By Emily Cardoza
Within a day of losing Carrie Fisher, film audiences lost another icon – her mother, Debbie Reynolds. A talented actress and entertainer, Reynolds enchanted several generations of filmgoers, from her roles in Singin’ in the Rain to Charlotte’s Web to Halloweentown. And of course, among these roles, we have some great names to consider.
Reynolds was only nineteen when she played Kathy Selden in the classic musical, Singin’ in the Rain. The name Kathy reached its popularity peak only a few years after the film was released, rising to Number 14 in 1958. Today, long form Katherine is favored, with Katie and Kaylee among popular variants.
In 1955, Debbie played Julie in The Tender Trap, another musical comedy – but this time, with Frank Sinatra! The name Julie rose over the following decades, but has since been on the decline. If Julia and Juliana are too common for you, look at July or Julianne.
The musical comedies continue – Bundle of Joy was filmed while Reynolds was pregnant with her daughter Carrie. The name Polly hasn’t ranked on the top 1000 since 1977, despite its similarities to Holly and Molly. This adorable retro nickname for Mary could definitely make a comeback!
A mid-century choice, Debbie played the title character in the film Tammy and the Bachelor. Today, a familial Tammy may be better honored by Tamara, Tamsin, or Tamayo. The name Tammy comes from the Hebrew word for “date palm tree” via Tamar.
The classic western film How the West Was Won brought us Debbie Reynolds as Lilith Prescott. Though Lil-names are a current trend, Lilith only ranks at Number 588 – long hindered by its association with a demon in Jewish mythology. But there are signs of change due to the Lilith Fair music festival and characters on show like True Blood. The Berries rank Lilith at Number 289.
Margaret “Molly” Brown
The Unsinkable Molly Brown brought Reynolds her only Oscar nomination for portraying a real-life survivor of the Titanic sinking. Though Molly has long been a nickname for Mary, it’s also been used sporadically as a nickname for other M-names. Molly was a Top 100 name from 1987 to 1997, peaking at #74.
In 1973, Reynolds voiced the title character in Charlotte’s Web, the animated film based on E.B. White’s classic children’s book. Charlotte is a literary favorite, appearing in all sorts of books dating from the nineteenth century forward. Today, Charlotte has risen to the Top 10, and may climb to the Top 5 before long – thanks to the little princess across the pond.
Agatha “Aggie” Cromwell
As everyone’s favorite witchy grandmother, Debbie Reynolds joined the Disney Channel Original Movie family in 1998 with Halloweentown. Though Agatha has long been regarded as an oldladyish choice, it’s getting more followers who love its offbeat yet feminine vibe and cute nickname Aggie
Portraying a semi-fictional version of herself, Debbie played Grace’s mom Bobbi in Will & Grace over the span of a few seasons. Boyish classics like Billie—the name of Carrie Fisher’s daughter– and Bobbie (with the ending e) have been rediscovered for girls in the UK, but haven’t quite yet reached the US. Bobbie is a common nickname for Barbara.
In one of her final film roles, Reynolds played Liberace’s mother Frances in TV’s Behind the Candelabra. Frances is also her own middle name (she was born Mary Frances Reynolds), as well as her daughter Carrie’s middle. This beautiful, gentle classic choice is rising quickly, chosen by several celebrity parents, and is a high-ranking #127 on Nameberry, thanks partially to the 100-year-rule.
Are there any other particularly good names I missed? Debbie Reynolds had dozens of other film roles not listed here. Tell us in the comments!
Calling all Berries! We’re looking for your personal name stories–how you made your children’s name choices, what it’s been like living with your own name, or anything else from your own experience that you think would make a good Berry Juice blog. Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. for further details.