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Old Hollywood Names for Girls

Old Hollywood Names for Girls
Names from the Golden Age of Hollywood glamour are playing starring roles as baby names once again. We’re starting to see names such as Dorothy (Lamour) and Ingrid (Bergman) come back into fashion, no doubt boosted by their glamourous, Old Hollywood image.

Along with Dorothy and Ingrid, other Old Hollywood names for girls in the US Top 1000 include Audrey, Ava, Greta, Gloria, Josephine, Mae, Monroe, and Sophia. Old Hollywood glamour girl surnames word considering for a daughter include Bardot, Gardner, Harlow, and Havilland.

While Marlene (Dietrich) and Shirley (Temple) are not yet again ready for their closeup, here's a selection of the Glamour Girl names enjoying a revival.

Old Hollywood Girl Names

ClaraHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "bright, clear"
  • Description:

    Long relegated to an Olde World backwater, the European-flavored Clara has been speeding up the charts on sleeker sister Claire's coattails for the past few decades. Now, many would say the vintage chic Clara is the more stylish of the two names. Actor Ewan McGregor was an early celebrity adopter of the name for one of his daughters.

AvaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew, Latin or Germanic
  • Meaning:

    "life; bird; water, island"
  • Description:

    In medieval times, Ava was a diminutive of Germanic names beginning in Av-, in particular Aveline, from which the name Evelyn would eventually arise. It may derive from a Proto-Germanic root meaning "island" or "water". However, the medieval name eventually fell out of use entirely, only to resurface in contemporary times. This suggests that today’s Ava may be a modern variation of Eva. Alternatively, Ava could also derive from the Latin avis, meaning "bird." Ava has separate Persian roots as a name meaning "voice" or "sound."

MaeHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Mary or Margaret
  • Meaning:

    "bitter or pearl"
  • Description:

    Mae is derived from May, the month name that was chosen for its connection to Maia, the Roman goddess of growth and motherhood. Mae can be used as a nickname for the names Mary and Margaret — actress Mae West was born Mary. Alternate spellings include May, Mei, and Maye. The May spelling makes it more of a month name, while Mae makes it an antique nickname name. Both can stand on their own, as seen by Hilary Duff's choice of Mae as her daughter's first name.

JosephineHeart

  • Origin:

    French feminine variation of Joseph
  • Meaning:

    "Jehovah increases"
  • Description:

    Josephine is the feminine form of Joseph, a name ultimately derived from the Hebrew Yosef, meaning "Jehovah increases." In French it has an accent over the first E, which was omitted in the English, German, and Dutch translations of the name. Empress Joséphine du Beauharnais was born Marie-Josephe-Rose, but called Josephine by her husband, Napolean Bonaparte.

GraceHeart

  • Origin:

    English, virtue name
  • Description:

    Grace is derived from gratia, the Latin word for "grace." It existed as Gracia in the Middle Ages but was not in common use until the Puritans adopted it along with other Christian attribute names in the sixteenth century. It was used as a virtue name, in reference to divine grace — the love and kindness of God.

AudreyHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "noble strength"
  • Description:

    Audrey is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Aethelthryth, the name that later evolved into Ethelred. St. Audrey was a seventh century saint who was particularly revered in the Middle Ages. Her name led to the term tawdry, as cheap lace necklaces were sold at the St. Audrey fair. Shakespeare bestowed her name on a character in As You Like It.

OliveHeart

  • Origin:

    English, from Latin, nature name
  • Meaning:

    "olive tree"
  • Description:

    Though greatly overshadowed by the trendy Olivia, Olive has a quiet, subtle appeal of its own -- and is now enjoying a remarkable comeback. Olive is one of only four girl names starting with O on the US Top 1000. Cool couple Isla Fisher and Sacha Baron Cohen chose it for their daughter, reviving the name to stylishness, and now Drew Barrymore has a little Olive too, as has country singer Jake Owen.

EvaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin form of Eve, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "life"
  • Description:

    Eva is found in many different languages as a variation of Eve—the Old Testament name recognizable as the first woman in Abrahamic religions. Short forms of the name include Evie and Evita. The diminutive Evita is still strongly associated with Evita Peron, wife of the Argentine President Juan Peron.

HarlowHeart

  • Origin:

    English surname
  • Meaning:

    "rock hill or army hill"
  • Description:

    Jean Harlow (born Harlean Carpenter), the original platinum blonde bombshell, was a symbol of 1930s glamour, a factor that first Patricia Arquette and then Nicole Richie and Joel Madden probably had in mind when they gave their daughters the distinctive surname name Harlow.

FrancesHeart

  • Origin:

    English from Latin
  • Meaning:

    "from France; free man"
  • Description:

    Frances is the feminine form of Francis, the English variation of the Latin name Franciscus. Franciscus, meaning "Frenchman," was taken from the Germanic tribe the Franks, which got its name from the francisca, the axe they used in battle. Until the seventeenth century, the spellings Frances and Francis were used interchangeably for both sexes.

ElizabethHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "pledged to God"
  • Description:

    Elizabeth is derived from the Hebrew name Elisheva, formed by the components ’el, meaning "God," and shava’, "oath." In the Bible, Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist, and two of England's most notable queens have been Elizabeth I and II. Another memorable bearer was Elizabeth Taylor—who hated to be called Liz.

SophiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "wisdom"
  • Description:

    Sophia was derived from sophia, the Greek word for wisdom. The name was first famous via St. Sophia, venerated in the Greek Orthodox church—St. Sophia was the mother of three daughters named Faith, Hope and Love. It was first used in England in the seventeenth century and was the name of George I's both mother and wife.

TallulahHeart

  • Origin:

    Choctaw, Irish
  • Meaning:

    "leaping water, lady of abundance"
  • Description:

    As memories of the outragrous actress Talullah Bankhead have faded, this hauntingly euphonious Choctaw name has re-entered the public domain. A modern hipster favorite, it's been chosen for their daughters by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Patrick Dempsey, Damian Dash, Rachel Roy and Sara Rue, trail-blazed by Demi Moore and Bruce Willis for their now grown daughter. (Trivia tidbit: Bankhead's namesake was her paternal grandmother who, in turn, was named after the Georgia town of Tallulah Falls.)

VeronicaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin alteration of Berenice, also related to Latin phrase <em>vera icon</em>
  • Meaning:

    "she who brings victory; true image"
  • Description:

    The name Veronica projects a triple-threat image: at once saintly, sensuous, and strong.

IngridHeart

  • Origin:

    Norse
  • Meaning:

    "fair; Ing is beautiful"
  • Description:

    The luminous Ingrid Bergman's appeal was strong enough to lend universal charisma to this classic Scandinavian name, which has been somewhat neglected in the US. Even today, a child named Ingrid would be assumed to be of Scandinavian ancestry, signaling the name has never been fully integrated into the English lexicon the way other European choices from the same era like Danielle or Kathleen have.

LouiseHeart

  • Origin:

    French and English, feminine variation of Louis
  • Meaning:

    "renowned warrior"
  • Description:

    Louise has for several decades now been seen as competent, studious, and efficient—desirable if not dramatic qualities. But now along with a raft of other L names, as well as cousin Eloise, Louise is up for reappreciation—sleek and chic, stylish in Paris, and starting to become so in the US as well. Louisa is perhaps more in tune with the times, but Louise has more edge. Louise has been on the rise lately, and reentered the US Top 1000 for the first time in a quarter century in 2016.

NatalieHeart

  • Origin:

    French variation of Russian Natalia
  • Meaning:

    "birthday of the Lord"
  • Description:

    Natalie is the French variation of Natalia, a name originally derived from the Latin phrase natale domini, meaning “birthday of the Lord.” It was historically given to girls born around Christmas for this reason. Nathalie is an additional, though less common, spelling of the name.

LanaHeart

  • Origin:

    English diminutive of Alana
  • Meaning:

    "rock or handsome"
  • Description:

    Popularized in the 1940s by Lana (born Judy) Turner, today Lana is synonymous with American singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey. Although it has been rising steadily since the early 2000s, Lana still sits in the popularity "sweet spot" – familiar, but not overused. Simple, sleek and seamlessly international, it makes a great choice.

LillianHeart

  • Origin:

    English from Latin
  • Meaning:

    "lily; pledged to God"
  • Description:

    Lillian is having a remarkable revival, rising to a peak of Number 21 in 2010 (the highest it's been since the 1920's) before dipping slightly in recent years. It was a Top 10 name in its Lillian Gish-Lillian (born Helen Louise) Russell-Floradora Girl heyday at the turn of the last century.

DorothyHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Greek Dorothea
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    In the 1930s, Dorothy left Kansas and landed in the Land of Oz; by the '80s she had become a Golden Girl, living in Miami with roommates Blanche and Rose, giving her a decidedly older image. But parents today seeking a quiet classic are bringing Dorothy back—she reentered the Top 1000 in 2011 after almost completely disappearing.

KateHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Katherine
  • Meaning:

    "pure"
  • Description:

    Kate, in the headlines via Catherine Middleton, has been as pervasive as Kathy was in the 1950s and 1960s, both as a nickname for Katherine and Kaitlyn and as a strong, classic stand-alone name. Kate has an image that's independent, smart, and energetic, recalling Kate Hepburn, the heroine of The Taming of the Shrew/Kiss Me Kate, and contemporary Kates Winslet, Hudson, Moss, Spade and Beckinsale. Cate Blanchette has helped popularize that spelling of the name.

GretaHeart

  • Origin:

    German, diminutive of Margarethe
  • Meaning:

    "pearl"
  • Description:

    Greta is an Old World name long tied to the iconic Garbo. Along with other Old Hollywood glamour names, Greta seems to be showing slight signs of a comeback; it was chosen by David Caruso and by Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline for their daughters.

LaurenHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Laura
  • Meaning:

    "bay laurel"
  • Description:

    Lauren was derived from Laurence, an English name from the Roman family name Laurentius, meaning “from Laurentum.” Laurentum, an ancient Italian city, got its name from the Latin word laurus, meaning “bay laurel.” Lauren was originally a masculine name but was embraced as a feminine name after Betty Joan Perske chose it for her stage name, Lauren Bacall, in 1944.

RosalindHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "pretty rose"
  • Description:

    Rosalind has a distinguished literary history --it started as a as a lyrical name in early pastoral poetry, probably coined by Edmund Spenser. It was further popularized by Shakespeare via one of his most charming heroines, in As You Like It --and, along with a bouquet of other Rose names, might be ready for a comeback.

BettyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Elizabeth
  • Meaning:

    "pledged to God"
  • Description:

    Combine the popularity of Betty White and Mad Men's glamorous Betty Draper Francis, with the residual sweetness of Ugly Betty's Betty Suarez, and the result is an impending return of the name. It's got presidential cred via Betty Ford and feminist history through Betty Friedan.

MarthaHeart

  • Origin:

    Aramaic
  • Meaning:

    "lady"
  • Description:

    The name of our first First Lady still has something of a prim and proper image, academic and efficient. That quiet, traditional, and tasteful gestalt is exactly what makes Martha appealing to some parents today.

JoanHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Johanna
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    Joan was the perfect name choice for one of the leading characters on Mad Men, being a quintessential girls' name of the period. A Top 10 name in the 30s, a Top 50 name from the 40s through the early 60s, it was the fifth most popular name in the country for three years running and ranks as one of the most common names for girls in the 20th century. But alas, Joan hasn't even appeared in the Top 1000 for a dozen years, and these days it's primarily associated with Joans of the generation of Joan Crawford, Joan Collins and Joan Rivers--just a few of the noted Joans whose ranks also include the singers Joan Sutherland, Joan Baez, Joan Armatrading and Joan Jett. But it's possible that modern parents who are reviving Jane might move on to Joan, inspired by Joan Hollaway Harris.

JeanHeart

  • Origin:

    English and Scottish, from French variation of Johanna
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    Originally a feminine of John, Jean was popular in Scotland long before it found favor elsewhere, and had its most shining moment here in the era of Jean Harlow (born Harlean), ultimate symbol of silver screen glamour. Now, though there are many grandmas and even moms with the name, it doesn't seem all that baby-friendly. Though that could change, and Jean could join Jane.

MonroeHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "mouth of the Roe river"
  • Description:

    Monroe is a presidential name which, thanks to the immortal beauty of Marilyn Monroe, is catching on fast for baby girls. Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon chose it for their twin daughter, honoring Marilyn Monroe. Their use of Monroe as a girls’ name did much to revive this Old Man name, a la Sydney, as a newly fashionable choice for girls.

GloriaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "glory"
  • Description:

    Gloria is beginning to move beyond its de-glamorized Grandma image, most recently thanks to glamorous young Hollywood parents Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard, who chose it for their second daughter. Gyllenhaal was quoted as saying they had been inspired by Patti Smith's rendition of the Van Morrison song "Gloria" at a concert and thought " 'We'll name our daughter that one day'."

GreerHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish, contraction of surname Gregor; Latin
  • Meaning:

    "alert, watchful"
  • Description:

    This attractive Scottish surname choice, has a certain amount of glamour thanks to feisty British-born red-haired forties Academy Award winner Greer Garson, who was born Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson--Greer was her Irish mother's maiden name). Greer was chosen much more recently by Kelsey Grammer for his daughter and by Brooke Shields in the Grier form. As a surname, it's associated with feminist writer/activist Germaine Greer.

FayHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "fairy"
  • Description:

    Fay, also spelled Faye, who had been napping quietly since the 1930's, has, like cousins May/Mae and Ray/Rae, sat up and started rubbing her eyes, ready for a mini-comeback, especially as a middle name. In 2014, Faye hopped back onto the US Top 1000, though Fay is used much more quietly as a first name.

LakeHeart

  • Origin:

    Nature name
  • Description:

    This body of water runs deep; the best of a group of new possibilities that includes Bay, Ocean, River, and the more established Brook. It has received attention via the actress Lake Bell. Lake would make a particularly cool and refreshing middle name, as Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady did for daughter Vivian.

RitaHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish, diminutive of Margarita
  • Meaning:

    "pearl"
  • Description:

    One of the glamour girl names of the Rita Hayworth 1940s, Rita was once a Top 50 name and stayed on the SSA list until 2002. It still has enough Latin zip to be a lively, revivable short form of Margarita. Other namesakes include Puerto Rican actress/singer Rita Moreno (born Rosa), poet Rita Dove and novelist Rita Mae Brown. Rita Skeeter is a Harry Potter character.

GingerHeart

  • Origin:

    English diminutive
  • Description:

    Originally a unisex nickname for a redhead -- red hair is called "ginger" in Britain -- or for the name Virginia, Ginger perennially wears pink gingham and spike heels.

LorettaHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Italian Lauretta; diminutive of Laura
  • Meaning:

    "bay laurel"
  • Description:

    Though Loretta has long ago lost its Latin flair, fashionable Sarah Jessica Parker's choice of it as the middle name of one of her twin daughters freshens it up a bit. It's one of several such names, like Anita and Rita that we can envision making a comeback.

YvonneHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "yew wood"
  • Description:

    Peaking in the 1950s, Yvonne has now dropped out of the Top 1000 in 2003 and doesn't look set to return soon, although its rare Y initial might endear it to some. Yvaine, from Neil Gaiman's Stardust, has more modern appeal.

KayHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Katherine
  • Description:

    Kay, a cigarette-smoking, nightclubbing name of the 1930's, could be ready for a comeback along with cousins May/Mae and Ray/Rae.

VivienHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "life"
  • Description:

    Vivien (Scarlett O'Hara) Leigh was born Vivian. Some sources give Vivien as a relative of the Irish goddess name Bebinn and a literary name invented by Tennyson. Others say it's related to the Latin-based Viviana, meaning life. This spelling of the name is as legitimate as many others.

TierneyHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "descendent of a lord"
  • Description:

    An uncommon Irish-accented surname that seems particularly well suited to a girl. Tierney Sutton is a well-known jazz singer. Tierney, in its original Tiarnach form, was the name of several saints. It can also join the ranks of Old Hollywood names, via the haunting actress Gene Tierney. ER actress Maura Tierney is a current surname bearer.

MarleneHeart

  • Origin:

    German variation of Madeline; combination of Mary and Magdalen
  • Description:

    Marlene Dietrich made it famous when she condensed her first two names, Maria and Magdalena. Now more often pronounced with two syllables rather than three.

BrigitteHeart

  • Origin:

    French variation of Brighid
  • Meaning:

    "strength or exalted one"
  • Description:

    Brigitte is the French version of the ancient Irish Brighid long associated with 1950s sex symbol Brigitte Bardot. If you want to pronounce Brigitte the French way, it's brih-ZHEET.

BetteHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Elizabeth
  • Description:

    Pronounced a la Bette (Betty) Davis or Bette (Bet) Midler, a twentieth-century relic. Though if the equally vintage Betty comes back, Bette may be close behind.

SheridanHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "searcher"
  • Description:

    Upper crust-y surname Sheridan gains some energy when used for a girl.

KatharineHeart

  • Origin:

    Spelling variation of Katherine, Greek
  • Meaning:

    "pure"
  • Description:

    This is the spelling that old-time film star Katharine Hepburn used, and it's still favored by fans wanting to reference her classic strength and beauty. But in general, it's losing ground to Katherine and even Ms. Hepburn's own favorite short form, Kate.

JayneHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Jane
  • Description:

    Unplain (if dated) Jane.

BardotHeart

  • Origin:

    French surname
  • Description:

    Bardot joined the first and last names of other glamour girl icons such as (Jean) Harlow when David Boreanaz chose the surname of '50s French sex symbol Brigitte Bardot for his daughter.

HedyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Hedwig
  • Description:

    Linked to one of the great screen beauties, but has never appealed much to Americans.

TempleHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "dweller near the temple"
  • Description:

    The old word name Temple has gained some recent notice as a girls' name via admired autistic writer and inventor Dr. Temple Grandin (born Mary Temple), subject of an acclaimed biopic, in which she was played by Claire Danes.
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