Special Report

World Wide Mesh (and 49 Other Famous Things that Almost Had Other Names)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

46. Scarlett O’Hara
> Almost named: Pansy
> Category: Character name

Scarlett O’Hara, one of American literature’s most famous characters, was almost named Pansy by author Margaret Mitchell in the book “Gone With the Wind.” Mitchell called her heroine Pansy for the entire time she was writing the book. Just before “Gone With the Wind” went into print, Mitchell’s publisher prevailed on her to change the name. The book was turned into one of the most successful movies of all time and the first color film to win the Best Picture Oscar.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

47. Back to the Future
> Almost named: Spaceman from Pluto
> Category: Movie

Writer Robert Zemeckis drafted the script under the title “Back to the Future” that would become a blockbuster. However, Universal Pictures executive Sidney Sheinberg balked at the title, saying any film with the word future in the title would hurt its chances. Sheinberg suggested changing it to “Spaceman from Pluto” to connect with the film’s joke that Michael J. Fox’s character was an alien. Director Steven Spielberg sent a memo to Sheinberg, thanking him for the joke suggestion but rejected it, thus preventing a disastrous name change.

Source: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

48. Subway
> Almost named: Pete’s Super Submarines, Doctor’s Associates Inc.
> Category: Company

Subway, one of America’s biggest food franchises, started out in 1965 as Pete’s Super Submarines in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The next year, the company changed its name to Doctor’s Associates Inc. because co-founder Peter Buck, who held a doctorate, wanted to earn money to pay off his college tuition. Eventually, Buck and co-founder Fred DeLuca settled on the name Subway, which has grown beyond its Connecticut roots to more than 40,000 franchises worldwide, the most of any fast-food chain.

Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

49. The White House
> Almost named: President’s Palace, Executive Mansion.
> Category: Landmark

The White House, located on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., was called the President’s Palace on maps in the early 19th century. It was officially called the Executive Mansion in 1810 to avoid suggestions of royalty. President Theodore Roosevelt officially named the residence of the nation’s commander in chief The White House in 1901.

Source: cdrummbks / Flickr

50. Catch-22
> Almost named: Catch-18
> Category: Book

“Catch-22” was the name of Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel about military incoherence. Following the book’s publication, the term was adopted to mean any unresolvable situation because of contradictory rules. The title was originally “Catch-18,” but Heller’s editor Robert Gottlieb didn’t like it. Novelist Leon Uris had published a book titled “Mila 18” earlier in the year, and Gottlieb feared there might be confusion between the two books. “Catch-11” wasn’t considered because of the film “Ocean’s 11.” Gottlieb settled on 22 because he thought 22 was a funnier number than 18.