Like Scheisskopf and Popinjay, Mudd is a conveniently Dickensian name chosen by Heller for the dead man in Yossarian’s tent. Unlike the other two, however, in reality Mudd is a not uncommon name. For example, Samuel A. Mudd (1833-1883) was an American physician who treated John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg after Booth had shot President Abraham Lincoln, and was convicted as a conspirator. Roger Mudd, a longtime American broadcast journalist, has co-anchored the CBS Evening News, the NBC Nightly News, Meet the Press, and most recently The History Channel.
Heller plays off a once-common lament, “My name is mud,” which means “I am unpopular” or more usually, “I am in the doghouse” because of some specific misdeed. Often thought to hearken back to Dr. Mudd, the phrase apparently predates the Lincoln assassination by decades. John Badcock’s 1823 book, Slang – A dictionary of the turf etc., declares that someone whose name is “mud” is “a stupid twaddling fellow.”
The phrase has been revived of late as the title of a 1993 song by the alternative rock/metal band Primus.