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Old Hollywood Names List

Baby Names Inspired from Classic Hollywood

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Updated June 30, 2014

Woman walking on Hollywood Walk of Fame, low section (blurred motion)
Grant Faint/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Parents look for inspiration in all kinds of places when it comes time to name their baby, and it is no wonder why. Finding a name that they love and imbues a sense of character and personality can be more than just a little bit challenging. In recent years it seems that some popular names can be categorized under a similar umbrella - names from "Old Hollywood." Names of actors and actresses from the early beginnings of the silver screen might be seen as glamourous, successful, and perhaps (ironically) modern.

"New Hollywood's" Love Affair With "Old Hollywood"

As I put this piece together, I began to wonder how much today's celebrity parents are having an effect on this relatively new naming trend. A solid example new of this may be illustrated with the recent (not to mention booming) popularity of the name Ava. It is this name nerd's opinion that a certain Hollywood-It Couple (sadly now divorced), fueled the popularity of this name when they chose it for their firstborn daughter in 1999. Since that time, the name has skyrocketed in popularity, both for celebrity parents (I've documented over 20) and the rest of us "common folk".

Another example of how celebrities are looking to the Golden Age of Hollywood for naming ideas is Harlow Winter Madden, daughter of Nicole Richie and Joel Madden. They explained that Harlow was named after illustrious star and 1930s sex symbol, Jean Harlow. It would seem that this new naming trend is not simply limited to celebrities, but many other parents looking for a glamourous name which they believe has personality and appeal as well.

So, if you are looking for naming inspiration for your baby or you are simply just curious about current baby name trends, browse through the "Old Hollywood" names list.

Top "Old Hollywood" Names

Wondering what names from the classic era are most popular today? These names appear in the current Top 50 Baby Names List. Click on name links to be read more about the meaning, popularity, and history behind each name, and provide your review of the name.

For girls, you might like:

  • Ava (Gardner), Show Boat
  • Elizabeth (Taylor), National Velvet
  • Grace (Kelly)The Country Girl
  • Katharine (Hepburn), most popular name spelling is Katherine, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
  • Lillian (Gish), Birth of a Nation
  • Natalie (Wood), Rebel Without a Cause
  • Olivia (de Havilland), Gone With the Wind
  • Sophia (Loren), Houseboat

"Old Hollywood" names do not appear to be nearly as popular for boys as it is for girls. Only 3 big stars seem to be cracking the popular name lists. They include:

  • James (Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and Dean, Rebel Without a Cause)
  • John (Wayne), Stage Coach
  • William (Holden, Sunset Boulevard and Powell, The Thin Man)

Still Popular But Less Common

If you are looking for a name from the classic period of Hollywood, but want something a little less common, but not overly different, consider one of these options.

For girls:

  • Audrey (Hepburn), Breakfast at Tiffany's
  • Greta (Garbo), Anna Karenina
  • Ingrid (Bergman), Casablanca
  • Lana (Turner), Peyton Place
  • Lauren (Bacall), The Big Sleep
  • Mae (West), She Done Him Wrong
  • Marilyn (Monroe), Some Like It Hot
  • Marlene (Dietrich), The Blue Angel
  • Veronica (Lake), Sullivan's Travels
  • Vivian (Vivien Leigh), Gone With the Wind

For boys:

  • Charlie (Chaplin), The Tramp
  • Clark (Gable), Gone With the Wind
  • Frank (Sinatra), From Here to Eternity
  • Gregory (Peck), To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Jimmy (Stewart), It's a Wonderful Life
  • Peter (O'Toole), Lawrence of Arabia
  • Richard (Burton), Cleopatra
  • Spencer (Tracy), Boy's Town
  • Tyrone (Power), The Mask of Zorro

Names Not Ranking in the Top 1000 Baby Names

Then if you are looking for a name that is even a little more outside the box, you might choose from one of these names. It isn't likely that your daughter or son will bump into another child their age with this monicker.

For girls:

  • Bette (Davis), Jezebel
  • Clara (Bow), It
  • Claudette (Colbert), It Happened One Night
  • Fay (Wray), King Kong
  • Gene (Tierney (Leave Her to Heaven)/Jean (Harlow), Red Dust
  • Ginger (Rogers), Kitty Foyle
  • Greer (Garson),Mrs. Miniver
  • Joan (Collins), Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!
  • Judy (Garland), The Wizard of Oz
  • Loretta (Young), The Farmer's Daughter
  • Louise (Brooks), Pandora's Box
  • Myrna (Loy), The Thin Man
  • Rita (Hayworth), Circus World
  • Rosalind (Russell), His Girl Friday

For boys:

  • Buster (Keaton), The General
  • Cary (Grant), His Girl Friday
  • Charlton (Heston), Ben Hur
  • Errol (Flynn), Captain Blood
  • Fred (Astaire), The Towering Inferno
  • Gene (Kelly) Singin' in the Rain
  • Humphrey (Bogart), Casablanca
  • Laurence Olivier, Hamlet
  • Marlon (Brando), A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Rock (Hudson), Giant
  • Yul Brynner, The Ten Commandments

Hollywood Last Names as First Names

Additionally, you could combine two current naming trends to find the perfect name for your baby. Using last names as first names has become increasingly popular since the mid '80s. (Read the article to find out to which movie I attribute that trend!) Any of these last name turned first names might be just for what you are looking!

  • Bogart
  • Brynner
  • Cagney
  • Dean
  • Flynn
  • Garbo
  • Garson
  • Grant
  • Harlow
  • Hudson
  • Kelly
  • Keaton
  • Leigh
  • Monroe
  • Stewart
  • Taylor
  • Tierney
  • Wayne

Granted, many parents choose names simply because they fell in love with it, and not at all because it has anything to do with stars and celebrities. However, many parents do find the classic period of Hollywood to be a source of naming inspiration!

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