More notable North Dakotans who used pseudonyms or changed their names
"Did You Know That" columnist Curt Eriksmoen concludes his series of famous actors, singers and others who were known by something other than their birth names.
FARGO — The first part of today’s article is a continuation of last week’s column about performers in the entertainment industry (actors, singers and musicians) who lived in North Dakota and either used pseudonyms/stage names or changed their names .
The second part contains composers, artists, authors and newspaper writers who sometimes were better known by their noms de plume/pen names than for their real names, and the third part contains immigrants who changed their names after coming to North Dakota.
Dirk London was the name that was often used by Raymond Boyle in movies and on television from 1953 to 1995. Boyle was born in Lisbon, N.D., and most often appeared on screen in Westerns. He is best remembered for his reoccurring role of Morgan Earp in the television series "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp."
Marjorie Main, whose real name was Mary Tomlinson, was best known for her role of Ma Kettle in 10 movies. She began her theatrical career in 1914 when, for five months, she was part of a traveling stock company based out of Fargo. Mary changed her name to Marjorie Main because her father, who was a Disciples of Christ minister, had a negative opinion of people in the acting profession. After a successful career in the theater and vaudeville, Main began making movies in 1931 and had a long career as a leading character actress.
Montie Montana, who was born in rural Emmons County, was billed as the “World’s Greatest Trick Rope Artist.” His real name was Owen Mickel, and he began performing his trick rope routines before audiences as a teenager at local rodeos. After a stint as a radio personality in Los Angeles, he began acting in movies in 1935. For the next 30 years, Montana appeared as an actor, roper and stunt double in films starring Gene Autry, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Roy Rogers and Paul Newman. He was also a big attraction at the annual Rose Bowl Parade for over 60 years.
Ole Olson was a popular radio personality for nearly half a century at station KSJB in Jamestown. His real name was Norman Kidd.
Ann Sothern’s real name was Harriet Lake, and she was born Jan. 22, 1909, in Valley City. In 1927, she started as an extra in movies, but her big break came in 1939 when she played the title role of a brassy showgirl in "Maisie." The film went over very well and spun off eight sequels. Sothern is perhaps best-known for two television series of the 1950s, "Private Secretary" and "The Ann Sothern Show."
Shadoe Stevens is the name Terry Ingstad of Jamestown chose prior to becoming a celebrity on radio and television, and in motion pictures. He began in radio at the age of 11 over KEYJ in Jamestown. Life magazine referred to him as “America’s youngest DJ.” While attending the University of North Dakota, he continued to work in radio at stations KILO in Grand Forks and KQWB in Fargo. At KILO he used the name Jefferson K. Stevens has had numerous acting roles in movies and television and has served as a popular host on "Hollywood Squares," "The Late Late Show" and "American Top 40."
Atlas Storm was the name Shawn Miramontes chose as his moniker when he came to West Fargo to work as a disc jockey for Music Patrol in the mid-1980s. He later became a popular singer and composer.
Tommy Tucker, whose real name was Gerald Duppler, was born and raised in Souris, N.D. “While at the University of North Dakota, Duppler began putting together musical groups and started calling himself Tommy Tucker.” Following graduation, he organized a popular group called the Californians and later the Tommy Tucker Orchestra. George T. Simon, a musicologist, called Tucker’s band, “the greatest Mickey Mouse Band in America.” The band’s biggest hit was "I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire," recorded in 1941.
Bobby Vee, whose birth name was Robert Veline, was the lead singer for the Shadows, a popular band based out of Fargo in the late 1950s. On Feb. 3, 1959, an airplane on its way to a concert in Moorhead crashed, killing Richie Valens, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper, three very popular singers. Bobby Vee and the Shadows filled in for them, and Vee’s career took off nationally. His many hits included "Susie Baby," "Rubber Ball," "Devil or Angel" and "Take Good Care of My Baby."
Dave Chandler, whose real name is David Kiefel, grew up in East Grand Forks, Minn., with Don Bleu (see last week’s article). They both them attended UND where they became friends with Shadoe Stevens. Chandler wrote that he has “dabbled in radio” for over 50 years and currently is the host of "Sock Hop Saturday" on KNOX radio in Grand Forks. I want to thank Dave “Chandler” Kiefel for his contributions on this paragraph as well as information on other mini-biographies.
Karen Gaylord began her movie career in the 1944 film "Cover Girl." She was part of the “Goldwyn Girls,” a female dancing group of “statuesque charmers” in often-revealing costumes that graced almost all of the musical movies made by MGM. This was often the launching role for stars like Lucille Ball. Two North Dakota-born actresses who began their career as Goldwyn Girls were Virginia Bruce and Ann Sothern. Gaylord’s birth name was Karen Goerner, and she lived in Devils Lake prior to attending the University of Minnesota. In 1942, she was crowned Miss Minnesota in the Miss America competition. At MGM, Gaylord appeared in about a dozen movies that starred Gene Kelly, Rita Hayworth, Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo, Betty Grable and Ronald Reagan. Gaylord’s last movie was filmed in 1949. I want to thank James Glickson for alerting me about Karen Gaylord.
Composers, authors, artists and journalists
Peter Schickele, who grew up in Fargo and played the bassoon in the Fargo Orchestra, claimed to have discovered the compositions of P.D.Q. Bach while serving as head of the Department of Musical Pathology at the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople. Schickele was the actual composer of all of the music he credited to P.D.Q. Bach, the fictional son of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Rutherford Montgomery, born in Straubville and raised in Velva, was North Dakota’s most prolific author, writing 140 books and over 500 magazine articles. Because of the great volume of work that Montgomery turned out, he decided to use different noms de plume as the author of different kinds of books. He used the name Al Avery for books about war pilots, Everitt Procter for books about adventures on the northern seas, and Art Elder for books about superheroes.
Linda Slaughter was the first female to do many things in what is now North Dakota. She was the first postmistress, the first female county superintendent of schools and the first female correspondent for a large national newspaper, the New York Herald. Since she reported about corruption that was occurring on Native American reservations on the Northern Plains, she needed to hide her true identity and used the pen name Zezula.
Levon West was well-known for his etchings and watercolor paintings. Ivan Dmitri was famous for his photographs. The signed work of West’s paintings and Dmitri’s photographs were often used for the covers of the Saturday Evening Post magazine. What many people didn’t know was that both West and Dmitri was the same person, and both names were pseudonyms for Levon Assadoorian, who was raised in Glen Ullin.
The birth name of Russia-born Rube Schauer, the first North Dakota resident to play Major League Baseball, was Dimitri Dimitrihoff.
Famous skier Casper Oimoen was Kasper Simoen in Norway.
Controversial pastor John Flint was Johan Casperson in Norway.
“Did You Know That” is written by Curt Eriksmoen and edited by Jan Eriksmoen of Fargo. Send your comments, corrections, or suggestions for columns to the Eriksmoens at firstname.lastname@example.org.