Old Hollywood Baby Names: Direct from the directors

Old Hollywood Baby Names: Direct from the directors

By Hannah Tenison of Nameberry

As far as classic Hollywood cinema goes, it’s superstars like Grace Kelly (Grace is currently at Number 21) and Ava (Number 5) Gardner, and leading men like Errol Flynn (Flynn was used by celebri-couple Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr, and in the past two years has leapt from obscurity to Number 692) and Gary Cooper (Cooper’s at 83 in the U.S. and  Number 11 in Australia!) whose names have most begun to influence current naming trends–and deservedly so. Hollywood’s Golden Era was chockful of enticingly simple, yet feminine girls’ names and strong, capable boys’ monikers; it’s no wonder they’ve recently been in the spotlight.

But the age of shoulder pads and pin curls and chinchilla coats was not only about the glamorous actors and actresses.  Behind the scenes were the directors who helped make those stars into legends, and they happen to have had some very interesting names as well.  In addition to vintage standards like Alfred (Hitchcock) and Frank (Capra), there were also such contemporary sounding appellations as King and Zion! Although I would have liked to include more female names, the truth is that before such modern icons as Sofia Coppola and Nora Ephron, women directors in the American film industry were a rare breed. I did, however, manage to find a couple of talented ladies, and their names are listed here as well.

In the following compilation of directors, you’ll notice that there are quite a few European-influenced names: Anatole and Elia, Emeric and Ernst, Vincente and Zoltan. Many filmmakers fled Europe during the Second World War for the United States in order to have more autonomy over their films; Ernst Lubitsch and Fritz Lang both escaped Nazi Germany to maintain that freedom. During the 1920’s, an influx of mostly Jewish immigrants from central Europe came into Hollywood, and because they weren’t part of the typical Victorian thought processes of the time, were able to experiment more with “controversial” themes and give audiences what they wanted. Consequently, these foreign-born filmmakers became highly influential, and soon came to dominate the film industry.

Below, my picks for the best names of prominent film directors in the 1930’s and 40s. Lights, camera, action!

Alfred Hitchcock (nicknamed Hitch)

Alice Guy-Blaché

Anatole Litvak

Archie Mayo

Busby Berkeley

William Beaudine (Could be a cute name for a girl, with the nickname Beau!)

Frank Capra (Although I like Frank, I think Capra could be a cool, inspired choice for a girl–especially one born under Capricorn)

Cecil B. DeMille

Jack Conway

Lloyd Corrigan (Corrigan could be a creative choice for either a boy or a girl)

Dorothy Arzner

Edgar Selwyn

Edmund Goulding

Elia Kazan (Although Kazan was a male, I think Elia could also work well for a girl in the United States)

Elliott Nugent

Emeric Pressburger

Ernst Lubitsch

John Farrow (Farrow, father of actress Mia, could work for either a boy or a girl)

Ford Beebe

Fritz Lang

Garson Kanin

George Cukor

Hamilton MacFadden

Howard Hawks

John Huston

Ida Lupino

William Keighley (Keighley could be a cute substitute for Keagan)

King Vidor

Leo McCarey

Lewis Milestone

Lois Weber

Lowell Sherman

Edwin L. Marin (Pronounced either Mare-in or Ma-RIN, this makes a pretty girls’ name)

Orson Welles

Preston Sturges

Ralph Murphy

Raoul Walsh

Rouben Mamoulian

Rowland V. Lee

Russell Mack

Tay Garnettborn William Taylor (Either Tay or Garnett/Garnet would make adorable girls’ names, although both could technically also work for a boy)

Thornton Freeland (Nickname Thorn makes this name an intriguing possibility)

Vincente Minnelli (While I love the vibrant Vincente, I also feel that Minnelli, nn Minnie or Ellie, could be a sweet choice for a girl)

William A. Wellman

Wesley Ruggles

Billy Wilder

William Wyler

Zion Myers (Zion sounds masculine to me, but due to its uniqueness, I think it would also work well on a girl)

Zoltan Korda

Nameberry’s star intern Hannah Tenison has recently graduated from the University of Michigan and is now headed for law school.

About the Author

Elisabeth Wilborn

Elisabeth Wilborn

Elisabeth Wilborn can be found at her online homes You Can't Call It "It" and The Itsy Factor, and she has part-time residency at Nameberry and Apartment Therapy. In the real world she also enjoys painting, cooking, and raising her two little girls on their farm in Texas. \n