Category: Gwyneth Paltrow
I walked into a Tribeca nail salon last weekend, killing time before a lunch date, and there getting a manicure was Gwyneth Paltrow. And the adorable little girl quietly rearranging the nail polish colors? None other than the infamous Apple.
Call me starstruck, but watching the tall (yes, very tall), gorgeous Gwyneth – who was wearing what seems to be the New York Yummy Mummy uniform du jour of black riding pants, black riding boots, and a baggy tee shirt — talk to her daughter, I thought: Apple is a really cute name. A little quirky, maybe, but not deserving of all the ridicule that’s been heaped on it. Cute.
So that got me thinking (I had a lot of time to think, while pretending not to be staring at Gwynnie) about other cute celebrity baby names. Not bizarre celebrity baby names, not trendy celebrity baby names. Just the cutest choices of recent years.
Here, my nominees:
Agree? Disagree? What would you add?
When the latest unusual starbaby name hit the headlines last week–extreme adventurer Bear Grylls’ son Huckleberry–maybe we shouldn’t have been so surprised. After all, a previous celebrity couple, Kimberly Williams and Brad Paisley had named their son William Huckleberry, and are known to call him Huck. But with people still commenting on Apple, maybe it’s time to look at the whole category of fruit names.
APPLE. Unlike some other starbabies, Apple Martin has not inspired many namesakes, probably because of all the ridicule it received and despite mom Gwyneth Paltrow’s defensive statement that “apples are so sweet and they’re wholesome and it’s biblical..I just thought it sounded so lovely and clean.” In fact, since Apple‘s godfather Simon Pegg was quoted as saying she’d be using her middle name when she starts school, we don’t see much chance of it ever catching on.
BERRY. Has long been used as a unisex name, reaching a high of #435 in 1909 and staying in the Top 1000 till 1971, having two famous namesakes–Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr. and Berry Berenson (born Berinthia), photographer/actress and widow of Tony Perkins who died tragically on 9/11. It’s a choice that just might come back as a green name which is less elaborate than the other berry names.
CHERRY. Another fruit name that’s had some popularity before it disappeared in the 70s, along with Merry, Kerry, Sherri and Terry–possibly because of its embarassment potential for a teenage girl. Don‘t see this one coming back.
CLEMENTINE. Partly because you wouldn’t immediately tag it as a fruit name, Clementine is a real winner, which could return to popularity for the first time in over a century, helped by its usage by celebs Claudia Schiffer and Ethan Hawke. Pronounced with either a teen or tyne ending, it has historical ties to Mrs. Winston Churchill, is feminine, stylish and substantive ,and has long since shed its clunky ‘Oh my darlin’ image.
HUCKLEBERRY. Has two main obstacles—the close association with Huckleberry Finn and with the cartoonish Huckleberry Hound. Mark Twain told an interviewer that he picked it to describe “a boy of lower extraction” Huck is a pretty cool nickname though.
LEMON. You wouldn’t guess it now, but Lemon was once a fairly well used male name–as in the legendary blues singer Blind Lemon Jefferson, and it still has some potential as a unisex name. When Alex Baldwin’s character on 30 Rock calls Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon by her last name, it makes it sound like a very plausible first. LIME might be a middle name possibility.
PEACHES. Old-time chorus-girly nickname name revived by rocker Bob Geldof for his daughter Peaches Honeyblossom Michelle Charlotte Angel Vanessa, who has been adament in her resentment of it, saying “My weird name has haunted me all my life.” Let that be a lesson.
PLUM. A lot prettier and more usable than Peaches, associated with British-born writer Plum Sykes, whose birth name was actually Victoria–the nickname arising from the species known as the Victoria Plum.
STRAWBERRY. This cousin of Huckleberry is another rarity, given to the granddaughter of writer William Saroyan, who says grew up in a community of kids named Shelter, Wonder and Raspberry, and with a sister named Cream. After changing her name briefly, she came to see the advantages of its uniqueness.
And how do we feel about fruit names? Well, we did call our site Nameberry!
The attitude towards middle names has changed radically over the last generation. No longer are they thought of as throwaway connectives, the way they were in the era of Karen Ann, Debra Sue and Jamie Lynn: parents are now giving almost as much thought to the middle name as they do to the first, carefully weighing its meaning and its rhythm and sound in combination with the first and last names.
And now middle names even have their own separate set of trends. One of these is to follow the British royal tradition of using two (or more) of them, perhaps to honor both grandparents, as Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin did with Apple Blythe Alison (both grandmas) and Moses Bruce Anthony (granddads.) Another is to use it as a place for a name that you like but consider a bit too risky for lead position–as in starbabies Alice Zenobia and William Huckleberry. The middle spot is also ideal for honoring a cultural hero (or two)–we’ve heard Lorca, Lennon, Amadeus, Bela (for Bartok, not Lugosi), and Kafka, to cite a few. Another interesting–and endearing–trendlet we’ve spotted is using the nickname of an honoree instead of his/her full name (Amanda Peet’s Frances Pen, Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber’s Alexander Pete) in middle position, making for a more intimate connection.
Older traditions continue to survive as well. The venerable practice of using Mom’s maiden name in that place, for both boys and girls–as well as a grandmother’s birth name which might otherwise be lost to history–is thriving. It can also be a safe slot for a family or friend’s name you want–or feel obligated–to use, but not necessarily as the name your child is known by. In any case, giving your child a great, imaginative middle name gives him another option if–perish the thought!–he’s not happy with your first choice.
I have a theory which may have absolutely no validity, but I thought I’d share it anyhow. My thought is that some celebrities who give their kids really over-the-top names are so mocked and ridiculed by the media and other members of the the Name Police that they pick something much more ordinary for their next baby. Evidence:
No baby name has ever been more mocked than Apple, even though her Mom protested that it was chosen because it sounded so fresh and sweet and wholesome; when Paltrow appeared on Oprah she said she was taken aback by the “international outrage” it had caused. When her second child arrived, she opted for a venerable Old Testament name–Moses. There was a little grumbling about that choice too, but nothing like the Apple uproar.
The usual spelling of Phineas is tough enough, but when the Moders added those extra highfalutin’ Latinate letters, it really set off alarms (there probably would have been even more if they’d use the biblical spelling of Phinehas). Things calmed down a bit when they said they’d be calling him Finn (Phinn?). People weren’t that crazy about the name of Phinn’s twin either, dredging up memories of dumpy Hazel the Maid (though nameberry sees it as a soft and gentle old-fashioned choice). In any event, next time around they were taking no chances–this boy had the ultra-safe name of Henry.
Avid baseball fan Lee named his first child after the most famous Negro League player, Satchel Paige (birth name Leroy), just as Woody Allen had several years earlier. Only Woody‘s Satchel was a boy, and Spike’s happens to be a girl. The general consensis was that Satchel was quite a bit of baggage for a little girl to carry. When the Lees did have a son, they gave him the cool but common name of Jackson. Maybe after Reggie?
Most people didn’t care that there was a perfectly logical explanation for the name Banjo–they just dismissed it as another of those crazy celebrity choices–which they might not have done if they were Australian as Griffiths is. Banjo A.B. Paterson (born Andrew) was a famous Aussie poet and journalist who wrote the song ‘Waltzing Matilda‘. When her daughter was born, Griffiths opted for a safer Australian choice–no, not Matilda–but Adelaide, the name of the capital city of South Australia.