Oscar Names: Girls’ edition

In honor of the Academy Award nominations announced yesterday, one of our favorite bloggers, Abby Sandel, creator of the always informative and witty appellationmountain.net, continues the tradition she started last year with boys’ red carpet names, and has again searched through the annals of Oscar history to come up with some great lists of award-worthy female winners’ and characters’ names.

Ava, Audrey, Natalie, Grace, Olivia.  Is it my daughter’s kindergarten class roster, or a round-up of Hollywood screen legends?  With so many parents turning to Tinsel Town for inspiration, no wonder I’m confused.
Despite the popularity of borrowing a name from the big screen, plenty of appealing choices remain underused.  Here’s a short list culled from Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress nominees and winners, and the characters they played, from the 1920s through today.

LEADING LADIES

Some of these are easy to imagine on a girl born today, while others might not be quite ready for a comeback.  All of them offer at least one glamorous namesake.

ANOUK

BETTE

CLAUDETTE

DOROTHY

FAYE

GLYNIS

GREER

GRETA

HALLE

HATTIE

HERMIONE (Decades before Harry Potter, English actress Hermione Baddeley won a Best Supporting Actress nomination after appearing on screen for less than three minutes in 1959’s Room at the Top.)

IDA

INGRID

IRENE

JOAN (Yes, there’s Mommy Dearest, but there’s also Joan Fontaine)

LANA

LORETTA

LUISE (Vienna-born Luise Rainer was the first actress to win two Best Actress Oscars, and the first to win them back-to-back, in 1936 and 1937)

MARLENE (The two-syllable name might sound dated, but screen siren Marlene Dietrich pronounced it mar-LAY-na)

MERLE

MERYL

NORMA (Not only was actress Norma Shearer nominated six times, but Norma is also a character played by Sally Field and the birth name shed by Marilyn Monroe)

PENÉLOPE

RITA

ROSALIND

SIMONE

SPRING (Better known for her later radio and television work, Spring Byington was nominated for Best Supporting Actress early in her career – and yes, Spring was her birth name)

TARAJI

TILDA

VIVIEN

CHARACTERS

Plenty of actresses have won accolades playing royalty and religious figures, but not every character on this list is noble.  Some surprising repeats included Alice, Birdie and Eloise.  Other interesting choices include:

BREE (Before Desperate Housewives, Jane Fonda played call girl Bree in Klute)

CESIRA

CLANCY

CLEMENTINE

EFFIE

GEORGIE (Years before Lynn Redgrave’s role as Georgina in Georgy Girl, Grace Kelly won a Best Actress Oscar as Georgie Elgin in The County Girl)

GIOIA

JEWELL

KATRIN (Though Loretta Young’s Oscar-winning character in 1947’s The Farmer’s Daughter usually answered to Katie)

LAUREL (Also called Lollie, and better known after Stella Dallas was adapted for the radio)

LEONIE

LULU

MADELON

MIN

PILAR

ROSEMARY

SABRA (Played by Irene Dunne in 1931’s Cimarron)

SERAFINA (From 1955’s The Rose Tattoo, based on the Tennessee Williams play, before Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner were born, much less naming children of their own!)

SEVERINE

SPARROW (Greer Garson played Mrs. Susie Parkington, the tale of a hotel maid turned society grand dame.  Sparrow was her nickname.)

VIANNE

VIOLA

Abby Sandel, the mother of two young children, lives near Washington, D.C. and is the creator of  the blog, appellationmountain.

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15 Responses to “Oscar Names: Girls’ edition”

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Pamela Redmond Satran Says:

February 3rd, 2010 at 8:27 am

Wonderful blog and list, Abby. I met a grownup Sabra yesterday who had never heard of Cimarron!!!!!

Abby Says:

February 3rd, 2010 at 9:22 am

Thanks, Pam!

I’ve since realized that Sabra is also a brand of hummus … still, it is a great name.

JNE Says:

February 3rd, 2010 at 11:36 am

Great post!

I absolutely love Ingrid and Leonie. In fact, like the majority, I think many of the old hollywood names are fantastic… just many are too popular at this point for my tastes. Doesn’t change my mind that they are great sounding names, though!

Ooooh, Lulu isn’t a name I’d go for on the birth certificate, but it is a great nickname (I have a huge soft spot for Lucinda and I think Lulu would be great as an alternative to Lucy).

Funny that the stats from the survey that were published the other day say that Hollywood doesn’t influence parents’ name choices… In fact I’d guess that many parents are influenced, but don’t realize it. All those Avas and Sophias at the daycare (we had multiples of both in ours) may not have named their kids directly after the old Hollywood namesake, but no doubt, there was an influence of some sort!

Meredith Says:

February 3rd, 2010 at 11:57 am

I love Greer. I am hoping to be expecting soon, and I like it more everyday. There is a little boutique in town called Greer, and whenever we happen to drive by it, I always say to my husband, “I went to college with a girl named Greer. She was so beautiful…” or some other compliment. Trying to get him used to it for when I insist on it!

JNE- Do you think it takes a couple of generations for Hollywood names to really have an impact? So in the next decade or so- we will see little girls named Meryl, Liza, Sissy, Sally and Sigourney? I don’t think the more recent winners have that same glamour factor but time will tell.

OSCAR NAMES: Girls’ edition | Ondelet Says:

February 3rd, 2010 at 12:31 pm

[…] Follow this link: OSCAR NAMES: Girls’ edition […]

k_lareese Says:

February 3rd, 2010 at 1:50 pm

I have never seen The Country Girl, so I had no idea that Grace Kelly played a character named Georgie! I have always adored Grace Kelly, so that makes me love my favorite name, Georgiana, even more.

Also, I have an Oscar name. My mother named me Katharine after the legendary Katharine Hepburn. I have to say that I have loved having an Oscar winning actress as my namesake!

phoebesmom Says:

February 3rd, 2010 at 3:50 pm

@Meredith: I know a 2 year old names Meryl, not a namesake or anything, and Liza is on my shortlist!

http://legitbabenames.wordpress.com/ Says:

February 3rd, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Great article Abby! I love the name Sabra! I was almost named this.
Lots of lovely names on this list: Anouk, Hermione, Serafina and Penelope all stand out for me.
Ava is nice, but getting boring, too bad she got so popular.

peach Says:

February 3rd, 2010 at 4:04 pm

I do hope some of these older silver screen names come back. I find many of them both elegant and refreshing: Greer, Irene, Marlene, Meryl, Penelope, Rosalind, Simone and Clementine, Georgina, Katrin, Laurel, Leonie, Vianne, Viola.

Abby Says:

February 3rd, 2010 at 4:13 pm

JNE, I think you’re exactly right – we’d never say “ooh, I’m naming my kid after so’n’so” but the influence is there.

And I love Greer, Meredith! How clever you are to prep your husband. Good luck!

Stacy Says:

February 3rd, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Ah, lovely. Vivian and Viola are both on our list. I also love Glynis (or Glennis), Rosalind, Katrin, Laurel and Leonie.

k_lareese — we’ve got Katharina on our list, in part because of my husband’s admiration for Katharine Hepburn

Jill Says:

February 3rd, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Great blog!!! Wasn’t Glynis the name of the actress who played the mom in Mary Poppins?

I love Dorothy, Penelope, Rosalind, Vivien, Rosemary, and Vianne the most. Oh! And Georgina! I totally forgot that Grace Kelly was a Georgie! 🙂

Take care!

Abby Says:

February 3rd, 2010 at 9:52 pm

She was, Jill! Do you remember the Sandra Bullock movie While You Were Sleeping? Glynis Johns was the grandmother in that, too! But she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in The Sundowners in 1960. Quite the career.

There’s also a Smashing Pumpkins song called Glynis.

Jill Says:

February 7th, 2010 at 11:38 pm

Abby, Glynis Johns played the grandmother? Oh my gosh!! I never realized that was Mrs. Banks! 🙂 I love Glynis Johns! Thanks for the trivia, which is right up my alley! 🙂

Take care!

Nameberry Week in Review: More Oscar nominee nuggets – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

February 7th, 2011 at 8:57 am

[…] Hollywood has given us many a great name over the years.  Read about Ingrid and Loretta, Spring and Min, here. […]

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