More than 80 years ago, Hollywood actress Mary Astor gave her daughter a Hawaiian baby name.
Mary Astor (born Lucile Langhanke) and her husband Franklyn Thorpe bought a yacht and set sail for Hawaii in May of 1932. One month later, Astor gave birth in Honolulu.
The baby girl was named Marylyn Hauoli. Marylyn was a combination of Mary and Franklyn, and Hauoli came from the Hawaiian word hau’oli, meaning “happy, glad, gay, joyful.”
(The name Hau’oli has never been on an SSA’s baby name list, but I’ve found one other semi-famous person with the name: college football player Hau’oli Kikaha, originally from Oahu.)
Mary Astor choosing Hauoli for her daughter in 1932 reminds me of Helen Hunt choosing Makena Lei for her daughter in 2004. And both of these names make me wonder: Do you think it’s acceptable for non-Hawaiian parents to choose Hawaiian names for their children? If so, under what conditions?
- Mary Astor – Wikipedia
- Pukui, Mary Kawena and Samuel H. Elbert. Hawaiian Dictionary. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986.
P.S. There are a few more Hawaiian names in Tuesday’s post Names Collected on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Canadian academic Sacvan Bercovitch has an interesting first name. How did he get it? The story begins with his parents:
Bercovitch is the son of Alexander Bercovitch and Bryna Avrutik, Jews born in the Ukraine in the 1890s who grew up during a time of deep poverty, social upheaval, and periodic pogroms.
Alexander and Bryna, both “idealistic communists,” ended up having three children:
Circumstances took them to Moscow, where their first daughter, Sara (later Sylvia) was born; then to Ashkhabad, Turkestan, where their second daughter, Ninel (Lenin spelled backwards), was born. In 1926 they emigrated to Montreal with their two daughters, helped by Bryna’s brothers, who had preceded her. In October 1933 their son Sacvan (his name an amalgamation of Sacco and Vanzetti) was born.
Sacco and Vanzetti, of course, refers to the Italian-American anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who were convicted of murder (perhaps wrongly) and sentenced to death in the 1920s.
Thoughts on Sacvan?
(This one is reminding me of the Swedish baby named Alfred Zola Labori Dreyfus.)
- “Bercovitch, Sacvan.” Encyclopaedia Judaica. 2nd ed. 2007.
- Looby, Christopher. “Scholar and Exegete.” Early American Literature 39.1 (2002): 1-9.
Australia’s biggest horse race, the Melbourne Cup, has been run every year since 1861.
On November 3, 1936, a horse named Wotan (VO-tahn) — a 100-1 underdog from New Zealand — ran it and won. His surprise victory was one of the biggest upsets in the race’s history.
That same day, a baby boy was born at Crown Street Women’s Hospital in Sydney. The baby’s father, Gregory Swain, announced that his son’s name would be Gregory Wotan Swain.
“I had no money on the winner. He was my Cup–a fine boy, 7 1/2 lb., when born. Our first,” Swain explained.
He expressed surprise to know that Wotan was also one of the names given to the god of battle by the Anglo-Saxons.
The name Wotan is a variant of Woden, which was indeed the name of a major Anglo-Saxon/Germanic deity. Woden and his Norse counterpart, Odin, can trace their names back to a reconstructed proto-Germanic word meaning something along the lines of “raging, mad, inspired.”
Source: “Baby Named After Cup Winner.” Courier-Mail [Brisbane, Australia] 10 Nov. 1936: 16.
Related name story: A baby girl named Jacqueline, born a few years ago in Ireland, was also named after a racehorse. (Her dad was the jockey.)
That headline might look like a joke, but it isn’t!
On October 11, 1933, a baby boy was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Elder.
He was born while the family was listening to a radio broadcast featuring Wilfred Carter, “the yodeling cowboy,” and so he was named Wilfred Charles Elder.
Mrs. Elder wrote a letter to Mr. Carter to let him know about her son’s name. Here’s an excerpt:
We listen to your program every night and we surely do enjoy them and wish they were longer. On October 11, while all the rest in the house were listening to your delightful singing I gave birth to a lovely nine-pound boy and it was suggested then that we should name him after you and so we did and I only hope that when he grows up he will be as talented as you.
What does the name Wilfred mean?
It’s the modern version of the Old English name Wilfrith (or Wilfrið) which is made up of the elements wil, “will” or “desire,” and frið, “peace.”
Other Anglo-Saxon names with that “frith” ending include Alfrith, Ingifrith, Ketilfrith and Osfrith. (These are male and female names listed in the Domesday book.)
In the U.S., the baby name Wilfred was most popular in the 1910s and 1920s. Last year, just 23 baby boys were named Wilfred.
Source: “Baby Named After Radio Performer.” Star-Phoenix 11 Jan. 1934: 3.
On July 10, 1935, Bert and Irlean Ash of Oklahoma City welcomed twin sons. The boys went without names — they were “designated merely as No. 1 and No. 2” — for more than a month.
Then, on August 15, a plane crash in northern Alaska killed two fellow Oklahomans — pioneering aviator Wiley Post and popular comedian/actor Will Rogers.
Bert and Irlean decided to honor the pair by naming their sons Wiley Rogers Ash and Will Post Ash.
Bert was quoted as saying, “We hope the twins will be able to fly sometime.”
Source: “Twins Named to Honor Dead Pair.” Ellensburg Daily Record 20 Aug. 1935: 6.
P.S. Wiley Post flew solo around the world in 1933 in a plane named Winnie Mae.
P.P.S. Will Rogers, who was part Cherokee, was named after Cherokee leader William Penn Adair.