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January 29, 2015

Lord Voldemort lives in Philly — and Bethlehem

Newsweek interviewed men who share name with The Dark Lord

Odd News Books
Lord Voldemort Warner Bros. Pictures/AP

In this film publicity image released by Warner Bros. Pictures, Ralph Fiennes portrays Lord Voldemort in a scene from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2."

It turns out that the Dark Lord is ubiquitous — with 123 guys on LinkedIn who share the name of the villainous wizard from the Harry Potter series. But he's a little less scary than you'd think. Generally, he's a middle-aged American guy.

Newsweek talked to seven Tom Riddles - including one in Philly and one in Bethlehem, Pa. - on what it's like to be named for the Potter baddie. (There are at least six other Tom Riddles from the greater Philadelphia area, according to a LinkedIn search.)

Tom Riddle, 55, of Philadelphia, attended the College of New Jersey and Villanova University and works at a nutraceutical company. Bethlehem's Tom Riddle, who did not give his age, owns a financial advisory practice.

Both men told Newsweek about the ups and downs of being Tom Riddle — from being seen as a celebrity to scaring little kids to having to go through a secondary authentication process just to get a dang Facebook page.

Sometimes, being Tom Riddle means people awkwardly ogle you.

Tom Riddle, Philadelphia: I first moved to Philadelphia and went to my dentist for the first time. When I walked in, everybody who worked in the office was standing up behind the counter. There were like 10 people behind the counter. They were like, "We are here because we wanted to see what Tom Riddle really looked like." 

Other times, being Tom Riddle means you unintentionally frighten children.

Tom Riddle, Philadelphia: A woman who works for me had brought her little son to work. When she introduced him to me by name, he got all shy and started hiding behind her and wouldn't talk. She's like, “Tom, I don't know what's the matter with him, I can't shut him up at home.” The next day she brought in the book and said, “Hey I found out what was wrong with my son. He was reading these books, and you're the most evil wizard who ever lived, so he's afraid of you.”

But one thing's for certain: being Tom Riddle makes you really want to pick J.K. Rowling's brain about which name came first. (In the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Rowling revealed that "I am Lord Voldemort" is an anagram of the character's birth name, Tom Marvolo Riddle.)

Tom Riddle, Bethlehem: When I was in Scotland this summer, I was very close to Edinburgh, Scotland. J.K. Rowling lives in Edinburgh. I said, “Wow, this is pretty close to her.” I’d love to meet her someday and ask her, so what did she think of first? Did she think of the name Tom Riddle? Or did she think of the name Lord Voldemort.

Want to know more about what it's like to be named Tom Riddle? Read the full story here.