I have lists upon lists of baby names. Some are names I love, but would never use, like Poppy or Everett. Others include names I absolutely want to give children, but my husband has veto'd like a jerk, like George and Tilly. And some are just names I find lovely, but can't figure out a way to work them into our family, like Felix and Mabel. There's just so much naming inspiration out there, and because I'm particularly drawn to classic names, I also have a giant list of baby names inspired by old Hollywood. Because where else am I going to put my fictional children named Ginger, Frank, and Bing?
I have been in love with old Hollywood for as long as I can remember. And for all the problematic parts — the sexism, the inexcusable breaking of labor laws, the gender wage gap, the racism — there is something incredibly romantic and lovely about a black-and-white movie starring Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart. I grew up on the classics, which is probably why I named my second daughter after Lucille Ball, and find the entire era so thrilling and wonderful. So if you're anything like me and spent your budding teenage years making mix CDs of Frank Sinatra songs and rewatching Arsenic and Old Lace until the VHS wore out, then here are 20 vintage old Hollywood baby names perfect for your glam brood.
Cary Grant was a man who could do it all — suave, debonair, action hero — but then he could also master a pratfall to make you laugh out loud. My foray into classic Hollywood started with him and Arsenic and Old Lace, and his name is just the perfect moniker for a little one. According to Nameberry, Grant is a Scottish name that means "large." OK, not the sweetest description, but just think of the street cred when your kid realizes they were named after the Cary Grant.
I love the name Clark, especially when you think of Clark Gable, the "King of Hollywood." He was one of the most celebrated film stars of his time, and his name just resonates with class and glamour. Beyond that, Clark just has some pizzazz. It's short, punchy, and according to Nameberry, it's an English name that means "scribe, secretary, cleric, scholar, clerk."
OK, so for a less traditional approach to an old Hollywood baby name, you can try the last name like Gable as an ode to our guy Clark. It's a strong, unique choice, and has a French background meaning "triangular feature in architecture," Nameberry noted.
Elizabeth is a classic, so whether you're using it as an ode to Elizabeth Taylor or Elizabeth Montgomery, it's a win. The name has also consistently been on the most popular lists, and it means "pledged to God," according to Nameberry.
I love the name Fred so much and I just can't get my husband on board. Maybe if I pull in Fred Astaire or Fred MacMurray it could work? According to Nameberry, it could either be a shortened name for Frederick or Alfred, with Frederick meaning "peaceful ruler" and Alfred meaning "wise counselor."
Oh, another classic (are you sensing a theme here?), William could be in honor of William Powell or William Holden (or even Clark Gable again as his first name was William), and it means "resolute protection," noted Nameberry.
Your little one doesn't have to have red hair to be named Ginger — just look at Ginger Rogers. She's one of the most celebrated actresses and dancers around, and her charisma and energy on screen knew no bounds. For your own little spark, Ginger is an English name that can stand alone or be short for Virginia.
Reportedly, Bette Midler was named for Bette Davis, but her parents didn't know Bette Davis pronounced it like "Betty." Whether you want to be the informal pronunciation of "Bett" or go for "Betty," this is a sweet, happy little choice for your babe.
Eartha Kitt is an icon. She was the original Catwoman, a singer, a songwriter, a dancer, and an activist. Your baby would be proud to rock this name, and it has an ethereal, natural quality considering it literally means "earth."
My husband's first name is Frank, which I love, but he refuses to let me use it as a name for a future baby. Ugh, the worst. I'll have to reframe it as a nod to Frank Sinatra, otherwise known as Ol' Blue Eyes, Chairman of the Board, The Sultan of Swoon — I could go on.
Ella's a really popular choice these days, but I love tying it to Ella Fitzgerald, an absolute legend. The name also means "all, completely; fairy maiden," according to Nameberry, which is just lovely.
Come on, you knew this one was coming Marilyn Monroe is synonymous with Old Hollywood, and her sweet name (her stage name, that is) has an English origin as a combination of Mary and Lynn.
One of the most legendary films to ever come out of the old Hollywood era was The Wizard of Oz, so naming your own little one in ruby slippers after Dorothy is the cutest. (Might I suggest Dottie for a nickname?) According to Nameberry, the name also means "gift of God."
Lana Turner had an incredible career in Hollywood, but was also known for her personal life being shared almost constantly. For your own glamorous kid, Lana is an Irish, feminine version of Alan and means "little rock, or harmony, concord," noted Nameberry.
James Dean, James Stewart, James Cagney — this classic name was huge during the old Hollywood era, and it continues to be popular now. Thanks to celebs like Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, James is also considered a unisex name, so don't feel like you have to save it for a son.
I love how fun and classic the name Danny is, but I especially love its reference to Danny Kaye and Danny Thomas. Both were huge actors, but Danny Thomas especially has a sweet spot after he founded St. Jude's. Don't feel like you have to go for Daniel here — Danny is a fine stand-alone choice.
Bing! Talk about a spark of joy for a name. Bing Crosby — well, you know him — had such a unique, fun moniker that it would be a shame not to share it with the world today. The name is German and means "kettle-shaped hollow" apparently, but I'm fine with just reminding people of Bing Crosby if they ask.
I think Judy is just one of the sweetest names, and when you pair it with the icon that is Judy Garland, it's even lovelier. Garland definitely had some turmoil in her life, but her mark on the world is indelible, and her talent was limitless. For your own little Judy, the name has a Hebrew origin and is short for Judith, which means "He will be praised."
OK, everyone loves to talk about Steamboat Willie being the first movie Mickey Mouse starred in, but what about his love Minnie? Minnie Mouse is the ultimate icon, and her name is just too perfect. According to Nameberry, it's short for Minerva and means "of the mind, intellect." I think it's just adorable.
Hattie McDaniel is famous for her role as Mammy in Gone With the Wind, but she's also famous for being the first African American entertainer to win an Academy Award. She's a huge deal, and her name is an inspiration to many. If you want to honor her, this sweet little moniker is apparently short for Harriet and means "estate ruler," according to Nameberry. I just love it.