Chris Duggan has one of the more exciting — and dangerous — jobs in our clan. He’s a bona fide Hollywood stuntman who appears to specialize in slam-bang action work. Major film credits include Get Carter (2000), Dreamcatcher (2003) and First Wave (1998), according to his IMDB page, but he’s busier than that limited filmography lets on. Mr. Duggan wasn’t available to comment on what the life of a professional stuntperson actually involves, but we can safely assume that it’s far more exciting than whatever you or I happen to do for a living. To our man in Hollywood, we say: Stay safe, Mr. Duggan!
Chris Duggan is a British illustrator and portraitist whose works have appeared in numerous publications over the decades: Punch, Vogue, Time Out, The Financial Times, The European, and more. Full-length books to his credit include “Conned!( a History of Scams,
Frauds and Scandals)” and “Hic! The Entire History of Wine” — which sounds like a delightful, intoxicating read, if you’ll pardon the pun.
Mr. Duggan’s work is apparently impressive enough to earn notice from some of Britain’s most prestigious cultural institutions. His illustrations, according to his website, have been featured in the collections of the Bank of England Museum, the Cartoon Museum, and the British Cartoon Archive, among others.
We don’t know much about you, fellow reader. That’s the beauty of the Internet — it’s basically anonymous.
However, there’s one bit of information we can fairly surmise about many of the visitors to this website: Their initials begin with “K” and end with “D.” Maybe your name is Kris Duggan? Or Katherine Doherty? Or Kip Dillon? We have no idea.
But if you are indeed a “K.D.,” you’re in surprisingly good company. These six notable people, some of whom are quite famous entirely on their own, also share those initials.
Kevin Durant is a legendary American basketball player. Long part of the almost-champions Oklahoma City Thunder squad, he’s now an integral piece of the Golden State Warriors superteam. Born in Washington, D.C., and blessed with an outrageous vertical matched only by an even more outrageous reach, “K.D.” is already a lock for the basketball hall of fame.
Kevin Duckworth was another basketball-playing K.D. of an earlier generation. Sadly, he left us far too soon, dying at age 44 of complications of heart failure. His career was largely spent with the Portland Trail Blazers, and though he never ascended to the heights of contemporaries like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, he left behind a respectable basketball legacy. After retiring, he remained in Portland and did extensive charitable work in his adopted hometown.
Karen Duffy is an American actress whose turn as one of People Magazine’s “most beautiful people” (1993) was just the opening act in an illustrious career that was just as notable for what Duffy accomplished off-screen as on-. A certified hospital chaplain and sufferer of a rare, painful disease, she’s a prominent advocate for chronic pain patients.
Katherine “Kitty” Dukakis is the former first lady of Massachusetts and wife of former Massachusetts governor (and unsuccessful U.S. presidential candidate) Michael Dukakis. Dukakis has long been a prominent advocate for those suffering from substance abuse disorder and other mental health issues.
A key member of groundbreaking act Pixies and a founding member of the Breeders, Kim Deal was among the most prominent women in the U.S. alternative rock scene of the 1980s and 1990s. Fun fact: Kim Deal has a twin sister named Kelley — another member of the K.D. clan.
Last but not least, a posthumous mention for legendary actor Kirk Douglas of Spartacus fame. Douglas appeared in dozens of critically acclaimed films over the course of eight or nine decades in show business (depends how you count “decades”) and remained in public life almost until his death in early 2020 at the remarkable age of 103. Like some of the other K.D.s on this list, Douglas used a pseudonym; the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, his birth name was Issur Danielovitch.
That’s it — 10 of the best-known K.D.s around today. Is your favorite K.D. on the list, or did we miss an important name?
In 2008, The New York Times’ Stephanie Rosenbloom wrote a moving piece about the long-distance bonds forged by people sharing the same first and last names. Among other examples, Rosenbloom mentions:
- The writer Angela Shelton, whose 2008 book “Finding Angela Shelton” chronicles Shelton’s encounters with 40 other Angela Sheltons.
- The illustrator Keri Smith, who had completed six drawings of people with her exact name when Rosenbloom went to press.
- The pediatric oncologist Sam Blackman, who kept close tabs on fellow Sam Blackmans through periodic Google searches.
- A huge cohort Mohammed Hassans seeking to break the world record for the largest gathering of individuals with the same name. (The article does not disclose whether their endeavor was successful.)
Rosenbloom describes these efforts and encounters with a whimsical flourish, but the thrust of her article is much more serious and thought provoking. Namely: Do our very names influence the paths we take through life? This question is particularly relevant for the Kris Duggans reading this — those who’ve found their way here for reasons they can’t fully explain.
More Than a Familiar Combination of Characters
For those not predisposed to superstition, this question feels decidedly off-the-wall. But Rosenbloom cites a number of contemporary data points suggesting that, indeed, our names do have some real-world effects — both tangible and psychological.
One of the bases for these effects may be the name-letter effect theory, which Rosenbloom describes as “maintain[ing] that people like the letters in their own names (particularly their initials) better than other letters of the alphabet.”
Recent evidence for the name-letter effect is compelling.
For instance: Data culled from public records indicates that people with surnames beginning with “B” were more likely to contribute to candidate George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential election, while people with surnames beginning with “G” were more likely to contribute to candidate Albert Gore. To be clear, there is no indication that people bearing “B” surnames are more likely to vote Republican than people whose last names begin with “G”.
There’s more. According to Rosenbloom, studies led by research psychologist Dr. Brett Pelham found that:
- “Johnsons are more likely to wed Johnsons,”
- “[W]omen named Virginia are more likely to live in (and move to) Virginia,” and
- “[P]eople whose surname is Lane tend to have addresses that include the word ‘lane,’ not ‘street.’”
No word yet on any research into the proclivities of those named Kris Duggan, but here’s to hoping it’s coming.
Comfort in Familiarity?
The name-letter effect also has strong circumstantial evidence behind it, too.
Rosenbloom recounts the story of a Virginia-based graphic novel editor named Jason Rodriguez with a strong affinity — and perhaps a twinge of jealousy as well — for an identically named stuntman whose credits included “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Later, she tells the tale of Tim Connor, a photo editor who wrote that he “felt in some way I already knew” a fellow Tim Connor glimpsed in a photograph.
Is there a scientific basis for our attraction to those who share our names? We may never know for sure. But the prospect is sufficiently compelling to warrant further inquiry.
Have Your Say
Has your name (first, last, middle, or all three) affected your choices in life? Do you believe you’d be the same person if you had a different name?
We’ll leave it up to the jury to decide whether “Kris Duggan” counts as a common name. In its ancestral Ireland, that may be the case, but K. Duggan isn’t among the world’s most common first-last name combinations.
That’s okay. Fellow Kris Duggans are in good company, and plenty of it. They don’t need a surfeit of hangers-on.
Likelier than not, we’ve welcomed readers with names more common than Kris Duggan. Perhaps you’re among them. According to a 2014 study by Ancestry.com, the 10 most common name combinations in the United States featured just a handful of surnames. In order of popularity, they were:
- James Smith
- Michael Smith
- Robert Smith
- Maria Garcia
- David Smith
- Maria Rodriguez
- Mary Smith
- Maria Hernandez
- Maria Martinez
- James Johnson
It’s no surprise that “Smith” and “Rodriguez” are among the most common last names in the United States, nor that “James” and “Maria” are among the most common first.
In other parts of the world, and in other times, the mix varies. Variations on “Mohammed” almost certainly comprise the most common male first name on the planet; “Fatima” is a very common female name.
So, whether your name is James Smith or Maria Martinez or Fatima Hassan, you know better than any Kris Duggan what it’s like to exist in a very large cohort of identically named individuals.
It follows that you know how to stand out from that crowd — if that’s your preference. You’ve probably tried out one or two of these strategies:
- Make a Subtle Change to the Name’s Spelling or Pronunciation: Change a letter, change the meaning. That’s the hope, anyway. Whether it works out that way is anyone’s guess. But going from “John” to “Johnny” is a start.
- Go By a Less Common Middle Name: Your middle name most likely isn’t as common as your first. Adopt it as your “given” name and see how things feel. This is an especially potent tactic for those with “family” middle names borrowed from obscure, long-dead relatives with obscure, long-dead names.
- Adopt a Nickname: It works for athletes and media personalities. Why wouldn’t it work for you, whoever you happen to be? Just make sure it’s a nickname that’s utterable in polite company.
- Use Your Middle Initial (Or Two, If You’re So Fortunate): “Mary H. Johnson” is better than “Mary Johnson,” and “Mary H. T. Johnson” is better than both.
- Add a Suffix: Are you a “junior”? A “the third?” Insufferable as it may appear at first, you know what you must do to distinguish yourself once and for all.
What’s In a Name, Anyway?
These strategies could distinguish you from all the other Maria Garcias or James Johnsons in the world. But you don’t need them to distinguish your identity from theirs.
To put it another way, you must never forget that you’re a unique individual, quite unlike anyone else who’s ever lived or ever will. Your name is just that — a name. It’s what you do that matters most.
Do you have a plain vanilla name? Or is your moniker more memorable than your neighbor’s?
If you’re reading this, fellow Kris Duggan, you know what it’s like to share a name in common. But what if your name-ganger (like doppelganger, but for names) happens to be someone more famous than yourself?
Must you be consigned to a life lived in the shadow of a fairer, better-known person? Or is it within your abilities to turn this association to your advantage and embrace the awesome power of name recognition?
Our bets are on the latter. Here are some ideas to make the most of your name association with a celebrity name-ganger — past or present.
Get to Know Your Famous Name-ganger Better
Under ordinary circumstances, the person with whom you share a full name may not be someone to whom you’d pay any special attention. But these aren’t ordinary circumstances.
Read up on your name-ganger; Wikipedia is a good start, but probably should not be your only resource. Learn more about their background, what they’re famous for, their lifestyle, and any extracurricular activities or causes for which they’re known.
Figure Out How Popular (And Likable) They Really Are
Tease out how popular this person really is. Not every famous person is equally well-liked or well-regarded. In certain domains, such as politics and sports, you’ll find characters that “enjoy” near-universal revulsion.
Elsewhere, it’s just as common to find public figures with remarkably high “Q” scores — a key measure of personal likability used in show business. How well your name-ganger comes off is important to your treatment of the association.
Identify at Least One Thing You Do Better Than Them
Next, turn the tables on your name-ganger by identifying at least one thing you do better than them and emphasizing this difference in your personal branding. Since you’re unlikely to work in the same profession as your name-ganger, this could be as easy as calling yourself a better lawyer or nurse or economist than whatever start of the screen or page or stage you happen to share a name with.
Call Them Out by Name, But Know Where the Line Lies
While we’ve thus far assumed that it’s best to lean into your name association with a particular famous person, it’s important not to take things too far. You don’t want a good-natured running joke to turn into fodder for a lawsuit. Above all else, be respectful of your name-ganger’s privacy and humanity, just as you’d prefer them to be of yours.
Keep Your Head Up — It’s Yours, After All
In the end, you are your own Kris Duggan (or whatever your name happens to be). No one can take that away from you, not even the far more famous person with whom you happen to share a first and last name.
The last thing you want to do is permit an inferiority complex to take root. Sure, you might never be as well-known as your name-ganger, but you still have much to be proud of. Name recognition isn’t the only measure of personal or professional success.
So, while it’s perfectly acceptable to lean into your celebrity association, you should resist allowing that association to define you. There’s so much more to your story than a mere accident of birth.
Do you share a name with a famous person? How do you handle the burden?
Mr. Kenuric Duggan is an “honorary” Kris Duggan — his family name is actually Robson. Mr. Duggan/Robson hails from the Lansing, Michigan, area, and works in the healthcare industry.
This honorary Kris Duggan’s real passion, however, is history. An avid Renaissance Faire participant, he’s become quite good at medieval sword fighting — with full regalia and armor, in case you’re wondering. Despite his home region’s harsh winters, he practices outdoors year-round. Concerned friends and family members needn’t worry — it’s all in good fun, assures Mr. Duggan/Robson. Here’s hoping it stays that way!
Mr. Kris Duggan hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment’s largest city. Living in the shadow of the Sandia Mountains, he’s privy to some of the Lower 48’s most dramatic scenery and weather conditions. No wonder, then, that he’s an avid photographer who specializes in sunset and night sky scenes.
Our resident Albuquerque Kris Duggan has plenty of other interests, too. When he’s not waiting for the golden hour or hiking uphill for a clearer view of the night sky, you can find him taking a University of New Mexico basketball game (go Lobos!) or spending time with his beloved family.
Mr. Kris Duggan is the only born-and-bred Irishman on our list, at least to our knowledge. Perhaps he can shed some light on his name’s backstory — although there’s no indication he’s related to the original “Dugans,” as of yet.
This particular Kris Duggan hails from Dublin, his home country’s capital and largest city, and knows the place well. Like any good Dubliner, he enjoys exploring the city’s beautiful riverfront, window-shopping its many high streets, and escaping to the stunning Wicklow Mountains when the weather allows. A romantic type, he enjoys spending time with his sweetheart, too.
Mr. Kris Duggan is an all-American guy from the close-knit town of Jackson, Tennessee, conveniently located between Nashville (Music City USA!) and Memphis (home of the Delta Blues, of course).
Mr. Duggan works for FedEx, one of the region’s largest employers (and proud to call nearby Memphis its global headquarters). His job sometimes keeps him out on the road for hours or days at a time, but that doesn’t get him down — he takes solace in knowing that, without him, folks would have to wait longer for holiday gifts, birthday presents, and “just-because” purchases.