Ask Cool Daddy by Name
Dear Cool Daddy: Remember in the movie Goodfellas, Paulie’s fat brother, who ran the cab-stand and relayed all of Paulie’s messages for him because he didn’t like using the phone? I always wondered what the heck kind of name he had. I don’t even know how you’d spell it, it begins with T. …from Joey Give-a-Crap, Atlantic City
P.S. They call me that because I always say “I don’t give a crap.” Friends…waddya gonna do with ’em, right?
Dear Mr. Give-a-Crap, Sir, and I call you that with all due respect, God bless: His name is spelled “Tuddy”…I’ve also seen “Tutty”…and I’ll explain where it comes from in a moment. But I feel your pain, because to someone who’s never seen the movie, it looks like “Tuddy” would be pronounced to rhyme with “muddy” or “buddy.” Instead, as you hear in the movie, the “u” is pronounced like the “oo” in “book” or the “ou” in “could.” And indeed, in English we have no single diphthong that unambiguously represents that particular sound…”Toody”…looks like the “oo” in “boot,” like Toody Froody…whereas “Toudy” is what? rhymes with “cloudy” maybe?
I have something similar in my own family…my Mom had a high school friend named Dolores, who was nicknamed “Dutchie”…but the “u” was not pronounced like in “trust” or “butter”…but again like the “oo” in “book”…no good way to convey that when you write it down, see? Anyway, the nickname from the movie comes from the first name Arturo, the Italian form of “Arthur.”
But the guy who played Tuddy, despite being in a handful of other movies including “Wayne’s World,” was not an actor, but instead a music business executive. In fact, he was Michael Jackson’s manager for several years in the 1980s. His name was Frank DiLeo and he died just this past August, age 63, complications following heart surgery.
Not for nothing, but both the Cicero brothers, Paul and Tuddy, were based on real people: Paul Vario (left), a captain in the Lucchese family and for a time its underboss…and his brother Vito, also called Tuddy….middle name Arturo, maybe? Internet won’t say. Of course, Henry Hill was a real person, and most of the others in the movie were too, altho their names were changed. The Lufthansa heist really happened, as did the subsequent murders to cover it up. But some things weren’t part of the movie, like Henry’s wife having an affair with Paulie…yikes!
Altho this was probably before they were married, because she was a courier for Paul Vario before she met Henry…she wasn’t an innocent “civilian” as the movie portrays…they met on a double date with Paul’s son, no less. And in fact Tommy DeSimone (right, Joe Pesce’s “Tommy DeVito”…his nickname “Spit Shine Tommy” was a nod to his real nickname, “Two Gun Tommy”) made threatening sexual advances toward Karen…he really was a psycho, God bless. Henry complained to Paulie, Paulie told the Gambino family that it was Tommy who killed Billy Batts and another of their made men, and that Tommy himself wasn’t made…well, you know the rest. Bye Bye, Tommy…his body was never found.
Dear Cool Daddy: Is there any way you might know how Maury Povich’s father, a long-time sportswriter, liked having a girl’s name, Shirley? …from Lilian and his wife Howard, Port St. Lucie
Dear Lil and Howie: Yeah, he wrote for the Washington Post and died in 1998 at age 95. But there was nothing to like or dislike, because when was born in Bar Harbor, Maine, of Lithuanian immigrant parents in 1905, Shirley was a boys name. Here’s the deal: most of our given names come from 2 sources…religious, i.e. figures from the Bible or saints’ names…”Christian names” right?…or from surnames. It was long a custom in England, and hence in the US too, to give boys surnames…family names, often from the maternal side…as first names. But in the American South, this custom extended to girls as well as boys. That’s where we get the writer Harper Lee…altho that was her middle name, first name Nelle, but in the South, Harper was fine for a girl.
Shirley as a girls’ names was of course popularized by Shirley Temple. At the time, it might have sounded to people like Polk Temple, Cunningham Temple, or even Temple Shirley! And in fact, in the movie The Littlest Colonel, her character name was Lloyd Sherman…here are the principle players…and it’s pretty easy to deduce who was supposed to be related to whom and how, right?
But many names we think of today as girls’ names were originally surnames and were given to boys..thus Joyce Kilmer, Evelyn Waugh, Vivian Stanshall (with the 60s group Bonzo Dog), Leslie Nielsen, baseball pitcher Lynn McGlothen…all males. Today, there’s a new wave of it for girls…with Madison, Reilly, Logan, Bailey, Reece, etc….remember the male Ashley Wilkes from Gone with the Wind…whereas boys are going with their own set: Carson, Tucker, Landon, Sawyer, and the like.
shameless plugs, based on a real person, Winston Fasbinder…
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