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Category: Atticus Finch

why?atticus

By Linda Rosenkrantz

It always strikes me as somewhat curious when a name that has been hidden in plain sight for decades—or longer—attached to a significant literary or real life character will suddenly pop into the zeitgeist and take off.  Sometimes the contributing factors are obvious—sharing with a more recent celebrity (looking at you, Ms Johansson) or its discovery by the parents of a starbaby.  And sometimes, it just remains a mystery.

Some prominent examples:

AtticusThe Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960, and the movie, starring Gregory Peck as principled lawyer and role-model dad Atticus Finch, was released two years later. Between then and now, the book has been a mainstay of English class curricula, working its way into the collective consciousness of future baby namers, while Atticus Finch was voted the greatest hero of American film by the AFI.

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mockingbird

As the fiftieth anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird is being celebrated, the thought comes to mind that it sometimes can take decades for an iconic fictional character –usually one imprinted on our minds from a classic read during our formative adolescent years—to take off as a baby name.

A prime example of this is Atticus, as in Atticus Finch, that noble lawyer/father Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s novel, which appeared in print in 1960 and on screen in 1962, and yet didn’t make it onto the Social Security baby name list until 2004.  The same is true of Holden: J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield appeared in The Catcher in the Rye in 1951, but not on the pop charts until 1987.  Scarlett O’Hara (GWTW book 1936, movie 1939) didn’t hit the top half of the list until 2004—when it combined with the Johanssen factor.  And if we want to go back even further, it took Huckleberry well over a century to suddenly be used by a couple of celebs.

Below are some literary names from 20th century American novels and plays, a few of which, like Daisy, Owen and Ethan, have already made their comebacks, others which conceivably could, plus a few that are probably too eccentric to be condsidered.

As always there’s the caveat that not all these characters were particularly likable or noble namesakes.  Some American literary names to consider, for both boys and girls, include:

GIRLS

ALABAMAZelda Fitzgerald, Save Me the Waltz

ÁNTONIA — Willa Cather, My Ántonia

AURORALarry McMurtry, Terms of Endearment

BLANCHETennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

BONANZATom Robbins,  Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

BRETTErnest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

CLARICEThomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs

CLYTEMNESTRA (CLYTIE) — William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

DAISY– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

DENVERToni Morrison, Beloved

DOMINIQUEAyn Rand, The Fountainhead

ESMÉ – J D Salinger, “For Esmé—With Love and Squalor”

EULALIAWilliam Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

FRANCESCARobert James Waller, The Bridges of Madison County

INDIAEvan S. Connell, Mrs. Bridge

ISADORAErica Jong, Fear of Flying

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Gregory-Peck-as-Atticus-F-006

We’ve looked at some of the trends in movie character names of Hollywood’s Golden Age – the widespread use of nickname names and boys’ names for girls and place names.  Now, here are some of the more unusual character names (and the sometimes surprising actors who portrayed them) thought up by the screenwriters—or novelists or playwrights who originally created them)  of that era , as well as some that haven’t been heard of for some time and might be worth reviving.

Get ready for a looooong list, even though we haven’t included the iconic Rhetts and Ricks:

GIRLS

AGATHA —  Joan Crawford

ALBANY —  Dorothy Lamour

ALBERTINE —  Gene Tierney

ALGERIA  —  Linda Darnell

ARIANE —  Audrey Hepburn

BIJOU —  Marlene Dietrich

CINZIA —  Sophia Loren

CLARA —  Marilyn Monroe

CORLISS —  Shirley Temple

CRICKET —  Judy Garland

DINAH —  Shirley Temple

DOMINI —  Marlene Dietrich

DRUE —  Barbara Stanwyck

ELIZA —  Audrey Hepburn

ESTHER —  Judy Garland (twice)

EUGENIA —  Barbara Stanwyck

EUGENIE —  Loretta Young

FAY —  Joan Crawford

FRANZI — Claudetter Colbert

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Red Carpet Names: Boys’ Edition

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On the eve of the Academy Awards, one of our favorite bloggers, Abby Sandel, creator of the always informative appellationmountain.net, has searched through the annals of Oscar history and come up with some great lists of award-worthy male winners’ names.

Many  of today’s most popular names conjure up Hollywood at its most glamorous, especially for girls. I’ve met plenty of toddlers named Audrey, Ava and Natalie. But ever since Kevin Nealon called his son Gable–as in Clark–I’ve been wondering about screen legend names for boys.

Here’s a short list culled from Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor nominees and winners, and the characters they played, from the 1920s through today.

LEADING MEN

Some of these are household names, while others are more obscure. A few have surprising roots–Denzel, for example, can be found in use in Medieval England. But all share a certain dashing quality.

ALEC
ANTHONY
CLARK
COOPER
DENHOLM
DENZEL
DJIMON

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