The ‘Charlie Hebdo Attack’ made us all pause for a minute. And ponder about weighty issues like: ‘What the hell does Hebdo mean?’ If you thought along those trivial lines, you’re not alone, my friend! To clarify matters, Hebdo, is derived from hebdomadaire, the French word for ‘weekly’. So Charlie Hebdo essentially means ‘Charlie Weekly’. Originally known as ‘Hara-kiri Hebdo’, the satirical newspaper took its name from another comic magazine titled ‘Charlie Mensuel’ which in turn borrowed its Charlie from ‘Charlie Brown’, the Peanuts character. The urban legend is that ‘Charlie’ was picked because it was an inside joke on Charles de Gaulle, the then French President.
Let’s dissect the pedigree of ‘Charlie’ further. The diminutive of ‘Charles’, it literally implies ‘Free Man’. Given what transpired in Paris, very unsurprising, no?
irst name for scores of distinguished men. Charlie Chaplin, the comedian extraordinaire, was actually christened after his dad. Charlie Sheen was different though. He was born Carlos Irwin Estevez. ‘Charley’ was also the screenname of Tamil actor Manohar Velmurugan Thangasamy. Incidentally, like Rajnikanth, he owes it to the late K Balachander.
Contrary to common belief, the comic character ‘Charlie Brown’ is not a nod to its creator Charles Schulz but a tribute to his friend from art school days. The saxophonist, Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, who owed his middle name to his childhood habit of being a ‘Yard-bird’ or someone who hung out in the yard outside clubs listening to the bands playing jazz inside.
There are many more Charlies worth talking about. But for now, let’s raise a toast to the one who redefined them all with their pungent wit.