What's In a Name? Ask Mr. Leotard

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Lee says many common phrases stem from real-life names. "Maybe there is no such thing as the Easter Bunny, but there really was a James Bond and an Eleanor Rigby," she says.

"But if you heard the whole story behind the pop culture icons you love, you might feel differently about them."

Click here for a little walk through namesake history, compliments of Lee's research.

How right she is.

When trouble comes, who do you call? Bond. James Bond.

And who was he? A mild-mannered Philadelphia ornithologist.

Author Ian Fleming saw a news item about Bond's bird-watching manual in the newspaper. "It struck me that this name, brief, unromantic and yet very masculine, was just what I needed," Fleming wrote.

Thus, 007 was granted his license to kill, even though the real Bond never shot anything more deadly than a camera.

Years later, Bond's wife, Mary, wrote Fleming with a tongue-in-cheek threat to sue him for defamation.

"I must confess that your husband has every reason to sue me," the author replied. "In return I can only offer your James Bond unlimited use of the name Ian Fleming for any purpose he may think fit."

A Batty Lawyer's Fame

To be sure, once pop culture adopts your name, it is no longer yours alone. And that can be a mixed blessing. Descendants of Joseph Guillotine petitioned the French government to change the name of the execution device that bears the family name.

But the French refused, so instead the Guillotines were forced to change their own name.

And how would it feel to be the children of Fitzherbert Batty? He was a Jamaican lawyer who was declared insane in 1839. It could drive you crazy just being Batty — or Mrs. Batty.

In the end, fate is capricious, and so is history's haphazard system of naming things. Charles Rushmore didn't discover the mountain that bears one of our country's most famous monuments. He wasn't a sculptor or even a philanthropist. He was a tourist in the Dakotas who asked his guide what a local range was called.