Glamorous Baby Names Inspired by Old Hollywood

Feb 18th 2015

 baby name roundups by theme

It's safe to say that lots of us love star-gazing on the night of the Academy Awards, with it's roughly 40 million viewers. And while we are intrigued and inspired by today's celebrities, we're over the moon for the days of the Golden Age of Hollywood. The styles were classic and seductive, with an understated glamor that some of today's stars still try to emanate.

The legends of the silver screen from the Golden Age (late 1920s–early 1960s) are deeply fascinating. But it's not just the personalities and talent that we hold dear, it's their names as well. They evoke glitz and glam, while at the same time communicating humble beginnings and old-fashioned charm.

Many of them are iconic, but they can all be worn confidently and separately from the star. They are perfect for today, whether it's the first name or surname in the spotlight. Part darling and straight-laced, part glamorous and undone, they make idyllic hybrid charmers that have become runaway hits on the naming stage.

  1. Audrey: The lovely British actress, humanitarian, and fashion icon Audrey Hepburn is still a true inspiration, even down to her given name. Audrey is a hit, sitting at 32 out of the top 1,000 girls' names. Even with a namesake from Shakespeare's As You Like It to add to its history, as well as a saint and a princess, Hepburn remains the most famous Audrey of all time.

  2. Ava: Ava is a Latin form of Eve with loads of Hollywood appeal, starting for some with the past group of celebrity babies born with this name, including daughters of Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Jackman, Heather Locklear, Eli Manning, Martina McBride and oh-so-many more. But the original inspiration straight out of Tinseltown came from Gardner, a glamorous actress and wife to Sinatra (among others). It's stylish, pretty, and simple, and this darling name, ranked 5th in America, has momentum that seems unstoppable.

  3. Clara: This new favorite was worn by perhaps the most iconic flapper and sex symbol of the roaring twenties, "The It Girl," actress Clara Bow. Today her name may not ring as many bells as it once did, but it's the spirit of the silent films that makes the name Clara as glamorous as it is darling.

  4. Clark: Frankly, my dear, we DO give a damn about the dashing name Clark. Actor Gable, known for delivering that iconic line among many others, was the King of Hollywood who knew how to dazzle audiences and wear a mustache with expertise. We love his name for its straightforward, classy image with a delightfully handsome demeanor, thanks also in part to Superman's alter ego, Kent.

  5. Cooper: Among the popular surnames that recently became a favorite as a given name, Cooper stands out as an unassuming, friendly choice. Legendary actor Gary Cooper makes this name shine with natural charm. It's been a top-100 choice since 2007, and even though it's trendy it feels as reliable as Gary Cooper himself.

  6. Dean: It took A Rebel Without a Cause to draw attention to this clean-cut name with a bit of an edge. That edge is enigmatically supplied by the sensitive, tortured soul of teen icon James Dean, heartthrob actor who rode his motorcycle at full throttle and smoked in the rain without a thought of an umbrella. He's one compelling reason why the name Dean is doing pretty well today, sitting in the low 200s and rising.

  7. Flynn: This surname was famously worn by debonaire swashbuckler and spirited rake Errol Flynn, who starred in a countless number of adventuresome films in the 30s and 40s. He inspired the expression "in like Flynn" and these days, he's inspiring parents on the hunt for the perfect alternative to contemporary favorite Finn. Flynn was also the name of Rapunzel's love interest in Disney's Tangled.

  8. Grace: Academy Award winner and Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly did it all and lived up to her name with stylish elegance. Today we're wild over this perfectly classic virtue name, as it's stayed in the top 30s since 1999 and is a favorite for a short-and-sweet middle name as well.

  9. Grant: Everybody wants to be Cary Grant, including the actor himself, as he was famous for saying. The quintessential leading man during the Golden Age, actor Cary Grant has a surname that's right on track with today's trends. And while President Ulysses S. Grant gives this name a star-spangled vibe, actor Cary Grant adds a dashing, gentlemanly quality as well.

  10. Harlow: The original blonde bombshell, Jean Harlow, was a captivating actress with a trademark look (that made peroxide sales skyrocket). Her talent and style embodies Old Hollywood, and her untimely death at only 26 makes her forever young and glamorous in our eyes. Her surname has a soft sound and makes for a perfect throwback name in honor of a true beauty. The name Harlow may not be popular, but it's doing better each year. It was used by Nicole Richie and Joel Madden for their first daughter and transformed into Richie's jewelry brand name, House of Harlow.

  11. Holden: Golden Boy was actor William Holden's first film and the rest is history. A prolific and talented actor with a compassionate and philanthropic side, William Holden has a devoted fanbase even today. His surname is trendy and, while it may be known better as the main character in The Catcher in the Rye, actor William Holden's contribution to the appeal of this name is strong. Holden sits at 287 and is getting more popular with each year.

  12. Laurence: Olivier was a British gent with an elegant name, known for his performances on stage as well as on screen. Even though Laurence is the traditional spelling, the surname Lawrence took off in its place. It's very English and proper, until the overdone nickname Larry comes into play.

  13. Mae: Actress, screenwriter, and sex symbol West takes this old-fashioned name from sweet and darling to sassy and daring. It's a change of pace from the Spring spelling May, which is nowhere to be seen these days, while this form is showing lots of promise on a sharp upward trend. We're glad Mae is moving up from the middle spot, where it's been a tried-and-true favorite for ages.

  14. Marilyn: This once unassuming elaboration of Mary became steamy with the fame of sex symbol Marilyn Monroe, and its link to her has stayed cemented in our culture. But even though this name brings to mind a 50s icon, we find it fresh on a girl today. It sits well next to names like Madelyn and Evelyn, and its lovely sound is hitting the mark for expecting parents, as stats show Marilyn gaining momentum in the past couple of years.

  15. Marlon: Brando's reach as one of the most influential actors of all time included influencing baby naming, helping the unique name Marlon hit the low 200s in the 1970s. It may be on a downswing today, but we think Marlon is a fantastic name with Hollywood appeal. It's currently worn by actor/comedian/director Marlon Wayans and former Jackson 5 member, Marlon Jackson.

  16. Monroe: There isn't another Golden Age star that has an up-and-coming first and last name, but the singular Marilyn Monroe has managed both. While her first name shouts classic 50s revival, Monroe makes a definitive contemporary statement. This is a trend that was sparked by Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon's daughter, Monroe, who was born in 2011 and named after the star.

  17. Rita: This short form of Margarita owes all its glamor to "The Love Goddess," actress and dancer Hayworth. The name Rita was a hit in the 1930s, making it on the cusp of relevant for revival today. It's spirited and sexy, with a dash of pure cute. As names like Mia, Gianna, and Sophia are current favorites, it's only a matter of time before Rita follows suit.

  18. Sophia: She's the epitome of grace and beauty, and whether we're talking about the name itself or the actress Loren is up for debate, because both fit that description. It's hard to top the number one girls' name in America, which evokes charm, style, and wisdom (its meaning!) all at once. It has a quite literal soft sound and a classic feel, though it's never been as popular as it is now. Ms. Loren only helps characterize this name with glamor and wit, making it a favorite from every angle.

  19. Spencer: Distinguished actor Spencer Tracy had a classic English surname that has stood the test of time. Even though Spencer hit its high point in the 90s, its has a fairly steady history as a given name in the US, and there's no need for it to ever fall out of fashion now. As one of the top actors of his time, Tracy gives this name a depth it wouldn't have had otherwise.

  20. Vivien: Actress Vivien Leigh, most famous for her performance as Scarlett in Gone With the Wind, lends this name a romantic quality between her on-screen love affairs and her off-screen relationship with Laurence Olivier. Add to that Tennyson's poetic retelling of a legend entitled Merlin and Vivien, an enchantress whose seduction tricks Merlin, and this name earns its love-struck reputation and vivacious sound.

Love these names? You may also like 20 Roaring 20s Names Making a Comeback.


February 18, 2015 11:29 PM

I would add Greer, Lana, and Lauren.

February 19, 2015 11:14 AM

Flynn is a great name, and Errol Flynn's films are fun, but parents should be aware that the expression "in like Flynn" was inspired by Flynn beating a rape charge, allegedly through his insider connections rather than innocence.

Re: Holden--it is well-known from Catcher in the Rye, but even that's a Hollywood connection, as there is an apocryphal story that Salinger was inspired by a movie marquee advertising a William Holden/Jand Caulfield film (the movie in question came out after the name was coined, although Salinger might still have been inspired by the actors' names).

By mk
February 19, 2015 4:03 PM

I'd add Lillian Gish


February 20, 2015 2:57 PM

Audrey Hepburn is a Belgium not a Brit.

We recently named our baby Lawrence. We are using the nickname "Law" instead of "Larry" and my daughter is Rosalind (as in Rosalind Russell) 

February 20, 2015 6:54 PM

You have Gable, but what about Rhett? Personally, I think Rhett has a lot more charm. 

And you have Flynn, but what about Errol? And Orson carries a lot of weight. 

February 20, 2015 6:55 PM

Oh, and I agree with nedibes that Errol Flynn is a horrible, or at least questionable, namesake

February 21, 2015 8:01 AM

@judeebee Audrey Hepburn held dual nationalities, both British and Belgian and was, throughout her career, referred to as a British actress. Her father was a British subject.

I'd add Katherine (Hepburn) to the list as well. Her name has consistently stayed on most name registers and she was definitely a Hollywood icon.

March 23, 2015 6:00 AM

My sister is named Loren after Sophia Loren. It's a nice alternative to Lauren anyway don't you think? We've only met three other girls with the same spelling, and it does get mistaken quite often though for Lauren, which is a mild inconvenience.