35 Vintage Hollywood Baby Names

Celeb worship these days may be something worth "tsk"-ing about, but there's no shame in reminiscing about Hollywood's most beloved, talented, brightest shining stars. There's even less shame it seems in drawing inspiration from stars of Hollywood's Golden Age when looking for a classic, timeless, maybe even a bit vintage baby name. After all, names like Humphrey or Clark and Vivien or Marilyn are nods to cultural icons.

Here, some of our favorite glitzy, glamorous girl and boy baby names.

  1. Judy - As in Garland, the leading lady of 1939's Wizard of Oz, and so many other classic films. Short for Judith, the name means "He will be praised, or woman from Judea." Its hey-day was definitely the mid-20th century; little Judys today are few and far between.
  2. Clark - Though we tend to think of Clark Kent, aka Superman, this name may also call to mind actor Clark Gable who will always be remembered as Rhett Butler. The strong name, which means "scribe, secretary, cleric, scholar, clerk," is enjoying a bit of an upswing these days, but still ranks pretty low at #554 on the most popular list.
  3. Marilyn - The stage name of Hollywood's quintessential golden girl, Norma Jean is rising in popularity these days. (Fun fact: There were more than 700 babies named Marilyn last year!)
  4. Sidney - The unisex name is more often used for girls than boys these days, but it's also the namesake of Bahamian-American actor Sidney Poitier, who made Hollywood history when he became the first black person to win an Academy Award in 1964.
  5. Ava - As in Gardner, this name has become increasingly popular, perhaps in part to Reese Witherspoon and Hugh Jackman both choosing it for their daughters. Meaning "life," it's a variation on Eve and is the fifth most popular name for girls!
  6. Charles - This was the first formal name of Charlie Chaplin, the first and of course most famous movie star of all time. Currently the name, which means "free man," ranks #62 in the U.S. 
  7. Vivien - Born Vivian Leigh, the actress who famously portrayed Scarlett O'Hara in 1938'sGone With the Wind, decided to swap out her "a" for an "e." Meaning "life," Vivian may also work for a boy. For girls, the name currently ranks at #141 -- its highest since 1950.
  8. Laurence - As in Olivier, the Englishman who is considered to have been one of the greatest actors of the century. A refined spelling of the more traditional Lawrence, it's actually on the rise as a girls' name!
  9. Bette - Depending on whether you're naming with Davis or Midler in mind, you may say "Betty" (the former) or "Bet" (the latter). Either way, it's a nickname for Elizabeth and is still considered rather unique.
  10. James - As in Dean or Cagney, but the classic name has recently enjoyed an uptick in popularity, thanks to Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick's eldest, James Joseph.
  11. Hattie - Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American to be awarded an Academy Award, in 1940, for her role in Gone With the Wind, and the name has gotten a modern boost from Tori Spelling's third child.
  12. Paul - An ancient name and the first name of actor Paul Newman, whose performances in classics like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Cool Hand Luke made him one of the greats. It currently ranks at #193.
  13. Lana - As in Turner, who first became famous in the '30s and continued to have success as a screen queen up until her passing in 1991. The name is technically a nickname of Alana, the feminine version of Alan, which means "little rock" or "harmony." 
  14. Frank - A top 10 name from the 1880s until the 1920s, which makes sense as it was given to the one and only Sinatra -- who was a star of both stage and screen -- it's currently on the rise, and may even be considered unisex now. Drew Barrymore just named her newborn daughter Frankie.
  15. Lauren - The popular girl's name may be a nod to the talented actress Lauren Bacall, born Betty Joan Perske, whose career first took off in the '40s. The name, which means "bay laurel," was in the top 25 from the early '80s until 2006, but Laura has since trumped it as a more popular option.
  16. Greta - As in Garbo. The German name is a nickname for Margarethe and means "pearl." It's currently more popular in Germany, Hungary, and Italy -- where it's #16! -- than the U.S.
  17. Olivia - The first name of actress Olivia de Havilland, known as an ingenue and, of course, Melanie in Gone With the Wind, is enjoying a new phase of popularity, perhaps thanks to actresses Olivia Wilde and Munn. In fact, it currently ranks at #4!
  18. Audrey - The name likely brings to mind Holly Golightly herself, Ms. Audrey Hepburn. It's been enjoying a steady rise in popularity, currently ranking at #41.
  19. Cary - As in Grant, one of Hollywood's most dashing leading men. However, the name -- which means "pleasant stream" -- hasn't held up for boys over the years and is usually more often chosen for girls. (Perhaps because we can't help but think of Carrie Bradshaw!)
  20. Katharine - As in Hepburn, the name is a classic still beloved to this day, but is third fiddle to Katherine and Kate (which was Hepburn's favorite nickname).
  21. Elizabeth - The name of the ultimate diva in Hollywood history, married eight times, Elizabeth Taylor, is a timeless go-to to this day, ranking at #10.
  22. Lena - As in Horne, the famous singer, actress, and civil rights activist. Of course, these days, we tend to think of Dunham. Either way, the name's given to strong women. It's considered a "pet form" of the name Helena.
  23. Barbara - As in Stanwyck or Streisand, although, if you want to nod to Babs, you'd spell it "Barbra," of course. It means "foreign woman." While tremendously popular in the '50s and '60s, the name is considered rather old school today.
  24. Mae - The first name of bawdy Hollywood siren, Mae West, was recently revived on the national charts of baby names in 2010, so it appears to be on the rise!
  25. Montgomery - As in Clift, who was lauded for his portrayals of "moody, sensitive young men" and outsiders. It actually means "man power."
  26. Natalie - Fans of West Side Story may want to consider this name for their little girl to pay tribute to Natalie Wood. Meaning "birthday of the Lord," it currently ranks at #17. The Russian version, Natalia, is a lovely variation.
  27. Spencer - As in Tracy, one of the major stars of Hollywood's Golden Age. Meaning "house steward, dispenser of provisions," it ranks at #234.
  28. Shirley - The first name of the littlest, biggest star, and "America's princess" Shirley Temple means "bright meadow." Sounds about right!
  29. Ginger - Though you may think of the Spice Girl, the name was also the stage name of Virginia Katherine McMath, aka Ginger Rogers, who starred in 73 films, many opposite Fred Astaire.
  30. Ingrid - As in Casablanca star Bergman, who gave this classic Scandinavian name lots of glamour. The name is still rare, however, barely cracking the top 1,000 in the U.S. today, though.
  31. Humphrey - Meaning "peaceful warrior," this boy's name of course brings to mind Bogart, who the American Film Institute ranked as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema.  
  32. Lucille - The first name of the brilliant comedian, Lucille Ball, is typically shortened to Lucy -- as in I Love Lucy -- and means "light." It's currently in the top 400 names for girls.
  33. Mickey - Wasn't just the name of a mouse. Rooney, who was a star since he was a child actor, had an incredible career that extended over 90 years. Of Hebrew origin, Mickey means "who is like God." It's a variation of Michael, which has the same origin/meaning and is the eighth most popular name for boys in the U.S.
  34. Jimmy - As in Stewart, whose career was long and bright, but most of us can never forget him as George Bailey in the 1946 Frank Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life.

Which of these names are your favorite?


Image via Helen King/Corbis