Category: baby name Ava
Today is officially Soap Opera Day (woo hoo!) and though this isn’t as big of a deal in the baby name world as it once was, with a lot fewer sudsers on TV than there were when soap operas were the main staple of daytime programming, we have to acknowledge the influence that they did have in the past—just as powerful as reality show show TV names do today.
This is true both in terms of trends (as in sometimes condescendingly considered “soap opera names” on the order of Thorne and Trent, Blade and Brent, and also place names like Sierra and Egypt, boys’ names for girls) and individual names—the classic example of which is Kayla. It’s highly doubtful that there would have been 16,000 baby girls named Kayla in 1996 if popular good girl Kayla Brady hadn’t appeared on Days of Our Lives a decade earlier. And the same goes for all those Ashleys too.
What follows is a list of soap opera names across three decades that did have some influence—though it sometimes took as long as a decade or two to make an impact (and of course there could be other factors involved)—followed by the year in which they were at the peak of their popularity.
From the early days of silent pictures to the present day, a sprinkling of stardust has stuck to the names of some of the most iconic glamour girls. Whether their allure was sexy or serene, these superstars’ names make Nameberry’s top dozen.
Audrey– The radiant Belgian-born actress (born Edda), style icon and humanitarian lent a luminous glow to her name– an Old English saint’s appellation– which is being appreciated anew by modern parents, who have brought it into the Top 50.
Ava – One of the great hits of the decade, Ava still calls up the image of sultry Hollywood beauty Ava Gardner. Beginning with Heather Locklear, and Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillipe in the late 90s, it’s has been a wildly popular celebrity fave.
Charlize—Contemporary actress Charlize Theron was born in South Africa to parents of German, French and Dutch ancestry, and was given her distinctive name in honor of her father, Charles. It has just started to be used in this country in the past few years, with that ‘z’ adding sizzle to Charlie.
Greta – Early film icon Greta Garbo had an exotic and mysterious aura which still clings to her name. A German diminutive of Margarethe, Greta has been used for their daughters by David Caruso, and by Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline.
Harlow—This is one rare case where the last name is more glamorous than the first—Jean—of the sensual 1930s Platinum Blonde. Patricia Arquette was the first to use it for her daughter, followed by Nicole Richie and Joel Madden—and it’s sure to catch on with other parents.
We’ve seen it happen again and again. A name–say Emily–becomes mega-popular. Parents like the sound of it, but fear there are too many Emilys, so pick something similar but a little different: Emma. When Emma gets to #1, they turn to Ella–and then perhaps to Ellie, Elle, Emme, Emery, Embry or Emerson.
In the recent past we’ve seen a number of examples of this phenomenon–some rhyming names, some similar in sound or feel–for instance Cody leading to Brody, Brian to Ryan, Kevin to Evan, Jason to Mason to Greyson, Madison to Addison, Brandon to Landon, Kayla to Layla, Kaylee to Bailey, Kylee to Riley, and of course Aidan to its 999 offshoots.
Here are some possible successors to current names, including some unstylish vintage ones (as Ava and Ada were not so long ago) that might be coaxed back, plus a few that are already showing signs of success:
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.
We talk a lot about the influence of celebrity baby names on the general population of baby namers, but just how potent is that influence in actuality? I thought it might be useful to take a closer look at some celebrity choices and see if there was some way to quantify their impact.
Of course there are, inevitably, other factors involved in whether celebrity baby names become popular. For instance, how high-profile is this celeb and how much has her child been seen in the media? What are other influences surrounding the name? A popular character in a movie or TV show? Is this a name that would have risen anyway, just as part of the zeitgeist or is it one that was never—or hardly ever—even heard before? Is it a vintage name that had been stored in the attic until it was brought out and sprinkled with some stardust?
Here are a few specific examples, giving the child’s and his or her celebrity parent’s name, the year of birth, and where the name ranked before, during and after its arrival.
AVA is an interesting case. Previously seen as an outdated, elderlyish name, it first showed signs of a revival when used by Aidan Quinn in 1989, but he didn’t seem to have the voltage to elevate the name above the 800′s on the Social Security list. Next came Heather Locklear, a major TV star at the time of her Ava’s birth in 1997: the name subsequently rose from #737 in 1995 to 259 in 1999. But it was following the more highly publicized arrival of Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe‘s Ava-named daughter in 1999 that the name shot up to #133 two years later—and then all the way to #5 (and probably rising) last year.
HAZEL was another name that seemed to have little potential for a comeback when chosen by Julia Roberts for one of her twins in 2004. It wasn’t even on the list in 1997, was at 681 when little Hazel Moder was born, but had risen to 359 three years later.
IRELAND is a clear-cut example of a name created by the celebrity culture, as it was unheard of when the daughter of Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin was born in 1995—a time when place names were heating up. By last year, there were more baby girls named Ireland than there were named Tess, Tia or Tanya.
JADEN is another proof of the Starbaby Effect. The son of Jada Pinkett and Will Smith was given this spin on the biblical Jadon in 1998, when it ranked #328; five years later it had zoomed to #82. Jaden’s sister Willow’s name is also on the rise.
JAYDEN. This spelling was already quite trendy when Britney Spears and Kevin Federline picked it for their son in 2006, but the maelstrom of publicity swirling around Britney and her boys surely contributed to this version of the name reaching its current standing of #11.