Silent film star Vilma Banky was born in Hungary circa 1901 and started appearing in American movies after she immigrated in 1925.
She was Valentino’s co-star in his last two pictures: The Eagle (1925) and The Son of the Sheik (1926). A year later, in 1927, she married fellow actor Rod La Rocque. Her highly publicized wedding, produced by Samuel Goldwyn himself, “was the most elaborate of the silent-film era.”
She was at the height of her fame at that time, and, correspondingly, usage of the bay name “Vilma” doubled in 1926 and peaked in 1927:
1930: 147 baby girls named Vilma [rank: 563rd]
1929: 198 baby girls named Vilma [rank: 481st]
1928: 177 baby girls named Vilma [rank: 523rd]
1927: 213 baby girls named Vilma [rank: 478th]
1926: 117 baby girls named Vilma [rank: 673rd]
1925: 54 baby girls named Vilma
1924: 33 baby girls named Vilma
Her film career ended not long after this, though, because she — along with her heavy Hungarian accent — were unable to make the transition to talkies.
The female name Vilma (just like the male name William) can be traced back to the Germanic name Willahelm, made up of the elements wil, meaning “will, desire,” and helm, meaning “helmet, protection.”
My guess is Hollywood-based African-American fashion designer L’Tanya Griffin.
She started to become famous during the second half of the ’40s. Her name began appearing newspapers around 1946, and it was often spelled “LaTanya” and “La Tanya.” (Her birth name was Julia Bernice Hilbert, incidentally.)
In mid-1949, a specific event made L’Tanya Griffin front-page news: Her estranged husband Earl tried to assault her with a beer can full of lye at racetrack in Atlantic City. She was uninjured, but her friend Marshall Miles (former manager of boxer Joe Louis) and several other people suffered first degree burns. Worst off was Earl himself, as the lye had splashed back into his face. It got into his eyes and blinded him (not permanently, turns out).
L’Tanya was at the height of her fashion-fame during the 1950s. She was even on the cover of Jet in mid-1954. The magazine sometimes ran pictures of her young daughter L’Tanya as well.
I’m not sure what became of L’Tanya Griffin after her fame waned in the ’60s, but I did discover that one of the babies named “LaTanya” in 1949 was none other than Samuel L. Jackson’s wife LaTanya Richardson.
Do you like the name L’Tanya?
“Acid Toss by Hubby Backfires.” New York Age 20 Aug. 1949: 1.
“Fashions by L’Tanya” Ebony Aug. 1947: 24.
Kirkham, Pat and Shauna Stallworth. “”Three Strikes Against Me”: African American Women Designers.” Women Designers in the USA, 1900-2000: Diversity and Difference, ed. by Pat Kirkham, The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, 2000, pp. 123-144.
She’s called Finch because we call all of our dogs after characters in To Kill a Mockingbird. So we have had a Scout, a Radley, and a Harper. And let me tell you, they are not happy about Finch’s arrival.
From a 1995 interview with R.E.M. vocalist Michael Stipe, whose paternal grandfather was a Methodist minister:
Well, Methodism was started by John Wesley, who was, in his way, a really radical guy who believed in a lot of individual responsibility. It’s not the kind of religion that’s right around your throat. Actually, I was named after him, John Michael Stipe.
From an article about Lara Prescott, author of the new book The Secrets We Kept, a fictional account of the dangers of publishing Doctor Zhivago in the 1950s:
You could say she was born to write this historical novel: Prescott’s mother named her after the doomed heroine from her favorite movie, the 1965 adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s epic.
Fun fact :Always wanted a daughter and I always used to say imma name her HennyLynn. It’s a cute mix of my sisters name but then I started calling my sister HennyLynn then it became one of the nicknames I gave my sister so it woulda been weird naming my daughter that .
From an article about a Georgia man whose name, Neal, came from a POW bracelet:
His father, the late John Carpenter, was an aircraft mechanic in the Navy and was deployed overseas at the time. He arrived home in time for his son’s birth. When it became necessary to scramble and find a boy’s name, John Carpenter looked down at the POW/MIA bracelet he was wearing.
The engraved name was Neal Clinton Ward Jr. He had been listed as Missing in Action since June 13, 1969. An airman, his plane had been shot down over Laos in the jungles of Southeast Asia, nine days before his 24th birthday.
The Carpenters named their son Neal Ward Carpenter.
(Neal’s mom had been convinced the baby would be a girl. Neal said: “I was going to be April Michelle, and that’s all there was to it.”)
Research professor and author Brené Brown on her unique name:
Growing up, every time we drove from San Antonio to Houston, going to Stuckey’s — all these places where you buy monogrammed shirts and glasses — I was so put out because there was never a “Brené.” So I think I made up in my head that it was French. And then I hitchhiked across Europe after high school and I got to France and I was like, “Je suis Brené!” And they were like, “What kind of name is that?” They’d never heard of it. My parents just made it up. I had a whole narrative in high school — “When I bust out of this suburban Spring, Texas, high school I’m going to go back to France where my people are!” But, no, it’s not French — it’s south side San Antonio.
When your middle name is ‘The’, it means you’re it. The only one. The one that defines the category. I think that focus is a choice, and that the result of appropriate focus is you earn the middle name.