In honor of the Academy Award nominations announced yesterday, one of our favorite bloggers, Abby Sandel, creator of the always informative and witty appellationmountain.net, continues the tradition she started last year with boys’ red carpet names, and has again searched through the annals of Oscar history to come up with some great lists of award-worthy female winners’ and characters’ names.
Ava, Audrey, Natalie, Grace, Olivia. Is it my daughter’s kindergarten class roster, or a round-up of Hollywood screen legends? With so many parents turning to Tinsel Town for inspiration, no wonder I’m confused.
Despite the popularity of borrowing a name from the big screen, plenty of appealing choices remain underused. Here’s a short list culled from Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress nominees and winners, and the characters they played, from the 1920s through today.
Some of these are easy to imagine on a girl born today, while others might not be quite ready for a comeback. All of them offer at least one glamorous namesake.
HERMIONE (Decades before Harry Potter, English actress Hermione Baddeley won a Best Supporting Actress nomination after appearing on screen for less than three minutes in 1959’s Room at the Top.)
JOAN (Yes, there’s Mommy Dearest, but there’s also Joan Fontaine)
LUISE (Vienna-born Luise Rainer was the first actress to win two Best Actress Oscars, and the first to win them back-to-back, in 1936 and 1937)
MARLENE (The two-syllable name might sound dated, but screen siren Marlene Dietrich pronounced it mar-LAY-na)
NORMA (Not only was actress Norma Shearer nominated six times, but Norma is also a character played by Sally Field and the birth name shed by Marilyn Monroe)
SPRING (Better known for her later radio and television work, Spring Byington was nominated for Best Supporting Actress early in her career – and yes, Spring was her birth name)
Plenty of actresses have won accolades playing royalty and religious figures, but not every character on this list is noble. Some surprising repeats included Alice, Birdie and Eloise. Other interesting choices include:
BREE (Before Desperate Housewives, Jane Fonda played call girl Bree in Klute)
GEORGIE (Years before Lynn Redgrave’s role as Georgina in Georgy Girl, Grace Kelly won a Best Actress Oscar as Georgie Elgin in The County Girl)
KATRIN (Though Loretta Young’s Oscar-winning character in 1947’s The Farmer’s Daughter usually answered to Katie)
LAUREL (Also called Lollie, and better known after Stella Dallas was adapted for the radio)
SABRA (Played by Irene Dunne in 1931’s Cimarron)
SERAFINA (From 1955’s The Rose Tattoo, based on the Tennessee Williams play, before Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner were born, much less naming children of their own!)
SPARROW (Greer Garson played Mrs. Susie Parkington, the tale of a hotel maid turned society grand dame. Sparrow was her nickname.)
Abby Sandel, the mother of two young children, lives near Washington, D.C. and is the creator of the blog, appellationmountain.