“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.
If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.
But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.
If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.
Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.
Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.
Rafaela Rafaela Ottiano was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1940s. She was born in Italy in 1888. Rafaela was also a character played by actress Alice Joyce in the short film The Bag of Gold (1912).
Reno Reno Browne was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1950s. She was born in (Reno) Nevada in 1921. Her birth name Josephine Ruth Clarke. Reno was also a character played by actress Ethel Merman in the film Anything Goes (1936).
Rosina Rosina Galli was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in Italy in 1906. Rosina was also a character played by actress Jose Collins in the film The Last Stake (short, 1923).
Rosita Rosita Marstini was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1940s. She was born in France in 1887. Rosita was also a character name in multiple films, including Hell’s Valley (1931) and Zoo in Budapest (1933).
Looking for an under-the-radar girl name with a retro feel?
A few years ago I combed though a bunch of IMDb pages looking for interesting female names associated with old films (1910s-1940s).
Most of the names I spotted — names like Mabel, Maisie, Hazel, Hattie, Elsie, Selma, Bessie, and Betty — were ones I expected to see. But I did manage to collect thousands of rarities, many of which have never appeared in the SSA data before.
Want to check out all these unusual names? I thought so! To make things interesting I’ll post the Z-names first and go backwards, letter by letter.
Zabette de Chavalons was a character played by actress Bebe Daniels in the film Volcano! (1926).
Zabie Elliot was a character played by actress Mary Alden in the film The Broken Butterfly (1919).
Zada L’Etoile was a character played by actress Sylvia Breamer in the Cecil B. DeMille-directed film We Can’t Have Everything (1918).
Zena Dare was an actress who appeared in films during the 1920s and 1930s. She was born in England in 1887. Zena Keefe was an actress who appeared in films during the 1910s and 1920s. She was born in California in 1898. Zena was also a character name in multiple films, including The Code of Honor (short, 1916) and The New York Peacock (1917).
Here’s the fourth batch of intriguing female names I found in old issues of Photoplay:
Naturitch (sometimes written Nat-U-Ritch) was played by actress Red Wing (real name: Lillian St. Cyr) in the silent film The Squaw Man (1914), but the name Naturitch has never appeared on the SSA’s list.
The Squaw Man is notable for two reasons: it was the first feature-length movie filmed in Hollywood specifically, and it was also the first film to be directed by Cecil B. DeMille.
Actress Anna Q. Nilsson, middle name Quirentia, appeared in over 200 films (a mix of feature-lengths and shorts) from 1911 to 1954, but the name Quirentia has never appeared on the SSA’s list.
Photo caption: “Anna Q. Nilsson is, as her name indicates, a native of neutral Sweden, her birth being recorded in the torn of Ystad. She first wooed dramatic renown on the stage of her native land and came to America in 1907. Four years later she entered the realm of the flickering shadows as a member of the Kalem company and appeared in many productions of that concern. She was requisitioned by Fox last year and was the star in “Regeneration.””
The middle name Quirentia is a nod to Anna’s birth date: March 30th, which is the feast day of St. Quirinius. Photoplay misspelled her middle name at least twice that I noticed — as “Quirientia” in the March 1915 issue and as “Querentia” in the August 1919 issue.
Actress Sabra de Shon appeared in a single short film in 1915, but she had no influence on the usage of the name Sabra.
Sabra is in the top right photo. Caption: “Sabra de Shon, of Eclair, created Mrs. Hawkins, in “Quincy Adams Sawyer” and played the part for ten years.”
Actress Teddy Sampson appeared in about 44 films (a mix of feature-lengths and shorts) from 1914 to 1923, but she had no influence on the usage of the name Teddy.
Photo caption: “Teddy Sampson says it’s only fair that a little girl like herself should have been born in a big city like New York. She made her public debut at the age of 15 in a Gus Edwards vaudeville act — “School Days” — at the Circle Theater. She was introduced to Mr. Griffith of the Reliance-Majestic company while appearing at the Palace theater in New York, and the interview ended in her engagement to enter the moving picture field.”
A very good guide, in the study of New England genealogy, is given by the Christian name. In some families, Simon, Stephen and Thomas may follow down the line of sons; while others carry only John, James and William. Genealogists have great confidence in this clue, for those Christian old worthies used to name their sons after themselves and their fathers. They had not evolved into the “Vernons” and “Cecils” and “Irvings” of now-a-days; these modern names which mean nothing but a morbid craving for the romantic and unusual. Romances guide the Christian names of babies today, alas, instead of sense of family loyalty. Have we not lost something of the real spirit of genuineness and fealty with the changed nomenclature of our babies?
So amusing to think of Vernon, Cecil and Irving as romantic or unusual. I wonder what this writer would have thought of Jayden, Jaxon and Jace.