The Most Influential Starbaby Names (and namers)

The Most Influential Starbaby Names (and namers)

by Linda Rosenkrantz

It’s an inarguable fact that celebrity baby name choices have an impact on the rest of the population.  But which of them have had a lasting influence and which luminaries have hit the sweet spot more than once?

With some names it was not a single celeb but a confluence of several that helped propel a name to stardom– among these are the namers of Becketts, Dashiells, Harpers, Romys, Romans and, perhaps most of all, the now ubiquitous Ava.  And we see that even a middle name can pack an impact, as in Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s (Blue) Ivy.


Angie Harmon and Jason Sehorn introduced a whole style of names with their three daughters, Avery, Emery and Finley, all boyish names ending in ‘y.’ First came Finley, born in 2003, when that name was nowhere to be seen on the girls’ Top 1000.  It appeared there two years later, and is now at Number 349, with close to a thousand baby girls bearing that name annually.  Daughter Avery was born in 2005; there were approximately 4,000 girl Averys born the year before her arrival, 5,000+ the year after, and 8,000+ this past year. The third daughter, Emery, was born three years later, when the name was Number 467; it is now at 211.

Two of the JoliePitt kids’ names have made their mark. The eldest, Maddox, was born in 2001, the name popped onto the list two years later, and is now at Number 167, accounting for almost 2,300 baby Maddoxes.  Another x-ending JoliePitt boy name, Knox, also stuck a chord.  He arrived in 2008 with twin sister Vivienne (whose name is also rising); the following year Knox entered the list, and it is now Number 368.

Going back a few years, we can thank, at least in part, the Will Smiths for inciting the Jaden et al et al explosion, and as for sister Willow, who would become a tween singing sensation, her name was Number 760 when she was born in 2000 and is now 171.

And yes, several celebs were there before with Mason and yes, Tina Fey had started the Penelope renaissance, but the consensus is that Kourtney Kardashian, with her legions of reality show followers, gave these two names the biggest push.  Mason is again the second highest boys’ name this year and Penelope, which came back onto the list at Number 946 in 2001 for the first time since 1975, has now leaped to Number 125.


HazelWhen Julia Roberts chose this gentle nature name for her twin daughter in 2004, Hazel was at Number 681.  It has climbed 506 places since then.

OlivePicked by Isla Fisher and Sacha Baron Cohen in 2007, when it was barely at the bottom of the list, Olive is now Number 368, and will probably be further boosted by Drew Barrymore’s use of it this year.

Pearl, too, was scarcely making an appearance when Maya Rudolph and Paul Thomas Anderson picked it for their first daughter’s name in 2005.  Pearl has now risen more than 200 places, was also used by Jack Osbourne, and is a new middle-name fave.

HattieTori Spelling and Dean McDermott chose trendy but not unusual names for three of their four kids—Liam, Stella and Finn—the exception being #3—the cute Victorian Harriet nickname Hattie.  It had been off the list for 43 years when they chose it in 2011; almost 400 more Hatties arrived the following year.

VioletThis sweet-smelling, old-fashioned floral was at Number 369 when Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck’s first daughter (shown in illustration) was born in 2005, but their choice was undoubtedly a factor in its rise to Number 89 in 2012 and we think it could be a Top 20 name before long.


HarlowThough this glamour girl surname had been used without much fanfare by Patricia Arquette in 2003, it was the birth of Nicole Richie and Joel Madden’s daughter in 2008 that set the name in motion.  It entered the list at Number 901 in 2009 and by 2012 it was at 598.

KingstonGwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale had personal reasons for choosing this Jamaican place name for their son, but it wasn’t long before it went public. And now Kingston is Number 210!

RomeoOf the Beckham kids, it was Romeo that helped transform an over-the-top romantic name into a more generally accepted choice.  Romeo has risen 244 places since his 2002 birth.  On the other hand, big brother Brooklyn’s name quickly went to the girls.

Some other celeb kids who have had a less clear-cut influence: Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr’s Flynn, Julianna Margulies’s Kieran, Liam Gallagher’s Lennon, Camila Alves & Matthew McConaughey’s  Levi, Will Ferrell’s Matthias and Magnus, Jamie Oliver’s Poppy, Kate Hudson’s Ryder, and Patrick Dempsey’s Sullivan.

Which others would you add to the list?  Have any names been spoiled for you by the celebrity connection?

About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.