Baby Named for Judge Who Granted Divorce

In 1928, the Aberdeen Journal mentioned a London woman who had been granted a separation from her husband by London Magistrate Basil B. Watson.

She was apparently very pleased about the decision, because when she later gave birth to a baby boy, she named him “Basil Watson Ratcliffe.”

(I checked the records — a Basil Watson Ratcliffe was indeed born in London in 1927.)

Source: What’s in a Name? Choosing a Name for a Baby

Where Did Lido “Lee” Iacocca Get His Name?

Lido "Lee" IacoccaBusinessman Lido Anthony “Lee” Iacocca was born in Pennsylvania in 1924 to Italian immigrants Nicola “Nick” Iacocca and Antonietta Perrotta. Lee Iacocca went on to become the president of Ford Motor Company from 1970 to 1978 and the CEO of Chrysler Corporation from 1978 to 1992.

Where did the first name Lido come from?

Before his marriage, Nick and one of Antoinette’s brothers had visited Venice, Italy, enjoying the grand and beautiful Lido Beach. To Nick, the spot was perfect. So was his new son, hence the name Lido.

And what drove Lido Iacocca to shorten his already-short first name to “Lee”?

Early on in his career…

“As part of my job, I had to make a lot of long-distance calls. In those days, there was no direct dialing, so that you always had to go through operators. They’d ask for my name, and I’d say “Iacocca.” Of course, they had no idea how to spell it, so that was always a struggle to get that right. Then they’d ask for my first name and when I said “Lido,” they’d break out laughing. Finally I said to myself: “Who needs it?” and I started calling myself Lee.”

Which name do you prefer, Lido or Lee?


  • Collins, David R. Lee Iacocca: Chrysler’s Good Fortune. Ada, OK: Garrett Educational Corp, 1992.
  • Iacocca, Lee and William Novak. “Iacocca: An Autobiography”
    Reader’s Digest Jul. 1985: 79.

Baby Named George Fried for Famous Sea Captain

George Fried Chojnowski
Baby born at sea in 1929:
George Fried Chojnowski
Capt. George Fried (1877-1949) was responsible for not one but two heroic Atlantic rescues during his career at sea.

(He was also one of the few people honored with two NYC ticker-tape parades, in honor of the two rescues.)

The first rescue was of 25 of the 27 men aboard the sinking British freighter Antinoe in January of 1926. (The other two men drowned during the rescue.) Fried was the commander of the SS President Roosevelt at the time.

The second rescue was of all 32 men aboard the sinking Italian freighter Florida in January of 1929. Fried was now commanding the S.S. America.

During the second rescue, a baby boy was born aboard the America, with the help of Dr. E. Daken and Nurse McDermott (pictured).

The baby was named George Fried Chojnowski after the captain.

Source: “Born During Rescue.” Rochester Evening Journal 28 Jan. 1929: 1.

Baby Named for Jack Dempsey

Boxing’s first million-dollar gate was the match between American boxer Jack Dempsey and French boxer Georges Carpentier that took place in New Jersey on July 2, 1921.

That morning, a baby boy was born in Pittsburgh to Mr. and Mrs. John Mahoney. “[A]s the father was an enthusiastic rooter for the Irish fighter, it was decided to hold off naming the baby till after the result of the Jersey City fight should be known.”

Dempsey won in the 4th round. So the baby was named John Dempsey Mahoney.

Mr. Mahoney’s brother, a Carpentier supporter, stopped by later that night. The men fought over the baby’s name and ended up at the police station, charged with disorderly conduct.

The magistrate ordered the uncle to buy John Dempsey Mahoney his first pair of shoes.

Source: “Names Baby “Dempsey”.” New York Times 4 Jul. 1921: 12.

Hemingway’s Son Named for Bullfighter

Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, welcomed their only child in October of 1923. The baby boy was named John Hadley Nicanor Hemingway.

The name Nicanor was inspired by Spanish torero (bullfighter) Nicanor Villalta. It can be traced back to the ancient Greek word nike, meaning “victory.”

The interesting thing? While we all know that Hemingway was a bullfighting fan, at the time his son was born, he had only recently become a fan.

When Hemingway saw his first bullfight in Pamplona in 1923, he brought his wife Hadley along because he hoped the event would have a positive influence on the unborn son she then carried. The sport certainly affected the budding writer. It became one of the reigning passions of his life.

P.S. Hemingway’s friends called him “Hem.”