There are some celebrity kids’ names that are immediately embraced by other parents and become instant hits. Take Kingston, for example, the name chosen for personal reasons relating to the city in Jamaica by Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale: it had all the ingredients to make it a success– accessibility, likeability, a strong, familiar sound with regal overtones, plus extremely high-profile parents.
Another name with similar qualities is Maddox, the first son of Angelina Jolie, which first entered the popularity lists in 2003 and has been steadily climbing ever since. A few recent names—Honor (Warren), Clementine (Hawkes), Seraphina (Affleck), and Harlow (Madden) spring to mind—were direct hits, and seem sure to spread.
On the other side of the coin are those that were just as instantly rejected as too weird for everyday consumption: the Ikhyds, Banjos, Bandits, Pumas, Pirates and Peanuts.
Some names that were greeted at first as too audacious have now become accepted.Romeo, second son of Victoria and David Beckham, had been considered too melodramatically Shakespearean until it became associated with a cute blonde crew cut and a British accent.The name of Romeo’s brother Brooklyn also produced a few guffaws when it was announced—but then other parents started to separate the two syllables into Brook and Lyn, gradually cancelling out the New-York-accented borough association and transforming it into a pretty name for a girl: now Brooklyn ranks in the Top 50 of girls’ names. That other New York borough name, Bronx, however, got an instant thumbs down.
Of course a lot of it is about exposure. The fabulous name of the kid of some C-list actress who has never once been seen in the pages of People or viewed on Access Hollywood probably isn’t gonna make it.
On the other hand, names that are paraded before the public daily, like Kelly Ripa’s Lola and Joaquin can’t help but be noticed and emulated. Teri Hatcher named her daughter Emerson in 1997, but it wasn’t until Hatcher hit it big with Desperate Housewives that the name really took off—as has her co-star Marcia Cross’s much-photographed twin’s Eden.
So which names have definitely been given a celebritized bounce? The leader of the pack is—hands down—Ava, used by no fewer than a dozen stars, most notably Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Philippe in 1999, and which is now the fifth most popular name in America.
Some others that have been boosted by a celebrity connection are:
AVERY for girls
FINLEY for girls
HARPER for girls
There ‘s also a more recent contingent of starbaby names that seem to have the potential for becoming more widely accepted, including:
It’s way too soon to know how this generation of unusually named starbabies–the Bronx Mowglis and Pilot Inspektors and Moxie CrimeFighters–will feel about their names as they move on into schoolyards and workplaces, but if we can gain any insight by looking back at the first generation of weirdly named celebrity kids–those born in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, there’s a good chance they may choose to leave those names behind.
One of the first of these was america (deliberately spelled with a small ‘a’) Hoffman, son of sixties activist/protester Abbie Hoffman. As soon as he could, america opted to become Alan. Three of the wackily-named kids of the past were uncomfortable enough with their names to change them not once but twice. Zowie Bowie became first Joey and then Duncan (Jones), saying that he actually loves his unusual moniker, but wanted to step outside the shadow of his famous father. One of Mia Farrow’s daughters morphed from Dylan to Eliza to Malone, and one of her sons from Satchel to Seamus to Ronan.
When Chastity Bono (named after the title of a movie made by her father Sonny) used to complain about her name when she was young, her father was known to say “Be thankful we didn’t name you Dweezel.” Which brings us to the Zappas: Moon Unit, Dweezil (whose birth certificate name was Ian Donald Calvin Euclid), Ahmet Enuukha Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen. Despite merciless mocking over the years, the Zappas have steadfastly held fast to their names (Dweezil making that his legal name), and Moon has repeatedly stated that she’s glad not to have a common, ordinary name.
But they are the exceptions, even with the slightly younger generation. British rocker Bob Geldof’s daughters Peaches Honeyblossom Michelle Charlotte Angel Vanessa (sister of Fifi Trixiebelle, Little Pixie and Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily) has declared that she hates ridiculous names in general and that her “weird name has haunted me all my life.” And even teenaged Tallulah (not really such a bizarre name at all) Willis recently asked her dad Bruce to announce on David Letterman’s show that she is already ready to change her name–to Lula.