What do IDINA Menzel, ANI DiFranco, NAS, Kelly RIPA, IRA Madison III, RIC Ocasek, Peter O’TOOLE, and Rita ORA all have in common?
That’s easy, if you’re a puzzler: they all appear in crosswords much more commonly than do other celebrities of equal fame. In fact, all of these celebs appeared in last week’s Daily Beast puzzles (ANI even showed up twice!).
Why are these stars so “crossword famous”? Because their names have letters that crossword writers find very useful. Lots of vowels and lots of common letters — think 1-pointers in Scrabble like R, S, T, N, L, E, and A — that help us tie our grids together. We love you IDINA MENZEL, but we love the IDINA part of you better than the MENZEL! Sorry, but that Z is a challenge to fit in the grid.
Who are the most crossword famous celebrities of all time? I wrote an article in 2012 that looked into this. I counted the number of times a given celebrity’s name had appeared in the New York Times crossword puzzle against how many times it had appeared in the newspaper itself. Baseball’s Mel OTT, actor ESAI Morales, and actress Charlotte RAE all made my Top 7 list, but the #1 crossword celeb was mystery author ERLE Stanley Gardner, whose very useful first name put him over the top.
Which celebs will visit us next week? Probably not IDINA, ANI, NAS, RIPA, RIC, OTOOLE, or ORA. As fun as they are to have around, being a star is tough so we’ll give them a few weeks off. And who knows…maybe ESAI Morales will drop in for a visit! But of course, it’s also fun to include some celebs with high-value Scrabble letters — think AZIZ Ansari, JAY-Z, and Jamie FOXX.
Any special requests on who you’d like to see in the puzzle? Tweet them to #beastxword and I’ll see what I can do.
Play today’s puzzle and sign up for our weekly crossword newsletter on the bottom of the puzzle page.