How to remember the spelling of Beck’s first name.

I have had continuing difficulty remembering whether the first name of conservative TV’s Elmer Gantry is spelled “Glen” or “Glenn.” I looked it up again this morning at Wikipedia and saw that it is “Glenn.” Then I noticed that he was born in 1964. That piece of information provided me with both the likely explanation for the unusual spelling of his name and a mnemonic device for remembering it.

John Glenn’s orbital flight on Friendship 7 took place in 1962. Very likely, Glenn Beck’s parents named him Glenn, with two “n’s” instead of the usual one “n,” in honor of John Glenn. (I remember that in my town of Union Township, New Jersey, there was a Glen Road which was changed to Glenn Road in honor of the astronaut.) So to remember the correct spelling of Beck’s first name I simply have to remember that he was probably named after John Glenn.

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Jim C. writes:

“TV’s Elmer Gantry.”

LOL—that’s hysterical.

Beck is the white Oprah Winfrey.

LA replies:

By the way, for those who haven’t seen it, the movie of Elmer Gantry, with Burt Lancaster and Shirley Jones, is top notch. Also, the character in the movie is not at all like what the name “Elmer Gantry” conjures up. The phrase, “He’s an Elmer Gantry,” makes one think of a big, manipulative phony. But Gantry as played by Burt Lancaster is more of an innocent, with a sweetness about him … not unlike Glenn Beck.

(However, I’ve been told that Gantry in the novel by Sinclair Lewis is a darker figure than in the movie.)

Will D. writes:

Your suggestion that Glenn Beck’s parents may have been honoring John Glenn in giving him that name struck a nerve. I was born much closer in time to Glenn’s flight—the same year—and was given that name, with that spelling, as a middle name. However, I was not named in honor of the astronaut, and I have always taken pains to make that clear to anyone who suggested otherwise. I was named for my grandfather, an honor I share with three other descendants of his, and a collateral relative as well. I’m not an expert in onomastics (although it interests me), but I’m not sure it was a common practice in the sixties to use surnames as given names, whether in honor of a distinguished bearer of that name or not. “Kennedy” may be a popular girl’s name these days (as many Irish surnames seem to be), but how many forty-something men with that name do you know?

I’ll add in closing that to me, the two-“n” spelling is the proper one. “Glen” appears stunted to me, as would, say, Todd if it were spelled “Tod.” I suppose to some, that means my name is Mudd.

LA replies:

Points taken. :-)

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 21, 2010 12:09 PM | Send

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