“I’ve been wanting to drop the hassle from my life for years,” Hoff said in a video posted to his YouTube page in which he displayed a suspect-looking “Certificate of Name Change” document. “Now, I have made it official: David Hoff.” On Twitter, he added: “Big news today and a massive relief for me. I hope everyone can understand … it feels great!”
A Hasselhoff — Hoff? — representative said that this wasn’t an actual, legal change fraught with any sort of Freudian significance.
As for the video: “It’s an excerpt from an ad campaign that launches in Australia this weekend,” a Hasselhoff spokesman not named by Us magazine told the publication. “David is just having some fun and more will be revealed in the next 24 hours.”
Though the ad campaign is now a bit hoary, Hasselhoff flirted with a name change for Clorox earlier this year.
“You know, my name is Hasselhoff, so I took the ‘hassel’ out of the ‘hoff,’ and I [became] The Hoff,” he told Yahoo earlier this year. “Now I’m taking the hassle out of cleaning and it’s a way to kind of interact with my fans and get in people’s faces in a fun way.”
If the 63-year-old actor’s latest announcement is just a pitch for a cleaning product, that makes the Hasselhoff-to-Hoff narrative a lot less interesting. But, as the actor’s memoir and previous comments show, he’s been hung up on his name since he got it.
“I had never perceived Hasselhoff as a name with charisma and power like ‘Steiger,’ Hasselhoff wrote in “Don’t Hassel the Hoff: The Autobiography” (2007). “It was more like ‘Humperdinck’ — funny and a bit of a liability but now I love it.”
Hasselhoff explained the origins of a name not exactly suited to a man in a leather jacket who drives a the ultimate smartcar, or a shirtless lifeguard in a red swimsuit saving swimmers in Los Angeles County.
“The Hasselhoff name is of German/Austrian/Dutch origin,” Hasselhoff wrote. “Hoff means house or village; there’s a town outside Frankfurt called Hasselhof. In Germany, people posed with my photograph and said they were related to me.”
Indeed, whether it’s his German handle or his unimpeachable oeuvre, Hasselhoff was once huge in Deutschland.
“I will face up to my guilt head-on and admit it: I belong to this generation,” a German Hasselhoff-head wrote in Spiegel Online in 2011. “Yes, I bought the ‘Looking for Freedom’ album with money my grandmother gave to me — my first cassette tape. I even decorated my bedroom with 65 Hasselhoff posters, including one life-size image of him in a red ‘Knight Rider’ t-shirt. And, yes, I sang along without understanding the lyrics back then when he sang in Berlin. I was a kid, after all, and my English just wasn’t good enough yet. I even let my mother come with me to my first ever concert and there was something in the show for her, too: Hasselhoff crooned a Beatles medley.”
The author took in a Hasselhoff concert in 2011 to see if the magic had worn off. It hadn’t.
“If a party isn’t taking off,” a fellow concertgoer said, “you just pop in some David Hasselhoff.”
But the name that proved an inspiration to a generation of Germans got Hasselhoff taunts after he moved from Atlanta to Chicago — and from Catholic military school to public school — as a youth, a transition he called “fairly traumatic.” But even so, he seemed reluctant to part with his name. It seemed destined to be great.
“Hasselhoff?” he wrote. “What sort of a name was that? I took a lot of stick for my name but I told Dad I would never change it. In 2000, I showed him a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records and said, ‘You’ve got one of the most famous names in the world.’” (Guinness World Records once declared Hasselhoff the “most watched man on TV.”)
Just months ago, in fact, Hasselhoff seemed to consider “Hasselhoff” a badge of honor.
“[Hollywood] wanted me to change the name Hasselhoff, but I kept the name because I took so much crap for it in high school and now Hasselhoff has made me a fortune,” he said. “It’s just amazing that I kept it and, honest to God, I kept it because I thought, No, my mom and dad gave me this name, I’m not going to change my name, and I think I’ve gained a little payback now.”
As the world awaited further word from what’s-his-name, reaction was mixed.
“Of course you should do what feels best for you,” one Twitter user wrote.