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Category: Garth Brooks

Middle Name Switches

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Clearly, parents today are giving a lot more thought to their children’s middle names than their own parents did.  Long gone are the automatic connective choices like Lee and Lynn, Beth and Bruce;  more likely now might be something more imaginative like Maeve or West—or Sebastian or Story—or Mom’s maiden or another family name.

For some people, the reasoning behind this is to give the child an additional option for later in life.  It works both ways: either he could switch his classic William for his jazziermiddle  Jasper, or she could opt for using her traditional, grown-up Elizabeth middle name over the less sophisticated Poppy.

It turns out that a surprising number of celebrities have done just that—chosen to use their middle as their marquee moniker.  Sometimes it was to drop a wimpy appellation for a more stylish one (Eldred for Gregory, Orvon for Gene), sometimes because a name was too common at the time (Mary, John, James) and the middle had more character (Farrah, Orson, Montgomery), sometimes maybe because probably just seemed cooler to be Brad than Bill.

As a result, some of the most stand-out celebrity names –Evangeline, Reese, Rihanna, Ashton and Jude—started out in second place on the birth certificate.  Here are some of the most prominent–And note that the last names given aren’t necessarily the ones they were born with.

GIRLS

Kathryn BRIDGET (Moynahan)

Lily CLAUDETTE (Colbert)

Mary DEBRA (Winger)

Nicole EVANGELINE (Lilly)

Audrey FAITH (Hill)

Mary FARRAH (Fawcett)

Dorothy FAYE (Dunaway)

Deborah HUNTER (Tylo)

Mary KATHLEEN (Turner)

Olive MARIE (Osmond)

Holly MICHELLE (Phillips)

Carole PENNY (Marshall)

Laura Jean REESE (Witherspoon)

Robin RIHANNA (Fenty)

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Calendar Baby Names

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January Jones, the attractive star of the hot TV show Mad Men has focused a lot of attention on her (real) name, but what’s the prognosis for the other calendar baby names?

JANUARY, named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and ends,  has a real history as a name, dating back to the Chaucer‘s Canterbury Tales  character in The Merchant’s Tale, a wealthy, elderly knight.  Flash forward to the 1970s for a complete image transformation via the Jacqueline Susann soap-operaish novel Once is Not Enough‘s heroine, “the luscious January Wayne.”  (The South Dakota-bred January Jones told Town & Country magazine that she was named for the Susann character.) Put it all together, and you have the sexiest month name, and one that has the best chance of catching on.

FEBRUARY.  The shortest month of the year has the least potential as a baby name, mostly because of its awkward pronunciation.  You could consider its birthstone, Amethyst, instead.

MARCH, named after Mars, the Roman god of war, is the most masculine of the group, and is beginning to be used for boys, particularly as a strong, brisk middle name.  It’s also a surname name, exemplified by the beloved March family in Little Women.

APRIL, from the Latin word meaning to open, as in the opening buds of spring, has been in name-style limbo for a a couple of decades, but might be due for an early comeback.  Its prominent role in Revolutionary Road, portrayed by Kate Winslet, could breathe new life into it.  It also has appealing musical references via songs like I’ll Remember April and April in Paris.  Singer Avril Lavigne has drawn attention to the French version.

MAY, which started as a pet form of both Mary and Margaret, was wildly popular at the turn of the 20th century, in both real life and fiction–writers like Henry James and Edith Wharton used it for their pure and innocent heroines.  The Mae spelling, as in Mae West, was much saucier.  Some modern parents have begun to use May as a sweet, old-fashioned middle name, but others–including actress Madeline Stowe,–have recognized its potential as a first.

JUNE was the midcentury goody-goody girl, exemplified by June Allyson in movies and quintessential TV Mom June (Leave it to Beaver) Cleaver.  Some parents might prefer the livelier Juno, but June–recently picked by actor/oil heir Balthazar Getty for his daughter–has the no-nonsense solidity many parents are seeking in these difficult times. A hipster favorite middle name.

JULY, named for Juilius Caesar, has been used infrequently, and then usually as a male name–there was a character named July Anderson in Lonesome Dove.  But it could conceivably be an offbeat namesake for an Aunt Julie or an Uncle Julius.

AUGUST, like the word with the accent on the second syllable, has a somewhat serious image,  associated with two heavyweight playwrights–Strindberg and Wilson.  It has some celebrity cred, having been chosen by Mariska Hargitay, Lena Olin and Jeanne Tripplehorn.  Garth Brooks turned August into a female option when he used it for his daughter.

SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER, NOVEMBER, DECEMBER all have limited potential, the Latin Septimus and Octavius having more history as names.  On the other hand, hip writer Dave Eggers did name his daughter October….

TRIVIA TIDBIT: The novel and movie The Secret Life of Bees had characters named April, May, June and August.

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