The Secret Celebrity Baby Names that Nobody Talks About
Want a celebrity baby name that will set the world abuzz with astonishment? Forget Dream and Zuma, the names you're looking for are…
When George and Amal Clooney chose those familiar, fashionable names for their newborn twins last month, popular opinion declared it a Hollywood miracle. A sampling of media reactions from around the globe:
Headline: "George and Amal Clooney don’t know they’re celebrities and picked normal names for their twins" (Digisnak)
"It's almost an outrage for celebrity babies to be given names that have already appeared on 'most popular' lists" (stuff)
"The Clooneys have cemented their distinctive reputation by doing something extraordinary. They have given their twins normal names….Wacky baby names in Hollywood are as common as juice bars on Sunset Strip, with most celebrities choosing names that sound like a cocktail or a haemorrhoid treatment." (TheTimes)
I myself received multiple inquiries from reporters about why these celebrities broke from the norm, and whether they could spark a new trend with this unprecedented normality. Unprecedented? That will come as a surprise to all the other famous parents who have named a child Ella or Alexander, like:
Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor
John Travolta and Kelly Preston
Keshia Knight Pulliam and Ed Hartwell
Mark Wahlberg and Rhea Durham
Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber
Tom Ford and Richard Buckley
Warren Beatty and Annette Bening
The secret truth is, Hollywood is teeming with conventional baby names. In past tallies, I've found that celebrity parents choose top-1,000 names at about the same rate as the general public. Why, then, do we think of Hollywood as a baby-name funhouse, out of touch with "normal" naming?
One reason is that "normal" naming isn't what it used to be. All parents are naming more adventurously. Sure, Kim & Kanye named their kids North and Saint, but consider that last year 71 not-so-famous American babies were named Riot, 91 were named Zeppelin, 179 were named Denim, and 1,200 (yes, 1,200) were named Legend. We can hardly expect Hollywood types to be less creative than the general public.
Another factor is that familiar, traditional celebrity baby names just don't stick in our minds. "Weird" name choices become fodder for internet wits and water-cooler banter. They're rehashed year after year, whenever a new unconventional name is mentioned. At this point, I'd wager that more people can name one of musician Frank Zappa's kids (e.g. Moon Unit) than one of his songs. Meanwhile I dare you to name a single child of Zappa's musical contemporaries, like Roger Waters or Jerry Garcia. In short, we remember the memorable.
So our perception of celebrity baby names is skewed. I've written before about the rapidly changing realm of typical baby names across America. Today I'm going to tackle perceptions from the other direction, and reveal the shocking normality hiding in Hollywood. Below are 10 traditional, mainstream hit names and some of the famous parents who have chosen them, totaling 52 celebrity babies. Between these conventionally named A-listers and the 1,200 newborn Legends, we may see that the divide between Main Street and Hollywood Boulevard isn't as wide as it seems.
Ava: Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe, Hugh Jackman, Jeremy Renner, Josh Gad, Jason Priestley, Rachel Roy and Damon Dash
Charles/Charlie: Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall, Jodie Foster, Russell Crowe, Jeff Goldblum, Cynthia Nixon, Chris O'Donnell
Charlotte: Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze, Harry Connick Jr., Dylan McDermott, Amy Brenneman and Brad Silberling, Colin Hanks
Grace: Kevin Costner, Mark Wahlberg, Christy Turnlington and Ed Burns, Lynn Whitfield, Elisabeth Hasselback, Dave Matthews
Henry: Julia Roberts, Colin Farrell, Jack White, Rachel Weisz and Darren Aronofsky, Heidi Klum and Seal, Minnie Driver, Amanda Peet
Isabella: Matt Damon, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Josh Gad, Justin Chambers
Jack: Chris Pratt and Anna Faris, Tom Brady and Bridget Moynahan, Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid, Johnny Depp, Maya Rudolph and Paul Thomas Anderson, James Marsden
James: Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Colin Farrell, Ellie Kemper, Jamie King
Oliver: Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas, Julie Bowen, Fred Savage, Danny Elfman and Bridget Fonda
Samuel/Sam: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber, Jack Black, Andrew McCarthy