Political Doppelgangers: Double the Fun

Written by Aaron Short on . Posted in Upfront.

Bill Murray will not sneak up on you in Central Park and put his hands over your eyes. Chuck Norris will not deliver a roundhouse kick through the windshield of a moving car. And Anthony Weiner will definitely not text you racy photographs of himself. Well, at least their doppelgängers won’t. Sharing the name of a famous person can be a burden, but it hasn’t bothered these political figures too badly.

Bill Murray
Legislative director for New York City Councilman Jim Gennaro

Q: Why refer to yourself as Bill Murray and not William or Billy?
A: I guess my parents gave it to me. And my grandfather had it before Bill Murray the comedian. It’s a common Irish name.

Q: Do people ever confuse you for him?
A: No. The closest thing to confusion is people have asked for clarification. I don’t think anyone ever fully thinks I’m Bill Murray the actor off the bat. Usually there’s a 10-second pause, and I can see them thinking, “You have a famous name, the actor Bill Murray.” It’s a great, pleasant icebreaker. Inevitably a few joke about Ghostbusters, Caddyshack, What About Bob?

Bill O’Reilly
Republican political consultant

Q: What has it been like to share the same name as the famous FOX News commentator?
A: When I lived in New York City, I got a hundred calls a week for Bill O’Reilly from FOX News. I made my voice recording, “This is not Bill O’Reilly from FOX News.” I used to get stuff in the mail, too. I just delivered it to them. His producers found it so funny over the years [that] I was able to book a couple of guests on his show. It’s an instant icebreaker.

Q: Do people ever confuse you for him?
A: I used to get drunk calls at 3 a.m.: “Bill O’Reilly, you’re the greatest.” And letters from people from prison. It opened my eyes to what it must be like to be Bill O’Reilly. I’ve gone to speak at political functions; people sit on books. I’ll speak at things. They confuse it. They bring O’Reilly Factor books. But they sit on them. If the crowd was too big, I know they think it was the other guy.

Rev. Charles Norris
A pastor at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Queens

Q: Who are you endorsing for mayor?
A: Bill Thompson. Because I think he’s the best man for the race and the most qualified. And he’s going to have an educator for chancellor instead of a drinking buddy or an educated lawyer.

Q: Has anyone ever confused you for Chuck Norris?
A: No. There’s no confusion, no. He’s a movie star, and I’m a preacher. He doesn’t even know me and I don’t even know him.

Ed Harris
Events coordinator for the New York State Assembly

Q: Why did you go with the name Ed instead of Edward?
A: I think it’s just easier. It’s less formal, too. Edward is a little much.

Q: Has anyone ever confused you for him?
A: No. I don’t think so. Every once in a while, people remind you or make a joke, “This isn’t the Ed Harris? Apollo 13 Ed Harris?” I don’t think anyone would expect that Ed Harris to be answering his phone.

Anthony Weiner
Freelance mechanical engineer and machinist in Maramoneck, N.Y.

Q: What’s your life like?
A: Really very boring. Unless it’s specifically pointed out to somebody my name is Anthony Weiner, nobody cares. During the first scandal, I got a call from CNN because somebody Googled all the Anthony Weiners in the U.S. and asked the same questions.

Q: Has anyone ever mistaken you for him?
A: No. We have a couple of friends who get a kick when Anthony Weiner shows up on their caller ID. The only thing that ever happened that was fun was around 2000 I was doing some work in Washington, D.C., and I would fly down on a US Air shuttle every Wednesday morning and come back in the afternoon. A few times when I got back to National Airport and I got my ticket, they would say, “Oh, you already left two hours ago.”
Photo of Rev. Charles Norris: Queens Chronicle/Queens Digest

An earlier version of this story appeared in our print edition on Aug. 19, 2013.

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