Plenty of Disney Princesses (Ariel, Mulan, Tiana, Elsa, etc.) have had an impact on the U.S. baby name charts. But two of the earliest Disney characters to affect the charts weren’t princesses. In fact, they weren’t even human. They were white-tailed deer.
The classic animated film Bambi came out in August of 1942. The next year, the baby names Bambi and Faline both debuted as girl names on the SSA’s baby name list.
1946: 11 baby girls named Bambi
1945: 9 baby girls named Bambi
1944: 7 baby girls named Bambi
1943: 8 baby girls named Bambi [debut]
1943: 5 baby girls named Faline [debut]
The name Faline remains rare to this day, but the name Bambi went on to be given to hundreds of baby girls per year from the mid-’50s to the mid-’60s, then again from the mid-’70s to the mid-’80s.
The New York Times states that “Bambi reached peak popularity in 1979 after the release of the song “Who Killed Bambi?” in a movie about the Sex Pistols, an influential punk rock band.” It’s an interesting coincidence, but I doubt the song had any influence on usage.
The Disney movie was based on the 1923 novel Bambi, Eine Lebensgeschichte aus dem Walde (Bambi, a Life in the Woods) by Austrian author Felix Salten. In German, Faline’s name is pronounced fah-LEE-neh (as opposed to fah-LEEN in English).
Disney has put out nearly fifty animated feature films, and many of these films have ended up popularizing particular baby names.
The best example of this is Ariel, which was only able to rank among the top 100 U.S. baby names in 1990, 1991 and 1992 — no doubt due to the success of Disney’s The Little Mermaid (released in November of 1989).
Esmeralda may have also been assisted by Disney. It was already on its way up in terms of popularity, but seemed to peak early in the years following the release of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
Here are 25 Disney character names that might also make good baby names: