She’s a literary invention and one of the Cosby kids.
Thanks to Fran for suggesting Vanessa as our Baby Name of the Day.
But what takes Vanessa from an eighteenth century poem to the US Top 100 by 1977?
Some give the nod to actress Vanessa Redgrave, born in 1937 to actor father Michael Redgrave. She might have boosted Vanessa, but she’s not the kickstarter. After all, Vanessa had been used occasionally over the years – Virginia Woolf’s sister was the successful painter Vanessa Bell, and Hugh Walpole published a novel called Vanessa in 1933.
Credit goes to another actress, Vanessa Brown. She was born Smylla in Austria. She signed with RKO and was initially renamed Tessa, but by the late 1940s was Vanessa. She played minor figures in some major flicks, like 1947’s The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and a 1950 Tarzan movie. A long career in television followed. HugoWinterhalter even wrote a lively little piece of music titled “Vanessa.”
Then came CBS soap opera Love of Life, which debuted in 1951. The main characters were sisters – the virtuous Vanessa, and the scheming Meg. Between the actress and the soap opera heroine, Vanessa climbed at a rapid pace.
More influences followed:
- A 1958 Samuel Barber opera titled Vanessa debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in 1958.
- Vanessa L. Williams survived a scandal as Miss America and went on to a successful career in music and acting.
- Young actress Vanessa Hudgens starred in the successful High School Musical franchise.
- Vanessa Abrams is a character from the Gossip Girl series.