Famous Maddens

It happened again last night, when I went to play volleyball at the local middle school. I knew only one of the guys there, so when I told someone my last name, another guy asked, “Are you related to John Madden?” Heh heh. I told him, yes, my dad’s cousin is John Madden, but not the football announcer one.

It is my contention that Madden is the last name most likely to elicit a “Are you related to…?” response when you get introduced. I don’t have any research to back it up, but I have years and years of the same experience happening without fail. I’ve detailed it a bit before, but my theory rests on the relative obscurity of the last name as well as its normalness, and the fact that there is only one famous Madden who anybody knows, and almost everybody in the country knows about him.

So today, Karina is going through the J.C. Penney flier and she says, “Hey, the new Martha Stewart is a Madden.” Sure enough, Chris Madden has a line of home products for sale as well as a TV show on cable called Interiors by Design. She’s also written a lot of books on design.

I’ve also noticed this guy named Warren Madden on the Weather Channel. And of course, there’s Dave Madden of Partridge Family fame and another Dave Madden who produces horror films (and another Dave Madden, a famous teacher in Chicago). There are any number of Maddens in the imdb database (I know that’s redundant). And of course there’s Steve Madden the cobbler.

Can you think of any more? Do people ask these Maddens if they’re related to John Madden? Can you think of any other last name that would get asked every single time “Are you related to…?”?

Oh, and have you ever met a Madden you weren’t related to? I’ve met a couple: my friend David Shepard from Notre Dame, his mom was a Madden, and isn’t Sean Hendricks’s mom a Madden? And there’s a Mormon guy in Columbus who is Madden. Other than that, I haven’t met any. We’re in every phone book (even here in Athens), but we just don’t run into each other, I guess.

Also by the way, I found a couple of neato sites with info on our surname. We have two possible mottoes: “Christo duce vincamus.” - “With Chirst I will conquer” and “Propria virtute audax” - “Daring in the cause of virtue” or “Daring by my own valor” (depending on who you ask). And just for fun, here’s another Madden-Stone marriage, but the reverse of ours.

PatrickObservations05/01/04 9 comments


David • 05/03/04 12:40 PM:

I think I agree. It does happen all the time. These days, though, Steve Madden is gaining in terms of popularity. Like the other day, when my username (david.madden@…) popped onto the computer during class because my battery was low, the kids giggled at seeing my first name (apparently this is still amusing for juniors?). Then, what was even funnier was when a girl said, what about “Steve Madden”. Ha Ha. Huh?

I never met another unrelated-Madden until I moved to Chicago. Now I’ve meet at least 4 different families. I don’t like it. Just last week while playing hoops somebody called me “Madden” and another guy (I only knew him as “Joe”) turned and looked - we realized his last name is Madden too. Darn! Plus I taught a Madden last year and taught with a Madden last year.

Dad, how about you come up with some formula that takes into account last name popularity and popularity of famous people with that name so that we can prove/disprove Pat’s statement?

Dad • 05/03/04 11:28 PM:

I could develop a formula, but it might not be accurate enough. For this problem, I favor the experimental approach. I think we should have Dan walk around with different name tags on, reflecting a suitable cross-section of the name-popularity spectrum, both for celebrities and unkowns. Then he can keep tabs on how many times he’s asked if he’s related to John Madden.

Dan • 05/06/04 3:48 PM:

That reminds me that I have about 20 pictures of myself with the nametag thing (I got worn out the last 10 or so days of last April) and some journal entries. Maybe I’ll do something with that some time.

Do you think John Madden knows that everyone with his last name is asked if they’re related to him? We should tell him.

Dan Madden • 06/15/04 9:16 PM:

I get the “related to John Madden?” thing all he time, too. For the first time in my life, today, I got “Steve Madden?” from a young lady when I was trying to get a tee time.

I read father’s E=mc© rendition. What’s his background?

Dan Madden

Dad • 06/20/04 7:27 PM:

This has been a slow period for the Website, with Patrick in transit to Utah and David in Kentucky on a mission of mercy for St. Ignatius. Dan and I have been busy working, I guess.

To answer your question, Dan, I’m a chemical engineer by training, and have always had a keen interest in science and math. And football.

And why might you be so interested in physics?

Dan • 06/29/04 10:56 AM:

I think because I’ve been working I’ve had a hard time getting back into the blog of things (sort of like the swing of things). I’m even way behind in my reading of Typophile, if you can believe that! So I’m slowly making my way back.

About that Steve Madden guy…He’s a shoe designer and he’s gotten pretty famous to where (wear!) most teenage—45yo females know his name and every style of shoe. In my opinion, though, I’m a more well-rounded designer. I’d like to debate him about fonts.

How about John Madden’s orange eyebrows?

Doncha • 01/13/05 12:15 AM:

We could have swore Warren Madden was John Madden’s son because not only do they share the same name, but Warren looks like a little clone of John Madden. The resemblence is uncanny. Are you sure they’re not related?

Patrick • 01/13/05 9:54 AM:

Given that there are only 6 results in Google for “Warren Madden” “John Madden” and the number 2 result is this page, I’d say that either Warren Madden is not John Madden’s son, or they’ve kept it incredibly secret.

Patrick • 10/28/06 1:21 AM:

I was thinking about this the other day, and I wonder if “Einstein” might get more “Are you related to…” questions thatn “Madden.” I mean, if you met an Einstein, wouldn’t you ask?

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