Can a Wormald Ever Really be Famous?

By Karen

Hollywood’s greatest dancers: Astaire… Kelly… WORMALD???!!!

A remake of the 1984 film, Footloose, opened last week, with 27-year-old Kenny Wormald in the Kevin Bacon role. Last week he appeared on Dancing with the Stars with his co-star, Julianne Hough. It felt shocking when host Tom Bergeron said “Wormald” several times without once fumbling over the “Worm.”

Kenny and I both grew up in Massachusetts, so I bet you’re wondering if we’re related.

Once upon a time… a few Wormalds trickled over from England, where the name fills whole columns in phone books and doesn’t make anyone stutter over it.

I thought the Massachusetts Wormalds were all my family until I discovered a parallel universe of them in the newspaper when a Marilyn Wormald kicked a police officer. My father says he used to be asked about a Henry Wormald, who apparently had some trouble with the law.

I have no idea if Kenny springs from that branch, or there’s a third one, I’m just saying… I don’t think we’re related.

For a few years, a Ken Wormald appeared in the Richmond phone book. I Googled Kenny to see if maybe he went to college here, but it doesn’t appear so.

I have to applaud Kenny’s guts. Remaining a Wormald must please his parents, and definitely makes him unique in the entertainment industry. But that “worm” thing makes people squirm. How far can he go with it?

Think about it. Studio heads didn’t pick “Greta Garbage” when they renamed Greta Lovisa Gustafsson. And “Marilyn Monrot” was probably never an option for Norma Jean Baker.

I’ve even considered a literary nom de plume myself, because people have such an aversion to saying “WORMald.” (For the record, we pronounce it just like “Donald.”)

I may see Footloose this weekend, even though Kenny’s not my cousin. It’s my chance to see most of my name on the big screen.

Go for it, Kenny! I hope you take Wormald all the way to the top!

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10 Responses to Can a Wormald Ever Really be Famous?

  1. annie pelfrey says:

    so funny! i also wondered if he was a relative. like you, i’m curious when i see my last name- and amazed that it’s so mispronounced, as it’s phonetically correct!

  2. catsworking says:

    annie, we Wormalds can never understand why people have a problem with the name, since it is pronounced exactly as it’s spelled. Look at Julianne Hough. Do you say it “How” or “Huff?” And John Boehner. There’s no way it’s “Bayner.”

    At least disgraced Anthony Weiner was man enough to pronounce his embarrassing name as anyone would. Probably because the alternative wasn’t much better — Whiner.

    When I was little, the kids thought it was a scream to call me “Wormhole.”

    Today, people pronounce it “Warm-old,” or “Warm-wald.” Sticking that extra “a” in it just makes it harder to say.

    annie, I think the closest I’ve ever come to seeing your name was an excellent movie starring Joan Plowright called “Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont.”

  3. adele says:

    Karen, so you don’t pronounce the “r” in your name at all — is it then Wahmald? I must keep that in mind.

    I’ll never see my last name in anything. “Prass” isn’t that common, although there are some German Prasses, who live in Ohio, but I recently found that my father’s real last name (thank-you Ancestry.com) when he arrived in this country from Romania, was Peresicinski. Picture that on a marquee!

  4. catsworking says:

    Adele, no, that’s the hard way. We pronounce “worm.” I comes out like “werm.” “Wahmald” is virtually unpronouncable.

    Speaking of Ancestry.com, I recently got a note from a “K. Wormald” asking if I was related to his/her grandfather, Henry Wormald. That’s how I found out about Henry from my father. I suspected this person might be Kenny Wormald looking for his roots, because why else would someone play coy on Ancestry.com and use only an initial? But then I saw that Kenny’s parents are both living, so they would certainly be able to tell him who his grandfather was.

    There’s another man doing extensive research on Ancestry.com who contacted me as a very minor branch on his tree, and he traced the Wormalds back to England along another line entirely (which veered away from Frederick Wormald, who went down on Titanic). But somehow intuition tells me that my search was right, partly because of the way first names were consistently passed down from one generation to the next.

    Thank your lucky stars your father’s name was shortened! Filling out forms would be a nightmare!

    I had a chance to change my name when I got married (in fact, was threatened to do so within 6 months, or else — we know how that worked out). But his name wasn’t much better, and I didn’t particularly want to see it in my bylines, so I kept Wormald.

    I have 2 female cousins who both could have passed the name on to the next generation through 4 kids, but they both took their husbands’ more common names, so this line of Wormalds dies with me and my sister.

  5. annie pelfrey says:

    i think Palfrey is original (England)- they were the horses of the royalty. that makes me a horse’s ass?

  6. catsworking says:

    annie, if you’re a horse’s ass, just thinkk what I am. What occupation could my ancestors have had? Dealing in old worms? Digging worm holes?

  7. annie pelfrey says:

    hm… maybe our families were both exiled from england!

  8. Ozzy says:

    Ha, I came across this article when trying to find out how to pronounce “Wormald” for a job application (person I have to call is a Wormald). If I didn’t, I would’ve pronounced it “war mauled”. I don’t see that as not pronouncing it how it’s spelt. Like with the Hough example, both seem to be right depending on what rule you follow (unless you’re an expert in English and know all the specifics).

    Menzies (‘Ming’) Campbell has put the cat among the pigeons, even before considering his is a British name!

    Also, often the case seems to be that a word is not pronounced the same when it’s half of a bigger word and connected to something, “Worm-ald” or “Men-zies”. It gives off the impression you’re simple if you pronounce it as separate words too. Same with foreign languages.

    But who knows, I might call this person and she might pronounce it “war mauled”.

  9. catsworking says:

    Welcome, Ozzy. “War mauled” is a good way to express how a lot of people pronounce Wormald. But to say “war” is pronouncing Wormald how it’s spelled is not correct, unless you call worms (“werms”) “warms.” But I guess some accents would make it come out that way.

    And it’s not so much a matter of following phonetic “rules,” but rather how the person chooses to pronounce his/her own name. John Boehner, for example, MURDERS both spelling and phonetics by calling himself “Bayner.”

    If the person you call pronounces Wormald “war mauled,” then that’s her preferance. My family pronounces it simply as it’s spelled (with a standard American accent), with no emphasis on either syllable.

  10. Ozzy says:

    By pronouncing it how its spelt, the M is the important letter.

    I think it’s unfair to say those saying “war mauled”/”warm auld” aren’t pronouncing it as it’s spelt and are incredibly silly for not doing something so obvious, because they are saying it as it’s spelt. You and other Wormalds say is “worM -ald”, but some people are saying the “wor” and then the “Mald” as it’s spelt. Probably down to how we expect the slight pause to be in a word.

    “Warm old” is just a mistake, but I can see how it happen because “old” is not too dissimilar to “ald”. TBH there would be a lot of that there in the central region of England (around Oxfordshire), where everyone pronounces “bald” as “bold” i.e. it’s spelt normally, but when saying it they say “that person has no hair, he’s bold-headed!”.

    It’s madness. Combine that with a couple of other iffy pronounciations and the faux-posh accent everyone puts on (except the chavs, who of course are speaking psuedo-Jamaican), and it kills brain cells just listening to it!

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