As Finkels the world over prepare to celebrate their eponymous holiday this May 5th their thoughts naturally turn to the pantheon of patronymic Finkelsteins and Finkelbergs and Finkelthals that came before them, most of whom shed their excess syllables upon emigrating to America like a space shuttle dumping its rocket boosters after launch.
For those of us born with the name, the detritus of “steins” and “bergs” litter our lineage, leaving us, the modern bearers of the moniker, stripped all the way down to our naked Finkels, forced to face the world with a name we didn’t ask for, but that we now have the responsibility to uphold.
But do not be fooled, for we have found strength without our surplus suffixes…and epic lives have been lived with the Finkel surname.
The great Hank Finkel won an NBA Championship as a member of the Boston Celtics.
Howard Finkel is one of the all-time best WWE announcers.
Shelly Finkel is in the International Boxing Hall of Fame as a manager.
New York Times Bestselling author, Michael Finkel, who we celebrated Finkel de Mayo with several years ago with an exclusive interview (read it here) is one of the finest non-fiction writers we have.
And of course, the man who shares my name, Jon Finkel, is the single greatest Magic: The Gathering player of all time. My piece with him, which kicked off the first annual Finkel de Mayo many years ago, A Tale of Two Finkels, can be read right here.
Despite this roster of veritable icons, one fictional Finkel remains perhaps the most well-known and well-remembered of them all.
And that Finkel is the one… the only… Ray Finkle, AKA, Lois Einhorn, AKA, the bad guy/gal in Jim Carrey’s first mega hit movie, Ace Venture: Pet Detective, which came out on February 4th, 1994, and quickly filled middle schools and high schools with an endless array of Allllllllriiiighhhty Thens and Looohooosserrrrs and, most pertinent to me and my younger brother Craig, an onslaught of Finkel/Einhorn chants wherever we went, whenever we played a rival school in any sport, and whenever we introduced ourselves to anyone, anywhere who was plus or minus our ages by 5 years.
To be sure, I didn’t help myself by punting on my high school football team and setting myself up for a deluge of “laces out” jokes during warm-ups every single game. But alas, I’ve soldiered on.
To this very day, at least 50% of new people who I meet cannot help themselves when they hear my last name. It has never bothered me. In fact, I’ve enjoyed it mostly – especially the part where the person I’m talking to can’t quite place the name for a minute and then they say…
“Oohhh, Ace Ventura… Finkel is Einhorn!”
“Man, you must be so sick of that.”
“Nope,” I say. “I loved the movie. One of my all-time favorite comedies from back in the day.”
In fact, when I started this worldwide phenomenon known as Finkel de Mayo, where I’d seek out accomplished Finkels and interview them on the 5th of May, my white whale was none other than the tremendous actress behind the unforgettable portrayal of Finkle/Einhorn, Sean Young.
She was the one person on earth who I felt could relate to having the last name Finkel, without actually having the last name… And she was the person responsible for its place in pop culture.
And this year…
I am proud to say…
She agreed to an interview.
And it was awesome.
Here’s how it all went down:
Last week, I sent a completely blind, completely out of the blue introductory e-mail to Young’s manager where I explained that one, Finkel de Mayo was a real fake holiday (think about it), two, I’m not a lunatic, and three, other people related to the Finkel name have done interviews in years past and that my dream interview for the holiday was Sean Young.
I thought there was about a 5% chance the e-mail would make it to her and maybe a 3% chance that if it did, she’d agree to do it. I was wrong.
Less than a day later I got a response from Sean Young with the headline, “Thinking about it”…
And that was all I needed.
I sent her another e-mail explaining a little more about myself and my books and my writing and how much it would mean to me and all the Finkels on planet Earth if we could talk…and moments after I hit send she replied and said she was ‘in’.
I was ecstatic.
Then I missed her call (long story, sick kid, etc….)…
But it was the greatest missed call of all time because she left me this message:
“Hello Mr. Finkel…this is Finkel/Einhorn…Sean Young….”
I mean… COME ON… Considering the context, is that not the greatest voice message in the history of voice messages?!?!
Luckily, she was available when I called her back and after I gushed for probably a little too long about her hall of fame voice message and her agreeing to talk to me we got down to business.
I asked her what she thought of the Ace Ventura script the first time she read it and what she knew about Jim Carrey since it was his first starring feature.
“Actually, the producers of the movie, Morgan Creek, wanted Bridgette Nielson for the role,” she said “But Jim Carrey wanted me and had to fight them and fight them to cast me. Jim was really one of the only leading men who stood up for me and Jim made them offer it to me. Jim was always so funny.”
She then told me that while she hoped everyone would bring their best game acting-wise to the movie, she was very realistic about the film’s chances of success at the time. Truth be told, it wasn’t until one of the screenings that she felt they had something special.
“I remember I went to see the movie at a screening in Westwood Village and Tone Loc was sitting in front of me with his mom,” she said. “And we were all laughing so hysterically. It was so funny. Comedy is a lot more satisfying that way.”
After some more small talk I finally got to ask the series of questions I’d been waiting to ask since I was 16 years old:
Me: What was the first thing you thought of when you saw the name Finkle in the script?
Sean: I thought it was a German name. And I thought Einhorn was also German. I remember at an early table read there was a reason why one of the writers used it.
Me: How did you prepare to essentially play the character of Ray Finkle hidden inside the psyche of Lois Einhorn to truly embody the Mayor of Psychoville?
Sean: I was thinking of the people who I’d gone to observe for the role. There are people who lose touch with reality. I had done studies with people who crack up. And they have certain little faraway stares in their eyes.
Me: Ohhh, the Laces Out stare. I’ve seen that… What was Dan Marino like on set?
Sean: He was great. When we shot the final scene with the SWAT team he threw some balls to the guys in the parking lot and all the guys were impressed. He was the man at that point so it was fun.
Me: Did you play catch with him?
Sean: That’s a good story… While he was playing catch with everyone he motioned to throw me one and I put my hands up and when he threw the ball it came in so fast I had to duck! It was like a bullet. I ducked so I wouldn’t break my finger and laughed.
Me: Do fans of the movie still randomly say Finkel/Einhorn to you when they see you even though it came out twenty five years ago?
Sean: I do get that to this day.
Me: Me, too. Do you like it?
Sean: I do. I’m always pleased when people appreciate it.
Me: You know what? Me, too…
And after that we chatted for a few more minutes like only real Finkels and reel Finkles can and we said our goodbyes.
Another Finkel de Mayo miracle in the books.
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