Sources: The Anniston Star – By Donna Barton | All Things Michael
When Iron Mike Tyson first hit the national scene, local resident Mike Tyson, a vice president with BB&T Bank, began receiving prank calls in the middle of the night. “It was mainly drunk people,” he said. “They wanted to challenge me to a fight.”
The calls ended when Tyson got an unlisted number.
But years later, when boxer Tyson took a chunk out of Evander Holyfield’s ear, banker Tyson thought he’d never hear the end of it. “Everyone constantly asked me if I was going to bite their ears,” he said. “It got old, but I had to remind myself that none of them knew they were the 20th person to ask me that day.”
Tyson did think it was funny, however, when his banking co-workers left chocolate ears scattered around his office one Halloween season.
“Are you THE Howard Johnson?” is often the reply when retired Jacksonville State University geography professor Howard Johnson introduces himself to someone. “I tell them, ‘Yes, it’s me, former third baseman for the Mets’” (who is also named Howard Johnson).
Johnson and his wife, Michal, are frequent travelers who have stayed at Howard Johnson hotels on many occasions. Checking in at the front desk never fails to raise eyebrows. “I tell them I’ve come to look in on things,” Johnson said. “When we stay at other hotels, I tell them I’m looking at a possible takeover.”
Nancy Grace is another area resident with the same name as someone famous. “When I am introduced to people, they always have a stunned look,” Grace said. “And they usually always feel compelled to tell me whether or not they like the CNN Nancy Grace.”
When CNN Nancy Grace was on “Dancing With The Stars,” her dancing partner happened to be in Anniston, attending a Knox Concert Series program. “I was near him at the reception after the concert and said, ‘Hi, I’m Nancy Grace.’ He looked rather funny, but didn’t comment. I don’t think he believed me.”
Jon Stewart, the worship production director at Golden Springs Baptist Church, also has people do a doubletake when he introduces himself. “Then they usually tell me how much more entertaining Stephen Colbert is,” he said. Sharing such a famous name, Stewart can’t resist occasionally using Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” publicity photo as his Facebook profile picture.
It was 30 years ago that “Saturday Night Live’s” Gilda Radner launched her famous impersonation of journalist Barbara Walters. As a result, local resident Barbara Walters endured being called “Baba Wawa” for longer than she cares to remember.
Walters, a retired community-relations director, recalls being introduced to newcomers at a museum function. “As one of the ladies was driving away, she looked at me and shouted, ‘Goodbye Martha Stewart!’” Walters laughed. “She remembered I had a famous name, she just got the wrong famous name.”
Michael Jackson remembers that day in 2009 when his phone rang off the hook. “I received a lot of tearful phone calls from people who had heard Michael Jackson died,” he said. “From friends, family — and even my own parents!”
Jackson, who teaches English and reading at Talladega College, recalled a time when he went on a job interview in downtown Cleveland. He and another man arrived in the office at the same time and were greeted by a woman with a clipboard, who was suddenly confused and sent for a co-worker.
The co-worker looked at the clipboard, then looked at the two men and asked, “Michael Jackson and Kevin Costner?” The entire group exchanged looks and then burst out laughing.
“He and I were up for the same job,” Jackson said. “I got the offer, so it appears Michael Jackson had more clout than Kevin Costner.”
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