“Hahah the past is hilarious.”
~Official AFFotD Mission Statement
We here at America Fun Fact of the Day know that it is our sworn duty to create that content that you, the reader, will truly crave. Unfortunately, we might not pull that off in this article, since a lot of dog whistles might be sounding in a lot of your heads with us talking about the Glenn Miller Band in such terms as “lol, so white” and “1940s much, grandpa?”
And normally, sure, we’d do a deep dive into the American musical icon that is Glenn Miller. In fact, we absolutely should. The man disappeared in 1944, likely crashing into the English Channel on the way to perform a show to support WWII troops, but his remains were never found. In just four years, he recorded 16 number-one records and 69 (nice) top-10 hits. To put that in perspective, that’s more top-10 hits than the Beatles and Elvis Presley combined.
Yup. There’s a lot of really rich, interesting history to unpack in the forty years of musical life of the American legend Glenn Miller. But our loyal reader and occasional contributor “Admiral Myark” (he did not sign off on this moniker) sent us the centerfold from the 1958 compilation of Glenn Miller and his orchestra’s film soundtrack contributions, and, well, we’re gonna rank a lot of old-timey white person names from least to most old-timey white person name sounding. Because Glenn Miller was a hero, and it’s only the true heroes that we feel comfortable poking fun at.
Ranking the Members of the Glenn Miller Orchestra By How White and 1940s Their Names Are
So before we get under way, let’s get a look at this band. Because as great as the Glenn Miller Orchestra was (and they truly were great) they definitely did their best to portray a certain vibe of “Where’s Waldo, but Waldo is wearing the same suit as everyone around him, who also might be Waldo.”
Oh yeah, Let that sink in. This group is so homogenous that “Italians” and “men with a mustache” count as a separate minority. What else do we got, Glenn, you musical savant you…
This is beauty. Pure beauty. Listen, our staff has been locked up in our New York offices for like seven months (time makes no sense currently) so we’re not going to dance you through this. Here’s a list of names, and jokes, from least “lol, white” to most.
Glenn Miller, by all accounts, is a white-as-shit name. But it’s not a white-as-shit 1940s name. It’s a name that, if you saw it today, could belong to your accountant. Though the extra N in “Glenn” gives it a bit more mileage. That being said, Glenn Miller is in fact a goddamn American hero, so we’re not here to make fun of him, or his name. His band, though? Fair game.
Ray Eberle is pictured here looking like he just inhaled half of a hot dog and it went down the wrong tube. That said, he’s probably an okay guy. If you were named ray before the year 1960 or after the year 1990 you’re probably fine. All Rays born in that 30 year span are bosses who have gotten people fired to try to impress a girl in the office.
You know the 40s were wild (ie, a nightmare for most people to live in) when you see a saxophone player named “Willie Schwartz” and realize “Oh, that was the minority hire for this band.” This is also where our lawyers have informed us that we should point out that we did absolutely no research on any of these band members, and are only talking about how silly we think their names are like 75 years after they stopped making music.
*most stereotypical “1940s music manager voice” imaginable* “An Italian trombone player? What’s next, a Greek Sax player!?”
Dude’s got more C’s in his name than you’d expect. But his name is Ernie. Listen this is the section where we put kind of normal or kind of unique names that don’t really fit the thesis statement of the article.
A wise man once told us to never trust a man with two first names. That man was named Richard William. Wait, that son of a bitch…
We were gonna put a Billy Jean song joke here, then realized, we’ve been doing nothing but drinking bourbon for like three weeks, and maybe that joke isn’t likely to land. Anyway, a person named Billy May playing trumpet for a swing band sounds like the one thing a person named Billy May was born to do.
We googled this name first, and our lawyers advised that there’s a real rich person with this name now, so we should, and we quote, “Tread fucking carefully, you fucking drunks, this is why you have us on retainer.”
We only want to point out two things about this guy. A: never has a man looked more like a Chuck Goldstein. This is definitely the man who was given the birth name of “Charles” and was like “two formal. It’s Chuck.” Also, B: what the hell instrument does he play? He’s literally standing there with nothing in his hands, just like that loser Bill Con…*is dragged from our keyboard by our vigilant attorneys*
*don’t make a Full House joke, don’t make a Full House joke*
Fun fact—until the year 1942, every drummer had to be named Maurice Purtill. Legally. But thanks to the hard work of America’s legislative system, anyone named Maurice Purtill found practicing the drumming arts after the year 1952 has to spend three years probation teaching elementary school students the recorder.
To give you an idea of how deep this draft class is, look at Jack Lathrop right there, strumming his acoustic guitar. Look at that hair part. That is a guest star on Leave it to Beaver right there, and he’s barely in the top 50% of white-ass 1940’s-sounding names to be found on this list.
There are jokes about how “John Smith” is a super generic name. You know what this article’s title is. So, yeah. Ralph Brewster is like the John Smith of 1940s big band member names.
America’s naming conventions kind of ran like a sine wave. Like, we got our independence and we were all named John, and George, and Benjamin, and normal names. And we stuck to those names. Then from 1900 to, say, 1955, we were given names like Richard or Harold, and people willingly chose to spend their whole lives known as “Dick” or “Hal.” Why? Seriously, why?
Lol Dick in son.
He’s even got a look on his face here that says, “I know. I know.” We’re not 100% convinced that this is not a character that shows up in Dr. Strangelove.
Between the dark eras in American history where the Irish were treated as second-class citizens, and when their naming conventions were most associated with chicken nuggets and golden arches, Wade goddamn McMickle played himself a mean trumpet.
Holy shit, how is this not a real name? This is, by all possible interpreations, a pretty man named Jimmy Priddy playing a trombone. If he moonlit as a low-level gangster, we’d have Frank Capra Film Character Bingo.
His name. Is Chummy. Listen, we could google “what sort of name has chummy as a nickname” but honestly, we want to live in a world filled with surprise and wonder. From 1930 until 1959, America was under the incorrect assumption that if the boys on the yard gave you a nickname, you should make it your legal name. That’s because people got nicknames like “Chummy” and “Two-Lips” and “Sparky.” Once we started calling people “No-Dick” and “Rage-Boner” people started saying things like, “You know what? Just call me Jonathan.”
Tex is one of those names that, if someone under the age of 80 claimed it as their given name, you would and could safely assume they were either fucking with you, or they had been cryogenically frozen in 1947.
We actually let our curiosity get the best of us, and tried to find out what Tex, of all things, could be short for. And you know what? It’s literally a nickname given to someone from Texas. In 1940 there were over 6 million people from Texas.
Were there over 6 million people named Tex? Texas, we mean this with all due respect, you have got to get over your lone star shit. Can you imagine if our Chicago staffers started insisting everyone call them “Ill”? Handle your shit, Texas.
Let that soak in. Can you think of anything that best defines, say, the year 1939 than a super earnest upright bassist named Trigger Alpert playing for the most popular group in the world? Actually, we found one more name that screamed “white person who has a years’ supply of pomade in their pantry and who warns that these new fangled radio programs are gonna rot their family’s brain” and that would be…
Johnny. Fucking. Best. Listen, we love Johnny Best. We are in no way throwing shade on him by saying he has the most white 1940s name that ever existed, even though he absolutely does. Everything, from the suit, to the high-and-tight haircut, to the mustache, screams “Please capture this, I am a specific moment in time never to repeated again.” And goddamn, does Johnny Best deliver the goods.
We maybe didn’t deserve John Miller and his orchestra. And we almost assuredly didn’t deserve Johnny Best. But we had them, and we must make sure to live our best American lives to show these honkies our true appreciation.