By Linda Rosenkrantz
Happy Father’s Day! This year we are saluting some Dads whose little girls and boys grew up and landed in the celebrisphere. And as we focused—you guess it– on those with the most interesting names, we found it to be a terrifically multi-cultural crowd, hailing from places as far-flung as Israel, India and Italy. And with many of them having very distinguished careers of their own.
Here are some our favorite paternal parents of celebs:.
Natalie Portman’s father Avner Hershlag is a US-trained Israeli gynecologist and fertility specialist. Avner is the Hebrew form of Abner and is the name of the protagonist of the film Munich, played by Eric Bana.
Mindy Kahling’s dad, Avu Chokalingam, is an architect. His name reflects his Tamil heritage. (Trivia note: he and his Bengali obstetrician wife wanted their daughter to have a “cute American name” and so picked one inspired by the TV show Mork and Mindy.)
Lena Dunham’s father is a respected visual artist whose work is represented in the collections of the Tate Gallery, the Whitney Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and others. Carroll is a name that was quite commonly used for boys at one time, peaking at #164 in 1934.
Arrested Development’s Will Arnett is the son of Emerson James Arnett, known as Jim, a corporate lawyer who served as CEO of Molson Breweries. Emerson, which is also Will’s middle name, is a distinguished literary name now ranked at #276 for boys, though it’s currently even higher for girls (#150).
Eva Longoria’s father, Enrique, is a Junior, carrying on his own father’s name. This appealing Spanish version of Henry now ranks at #487 nationally, down from 221 in 2000, but it’s still in the Top 100 in Spain. Enrique Iglesias is a prominent current bearer.
The actor father of Blake Lively who is now known as Ernie Lively was born Ernest Wilson Brown Jr (he actually played her dad in both The Sister of the Traveling Pants films). Ernest, which is now barely hanging onto the bottom rungs of the popularity ladder, was a Top 40 name for several decades a century and this Hemingway appellation could conceivably return. Tweak its spelling and it becomes a virtue name.
Model/entrepreneur Heidi Klum is the daughter of Günther Klum, a cosmetics company executive. Gunther has never been as popular in this country as the Scandinavian version, Gunnar (now #502), though Gunther has the potential to catch up. It has literary cred via novelist Günter Grass.
Homer George Gere, father of Richard Tiffany Gere, is an insurance agent who happens to be a Mayflower descendent (as is Mother Gere.) Richard liked his father’s name so much, he called his own son Homer James Jigme Gere in 2000. Homer, a noble Greek name with its own funky cool charm, was also used by Bill Murray and Anne Heche for their sons.
Scarlett Johansson’s father, Karsten Olaf Johansson, is an architect originally from Copenhagen, Denmark. Karsten, the German form of Christian, is a common German and Scandinavian name that is also spelled Carsten. Karsten appears as a character in the Ibsen play Pillars of Society.
Former Disney Channel star, now mono-named singer Zendaya, is the daughter of Kazembe Ajamu (born Samuel David Coleman). Kazembe is the name of an influential traditional kingdom in modern Zambia and is also used as a surname.
Katy Perry is the daughter of a Pentacostal pastor named Maurice Keith Hudson (yes, she is actually Kate Hudson). Maurice’s two pronunciations (maw-reece in the US and France, more like Morris in the UK), gives it a split image. In the US Top 200 for most of the 20th century, Maurice has such distinguished bearers as composer Ravel and kids’ book creator Sendak.
Kate Winslet comes from a show biz family—both father Roger and mother Sally Anne were stage actors. Roger is very much a Mad Men-era name, many of which are making a comeback. Many notable namesakes, including tennis’s Roger Federer, baseball’s Roger Clemens and football’s Roger Staubach.
Salma Hayek’s dad, Sami Hayek Dominguez, is an oil company exec who once ran for mayor of his Mexican town. Sami (as opposed to Sammy) is a full, multi-cultural name, prevalent in both the Arab world and Scandinavia.
Aziz Ismail Ansari is the son of Indian gastroenterologist Shoukath Ansari (his wife is an obstetrician) and both parents have had second careers playing themselves on their son’s hit TV show, Master of None. Shoukath seems to have the positive meanings of dignity and prestige and also occurs as an Indian surname.
Madonna Louise (“Papa don’t preach”) Ciccone is the daughter of Silvio (nn Tony) Ciccone, an Italian immigrant who became an engineer-designer for Chrysler and General Motors. The sylvan Silvio is an attractive option ripe for import, especially with the rise of Sylvia and Sylivie.
What are the names of the amazing dads you’re celebrating this weekend?
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