I’ve had this last name my entire life so I figured “Broad” wasn’t exactly a common name. Not like Smith or Jones or Garcia. In fact, there’s a New York Times article saying that the Census Bureau reports Smith was the most common name in the U.S.A. but, for the first time, Garcia and Rodriguez moved into the Top 10.

And then I saw a column by Ken Hoffman. He Googled his name and found all kinds of famous Hoffmans.

Naturally, I HAD to Google “Broad” and boy, was I surprised. There are all kinds of famous Broads – and I’m not punning you, either. I already knew about four Broads – two Williams, one Eli and one James.

I learned about James Broad watching Friday night boxing matches. I wasn’t much of a fan but my grandfather was. He loved boxing almost as much as he loved “rasslin’ and I loved to watch it with him. So, imagine my anticipation when I learned that James Broad would be featured on the boxing card the following week. This was the olden days. No such thing as Google. I’d never heard of James Broad but I sure was excited that somebody with my last name would be boxing on television. There I was, excited beyond reason to watch James Broad a heavyweight match.

I don’t remember if James Broad won or lost, but I do remember that James Broad was a terrific African-American boxer, a member of the USA’s 1980 Olympics team and a sparring partner of Mike Tyson who died a pretty sad death in 2001.

The first William Broad I heard of (besides being the name of my grandfather) is a New York Times reporter specializing in science. I remember being thrilled when I’d see his name in print in our local paper. He still writes for the Times and every so often I see his byline.

The Broad I’d really like to be related to is Eli Broad, the billionaire philanthropist who made his fortune in home building (you’ve heard of KB Homes?). I read recently that Eli is the sixth wealthiest person in the world and worth around $7.4 billion.

There are all kinds of much poorer but still famous Broads, most of them British cricket or soccer players. I even found an infamous Broad, Perry, who was born in Brazil of all places, moved to Germany in the 1920s and “worked” at the infamous Auschwitz before he was captured and eventually ended up in prison.

And then there’s the most famous Broad of all – William Michael Albert Broad. You know him as Billy Idol.

For those of you who aren’t Boomers or GenXers or into the punk rock scene, William Broad – Billy Idol – is a singer who hit the big time thanks to talent, that incredible sneer, and newly established MTV during the 1980s. His big hits are “Rebel Yell,” “Dancing with Myself” and “White Wedding.” Billy is still performing. I saw a YouTube of him recently. Maybe it’s the makeup and good lighting, but he looked pretty good for a 62-year-old and sounded great.

I Googled my entire name, too, and found at least three other Thomas Broads in Houston and another five Thomas Broads mostly in London. What a surprise.

Google your own surname. You’ll be amazed. Then Google your entire name. There are all kinds of people running around this earth with your name!

Tell me about your last name discovery. Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Tom Broad
Author: Tom BroadEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, The Tribune, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.