A while back my friend and fellow Museum hive-worker Jean Lake and I were spending the afternoon, as we sometimes do, talking about serial killers. Jean is familiar with many of the “greats.” My knowledge is lacking, but my hunger for information is strong. No matter what we talk about, the tangents we divert to serve to confuse everyone around us.
On that particular day I shared my knowledge of the Canadian serials (Clifford Olson and Karla Homolka top the list. Though Homolka is not technically a serial, I don’t think, just a monster) and Jean reciprocated with the Americans. I knew about Bundy from movies (I’ll never find Mark Harmon attractive again! No amount of Summer School can change the way he makes me feel.) I knew of Dahmer because I was old enough to be interested in that icky-can’t-look-away-way when he was caught. But I’d never heard of Richard Speck, and he is Jean’s favorite.
I googled him to check out some of what she told me, ‘cause he seemed pretty whacked. (I know, I know, it goes without saying.) He was definitely a quirky one, scary, deviant. But I think it was the fact that he was incarcerated in Illinois that led to one of the big ones… William H. Macy.
I mean John Wayne Gacy. I get them confused ALL THE TIME. After the millionth time saying the wrong name I wondered if anyone else had this problem, do other people get them confused? And then I became curious…do they have anything in common besides the rhyme and rhythm of their names? So I did a little research.
I’ll start with the similarities:
- John Wayne Gacy (JWG), American Serial Killer, was named after his father…John Wayne Gacy Sr.
- William H. Macy (WHM), American Actor, was named after HIS father…William H. Macy Sr.
Not such a big deal, right? Passing down names in families is trés common. (How’s my accent now, French Canada?)
- JWG was born March 17, 1942 in Chicago. Eight years later in Miami on March 13, 1950, Lois Macy gave birth toWHM. Both men are Pisces. (Popular, likeable, motivated by their surroundings and the people in their lives…)
- Neither JWG nor WHM did well in school.
- JWG had a blood clot that caused blackouts when he was a child. He was given drugs to dissolve it. WHM admittedly took drugs during a hippie phase. (I know… it’s a weak one.)
- Both men were active in their communities. WHM was a supporter of former presidential candidate John Kerry and an ambassador for the United Cerebral Palsy Association.
- Before his 1978 arrest, JWG was a Jaycee, a volunteer for the National Democratic Party and was photographed with Rosalyn Carter when he directed a parade she attended.
- They both married and had children.
- Both are/were performers. WHM has been nominated for Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmy’s, SAG Awards and more. JWG dressed up as Pogo the Clown and entertained the children in his neighbourhood.
- WHM is a skilled woodworker, JWG was a painter. His work is highly collectible. (As are WHM’s movies! Have you seen Fargo?)
- Both men have had songs written about them. Sufjan Stevens album Come on Feel the Illinoise has a haunting ballad about JWG that you should all go and listen to as soon as you finish reading this blog. HeadAutomatica wrote a song called “I Shot William H Macy” (which I didn’t bother listening to…I’m not a fan.) I also found a band on Myspace called John Wayne Gacy Daycare.
Now for the differences:
- WHM is alive and well. JWG is dead.
- WHM’s namesake is a retired, decorated ,World War II pilot. JWG’s was an abusive alcoholic.
- Both were active in Chicago in the 1970’s. They honed their chosen crafts. This was a pivotal time of growth and exploration for both men. JWG seemingly embraced his homosexuality while WHM found his voice on the stage.
But John Wayne Gacy was raping and murdering young men and then burying them in the crawl space of his home. Raping and murdering young men…while William H Macy was working to establish himself as a stage actor. John Wayne Gacy is said to have raped and murdered around 30 people…that we know of. According to his IMDB page, William H. Macy has appeared in more than 120 roles on film and television. This does not even include stage roles.
So, while it may be funny (in the usual, “man Caroline is inappropriate” way) to find similarities between the two men (like JWG was heavily involved in drugs and prostitution and WHM was in Boogie Nights) it was surprising how many superficial similarities I came up with. Shocking really…all I did was read their wikipedia pages and IMDB.
What did I learn from this exercise? Serial killers are sick fucks? William H. Macy has done WAY more films than I’d imagined? I’m right to fear clowns? No new news here. I guess I feel like from now on I’ll just make sure when I’m talking about the hard-working American Actor, William H. Macy, I will try hard not to call him by the name of the super-scary clown-suited American Serial Killer, John Wayne Gacy…because really, they’re nothing alike – in spite of all they have in common.