21 Baby Names Inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood

Genny Glassman | Jul 19, 2017 Pregnancy
21 Baby Names Inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood
Image: iStock.com/deucee_

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As tempting as it is to look at the pages of US Weekly for baby names, it might be better to reconsider instead a name that will stand the test of time. For names that are both glamorous and contemporary, the next big trend might be looking to the stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood for inspiration. Remember Cary, Mae, and Natalie? These stars were so big we don't even need to mention their last names. 

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What is the key to the perfect Hollywood baby name? Well we spoke with Laura Wattenberg of BabyNameWizard, who tells us, "In general, parents today are looking for names that still summon up that old-time glamour. Typically that means a name that didn't become super-popular in its day, so it doesn't sound too 'grandma' or 'grandpa' now." Got that? These names are both classics, but still seem fresh. 

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Here are some of the best baby names of Hollywood's Golden Age that we think will make a little one a legend. Or to paraphrase the words of the great Sally Fields on Oscar night, we like them -- We really, really like them! Take a look!

kid with camera

  • Flynn

    Happy baby on a gray background

    One of the most notorious Hollywood playboys, Errol Flynn was dashing and charismatic on the screen. Flynn is derived from Gaelic word Flann, meaning "red," or the "red-haired one." But you don't need to be a redhead to find this name attractive! Recently, Flynn was re-popularized by the Disney film Tangled.

  • Monroe

    Baby in a pink hat
    Samuel Borges Photography/Shutterstock

    When you hear Monroe, you probably think of Norma Jeane Mortenson, aka Marilyn Monroe. Known for her roles in "Some Like It Hot," "The Seven Year Itch," and "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," Marilyn was arguably one of the biggest stars of the 20th century. But did you know the name Monroe also has Gaelic roots? A compilation of "moine" (a marsh) and "ruadh" (red), Monroe translates to "dweller at the red morass," and it's a showstopping name for a little boy or a girl.

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  • Kirk

    Baby in a sailor outfit in a suitcase
    Maya Kruchankova/Shutterstock

    Today you might be more familiar with his famous son Michael, but in the 1950s Kirk Douglas was a major Hollywood star known for his gravelly voice and dimpled chin. Kirk was originally a Norse surname for "dweller by the church" and peaked in the '60s as a popular first name for boys in the US. Time to bring this classic back, we think!

  • Theda

    Baby with bunny pj's

    Also known as "The Vamp," Theda Bara was one of the world's most popular silent film stars. Offscreen, the name Theda has Greek origins, meaning "healer," or "to heal."

  • Bing

    Baby boy with grass background

    Though he was most well-known as the singer of "White Christmas," Bing Crosby was also a popular actor in the '40s and '50s. Today the name Bing could be a cute '50s throwback or even a shout-out to one of our favorite Friends. Could the name Bing be any cuter?

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  • Harlow

    Baby with a leaf

    Beautiful Jean Harlow was a '20s sex symbol known as "the Blonde Bombshell" in the press. In her day, Harlow was an international superstar. And today, Harlow has resurged as a popular name, thanks to another celebrity -- Nichole Richie. Richie named her daughter Harlow in January of 2008.

  • Cary

    Baby with pilots cap

    Did you know that Hollywood legend Cary Grant ran away from home at 14 to join the circus? Known for his debonair looks, style, and sophistication, Cary Grant was one of Hollywood's most sought-after actors. A baby with this name is sure to car-ry on this legacy.

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  • Greer

    Baby with floral headband
    Elena Stepanova/Shutterstock

    Greer Garson was an Academy Award–winning English actress known for her great beauty and her performance in the 1942 film Mrs. Miniver. As a name, Greer is the feminine form of Gregory and is rooted in the Latin word for "watchful," or "vigilant." 

  • Brando

    Baby sucking thumb

    Stella! Just kidding, this next name is Brando -- after Marlon Brando of A Streetcar Named Desire and The Godfather fame. Brando as a first name is a cute title that hearkens back to one of the best actors to have ever lived. It implies a sense of brilliance, strength, and a little bit of darkness.

  • Greta

    little girl smiling

    One of the most enigmatic faces to hit the silver screen, Greta Garbo was strikingly beautiful and much revered for her acting ability. Though the name peaked in popularity in the 1920s, it has come back into favor in the past 20 years. Greta is also the shortened form of the name Margarethe (or Margaret) and means, "pearl." What a treasure!

  • Heston

    Baby under a blanket

    As in Charlton Heston, you maniacs! Best known for his roles in Planet of the Apes and Ben-HurCharlton Heston spent his career portraying men of strong character. Though Heston as a first name has yet to make the jump to popularity, we think it is a unique name that implies both stability and adventure.

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  • Lana

    Baby trying to crawl
    iStock.com/George Rudy

    Bombshell Lana Turner took Hollywood by storm as both a serious dramatic actress and a notorious pinup. Because of this Hollywood ingenue, Lana is a magnetic name that will always be associated with old Hollywood glamour.

  • Bebe

    Baby on white background
    iStock.com/Suriyapong Thongswang

    Actress Bebe Daniels was a star of the silent screen who appeared in Hollywood classics like The Maltese Falcon and 42nd Street; she was also Dorothy in the original The Wonderful Wizard of OzBebe was one of most prolific film stars, appearing in over 230 films in her career. As a name, Bebe is often a pet name for Beatrice or Barbara, though there are other notable Bebes, including actress Bebe Neuwirth and well-known "groupie" Bebe Buell (Liv Tyler's mom). Sounds like a name with plenty of charisma!

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  • Basil

    Happy baby with it's mouth open

    "Elementary, my dear Watson!" From 1939 to 1947, actor Basil Rathbone (pronounced "BAH-sil") played Sherlock Holmes, his most widely recognized performance to date. Though very similar to the herb basil, Basil is a name that was very popular in the early 20th century, peaking in the 1900s.

  • Mae

    Baby Girl on a white blanket

    Wisecracking, sexy, and showstopping Mae West made her film debut at the age of 39 and only appeared in 12 movies throughout her career. Her voluptuous body and bawdy sense of humor often got West into trouble, but in her personal life, West wrote her own material and was a shrewd businesswoman. The name Mae is often a nickname for Mary or Margaret and has recently had a resurgence in popularity.

  • Natalie

    baby girl with pink headband

    Hollywood actress Natalie Wood was known for her dark brown eyes and iconic performances in West Side Story and Splendor in the Grass. The name Natalie is derived from the Latin Natalia, meaning "Natal Day" or Christmas. Traditionally, Natalie is a name given to children born on Christmas, though it has remained popular for babies born at any time of year.

  • Wayne

    Happy baby and mom

    Western star John Wayne was known for his tough guy persona and deeply held patriotism. As the original Cowboy movie star, Wayne starred in as many as 140 feature films. Though the name Wayne has declined in popularity since the 1950s, the name is befitting of any little adventurer, as it means "wagon" or "wagoner." 

  • Bette

    Baby with blocks

    For your little Bette Davis, the name Bette is a pet name of Elizabeth, meaning "God is my oath." It's also the name of iconic actress and singer Bette Midler, who is named after Davis but pronounces it "BET," because her mother didn't know it was meant to be pronounced "BET-ty." This one goes out to the little divas in the making!

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  • Ingrid

    Baby in a pink shirt smiling

    Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Ingrid Bergman was tall, beautiful, and foreign, which lent her an air of sophistication and gave her a "good girl" image. As a name, Ingrid is Norse and means "Beautiful Ing" (Ing being the goddess of fertility). In popularity, Ingrid has fluxed between being in and out of fashion, but for the moment it's on the rise! Here's looking at you, kids!

  • Humphrey

    Baby making a silly face

    In all of the gin joints, in all the world -- first Ingrid Bergman and now it's Humphrey Bogart. Another icon of the silver screen, Humphrey Bogart was initially typecast as a gangster until he broke free in roles in The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca. Inspired by an actor who played cynical characters with a hero's heart, Humphrey would be a good pick for a name with both wisdom and vulnerability. 

  • Baxter

    Baby grabbing his toes

    Star of All About Eve, Anne Baxter had a prolific career, lasting well into the 1980s, though her popularity peaked in the '40s and '50s. Her surname, Baxter, would make an excellent name for a baby boy; we can just imagine calling after little Bax

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