Take naming inspiration from the big screen

Posted in Name my baby
by Lorain County Moms


I’ve always been intrigued with the names of the characters played by movie stars, especially the iconic figures of the Golden Age — the interplay between actor and character name, and the roles those names played in establishing and perpetuating their screen personas.

It certainly comes as no surprise that John Wayne played numerous heroes named John and Jim or that Cary Grant portrayed three Nicks or how many good girl Pollys and Pennys there were, played by the likes of the young Shirley Temple and Judy Garland. But there were a lot of interesting aberrations for example, though to most of us Clark Gable will always be Rhett Butler, he was also Ace, Blackie (twice), Candy, Duke and Patch; Humphrey Bogart may live on eternally in video heaven as Rick, but he also answered to Baby Face, Bugs, Turkey, Duke, Gloves, Chips and Rocks, Joan Crawford was Bingo as well as Mildred Pierce, and Bette Davis was Fluff Phillips as well as Margo Channing.

Looking over some vintage cast credits, one thing that jumps out is the number of current trends that were anticipated in the movies of the 1930s, forties and fifties. For example:


In addition to those mentioned above, there were:

  • ACE — Cary Grant
  • AGGIE — Linda Darnell
  • ALLIE — Joan Crawford
  • ARCHIE — Clark Gable
  • BUCK — Jack Benny
  • BUNNY — Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn and Lana Turner
  • BUSTER — Loretta Young
  • CHIP — Frank Sinatra
  • DUSKY — Marilyn Monroe
  • DUSTY — John Wayne, Gary Cooper
  • DUTCH — Spencer Tracy, James Stewart
  • EMMY — Olivia de Havilland, Alice Faye
  • FRANKIE — Ann Sheridan
  • FREDDIE — Betty Grable
  • GEORGIE — Grace Kelly
  • HUCK — Fred Astaire
  • JERRY — Alice Faye
  • JOSIE — Marlene Dietrich
  • KATIE — Alice Faye
  • KIT — Lana Turner
  • KITTY — Ava Gardner, Paulette Goddard, Ginger Rogers
  • FLIP — Ginger Rogers
  • JIGGS — Kirk Douglas
  • LETTIE — Loretta Young
  • LANK — Henry Fonda
  • LINK — Gary Cooper
  • LUCKY — Fred Astaire, Dorothy Lamour
  • LUTIE — Katharine Hepburn
  • MIDGE — Kirk Douglas
  • RANDY — Ann Sheridan
  • RIP — James Stewart
  • ROXIE — Ginger Rogers
  • RUSTY — Rita Hayworth
  • SAIRY — Judy Garland
  • SCOTTIE — James Stewart
  • SMOKEY — Olivia de Havilland
  • VIN — Steve McQueen
  • VIRGIE — Shirley Temple
  • WINNIE — Betty Hutton


Just in case you thought this was a new thing, it was also a rampant trend in Hollywood’s heyday, with such examples (in addition to those above) as:

  • BILL — Jean Arthur
  • CAL — Anne Baxter
  • CARY — Jane Wyman
  • CECIL — Linda Darnell
  • CHRISTOPHER — Katharine Hepburn
  • DENNY — Jane Wyman
  • HANK — Ann Sheridan
  • JOHNNY — Ginger Rogers
  • LLOYD — Shirley Temple
  • MIKE — Jane Russell, Margaret O’Brien
  • PETER — Ida Lupino
  • RANDOLPH — Ida Lupino
  • REGGIE Audrey Hepburn
  • REMY — Ava Gardner
  • ROY — Olivia de Havilland
  • STANLEY — Bette Davis
  • TEDDY — Veronica Lake
  • THEO — Lana Turner
  • VANCE — Barbara Stanwyck
  • WALLY — Janet Leigh


In just about every World War II movie, it seemed that every ship and every squadron had at least one guy called Brooklyn, and a couple of Dakotas and Detroits. Of course these were nicknames based on place of origin, but still — Golden Age films were filled with place-name characters, including:

  • ALABAM — Carole Lombard
  • ALABAMA — Bette Davis, Jane Wyman
  • ALBANY — Dorothy Lamour
  • ALGERIA — Linda Darnell
  • CHINA — Jennifer Jones
  • DAKOTA — Rory Calhoun
  • DALLAS — Bette Davis
  • KANSAS — Dan Dailey
  • NEVADA — Gary Cooper, Alan Ladd, Steve McQueen
  • PHILADELPHIA — Shirley Temple
  • PITTSBURGH — John Wayne
  • RENO — Robert Ryan
  • RIO — Jane Russell
  • SIERRA NEVADA — Barbara Stanwyck
  • TEXAS — Gary Cooper
  • TULSA — Elvis Presley
  • VIENNA — Joan Crawford

One thing that has changed is the perception of some specific names. In the olde days, when W. C. Fields and Groucho Marx were looking for character names sure to produce a guffaw, they would come up with choices like Otis, Rufus, Quincy, Quentin, Augustus and Ambrose — names that now sound like handsome and perfectly acceptable names for babies.

Tomorrow look for some unusual monikers from vintage films that could make interesting choices today.

Nameberry (http://nameberry.com) is a baby-naming site produced by Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz, co-authors of 10 bestselling baby name guides, including the newest, “Beyond Ave and Aiden: The Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby.”

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