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I remember how, when I first read the novels of Evelyn Waugh and the plays of George Bernard Shaw, a whole new universe of names opened up for me. A world of sophisticated, eccentric, kind of uppity and veddy veddy Victorian and Edwardian  British names, many of which I had never heard before, but instantly became enamored with.

The comic novels of Waugh and P.G. Wodehouse and the plays (and novel) of Oscar Wilde and Shaw are still a good place to start if you’re looking for a name with a certain elegance, gentility, swank—and sometimes a bit of quirkiness as well.

GIRLS

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Sci-Fi Names: Beyond Zorg and Zalga

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Loyal nameberryite Linelei leads us into the arcane world of science fiction names.

As both a science fiction nerd and name nerd, nothing gives me greater pleasure than combining the two. Since I was a little girl, I adored not only the stories but the names within the fantastical plots, and collected them as I read. While there are many science fiction names which have a tendency to be hokey, conjuring up images of green men and relying a little too heavily on the letters Z, Q, and X, there are some fabulous gems to be found in the sci-fi realm.

For example, names like Kayen and Cade, both from the expanded Star Wars universe, would mesh nicely with a classroom full of Aidans and Cashes, while names like Serenity and River, from the sci-fi show, Firefly, resonate with current nature naming trends for girls. So here I present you with boy’s names from science fiction, old and new, well-known and obscure, that may pique your interest. After all, how much fun would it be to explain that your baby was named after a psychic alien who fought to save the galaxy from total annihilation?

Boys:
Mass Effect:
KAIDAN – human soldier, one of the good guys
GARRUS – alien who teams up with the good guys
THANE – alien assassin, but still a good guy!
Firefly:
MALCOLM (MAL) – captain of the ship.
DERRIAL – Shepherd (preacher)
Farscape:
STARK – has the power to help souls pass peacefully into death
BIALAR – turned against the bad guys
TALYN – living, sentient ship
RYGEL – deposed leader of many planets
Chronicles of Riddick:
RIDDICK – Vin Diesel. Need I say more?
The Fifth Element:
KORBENBruce Willis’ character who saves the universe
VITO CORNELIUS – priest who assists Korben
Blade Runner:
DECKARD – main character, a Blade Runner
HOLDEN – another Blade Runner
TYRELL – genius who created the Replicants

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Athlete Names: Tennis, anyone??

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We’ve talked about the names of great poets and painters and musicians and worthy political and social namesakes, but one area we’ve somewhat neglected is athlete names.

The names of tennis champs are interesting because they include both genders and are international in scope.  And since the US Open (then called the US Men’s Singles Championship) dates back to 1881and the Women’s to 1887, with Wimbledon starting in 1877 and the Davis Cup to 1900, there’s plenty of opportunity to look back and include some cool  vintage names as well.

These are the names of tennis champs (and a few high-ranked contenders who didn’t quite make it to the very top) with possess distinctive names—so sorry John, Bill and Billie-Jean.

GIRLS

ALICE Marble

ALINE Terry

ALTHEA Gibson

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I’ve always been intrigued with the names of the characters played by movie stars, especially the iconic figures of the Golden Age—the interplay between actor and character name, and the roles those names played in establishing and perpetuating their screen personas.

It certainly comes as no surprise that John Wayne played numerous heroes named John and Jim or that Cary Grant portrayed three Nicks or how many good girl Pollys and Pennys there were, played by the likes of the young Shirley Temple and Judy Garland.  But there were a lot of interesting aberrations– for example, though to most of us Clark Gable will always be Rhett Butler, he was also Ace, Blackie (twice), Candy, Duke and Patch; Humphrey Bogart may live on eternally in video heaven as Rick, but he also answered to Baby Face, Bugs, Turkey, Duke, Gloves, Chips and Rocks, Joan Crawford was Bingo as well as Mildred Pierce, and Bette Davis was Fluff Phillips as well as Margo Channing.

Looking over some vintage cast credits, one thing that jumps out is the number of current trends that were anticipated in the movies of the 1930s, forties and fifties.  For example:

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In addition to those mentioned above, there were:

ACECary Grant

AGGIE –  Linda Darnell

ALLIEJoan Crawford

ARCHIEClark Gable

BUCKJack Benny

BUNNYBette Davis,  Katharine Hepburn and Lana Turner

BUSTERLoretta Young

CHIPFrank Sinatra

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Continuing her exploration of motion picture award names,  one of our favorite guest bloggers, Abby Sandel, creator of the popular site Appellation Mountain , looks beyond Hollywood to find some interesting names associated with winners at Cannes, Berlin and Britain award ceremonies.

Marquee-worthy baby names are all the rage, with choices ranging from the Top Ten Ava to surnames like Harlow.  Searching past Academy Award winners can provide inspiration for baby names, from the glamorous to the unusual.

But what about all those other Award shows?  Oscar may be king in the US, but elsewhere, actors and directors compete for Goyas, Bears, BAFTAs, Ariels and, of course, the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes.

The following names are culled from award winners from across the globe, but proceed with caution.  Just like not every Oscar-winning character makes for a worthy name sake, that remains true for this list.

GIRLS

ALIDA:              1960’s award-winning French film The Long Absence was one of many starring roles for Italian actress Alida Valli.  She often was billed by her surname as VALLI.

CALYPSO:          Neither an actress nor a character, the Calypso was the name of the ship used by Jacques Cousteau in the celebrated 1956 The Silent World, a documentary and early work by famed director Louis Malle.

CANDELARIA:      The first Mexican film to achieve widespread international acclaim, Maria Candelaria starred Dolores del Río, the first Latin American actress to make it big in Hollywood.  The movie was released in 1943, but wasn’t screened at Cannes until post-World War II.

GERTRUDE:         1946’s La Symphonie Pastorale is a French film based on a novel.  Gertrude is a blind orphan adopted by a pastor.  Both her foster father and stepbrother fall for her.  Drama follows.  The luminous Michèle Morgan starred as Gertrude – and would later lose out on the starring role in Casablanca.

KESA:               Japan’s first post-war international hit was 1953’s Gate of Hell.  The story of a samurai and Lady Kesa, the woman he rescues propelled Machiko Ky? to stardom.  She went on to work with Akira Kurosawa and Kenji Mizoguchi.

LILIA:                Mexican actress Lilia Prado graduated from beauty contests to the big screen.  Nominated for Ariel awards, she worked with Luis Buñuel on three different films.

LISBETH:           Danish actress Lisbeth Movin starred in 1945 war drama The Red Meadows. Decades later, she has a small role in 1987’s Academy Award-winning Babette’s Feast.

LUCIENNE:        Not an actor at all, but the jeweler who designed the original Palme d’Or award for the Cannes Film Festival.

MAGALI:            Turkish-French actress Magali Noël was best known for her work with Italian director Federico Fellini, including appearing as Fanny in 1960’s legendary La dolce vita.  She also scored early French rock’n’roll hits as a singer in the 1950s.

MARPESSA:        Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the part-Filipino, part-African-American Marpessa Dawn starred as Eurydice in 1959’s Black Orpheus.

MAI:                 Swedish actress Mai Zetterling starred in Ingmar Bergman’s 1944 Torment.

SERAFINA:          Decades before Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner chose Seraphina for their second daughter, French director Marcel Camus made Black Orpheus in Brazil in 1959.  A truly international production that would garner recognition at Cannes as well as an Academy Award and a BAFTA, Serafina was one of the characters.

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