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Name games: Performers with the same name

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Isn’t it fun trying to spot the inside jokes among the Naked Gun movies’ gag credits? At the end of 33 1/3, for instance, there’s ”Kung-Fu Grip: G.I. Joe.” And ”Head Make-Out Artist: Joey Buttafuoco.” Not to mention ”Cop: Gary Cooper.” But wait-that’s no joke: Gary Cooper is alive and well, and he’s a 30-year-old black actor and stand-up comic from L.A.

In fact, there are now several actors working under the same names as famous film stars. The Screen Actors Guild allows (but discourages) the recycling of a name, so long as the first actor has been dead for at least three years. Here, a few performers who have one advantage over the competition: Nobody’s about to forget their names.

*GARY COOPER Credits: Cop in Naked Gun 33 1/3; lead role in straight-to-video Dark Before Dawn; appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Acting Philosophy: ”Do what you can, where you can, when you can, in front of whoever you can.” Goals: ”I want to be the Bo Jackson of the acting business.” Views on the Other Gary Cooper: ”Even though I’m black, I’m named after him. My dad was a real fan. I think he’s great; I’ve read his biography and seen all of his movies. Sergeant York’s my favorite.”

*GEORGE SANDERS Credits: Gonzo on Another World; extra in Moonstruck, Big, and Carlito’s Way. ”When two people meet across a crowded room, I play the crowded room.” Acting Philosophy: ”Volume, volume, volume.” Goals: To act as often as possible. Views on the Other George Sanders: ”I love his films. He was a very polite man.”

*GRACE KELLY Credits: TV and print ads. She was recently the daughter in a Monistat 7 commercial. Acting Philosophy: ”Have fun.” Goals: None yet. (Kelly is 4 years old.) Views on the Other Grace Kelly: ”It’s nice to share a name with her.”

*RICK NELSON Credits: TV and radio ads. ”I was the guy on that milk ad on TV who snubs the girl before she becomes a milk drinker.” Acting Philosophy: ”Be true to the script and the feelings.” Goals: ”I hope to make it on the screen.” Views on the Other Rick Nelson: ”I was never a big fan. When he died, I thought all of the jokes would end, but they just got worse. I guess he was a pretty good singer, though.”

*JUDY GARLAND Credits: Extra in the made-for-TV movie Maid in America. Acting Philosophy: None. Goals: Though her one role got her listed with SAG, she demurs, ”I’m really not an actress; I’m a housewife.” Views of the Other Judy Garland: ”I’m a big fan. People have really good feelings about Judy Garland, so having the name is an asset.”