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Category: television names

Thomas Langmann, Uggie, Jean Dujardin, Michel Hazanavicius, Berenice Bejo, Penelope Ann Miller

Okay, so the Fashion Police have had their say, praising and pillorying the various gowns and guy clothes on the Golden Globes Red Carpet by designers from Armani to Zak Posen–scrutinizing everything from Charlize Theron’s sparkly headband to Evan Rachel Wood’s Christian Louboutins.

Now it’s time for us Name Police to have our turn.  Not that we would ever say anything negative about anyone’s appellation, but we did want to point out some of the award-worthy names we discovered among the cast members and characters in this year’s Golden Globe winning movies and TV shows.

Girls

AdrianaAdriana is the beautiful fantasy mistress of artists Braque, Modigliani and Picasso, played by Marion Cotillard, in Woody Allen’s Midnight in ParisA lovely Italian name that is perfectly at home in English-speaking countries.

AmaraAmara Miller is the 11-year-old actress who plays George Clooney’s precocious daughter Scottie King in The Descendents—her first movie role.  Amara is a strong, sweet, stylish name that means “lovely forever.”

Cora—The Rt. Hon. Cora, Countess of Grantham, is the American-born mistress of Downton Abbey, played by the American-born actress Elizabeth McGovern. Cora is a gentle, old-fashioned name that has recently been rejuvenated.

DjunaDjuna Barnes is one of the real-life Parisienne icons who resurface in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. The exotic name, pronounced JOO-na, has long been associated with that early 20th century American novelist, but we can see it being adopted by cutting-edge baby namers.

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Gossip Girl (and Boy) Names

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In a desperate attempt to bond with the teenagers in my family, I have become a devoted watcher of Gossip Girl. And as I take in the adventures of these upper-crusty New York teens, I can’t help but ruminate on their names.

What’s remarkable is not so much the names of the characters – BLAIR, the name of the series’ Queen Bee, is the only one that truly fits the mold – but the names of the actors who play them.

No fewer than five of the actors with major roles have names that are eighties-style upwardly-mobile surname-names, perfectly in tune with the style of the show:

BLAKE
CHACE
LEIGHTON
PENN
TAYLOR

(For the uninitiated, Blake, Leighton, and Taylor are girls, Chace and Penn are boys.)

Two other actors have names in the same vein, but not quite as stereotypical:

CONNOR
KELLY

Other names that fit this mold, now more commonly heard on twenty-something interns and junior editors and gallery assistants than on babies, include:

ASHLEY
BRITTANY
CAMERON

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TV Names: Let TV be your guide

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The minute I saw that the leading character in the new sitcom Life Unexpected was a young girl named Lux, a bell went off.  Does this mean that there will be a slew of baby Luxes (Luxi?)?  Will Lux be the new Lexi?  Or won’t it have any effect at all in this era of diminished network TV viewing?

We certainly know that some TV characters’ names of the past have had an impact, from Samantha on Bewitched to Alexis on Dynasty to Brandon and Dylan on the old Beverly Hill 90210 to Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Aidan on Sex and the City right up to the female Addison on Grey’s Anatomy.

So what about the current line-up?  Though some of these are not strictly speaking new names, here are the somewhat out of the mainstream character names of current (and a few about to launch) shows.  Think any of them will make an impression on baby namers?

GIRLS

ADALEEN—Big Love

ADRIANNA, nn ADE90210

AMITANUMB3RS

ARIZONAGrey’s Anatomy

BREE- Desperate Housewives

BRITTACommunity

CERIE—30 Rock

DOROTAThe Gossip Girls

FIAMiami Medical (upcoming)

FRANKIEThe Middle

JULESCougar Town

JULIETLost

HENRIETTA/”HETTY”—NCIS: Los Angeles

KALINDAThe Good Wife

KENSI—NCIS: Los Angeles

LUXLife Unexpected

MARGENEBig Love

MARISOLMiami Medical (upcoming)

MERCEDESGlee

NAEVIA—Sparticus: Blood & Sand

NICOLETTEBig Love

RILEYMelrose Place

SILVER (her last name used as first) 90210

SLOANEntourage

SURA—Spartacus: Blood & Sand

TANCYBig Love

WILHELMINAUgly Betty

ZOEYNurse Jackie

BOYS

ANDO—Heroes

ARIEntourage

ARLO24

ASHURSpartacus: Blood & Sand

AXLThe Middle

BAZE, nn for Nate Bazile—Life Unexpected

BOONELost

CASTIEL—Supernatural

CREEDThe Office (the real first name of the actor who plays him)

CROSBYParenthood

DANOI—Treme—upcoming

DEXTERDexter

DIXON90210

FINNGlee

FITCH—Nurse Jackie

FRITZThe Closer

GREYSONCougar Town

HIROHeroes

HUGO/”HURLEY”—Lost

IGNACIOUgly Betty

KIMBALL-The Mentalist

MILESLost

ORSONDesperate Housewives

PIERCECommunity

ROWDY—The Deep End

RUFUSGossip Girls

THATCHERGrey’s Anatomy

THORNurse Jackie

ZEEKParenthood

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TV Character Names: Dynasty & Dallas

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Once in a while some pop culture phenomenon comes along that doesn’t just reflect the name gestalt of its day, but actually influences it. This was the case with the glossy nighttime soaps of the late 70s and early 80s–most particularly Dynasty—which were all about wealth and greed, ambition, melodrama, campy catfights –and humungous shoulder pads.

The writers on these shows were quite ingenious in the way they came up with names that reflected perfectly those values and vices. Male names that were short, sleek, and powerful. Sophisticated, boyish women’s names like Arliss that were a complete reversal of  the previous decades’ unisex nicknamish names like Jodie and Jamie. Elegant surname names such as Blake Carrington.

Probably the most influential was the name of Blake’s ex-wife, that evil viper, Alexis. Despite the character’s villainy, her name took off, and was instrumental in the success of other Alexi: Alexandra, Alexa, Alex et al. In the year before Dynasty debuted in 1982, there were scarcely 1500 girls given that name across the country; by 1999, it had reached #3 on the list, with the birth of 19,000 baby Alexises.

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COWBOY (& COWGIRL) NAMES

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Cowboy names first galloped onto the scene in the 1950s and 1960s, along with the cool Western TV shows and movies of the era.  A lot of these were Old Testament names that had not been heard much since, well, since the real Old West.  Some of the early choices that launched a trend that’s still going strong:

ADAM – – Bonanza

BARNABY — Wagon Train

BARTMaverick

BEAUWells Fargo, Maverick

BENBonanza

BRENTMaverick

BRETMaverick

CALEB  — Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

CHEYENNECheyenne

EPHRAIMSeven Brides

FLINT — Wagon Train

GIDEONSeven Brides

JARROD — Big Valley

JASON — Wanted: Dead or Alive; Here Come the Brides

JEBWells Fargo

JED – – Rawhide; How The West Was Won

JEREMY — Here Come the Brides

JOSH — Wanted: Dead or Alive

JOSHUA — Here Come the Brides

LUCAS — Rifleman

LUKEHow the West Was Won

MATT — Gunsmoke

SETH — Wagon Train

SHANEShane

SIMON — Rawhide

ZEBHow The West Was Won

Females and their names were in short supply in the Old West, split between hardy pioneer women and dance hall girls. Their names help you tell which was which:

ALICESeven Brides for Seven Brothers

BELLEWells Fargo

BIDDIE — Here Come the Brides

CANDY –Here Come the Brides

DORCASSeven Brides

EVEHow The West Was Won

JULIEHow The West Was Won

KITTY — Gunsmoke

LIZASeven Brides

MARTHASeven Brides

MILLYSeven Brides

SARAHSeven Brides

Tomorrow: Names for thoroughly modern cowbabies.

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