Here are a few famous doctors to know about. MD not required.
For a guy who didn’t even like kids, Theodor Seuss Geisel certainly made his mark among children. Luke Luck licks lakes.
Be hip about Dr. Seuss:
Importance: prolific author and illustrator of books for young children
Most well-known volumes: The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Drop this at a party:
- He wasn’t actually a doctor, and he purportedly wasn’t crazy about children.
- A successful Broadway musical, Seussical!, is based on characters from his books.
- He had a knack for astute social commentary disguised as children’s stories (check out The Lorax and The Star-Bellied Sneetches).
More on Dr. Seuss:
He was pursuing a Ph.D. in literature from Oxford, but dropped the course of study when he married his first wife, Helen, thus making him Nearly-Dr. Seuss.
I am probably permanently banished from Comic-Cons worldwide for listing this one as Dr. Who. After all, as every self-respecting science fiction fan knows, the character is simply The Doctor. The television series title, however, is Doctor Who, a reference to the cryptic ineffability of the main character. He travels across space and time in his TARDIS to do whatever needs doing in order to save the universe and its unaware residents.
Be hip about The Doctor:
Importance: hero of the cult favorite BBC sci-fi series and its 2005 redux (ahem, reBOOT)
Drop this at a party: His time/space travel craft, which looks on the outside like an old British police call box, is called the Time and Relative Dimension in Space, or the TARDIS.
More on Dr. Who/The Doctor:
- The original series, which aired on BBC television from 1963 to 1989, holds the Guinness World Record for longest-running science fiction television show in the world. It was rebooted in 2005 and is currently still in production.
- The Doctor is a Time Lord, a species that can regenerate their bodies when they are about to die, thus lending credibility to the fact that The Doctor has been portrayed by eleven different actors over the course of the show’s run.
- The Doctor’s most well-known recurring nemeses are the Daleks, a race created by a scientist to destroy all inferior beings (i.e., everyone else). In a UK series of postage stamps celebrating pop culture icons, one stamp featured a Dalek.
- Spinoff series include Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and K-9, as well as innumerable single episodes, mini-series, books, stage plays, and two feature-length films.
A legendary name in bluegrass, old time, and folk music, Arthel “Doc” Watson racked up seven Grammy Awards (including one for Lifetime Achievement) and continued to play music all the way up until his death at age 89.
Be hip about Doc Watson:
Importance: blind guitarist credited by many with establishing the acoustic guitar as a lead instrument in folk and bluegrass music
Drop this at a party: “Applause is like an amplified friendly handshake.” –Doc Watson
More on Doc Watson:
- Doc started Merlefest, an annual acoustic music festival named after his son (Merle), who often performed with his dad before he died in a tractor accident in 1985.
- Watson’s career breakthrough came at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival.
- The story of the nickname “Doc,” according to Watson himself: An announcer remarked during a live radio broadcast that Arthel was an odd name, and a nickname would be easier. An audience member volunteered the advice, “Call him Doc!” (a suggestion which may be an allusion to Sherlock Holmes’ assistant, Dr. Watson). It stuck.
- Watson went blind before his first birthday due to an infection.
- He was also proficient on the banjo.
Lowercase spin doctors are those clever, well-paid folks who take a terrible situation and convince the public to see it as a godsend. But capitally, the Spin Doctors were a rock n’ roll jam band significant enough to make the cover of the January 7, 1993, issue of Rolling Stone.
Be hip about the Spin Doctors:
Importance: American rock band with a couple of Billboard hits in the early ‘90’s
Drop this at a party:
- The band’s biggest hit, peaking at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, was “Two Princes,” off their first studio album, 1991’s Pocket Full of Kryptonite.
- Original member John Popper left the Spin Doctors to focus on his other band, Blues Traveler.
More on the Spin Doctors:
- The band’s first studio album was preceded by a live EP called Up for Grabs…Live.
- Between 1991 and 2005, the Spin Doctors released five studio albums. Pocket Full of Kryptonite was the most successful commercially, going Triple Platinum and hitting #3 on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart.
- The band is still playing shows.
You may know him as Dr. Death. The controversial Dr. Jack Kevorkian served prison time for euthanizing over 130 terminal patients.
Be hip about Dr. Kevorkian (that sounds kinda weird):
Importance: championed the cause of, depending on which side you’re on, physician-assisted suicide or a patient’s right to die, bringing the issue of euthanasia to public attention
Drop this at a party: He was also a painter and a jazz instrumentalist who sold limited copies of his work, including a 1997 composition called The Kevorkian Suite: A Very Still Life.
- If you’re keeping a list called Kevorkian’s Controversial Death-Related Positions, add to it his belief that inmates on death row should be able to opt for what amounted to death by scientific experimentation (as fully anesthetized patients in medical research).
- Kevorkian died (unassisted) in 2011 at age 83.
- The band Acid Bath used one of his paintings for their album Paegan Terrorism Tactics.
Note: I had a really hard time narrowing down doctors. So many good ones were left out – Dr. No (first James Bond movie villain, works for SPECTRE, metallic hand); Dr. Claw (Inspector Gadget’s nemesis, works for MAD, only ever see his hand and his cat, spoof of Dr. No); Dr. Phil (spawned – er, launched – by Oprah’s daily talk show; professional good-advice-giver); Dr. Pepper (duh)… I wouldn’t rule out a Part 2 of this post at some point in the future.