Just a bone to pick that's been driving me crazy for a while:
September 28, 2012
Mr. Ken Howard, President, SAG-AFTRA
Dear Mr. Howard,
Sometime in the past fifteen years, in the dead of night and without notice or input from the general membership, and contravening long-standing policy, a former Board of SAG voted to allow new members to join using their legal names, whether or not an active member already had use of that particular name.
To illustrate, denying access to any name registered to a living, active, member had resulted in established British actor James Stewart having to change his name to Stewart Granger, in order to sign with MGM.
Personally, I have never forgotten answering our home phone, while a teenager, to hear the angry voice of character actor John Crawford complaining bitterly that a residual check had gone astray because my brother, Johnny, had been admitted to the Guild using a name close to his own. The explanation for that misstep was because, by the time Johnny was old enough to join the Guild, he had amassed a considerable number of credits (and an Emmy nomination) under the diminutive of his given name; as a result, a waiver had been granted to my brother to activate membership under his full legal name, John Ernest Crawford - and somebody in the residuals department had mixed up the mail. Ironically, Mr. John Crawford had a daughter named Nancy.
Not long after, I, myself, experienced problems in trying to change my name with the Guild from Nancy to Nan, and then Nance. It took some intense conversation to convince Membership that I was, indeed, me.
I think it’s unreasonable that the Guild should have two members named Tom Cruise - and that is not the only example. I am of the opinion that an actor’s name is sacrosanct, part of his public image, and that his professional name should be unavailable to a new member for at least a generation after his death - a period of twenty years.
I hope this matter can be resolved by the Board at the soonest opportunity, at the very least by requiring middle initials or names of new members.