This weekend I was saddened to read that legendary actress Maureen O’Hara had passed away. Maureen O’Hara, born Maureen FitzSimons, was an iconic, fiery redhead with the face of an angel. Today I’d like to look back at the names of some memorable characters O’Hara portrayed.
Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Esmeralda is a Spanish and Portuguese name meaning emerald. Esmeralda was the name of the gypsy in Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame who was loved by Quasimodo. Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes named their daughter Esmeralda Amada in September 2014. Esmeralda is currently Number 376 in popularity.
Angharad is an old name Welsh meaning more loved. In Welsh mythology Angharad was known as Angharad Golden-hand, the lover of Peredur. Angharad was used a lot among Welsh royals, most notably by the daughter of King Owain Gwynedd, but is rarely used in the United States.
Margaret is a classic Greek name meaning pearl. Currently Number 169 in popularity, 1,933 little girls were named Margaret in the US last year. My name, Meagan, is one of the many variants of Margaret. A few other great forms of Margaret include Marguerite, Mairéad, and Gretel.
Valentine is a name that conjures up images of love and Valentine’s Day. A French form of Valentinus, meaning strong and healthy, only 46 girls were given the name Valentine last year. If you like Valentine you may also enjoy Valentina, a much more popular choice at Number 112.
Doris peaked in the 1920s; in 2014 only 122 little girls were given the name. Doris is a Greek name meaning gift or woman from Dorian. In Greek mythology, Doris was a sea nymph and the daughter of Oceanus. A famous bearer of this name is Doris Day, another long-lived iconic actress.
Adelaide is a variant of the German name Adelheid, meaning noble. Currently Number 316, Adelaide has been rising steadily in popularity. Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and there are many great characters bearing the name, from Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, to Madame Adelaide in Disney’s The Aristocats.
Kathleen is an anglicized form of the Irish name Caitlín meaning pure. Kathleen peaked in the 1950s and is currently Number 674 in popularity. When I hear this name I think of the song “I’ll take you home again, Kathleen”. There are numerous lovable nicknames for Kathleen including Kate, Katie, Kathy, Kat, Kit, and Kitty.
The Quiet Man is my favorite of O’Hara’s films. As a little girl I named a red-haired porcelain doll Mary Kate after O’Hara’s character in this movie. A double-barrel name, Mary is a Hebrew appellation meaning bitter, and Kate is, of course, a diminutive of Katherine meaning pure. Mary Kate Olsen is a well-known bearer of this name.
Prudence “Spitfire” Stevens in Against All Flags
The Puritans loved Prudence, a virtue name meaning cautious. Could Prudence come back into fashion? The Beatles had a song called “Dear Prudence.” Prudence was also the name of one of the Halliwell sisters on the TV show Charmed. There were only 58 little Prudence’s born last year in the U.S.
A Latin name meaning olive tree, Olivia was first used by Shakespeare in Twelfth Night. Olivia has been rising steadily in popularity and is currently the Number 2 name for girls. Olivia is also a Top 10 name in Australia, England, New Zealand, Scotland, and Sweden.
Katherine Gilhooley McLintock in McLintock!
Moira is an anglicized form of the Irish name Máire, meaning bitter. Moira is memorable to me as one of Wendy Moira Angela Darling’s middle names in Peter Pan. The name Moira was given to 126 baby girls in the U.S. last year.
Martha is an Aramaic name meaning lady. The first First Lady, Martha Washington, wife of President George Washington, is one of the most notable bearers of this name. Martha is a popular character name appearing in a variety of TV shows from Downton Abbey to The Simpsons.
This article is dedicated to my Mom for sharing her love of film.