10 actors from classic TV shows who share famous names

Keith Richards, Michael Fox and James Bond all appeared in classic television.

What’s in a name? For a celebrity, almost everything. Some use the name they were given at birth while others opt for a catchier or more memorable moniker.

Here is a list of ten actors with the same names as other people in the public eye. Some have the same name as modern celebrities while others had names taken from centuries past. Read on to find out about the lesser-known Keith Richards, James Bond and Michael Fox.

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1. Keith Richards


Unlike the guitarist for the Rolling Stones, this Keith Richards was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1915. He started acting in small, uncredited parts in the late 1930s. He played multiple blink-and-you'll-miss-them roles in the 1956 biblical epic The Ten Commandments. The majority of his later work came in TV westerns like Gunsmoke, Bonanza and Wagon Train. Coincidentally, he stopped acting in 1964 — the same year the Rolling Stones released their first album.

2. Michael Fox


Unlike Keith Richards, Michael Fox and Michael J. Fox had overlapping careers. In fact, the older Michael Fox is the reason the Back to the Future star had to add a middle initial. No two actors in the Screen Actors Guild could be registered under the same name. Michael Fox began acting in the 1950s. He appeared in three episodes of the original Twilight Zone and one episode of the reboot in 1985. He also had small roles in comedies The Longest Yard and Young Frankenstein. He continued to act through the mid-1990s.

3. Harry Carey Jr.


Both Harry Carey and Harry Carey Jr. were actors and, of course, share a name (spelled differently) with legendary sportscaster Harry Caray. Harry Carey Sr. appeared largely in silent films while Harry Carey Jr. won roles in everything from Perry Mason to Mannix to Knight Rider. Like many actors of his day, Harry Carey Jr. appeared in many television westerns and no less than nine John Wayne films.

4. Steve McQueen


While one Steve McQueen is known to many as the classic action star of films like The Great Escape and Bullitt, another has become well known in recent years for his work behind the camera. British filmmaker Steve McQueen directed the Oscar-winning drama 12 Years a Slave and the 2018 action thriller Widows. Technically, the latter McQueen is Sir Steve McQueen as he was recently awarded Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire.

Image: The Everett Collection

5. James Bond III


Sharing a name with the famous fictional spy, James Bond III began acting as a child in the 1970s. He appeared in The Love Boat, Wonder Woman and The Waltons. He was also in the 1988 Spike Lee classic School Daze. Two years later, he wrote, directed, produced and starred in a low-budget horror film called Def by Temptation. Released in 1990, it featured Samuel L. Jackson in one of his first starring roles!

6. Jon Locke


Barring a single letter, Jon Locke the actor shares a name with 17th-century English philosopher John Locke. Jon-with-no-H began acting in the 1950s. He portrayed Officer Garvey in five episodes of the series Highway Patrol. Speaking of famous names, Locke played a character named Sam Elliot in a 1958 episode of Perry Mason. In the 1960s, Locke appeared in many episodes of Wagon Train and The Virginian, and later was in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Gunsmoke, The Waltons and ten episodes of Land of the Lost.

7. Leif Erickson


Born William Wycliffe Anderson, actor Leif Erickson chose the name of 10th-century Norse explorer Leif Erikson as his stage name. Born in 1911, Erickson the actor started his career in the 1930s, winning small roles in multiple films a year. In 1954, he played Glover in the Marlon Brando classic On the Waterfront. In the late 1950s and '60s, he appeared in countless TV shows and eventually won the role of Big John Cannon in the western series The High Chaparral from 1967–71.

8. Billy Curtis


Billy Curtis, sharing a name with broadcaster Bill Kurtis, started acting in the 1930s, most famously in The Wizard of Oz. In 1938, he led the all little person cast of the musical western The Terror of Tiny Town. Later, he appeared in TV shows Batman, The Beverly Hillbillies, Get Smart and Gunsmoke among many others. In 1973 he starred alongside Clint Eastwood in the western film High Plains Drifter.

9. James Brown


Sharing a name with the iconic funk-soul singer, actor James Brown first appeared in films of the 1940s. He was in the 1954 A Star is Born with Judy Garland and James Mason. On the television side, he acted in numerous shows including Route 66, The Virginian and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. His final role came in the 1980s as detective Harry McSween in the classic drama Dallas.

10. Tom Holland


Tom Holland shares his name with the young actor who plays Spider-Man in the most recent Avengers movies. The older Holland used the name Tom Fielding for his early acting work. He starred alongside George Takei and Holly Mascott in the 1971 hippie drama Josie's Castle. He also appeared in shows like 77 Sunset Strip and The Incredible Hulk, but his most famous work is for directing. He helmed Fright Night released in 1985 and Child's Play in 1988. He went on to direct three episodes of Tales from the Crypt and the '90s  films The Temp and Thinner among others.

Image: The Everett Collection

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AndreaZ 21 months ago
Michael Kane is another one. Maybe not well known, but he starred in two cold war classics: The Bedford Incident and Three Days of the Condor.
RedSamRackham 21 months ago
* There were 2 Jack Larsons: [1] Jimmy Olsen on Adventures of Superman & [2] No talent comedian wannabe Kenny Dexter on the Dick Van Dyke Show. ☺
Barry22 48 months ago
John Locke was also a character on Lost and there was a John Locke in The band Spirit.
Bambarino 48 months ago
There is yet a third Steve McQueen active in the entertainment industry. Steven R. McQueen is probably best known as Elena Gilbert's younger brother Jeremy on The Vampire Diaries, but he has worked in both film and television since 2005. His grandfather and namesake was "the" Steve McQueen, legendary actor described in this post and native of my hometown in Indiana (we were born in the same hospital, lol).
PatrickGarrett 48 months ago
Two not mentioned were Joe Perry and Robert Palmer. The older ones were actors from the fifties, sixties , and seventies and the younger ones are rock stars from the eighties to now. Oddly enough, in the cast info for some old westerns the actors are in, they use the pictures of the rockers. I don' know who is responsible for the info, but some research would be nice!
Wiseguy 48 months ago
Michael Fox made several appearances on Perry Mason, usually as Dr. Hoxie, associated with the coroner's office.
Wiseguy 48 months ago
I went to school with James Brown and worked with Will Smith. Common names LOL.
Moverfan Wiseguy 11 months ago
I went to high school with a guy named Bill Davenport (still have two drawings he did and gave to me). We graduated in 1980..and you can imagine how surprised I was to watch episodes of Hogan's Heroes and see a writer named Bill Davenport in the credits--especially since I was only four years old when the show premiered!
TheDavBow3 48 months ago
If cowboy Keith Richards were still alive, he and rocker Keith Richards would probably look similar in age 😉. Rocker Keith does have really white teeth now! Also that pic of Billy Curtis reminded me of Mickey Rooney a little. But Billy might be a little taller 😉
kimmer 48 months ago
These fun facts truly are fun to know.
stephaniestavropoulos 48 months ago
Another reason Michael changed his middle initial, is because he didn't like what it implied: Michael A. {for Andrew} Fox [Michael a fox. Remember that was a late '70's/'80's slang term for a good looking guy.]
Anybody that grew up/lived in Chicago/Chicagoland will remember Bill Kurtis who teamed up with Walter Jacobsen for the 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. M-F newscasts on WBBM Channel 2. {To me, the Billy Curtis in the photo, looks like Mickey Rooney. Anyone else notice this?}
At first glance, I thought Billy Curtis WAS Mickey Rooney. Same smile!
At first glance I thought it was Mickey Rooney.
Wow...Interesting coz I didn't know that about Michael. However, I vividly remember calling those cute guys "Foxes" back in the day 😉😂
dmagoon AllisonWunderland 48 months ago
Your comment reminds me of historical figure Guy Fawkes.
OldTVfanatic dmagoon 48 months ago
Oh yeah, Guy Fawkes (the model for V For Vendetta).
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