Viggo Mortensen, as quoted in TIME Magazine in 2005:
I met someone last night who showed me a picture of a baby, and they had named the kid Viggo. You know, Viggo is a pretty dorky name in Denmark. It’s like Oswald or something. It’s a very old Scandinavian name, at least 1,000 years old.
From an NPR review of Blue Nights, an explanation of Joan Didion’s daughter’s name:
Just after they adopted Quintana Roo (they’d seen the name on a map of Mexico, liked it, and chosen it) the writer says she acted as if she’d gotten a doll to dress up, not a real baby.
From A Critical and Analytical Dissertation on the Names of Persons (1822) by John Henry Brady:
The principal cause, however, to which the absurd appropriation of Christian names is to be imputed, is the desire so prevalent in all ranks of life, of not only aping the dress and manners, but encroaching as far as possible, in every way, on the rights and customs of their superiors. On no occasions can this be done with greater facility that [sic] in the naming of children. How else can one account for a chimney-sweeper’s wife conferring the name of Frederica upon her delicate daughter, or for the numberless Amelias and Carolines daily engaged in that elegant recreation of washing dishes?
Other very sensible, well-meaning parents, anxious to avoid one extreme, run as inconsiderately into the other, and while the ladies mentioned above are doomed to stick to their dish-washing occupation, many a Joan, Bridget, and Grizzel, may be seen lounging at ease in their coaches, figuring at a quadrille, or ogling beaux at the Opera House.
From an obituary of actress Lina Basquette (formerly Lena Baskette) in The Independent:
In 1923, she and her mother went to New York, where Lena danced for John Murray Anderson – it was he who altered her name to Basquette, and the producer Charles Dillingham who changed Lena to Lina (‘Lena is a cook’, he explained, ‘Lina is an artiste’).
From a Chicago Tribune article about Bode Miller:
The Millers had four children and let Bode and older sister Kyla help name their younger siblings. (Bode’s legal handle, to his chagrin, is Samuel Bode Miller.) This resulted in some whimsy. His younger sister is named Genesis Wren Bungo Windrushing Turtleheart Miller, and his brother, an up-and-coming snowboarder, goes by Chilly, short for Nathaniel Kinsman Ever Chelone Skan Miller.
(Thank you, Erin, for letting me know about the names in the Miller family.)
From a PBS NewsHour interview with a man named Normandy Villa, Jr.:
To understand what’s going on here, you should know two things: first, even though the family comes from Colombia, Normandy is named after one of the more important moments in American history:
NORMANDY VILLA: “The Battle of Normandy in France, in 1941 was the beginning of the liberation of Europe, and my grandfather saw that as such a powerful moment in history, that he wanted to have his family carry a name that referred to a new dawn. And so, the first born in the family received the name Normandy.”
From Little Failure: A Memoir by Gary Shteyngart (born Igor Steinhorn):
I have clearly spent thirty-nine years unaware that my real destiny was to go through life as a Bavarian porn star, but some further questions present themselves: If neither Gary nor Shteyngart is truly my name, then what the hell am I doing calling myself Gary Shteyngart? Is every single cell in my body a historical lie?
From a season 12 episode of The Simpsons, in which Lisa meets a boy named Thelonious:
Thelonious: My name’s Thelonious.
Lisa Simpson: As in Monk?
Thelonious: Yes. The esoteric appeal is worth the beatings.
(Found this one thanks to Abby.)