One of the major female figures in the Old Testament, quiet, studious Esther was in the Top 50 a hundred years ago, and stayed in the Top 100 until 1935. It is now on the ascent again, appealing to parents -- Ewan McGregor is one -- seeking an underused biblical name with a strong history and serious image.
In the Bible, Esther, originally named Hadassah, was the captured Jewish wife of the King of Persia who risked her life to save her exiled people from annihilation, a story celebrated by Jews on the holiday of Purim, so that it has traditionally been given to girls around that time.
Judy Garland played two memorable Esthers--in Meet Me in St. Louis and A Star is Born; Esther Summerson is a main character in Dickens' Bleak House and Esther Greenwood is the autobiographical character's name in Sylvia Plath's A Bell Jar. Someone who glamorized the name is champion swimmer-turned-movie-star Esther Williams.
Madonna adopted Esther as her Kaballah name.