In early Disney cartoons, characters had silly, alliterative names like Horace Horsefeather, and Clarabelle Cow. The first character name to actually catch on with parents was Bambi–a male deer that became a popular namesake for girls. More recently, the real winners have been Princess names: The Little Mermaid’s Ariel reached #66 on the popularity lists two years after the movie’s release and Jasmine from Aladdin has gotten as high as #23. Other Disney heroine names, like Belle (Beauty and the Beast) have also been boosted by their Disney connections.
Adelaide—The dramatic Madame Adelaide Bonfamille is one of the few human characters in The Aristocats. When actress Rachel Griffiths picked the name for her daughter, she said she’d been inspired by the Australian city, Miss Adelaide in Guys & Dolls and, yes, the Disney character.
Aurora – Aurora was the name of the princess in the 1959 Sleeping Beauty, but is only now rising in popularity. In ancient mythology, Aurora was the lovely Roman goddess of the dawn, whose tears turned into the morning dew. In the Disney film, her alternate name was Briar Rose, a combination sometimes adopted by modern parents.
Bianca –Miss Bianca was an elegant mouse (voiced by Eva Gabor) in the 1977 The Rescuer. The Italian version of Blanche, this still somewhat exotic name was brought to prominence by the first Mrs. Mick Jagger, and features in two Shakespeare plays. Actress Tia Carrere chose it for her daughter.
Eudora – This name of Tiana’s mother in Princess and the Frog, who was voiced by Oprah Winfrey, is one Old Lady Name that hasn’t yet been revived, but certainly could, along with others like others like Amelia and Adeline. It was long associated with Southern writer Eudora Welty.
Flynn Rider is the dashing bandit who eventually marries Rapunzel in Tangled. At one point it is revealed that his real name Eugene—not the coolest of names. But Flynn (think Errol) is a charming Irish surname name with a lot of the appeal of the popular Finn.
Gideon—Though Gideon may be a crafty villain in Pinocchio, his name has quite the opposite image. In the Old Testament Gideon was both a judge and military leader of the Israelites, and his name is one of those rising on the Biblical popularity list.
Jasper—Jasper Badun (his surname tells it all) was one of Cruella De Vil’s henchmen in 101 Dalmatians, but that hasn’t hurt the name any: It’s jumped over one hundred places in the last year. Along with being the name of one of the Three Wise Men, Jasper is also a reddish semiprecious stone.
Milo has leading roles the in two Disney Atlantis films: The Lost Empire and Milo’s Return. A jaunty Anglo-Irish import, also with ties to ancient Greece, Milo is a favorite with celebrities that is rising in popularity.
Thaddeus—J. Thaddeus Toad is the hero of the Wind in the Willows segment of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad—an incurable, idiosyncratic adventurer. Thaddeus is a distinguished, long-neglected appellation with a solid New Testament legacy and a nice antique feel.
Thalia—In the Disney film Hercules, Thalia plays her classic role as the Muse of Comedy—she is also one of the Three Graces and a poetic Muse. This is a pretty Greek name, meaning “to flourish,” that is underused in this country.
Willow—The character Grandmother Willow is in fact an actual weeping willow tree, who serves as a wise advisor to the heroine of Pocahontas. The name Willow has lost its old hippie aura to move into the realm of re-appreciated nature names, helped along by the high profile of Willow Smith.
ANNOUNCING A GREAT NEW FEATURE!!
We’ve all enjoyed the wit and wisdom of Abby (Appellation Mountain) Sandel as displayed on her site and in the many guests blogs she’s written for nameberry–well now she will be appearing here on a regular basis. Starting this week, Abby will be presenting her round-up and thoughts on the week’s naming news every Monday. We’re very excited to welcome her!