Hero Names: Baby Harlows, Presleys & Jaggers

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Last week, designer Rebecca Minkoff and her actor-director husband Gavin Bellour introduced their new baby, Bowie Lou.  Daughter Bowie joins big brother Luca Shai at home.

The new arrival’s name got me thinking: how many high profile parents have chosen baby names borrowed from other celebrities?

Of course, it is possible that the Minkoff-Bellours loved Bowie for another reason – maybe it is a family name, or maybe they’re thinking of folk hero Jim Bowie, who gave his name to the Bowie knife before meeting his end in the Battle of the Alamo. But Bowie inevitably brings to mind legendary musician David Bowie, a shapeshifting rock icon with a reputation for serious style.

Plenty of popular names could be borrowed from a celeb – or then again, mabye not.  Dylan isn’t necessarily an homage to Bob, and Holden is more likely to be a literary, Catcher in the Rye-reference than a nod to to Academy Award-winning actor William Holden.

Other names are more clearly tied to a rock’n’roll legend or a star of the silver screen.  You’ll find them in kindergartens, and you’ll find them on celebrity birth announcements, too.

Bowie Lou Bellour joins lots of other children with famous parents and an even more famous namesake:

AnnistonGrey’s Anatomy alum Chyler Leigh has three children: Noah, Taelyn, and Anniston.  Anniston feels like a mash-up of the classic Ann and the popular Addison, but she owes her star power to Hollywood A-lister Jennifer Aniston, give or take an N.

Cash – Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash has a son who shares a name with another Rock and Roll Hall of Famer – Johnny Cash.  The Man in Black has inspired plenty of parents – as of 2013, Cash ranked #243 in the US, and shows no signs of slowing down.  Others who have used the name for a son include actor Josh Morrow, as well as country music’s John Rich.

ChaplinEver Carradine is part of a Hollywood dynasty.  Her father, Robert, as well as uncles David and Keith, and grandfather John have all had successful careers in Tinseltown.  So what name did Ever and her partner Cody Brown choose for their daughter in 2010?  Chaplin, as in Charlie – one of the most famous actors of all time.  It’s a distinctive name.

GableMy favorite pick of this list comes from funnyman Kevin Nealon (pictured with son Gable).  He and wife Susan Yeagley named their son Gable in 2007.  In our age of girls called Ava and Audrey, it is good to remember that Hollywood is rich with potential inspiration for boys’ names, too.  Clark Gable’s first name might scream Superman to some, but Gable is all Hollywood legend.  It’s also an unconventional way to get to friendly nickname Gabe.

HarlowNicole Richie and Joel Madden made waves with their daughter’s name in 2008: Harlow Winter Kate.  Blond bombshell Jean Harlow was a major star in the 1930s.  Today, Jane and even Joanna are more popular feminine forms of John, and I’d bet on Joan to make a comeback before Jean.  But Harlow?  In our age of Hadley and Harper, Willow and Coco, Harlow fits right in.  Ever since little Miss Madden’s arrival, the name has been climbing, up to #540 in 2013.

Jagger – The Rolling Stones are legendary in the world of rock and roll.  Not only has the band scored plenty of #1 hits and sold out arenas for decades, Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” topped charts in 2011.  Still, it was something of a surprise when Soleil Moon Frye and Jason Goldberg named their second-born daughter Jagger Joseph Blue.  But even if I don’t love Jagger for a girl, it is hard to dismiss the considerable style and swagger of this name.

Lennon – While we’re borrowing from rock icons, let’s talk about John Lennon.  Oasis’ Liam Gallagher was way ahead of the trend when he and actress wife Patsy Kensit named their son Lennon Francis in 1999.  In this case, the name is clearly a nod to the legendary singer-songwriter – dad is quite the fan.  Today, Lennon wouldn’t be a surprise.  The name has charted in the boys’ Top 1000 for the past few years, and in 2003, it debuted in the girls’ rankings, too.

Presley – Another early adopter of rock star surname style, supermodel Cindy Crawford and husband Randy Gerber gave the name Presley to their firstborn in 1999.  Their Presley is a boy, but this name is far more common for girls.  By 2013, Presley ranked #199 in the US – and continues to climb.  It’s one-part Elvis, one-part KayleeHaileyRiley.

Monroe – When Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon welcomed twins in 2011, the couple chose personally significant names for their new arrivals.  Son Moroccan was named after the room where Nick proposed, while daughter Monroe was named after none other than MarilynMariah’s favorite.  Monroe also brings to mind a president and lots of places, but it is the Hollywood star who made this one a rising possibility for girls.

Would you consider using a Hollywood or rock legend name for your child?  Which one?

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30 Responses to “Hero Names: Baby Harlows, Presleys & Jaggers”

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Entangler Says:

August 11th, 2014 at 8:28 am

I do like Lennon but I think I’m more likely to choose a scientific or literary hero such Tesla, Darwin, Lysander, or Caspian rather than a celebrity.

indiefendi Says:

August 11th, 2014 at 8:47 am

I would absolutely use Harlow, it’s my favorite. Lennon for either gender as well.

degrasswizkid Says:

August 11th, 2014 at 9:10 am

I gravitate more towards the literary names but for I tend to go towards rock star names for my pets, I have a cat I named Little David Bowie, but I just call him “Bowie”

joel613 Says:

August 11th, 2014 at 10:13 am

I don’t detest Gable as much as the others since it can lead to the nickname Gabe but the others all strike me as trying to hard to be funky. The parents of these poor kids seem to forget that the child has to live their whole life with something that is slapped on them to show how cutting edge their parents, who usually have names like Kevin, Cindy and Jason, think they are. Sorry but a girl named Chaplin is in line for a lifetime of explanations and teasing. What can she fall back on if she hates it? Chappy? Yuck.

LexieM Says:

August 11th, 2014 at 10:25 am

I’ve been considering Marilyn – partially because of Ms Norma Jeane and partially because it honors the many Mary’s variant grandmothers in our lives as well as my FIL whose mn is Marlin.

gwensmom Says:

August 11th, 2014 at 10:27 am

Is John Rich’s son really named Cash Rich? That seems like an unfortunate combo.

Chloe14 Says:

August 11th, 2014 at 1:40 pm

I would most definitely name my future children after celebrities but only if I loved the name anyway. Lots of the names on my new top names list have some thing to to with a specific celebrity or TV show or movie character I like that idea I see no harm in it. If the name is pretty and flows well then go ahead and use it. It only seems wrong if the name is generally a bit odd.

DrHenry Says:

August 11th, 2014 at 3:15 pm

@LexieM Marilyn is so sweet. I love that name and I think it’s darling on a little girl and yet ages well, and so fresh.

I didn’t get through this post. I just saw Jagger and had to read about it. I know two people who have used this name in the past couple years.

I don’t think Jagger is stylish or swagger. Ick. It’s tacky and low classy to me. Who doesn’t love the Rolling Stones, true. But Mick Jagger really doesn’t embody any qualities I wish to see in my son honestly. I wouldn’t want him going through his life and people meeting him and immediately conjuring up thoughts of that man. And I just plain dislike the celeb worship vibe it gives off.

Abby Says:

August 11th, 2014 at 7:53 pm

@gwensmom – Yeah, I don’t love that one. Cash Rich is … well, the ‘sh’ and the ‘ch’ are awkward, and as a full name, it makes for a phrase. Shades of North West.

@DrHenry – I know what you mean about trying too hard names … and yet, names that could be perceived as brash are definitely on the rise. Legend, Maverick, and Messiah are in the boys’ Top 1000. Miracle is in the Top 500 for girls. Compared to those, Gable or Lennon seem almost low-key …

@indiefendi – Harlow/Marlowe/Marlo, etc. is such a great sound, but I especially love Arlo for a boy …

rabia_chrisden Says:

August 11th, 2014 at 8:40 pm

I like the name Breslin as in Abigail &Spencer Breslin. I also like the name Anniston but not necessarily after Jennifer Aniston. I like the names Chaplin, Mercer, Ellington, Bowie and Forrest for girl’s names. I like Finn, Vandross, Stevie, Jagger and Chesney for a boy but not necessarily because I’m a fan of those people but I do like the names

Binz Says:

August 11th, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Cash and Jax/Jaxon are names that I need to go away.
And the other day I met two sisters named Aspen and Willow, just needed to mention that.

vaness1 Says:

August 11th, 2014 at 9:57 pm

I’m really liking Gable – it’s handsome, and kind of like Gabriel, only a bit more distinct. Plus, Gabe is really cute!
Other “celebrity” names I like are Hadley (as in Hemingway’s first wife), Greta (Garbo), and Zelda (Fitzgerald). I’m not a fan of too many boy celebrity names, but I do like Holden, and Garner, Cohen, Cyrus, and Hale, which some people might guess were inspired by celebrities.

NaomiNY Says:

August 11th, 2014 at 10:04 pm

I like Gable, Lennon, Harlow, and Bowie.

I also like Django (because my Pop-Pop’s favorite Jazz musician was Django Reinhardt).

Binz Says:

August 11th, 2014 at 10:08 pm

@joel613- I would save the try hard name comments for parents who name their kids Hendrix or Salinger. Maybe it’s because the name reminds me of Abel, but I think Gable is a nice, harmless name that stands out, but wouldn’t look ridiculous on a business card.

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