Luke Perry and Anne Murray attend College on the Hill

by Lauren Lafaro | 10/21/98 5:00am

Yale has Claire Danes, Princeton had Brooke Shields and Harvard had Matt Damon. But Dartmouth has Luke Perry, Sarah McLachlan and Anne Murray. In name, at least.

Perry, McLachlan (well, McLaughlin) and Robert Kennedy are all names of people in the Dartmouth community, as are Daniel Boone, James Friedman and James Brown.

Granted, it isn't the same Perry who had a steamy relationship with Brenda Walsh on Fox's "Beverly Hills, 90210," or the Sarah McLachlan who performs every year in the Lilith Fair, but these students have all had their taste of what it's like to be famous.

Sharing a name with a teen idol used to be the source of annoying jokes, but Luke Perry '01 has found ways to use it to his advantage. "It's always something good to talk about," he said. "Sometimes people say something about my name, and I say 'why?' and they get confused ... it's funny."

Unfortunately, the actor Luke Perry's work has not all been as well-received as "90210."

"People used to beat me with copies of 'Eight Seconds,'" he said, referring to an ill-fated Luke Perry film about the rodeo.

Perry's friends find hours of entertainment in his name. He said fraternity parties are always fun, especially when his friends introduce Perry around to disbelieving girls. Perry has even received fan mail -- a Japanese girl once sent him a letter telling Perry how cute she thinks he is.

Fumbling towards nomenclature

Sarah McLaughlin '01 once thought about using her name to procure Sarah McLachlan concert tickets from a radio station, but never actually did.

"I was stoked to do it," she joked. "I mean, that's the reason I changed my name from Madonna when I was a freshman."

Even if their famous names don't provide the many perks accorded to the stars, at the very least, McLaughlin said, "People always remember your name." That helps during freshman orientation, when there are 10 other Sarahs running around.

With a celebrity's name, even ordering a pizza can be a hassle. One time, a Domino's Pizza carrier refused to believe Perry about his name.

McLaughlin has run across the same problem: a receptionist at a dentist's office urged McLaughlin to disclose her "real" name. When she insisted she really was Sarah McLaughlin, the receptionist continually responded, "Oh sure."

Both say this response isn't that common; usually the worst that happens is a moment or two of disbelief, and the occasional joke. "Everyone always laughs at me, especially because I can't sing," McLaughlin said.

Song bird

McLachlan isn't the only famous musician people think is on campus: Anne Murray also goes to Dartmouth.

Although she wasn't named after the Grammy-award winning singer, Anne Murray '00 does have some of her albums. Her parents actually did not realize the name was already in use until a year after Murray was born, but that didn't stop them from taking her to one of the elder Anne Murray's concerts when Murray was six years old.

"My father somehow talked to the manager and told him about my name ... I got to go backstage and meet her and she signed my program," she said.

Murray has found that her name helps her in other ways. "The HB people always comment on it," she said. In fact, Murray noted that people tend to treat her a little bit more nicely then they usually would, especially if they want to sit her down and talk about the singer.

Just like Perry and McLaughlin, Murray finds people tend to do double takes when she introduces herself, especially older people. She noted that Anne Murray the singer is not very well-known among her peers, so she hasn't had many of the same reactions as Perry and McLaughlin.

Murray has had people ask her to sing "Song Bird," one of the Canadian singer's bigger hits. She has also had ensuing conversations about Anne Murray's numerous albums.

In addition to having students with the names of famous personas, there are also a few students who have the same name as other Dartmouth students.

There are two Jen Kellers, both seniors, as well as two Brian Flemings (one is a '98, the other is a '99), and two Nate Andersons (both '02s).

Whereas Perry and McLaughlin get double takes, these matches just receive misdirected BlitzMail. The combination of a flood of random BlitzMail messages, as well as the comment, "Oh, I know someone else with the name," can get a little trying after a while, Nathan B. Anderson '02 said.

"It's eerie, really. People have already met you. Or have they? It's almost like having an evil twin running around making your impressions for you," Anderson said.