Crosby, Penn & Winslet: Hollywood Surnames

by appellationmountain on November 9, 2012

Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Audrey to Scarlett, the given names of Hollywood stars have had an impact on the names parents choose for their children far away from the lights of Tinsel Town.

And surname names are very of the moment, from Madison and Tyler to more obscure possibilities.

Combine those two categories, and what do you get?  A list of surnames right at home in lights, borrowed from Hollywood stars past and present.

Golden Age Hollywood Surnames for Girls

Astor – As in Academy Award winning screen legend, Mary Astor, one of the few to transition from silent film to talkies.  Her screen name conjures up the family of American magnates, but Mary is no relation.

Bardot – Even though David Boreanaz ultimately dropped this Hollywood surname, re-naming his daughter Bella, Bardot has possibilities.

Taylor – She’s fading today, but Elizabeth Taylor’s surname is proof that the category works.

Golden Age Hollywood Surnames for Boys

Bogart – Hollywood’s Humphrey Bogart is too big a name to be overlooked, but Bogart has his shortcomings.  It’s also the name of a mischief-minded spirit in English folklore, known for hiding under bridges or wreaking havoc in the kitchen.  Still, David Rainey – The Real World’s Puck – gave the name to a son, and another daring namer might do the same.

Brando – Lop off Irish favorite Brandon’s final n, and you arrive at this surname, made famous by Marlon. If Leo, Matteo, and Arlo  are stylish, why not Brando?

Cooper – Like Taylor, Cooper has already arrived.  But two-time Oscar winner Gary Cooper is too big of a name to leave off this list.

CrosbyBing Crosby – born Harry - was most famous as a crooner, but also scored a Best Actor Oscar for Going My Way.

Davis – Yes, it is the last name of legendary leading lady Bette, but Davis works best for a boy.

Gable - He’s a little something like the popular Gabriel, but he’s really a nod to Clark Gable, an actor who headlined many a famous flick from the 1930s into 1961.  Saturday Night Live alum Kevin Nealon gave the name to his son in 2007.

Heston – Today he’s better known for his politics, but Charlton Heston has a serious filmography behind him.  As for his surname, wouldn’t Heston fit right in with Hudson?

Holden – He’s mostly a literary choice, a name wed to JD Salinger’s most famous character.  But there’s also William Holden – from the original Sabrina, and winner of the 1953 Best Actor for Stalag 17.

Hudson – Before there was Glee heartthrob Finn Hudson, girls swooned over the toweringly tall, ever so handsome Rock Hudson – who, incidentally, sang in his high school glee club in Winnetka, Illinois.

Modern Day Hollywood Surnames for Girls

Aniston – Take Addison, add Anneliese and no wonder Aniston is a possibility.  Actress Chyler Leigh spelled it Anniston for her daughter.  Combined, the two spellings would easily take the name into the US Top 1000.

Bettany – She’s not on anyone’s radar, but actor Paul Bettany’s surname could be a great option for a daughter.  Something like Bethany, and an easy way to get to the nickname Betty, Bettany feels modern and surprising without actually being too out there.

MatlinMarlee Matlin won an Academy Award in 1986, the first and only time a deaf performer has won.  Her surname has a few possible origins, but one of them is related to the German word for an alpine meadow, and could read like a spin on the popular Madeline.

Winslet – One of the names that prompted this post, Kate Winslet’s surname has made a few shortlists.  But so far, she’s still rarely used.

Modern Day Hollywood Surnames for Boys

Cruz – He’s one of the Beckham boys, and the last name of the very lovely Penelope Cruz.

FieldFields, Fielder, and Fielding could all work, too, but two-time Best Actress winner Sally Field is the reason this name makes the list.

Garner – Jennifer’s surname is better on a boy, a fact that she and Ben know.  Their son is called Samuel Garner Affleck.  It’s also the middle name of Jessica Alba’s second daughter, Haven Garner Warren.

Keaton – He’s more popular than you might guess, with multiple Hollywood ties: Buster Keaton, Diane Keaton, and Michael Keaton.  There’s also the 80s television family from Family Ties, as in Alex P. Keaton.

Ledger – The tragic death of Heath Ledger might leave some reluctant to consider this name, but he’s actually an old Frankish given name, one that didn’t survive the trip to England in the eleventh century.  A seventh century saint answered to Ledger, Leger, or Leodegar.

Nicholson – Boys are called Harrison, Jackson, and tons of ends in -son names.  And Nicholas had a great run.  Why not Nicholson?  He brings to mind the great Jack Nicholson, and opens the door to nicknames from Nick to Cole.

Penn – There’s famous Quaker William Penn, and Gossip Girl actor Penn Badgley, but the name makes this list thanks to Sean Penn.

Phoenix – As in River and then Joaquin, both from the acting family that put this name on the map.

RyderWinona Ryder was born Winona Horowitz.  She borrowed her stage surname from musician Mitch Ryder, who was born William Levise.  Despite this line of assumed names, Ryder and Rider are legitimate occupational surnames that feel a little bit nouveau, a little bit Hollywood.

Theron – As in Charlize, but also an ancient choice with history aplenty.

WhitakerForest Whitaker has a great given name, and a cool last name, too.  It either means white field or wheat field … but either way, it seems like a great name for a son.  And maybe a daughter, too.

What do you think of Hollywood surnames?  Are there any you would use?  Are there any that should be added to this list?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Megalady November 9, 2012 at 12:38 PM

I love Winslet and really like Ledger.

One of my favorite actors has two usables for a surname, but I’m more captivated by the Levitt part of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s name. Then there is JGL’s costar from Looper, Bruce Willis. Perhaps for the Will fan who doesn’t love William or Liam. Then for the girl side,
Hathaway, which I could easily see shorten to Hattie.

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appellationmountain November 10, 2012 at 7:54 AM

Hathaway is a genius addition to this list! I can see Willis working for lots of reasons. Levitt, too.

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Via November 9, 2012 at 6:51 AM

It suprises me that I like a lot of these names. In the past I haven’t been much of a fan of surname names mainly because my own last name Carter has been a favourite among other people, but I find it so bland.

I really like Bardot, Gable, Hudson, Bettany, Winslet, Penn and Theron. The others are lovely as well.

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