Sometimes one should be careful about asking people if they are "related" to other, well-known people. I'm usually only prompted to do this if it involves an unusual name.
A local, former County Prosecutor is named Eckstein. Now, Eckstein is NOT a common name! When I met him, I asked, "Are you related to Billy?" and he said he'd never heard of him. I did not believe him and I later heard from a mutual acquaintance that he was NOT amused. Perhaps it's because of the difference in color!
Sometimes people do not share my particular sense of humor, but sometimes it's a rewarding experience.
At a meeting last week I met a man named Fred Strahorn. I asked, "Are you related to Billy?" He smiled and said, "Even though it's spelled differently, I always say I am!" We exchanged business cards and I noticed that his name's spelling was without the "y", like Billy Strayhorn's. He asked, "How many people in here do you think even know who he was?" I answered, "Well, they SHOULD!" We discussed Billy Strayhorn's work with Duke Ellington and he said, "You must be a jazz fan." We compared likes and dislikes. Another person at the meeting said, "HOW do you know these things?"
My favorite example is when I asked a colleague, Carl Hauptmann, "Any relation to Bruno?" Witty and quick on the uptake, he answered, "Oh, you knew UNCLE Bruno?"
However, to me it's sad when people do not know the famous--at least I think they are famous--people. I asked a person named McCullough, "Any relation to David?" Just because I think David McCullough--the Pulitzer Prize winning historian--is famous, doesn't mean that other people named McCullough do! Another time I asked a person named Furness if he were related to Betty and he said he'd never heard of her. When I told Les, he said, "Or, perhaps, others do not retain such minutiae!" I said, "But if you ever hear of someone famous with your surname, I would think you would remember!" Les said, "He's probably too young!"
I did not ask Governor Brian Schweitzer if he were related to Albert or ask Lilly Ledbetter if she were related to Lead Belly (Huddie Ledbetter). Sometimes I do behave myself!