25 People Much Cooler Than Their Names

By Pamela Redmond Satran

We like to think the names we choose will help determine the people our children grow up to be.  Serious, classic names create serious, classic (and classy) people; gorgeous names breed future stunners; and cool names will make your kid cool.

And sure, it works out like that sometimes.  From Beyonce to Leonardo Di Caprio, there are lots of examples of cool people with cool names.

But sometimes people transcend the image of their names, like the 25 folks here who are undeniably cool yet have names that are pretty much not.

  1. Allen Ginsberg
  2. Armie Hammer
  3. Bruce Springsteen
  4. Cindy Sherman
  5. Edna St. Vincent Millay
  6. Ernest Hemingway
  7. Frances McDormand
  8. Gary Shteyngart
  9. Gertrude Stein
  10. Heidi Klum
  11. Herman Melville
  12. J.K. Rowling
  13. Jerry Seinfeld
  14. Jon Hamm
  15. Larry David
  16. Lenny Kravitz
  17. Marge Simpson
  18. Marlon Brando
  19. Marvin Gaye
  20. Merle Haggard
  21. Michelle Obama
  22. Neil Gaiman
  23. Sidney Poitier
  24. Stanley Kubrick
  25. Wilma Rudolph

Who would you add to the list?  What names would you take away?

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27 Responses to “25 People Much Cooler Than Their Names”

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SunKissedChild Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 12:40 am

Cary Grant- his real name was Archibald Leach!

6colorbracelet Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 12:45 am

I think the name Armie Hammer is pretty dang cool.
And I can’t picture Seinfeld with any other name than Jerry!

Sunflowerist Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 6:52 am

I like Lenny Kravitz and Wilma!

emekct Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 7:42 am

Jennifer Lawrence – too cool a person to have such a common name!

Ysee Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 8:18 am

I don’t find all the names on your list fall into the ‘uncool’ category – Jon is pretty inoffensive and certainly not dorky, and Michelle might not be in style at the moment but it certainly was when Michelle Obama was born.

Anyway, I’d add Clive Owen, Tina Fey, Bradley Cooper and Brad Pitt. Brad might have been a cool guy name in the 1960s, but I don’t think it has been cool for some time. I’m sure I can think of others but I’m only on my first coffee. 😉 I think an interesting, confident person can make just about any name seem cool, but I understand why parents shy away from names they perceive as dorky, for fear that their kid will not be the type who can pull it off beautifully.

young_dreamer Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 8:48 am

I was going to say Jennifer Lopez

ash1114 Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 9:26 am

I was really surprised to see some of these! I’ve always loved these and always thought they are very cool! Maybe because I’ve known some very cool people with them???


Very Coool!

AppleTime Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 10:03 am

Agreed with previous post! I’m always surprised you all dislike the name Allen. I think it is classic and has a nice sound. I also find Frances and Wilma to be very retro-cool.

indiefendi Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 10:35 am

I’ve been thinking of this lately! A lot of celebs are cooler than their names.
Lenny Kravitz fits him though!

I would add:
Andy Warhol
Robert Downey Jr.
Tommy Lee (because it’s such a simple name and he’s much cooler than it)
Abbey Lee Kershaw the supermodel (again, she’s so cool but she just goes by Abbey Lee)
Marilyn Monroe (because she was really Norma Jean Mortenson)
Albert Einstein (archtypal smart-guy name)

Daisychain Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 11:28 am

I agree with others who can’t see what’s wrong with some of these names. I fear there might be some anti-Semitism involved. Lenny Kravitz? Why is that an un-cool name? The only reason I can think of is that it sounds stereotypically Ashkenazi Jewish. I hope I’m wrong.

axps123 Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 12:10 pm

I disagree with a few of these. Armand (Armie) Hammer, Marlon Brando, and Edna St. Vincent Millay are totally bada$$ names.

mel_finch Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I think most of these names are pretty cool. Armie Hammer and Ernest Hemingway are kind of awesome.

mel_finch Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Oh, and Marlon Brando. How is that not a cool name?

bowtiful Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 2:02 pm

I think my #1 would be Matt Smith. Such a generic, boring name for a cool guy!

Others I can think of off the top of my head:
Will Smith
Ashley Greene
David Cook
Mandy Moore
Megan Fox

LCMpdx Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 3:45 pm

I don’t quite see why many of these names are uncool… I feel like right now you can use nearly any name and it can be cool. From this list specifically, I love – and would consider actually using- these:


dovah Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Armie Hammer, Marlon Brando, Bruce Springsteen, and Merle Haggard pretty much top my “Cool Names” list. Not sure who would be on the “Cooler Than Their Names” list, but it wouldn’t be these guys.

LunaCross Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Katniss Everdeen is an awesome character, with a WAY too out there name. Oh, and, I am pretty sure Cary Grant’s name was actually Marion, not Archibald. And I do like Springsteen.

linda Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Nope, it was John Wayne who was Marion–Cary Grant was both Archibald Leach.

LunaCross Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 5:35 pm

@linda: oh. Didn’t know that about Cary Grant.

opheliarhiana Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 5:41 pm

I’m with bowtiful – and I also think Sidney Poitier is fantastic.

Plus, some of these names are cool specifically because of the last name, which in some cases isn’t the original last name of the person. I’m not really a fan of President Obama, but let’s face it – Obama is a pretty cool name. Michelle is a little boring, but put them together and you’ve got a pretty good package.

Now, did the Obamas MAKE the name Obama cool? Absolutely – after 9/11, anything that rhymed with Osama wasn’t exactly winning popularity contests. But then we got a President with the name – and a cool President at that – and what could be more American than a President?! (A soldier or maybe a farmer, but you get my drift.) But so much of how a name “feels” is related to popular culture – I mean, who would name their kid Antoinette if good ol’ Marie hadn’t made it chic? – and so some names are cool because these people wear them. (Perhaps especially last names?)

indiefendi Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Oh and Marshall Mathers.

sickwithsin Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Couldn’t even be bothered to explain why the chosen names are boring and uncool? What a lame and disappointing blog post.

amandaberry Says:

April 10th, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Totally disagree with Bruce Springsteen, his name is boss.

Yummy Mummy Says:

April 12th, 2014 at 8:58 am

Heidi? Really?? I think it’s a gorgeous name.

Pam Says:

April 12th, 2014 at 9:17 am

Hey, thanks guys, some great adds here. And obviously what makes a name cool or uncool is very much in the sensibility of the beholder!

marypoppins Says:

April 12th, 2014 at 1:07 pm

It’s fairly subjective since everyone has a different idea of what’s cool. Personally, I think many of the names on this list are totally cool, especially the retro sounding ones. My faves are Edna & Wilma for the girls, and Ernest & Stanley for the boys!

DotDraper Says:

April 13th, 2014 at 11:19 am

I love Neil Gaiman. Never once thought of his name as “uncool”. Actually, I disagree with a lot of the names being called out in this post. Most of these names don’t stand out one way or another to me.

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