With all the talk of Jacob and Isabella, it is easy to miss the real baby naming stories from the Twilight franchise.
Here’s one: thanks to Melissa for suggesting the rebounding Rosalie as Baby Name of the Day.
Rosalie’s last visit to the top of the popularity charts was in 1938. She owed her success to a movie that time, too.
Rosalie started out as a Broadway musical in 1928. It’s about a princess from afar – Rosalie Romanikov of Romanza – who comes to the US. She falls hard for a soldier boy. Heartache and hilarity follow, but everyone lives happily ever after.
It was a hit on Broadway, and the name climbed the charts. But she didn’t rocket into the Top 100 until 1938, the year after MGM released the movie adaptation. The film jettisoned the original Gershwin score for songs by Cole Porter, but the title track – also called “Rosalie” – was unchanged, and also popular in the era.
Not only did Hollywood brush up the score, they also added dancing – lots of it, to cater to leading lady Eleanor Powell’s status as one of the era’s most famous dancers. An elaborate scene features Rosalie tapping atop a giant drum – if you’ve ever seen the 1974 MGM retrospective That’s Entertainment, it’s included.
Rosalie spent just one year in the US Top 100, and was steadily falling by the 1940s. She left the rankings entirely in the 1980s. A random assortment of Rosalies includes a nineteenth century Swedish feminist, a 1960s American folk singer, a British character actress and Dutch model. The name might also bring to mind:
- Fats Domino’s “I Can’t Go On (Rosalie)” from 1955;
- 1970s television staple Welcome Back, Kotter included Rosalie “Hotsie” Totsy, the bad girl preacher’s daughter, who left after first season;
- More recently, Ryan Adams recorded “Rosalie Come and Go” as one of the bonus tracks included in his Grammy-nominated 2001 album Gold.
Rosalie is in the current Quebec Top Ten, and she definitely reads French. Beyond her pop culture associations, the name could benefit from the rise of Vivienne and les mademoiselles. In France, she peaked back in 1903, but is on a modest upswing there, too.
It’s a transition for Rosalie, a name that once was more typically Italian, thanks to Saint Rosalia. The name is an elaboration of Rosa, popularized by a twelfth century saint. The well-born Rosalia withdrew to live, and eventually die, alone in a cave. When a plague struck Palermo in 1624, a local hunter claimed that he’d had a vision of the forgotten figure. Rosalia told him where to find her cave. Following her directions, he rescued her relics and brought them back for a procession through the town. Legend has it that it worked, and Rosalia became a saint.
The festival is still celebrated annually in Palermo, as well as other communities. In the US, Bensonhurst in Brooklyn is the best known. As a given name, Rosalia is quite rare – she’d faded from the US Top 1000 entirely by the 1930s.
Stephenie Meyer helped revive this name when she gave it to one of her Cullen clan vampires, the beautiful Rosalie Hale. She’s Bella’s nemesis at the beginning of the series, but among her fiercest protectors as the tale unfolds.
While she ranked a mere #837 in 2009, plenty of three-syllable, ends-in-lee names are finding favor, from Annalee to Coralie to Adelie. In their company, Rosalie sounds just right.