Everyone secretly wants to be a pirate; there’s even an international “Speak Like a Pirate Day” held each year on September 19th around the world. Still, there’s more to pirating than saying “aargh!” and having a parrot as a best friend. These nine entries cover pirates from all walks of life (alas, I couldn’t make it happen with seafaring pirates); all of whom just happen to be named Ken.
- Ken Brett – Ken Brett was a Major League Baseball pitcher from 1967 to 1981 and spent a year with the Pittsburgh Pirates between 1974 and 1975. During his time with the Pirates, Brett was the winning pitcher of the 1974 All-Star Game. All in all, Ken Brett had outings with 10 Major League teams in his 14 year career, including the Boston Red Sox (1967, 1969–1971), New York Yankees (1976) and Chicago White Sox (1976–1977).
- Pirate Ken™ – It is no secret that Barbie and Ken like to play dress-up, so it’s also not a surprise that that the Ken doll has donned a full pirate suit to celebrate Johnny Depp’s wildly popular turn as everyone’s favorite pirate, Jack Sparrow.
- Dread Pirate Kermit – Ken Morton, aka Dread Pirate Kermit, was a popular motorbike rally champion who sadly lost his life when he was thrown from his bike during the 2011 Utah 1088 rally. Morton was well known for his unique stickers and patches depicting Kermit the Frog wearing a pirate hat, set in a crossbones background. Although it is unclear exactly what caused Ken’s accident, it is widely believed that wind conditions on that particular day were the most likely contributor.
- Carry On Jack – Kenneth Williams plays a British Navy Captain in this comedy caper made in 1963. Williams’s character is named Captain Fearless, however, Fearless does not live up to his name. In typical Carry On fashion, Captain Fearless finds himself set adrift from his ship, only to end up in a sea war with Patch, Pirate Captain, aka Roger.
- Ken Evans – Not a lot of people will immediately recognize the name “Ken Evans,” but Evans was instrumental in the launch of both Radio Atlanta and Radio Caroline. During the sixties, both of these ships became famous the world over for illegal radio broadcasts. By mooring more than 5km off the coast outside of British territorial waters, pirate radio stations were able to transmit and avoid government regulation. Ken Evans was one of the pioneering producers of pirate radio; he later went on to work for the BBC in traditional radio.
- Ken Dilger – From 2002 to 2004, Ken Dilger was a mainstay for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. During his first year with the Buccaneers, Dilger saw victory as part of the Super Bowl XXXVI winning side. Ken is now a noted speaker, who appears in promotions on behalf of WGU Indiana (Western Governors University, Indiana).
- Kenny Chesney – This country singing star is absolutely obsessed with all things ocean, featuring beach bums, pirates and related themes in a lot of his music. Most notably in his track “Pirate Flag,” from the album Life on the Rock. The country singer draws parallels between simple country life and the life of a rebel pirate, which makes for an interesting spin on this traditional music genre.
- D. B. Cooper – While a fictional reference, the name comes from the hijacking of a Boeing 727 in November, 1971. The perpetrator parachuted from the aircraft after claiming a $200,000 ransom and was never found. Many years later, in 2003, a Minnesota man, Lyle Christiansen, came forward claiming that the hijacker was his brother, Kenneth Christiansen. Although the authorities found no plausible evidence to support the claim, a detective, Skipp Porteous, published a book in 2010 that aimed to prove that Christiansen was the perpetrator of the audacious hijacking.
- The Boat that Rocked – All good pirates need a nemesis, and who better to fill the role than British actor, Kenneth Brannagh. “The Boat that Rocked” tells the story of a group of pirate radio hosts defying the British government’s attempts to monopolize the airwaves during the sixties. Brannagh plays the part of Sir Alistair Dormandy, who will use any means possible to bring the party to an end. Dormandy becomes the typical anti-hero in this period comedy, leaving the audience wondering who the real pirates are.
From fictional seafarers to country singers with a penchant for the open waters, there’s no shortage of pirates in pop culture!