Category: names from the arts
In early Disney cartoons, characters had silly, alliterative names like Horace Horsefeather, and Clarabelle Cow. The first character name to actually catch on with parents was Bambi–a male deer that became a popular namesake for girls. More recently, the real winners have been Princess names: The Little Mermaid’s Ariel reached #66 on the popularity lists two years after the movie’s release and Jasmine from Aladdin has gotten as high as #23. Other Disney heroine names, like Belle (Beauty and the Beast) have also been boosted by their Disney connections.
Adelaide—The dramatic Madame Adelaide Bonfamille is one of the few human characters in The Aristocats. When actress Rachel Griffiths picked the name for her daughter, she said she’d been inspired by the Australian city, Miss Adelaide in Guys & Dolls and, yes, the Disney character.
Aurora – Aurora was the name of the princess in the 1959 Sleeping Beauty, but is only now rising in popularity. In ancient mythology, Aurora was the lovely Roman goddess of the dawn, whose tears turned into the morning dew. In the Disney film, her alternate name was Briar Rose, a combination sometimes adopted by modern parents.
Bianca –Miss Bianca was an elegant mouse (voiced by Eva Gabor) in the 1977 The Rescuer. The Italian version of Blanche, this still somewhat exotic name was brought to prominence by the first Mrs. Mick Jagger, and features in two Shakespeare plays. Actress Tia Carrere chose it for her daughter.
Eudora – This name of Tiana’s mother in Princess and the Frog, who was voiced by Oprah Winfrey, is one Old Lady Name that hasn’t yet been revived, but certainly could, along with others like others like Amelia and Adeline. It was long associated with Southern writer Eudora Welty.
Flynn Rider is the dashing bandit who eventually marries Rapunzel in Tangled. At one point it is revealed that his real name Eugene—not the coolest of names. But Flynn (think Errol) is a charming Irish surname name with a lot of the appeal of the popular Finn.
Gideon—Though Gideon may be a crafty villain in Pinocchio, his name has quite the opposite image. In the Old Testament Gideon was both a judge and military leader of the Israelites, and his name is one of those rising on the Biblical popularity list.
Today’s Question of the Week: Is there a name from a book you read when you were younger that made enough of an impression on you that you’ve loved it ever since?
(After all, at least some of those hundreds of new babies being named Atticus must have some connection to that inspirational lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird and all those recent little Holdens to that cynical adolescent Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye—whether conscious or not.)
So think back—can you trace your long-standing attraction for a particular name to an impression it made on you at an impressionable age?
Anyone out there who actually has used such a name for their child?
Heroes and villains, famous and infamous, real life, big and small screen characters and the actors who played them—there’s a whole genre of cowboy names that have a certain swagger and western twang all their own.
Here are a dozen of the best: who they were and why we like their names.
Beau(regard) Maverick was one of the B-named Maverick brothers in the long-running TV series, along with Bret, Bart and Brent. Beau was played by future James Bond, Roger Moore, and the name Beau has retained both a southern drawl and a western twang.
Cole Younger (born Thomas Coleman) was a real-life Confederate guerilla during the Civil War, who then became an outlaw with the James-Younger gang. Cole has been in the Top 100 since 1997 and makes a strong but sensitive choice
Cheyenne Bodie was the lead character in the 1950s western TV series, Cheyenne, set right after the Civil War. A place name in many old cowboy movies, it became a legitimate first name with this show, and became a cowgirl name beginning in the eighties, reaching a high of 72 in 1998 and now ranking at Number 184.
Emmett Dalton was another bad boy—an outlaw member of the Dalton gang. Nowadays the name is associated with a character in the popular Twilight series, which helped propel Emmett up more than 200 spots in the past year, but it still has something of a far west feel.
Flint McCullough was a co-starring character on the seminal TV oater, Wagon Train. Flint is the kind of heavy-metal macho moniker being considered by some parents today, along with cousins Steel and Stone.
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.
The surnames Monet and Manet have already been seen on contemporary birth certificates, but what about the (first) names of more modern visual artists? With their lively diversity of ethnicities, any of these paintors and sculptors’ names –whether they be abstract or pop artists, realists or surrealists–could provide creative inspiration and an artistic role model for your child.
- Alexis Smith
- Alice Neel
- Audrey Flack
- Bridget Riley
- Dora Carrington
- Dorothea Rockburne
- Eva Hesse
- Florine Stettheimer
- Frida Kahlo
- Georgia O’Keeffe
- Gillian Ayres
- Gwen John
- Isabel Bishop
- Jay DeFeo
- Kiki Smith
- Leonor Fini
- Loren MacIver
- Magdalena Abakanowicz
- Marisol Escobar