good living. I never had to wait tables.” On Wyatt Earp movies: “In the early ’90s, they were going to make two movies about Wyatt Earp. I contacted the production companies, and I said, ‘Hey, this is who I am,’ and they said, ‘We don’t believe you.’ So I faxed them my driver’s license, and they offered me a role in Tombstone. I wound up on the cutting room floor.” On people’s reactions to his name: “Mostly from women I get, ‘Yeah, and I’m Calamity Jane.’ ”


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Carla Laemmle Niece of Universal Pictures founder Carl Laemmle

» In 1921, Carla Laemmle moved from Chicago to a house on the Universal lot, the studio that her uncle Carl had founded in 1912. She was 12. Four years later she launched her acting career, playing a ballet dancer in the silent film version of The Phantom of the Opera. Now 101, she’s the last surviving cast member. On living at Universal: “They had a wonderful zoo at that time, and they had a camel called Houdini who would come to the grass right by our house. I would go out with a little bowl of oatmeal, and he would follow me very dutifully. And then I would go phone the back lot and say I had Houdini and would you please come pick him up?” On changing her name in 1931: “Rebekah—I never liked that name. Carla was an obvious thing because of my uncle. And that’s been permanent.” On speaking the first line in one of the first full-sound talkie horror movies, Dracula (1931): “I didn’t have to memorize any lines or anything. I was supposed to be read-ing from a little booklet, so it didn’t tax my brains at all.”


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Clark Gable Grandson of Gone With the Wind star Clark Gable

» Four months after the Academy Award-winning actor died in 1960, his fifth wife, Kay, gave birth to their son, John. In 1988, John had a son of his own: Clark James Gable. Now 22, Clark is an aspiring model and actor. On what he knows about his namesake: “When I was growing up, my dad told me stories he’d heard from his sister about how many times my grandfather was deterred from doing the things he wanted to do and how he never let anything get in his way. He was just the definition of class.” On what happens when he uses his credit card: “If I’m in Hollywood, it’s just ridiculous. People look at me like I’m crazy. They say, ‘You have a name like this in Hollywood?’—and I’m at 7-Eleven trying to get a Slurpee and a bag of chips, and I’m like, ‘Come on, man. Just sell me what I want and let me go.’ ” On the strangest thing that ever happened to him because of his name: “I was in Agoura Hills, and the police pulled me over and grabbed my driver’s license and laughed and said, ‘This can’t be you—this person’s dead.’ And they confiscated my license and wrote me a ticket for not having one. Now I carry two IDs on me.”


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Bela Lugosi Son of the star of Dracula, Bela Lugosi

»Lugosi’s only son, Bela, is an attorney with the law firm Arent Fox in Los Angeles. “Mostly people say, “Are you related?” And I say, ‘Yes.’ And they say, ‘Grandson?’ And I say, ‘No—son.’ Dad was 55 when I was born.” On being a namesake: “As a kid, you don’t like to be singled out. I went by the name Bill instead of Bela because I thought it would help deflect attention. It didn’t work, so by the time I became a lawyer I went by Bela. As you mature, you look at things differently. I went from being embarrassed to being proud that I have the name.” On watching his father work: “When he had a script he was studying, he would spend hours and hours preparing. He would emphasize a different word in each line until he got it just the way he wanted it. He was a perfectionist.” On his father’s charisma: “As soon as anyone heard his voice, they would know who was there.” On his father’s fame: “People think of movie stars as looking the same as they remember them on film. They forget that everyone gets old. So there are people who think I’m my dad. Not a day goes by that some-one doesn’t recognize my name. Every place I go.”


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Ron Chaney Great-grandson of the silent film actor and makeup artist Lon Chaney Sr. and grandson of Lon Chaney Jr., aka The Wolf Man» Lon Chaney Sr. starred in the silent films The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and created his own extraordinary makeup. His son, Creighton, changed his name to Lon Chaney Jr. in 1935 and played Lennie in Of Mice and Men in 1939 before starring in The Wolf Man in 1941. His grandson, Ron, is president of Chaney Entertainment in Palm Springs and starred in House of the Wolf Man, a 2009 indie film. On his great-grandfather: “He was born of deaf-mute parents, and he soaked in sign language and pantomime. He was a master at observing people and taking on their traits and putting that to use in film. He was able to communicate without saying a word.” On his relationship with his grandfather: “I knew he was the Wolf Man, but that was in the movies. To me, he was Gramps. He loved children—during Halloween, he would come out as the Wolf Man and scare people and give them howls.” On his grandfather’s legacy: “We still license him. We’ve had him racing around NASCAR and doing things my grandfather never would have imagined. Later in his life he thought everyone had pretty much forgotten about him. He would be tickled pink to see how many people still admire his work.” Photographs by Jeff Minton

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